Senator Lugar put country above party

Senator Lugar put country above party
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With the passing on Sunday of former Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the nation and world lost a true hero and leader. Sen. Lugar was an American first above party. The world is indeed a safer place due to his understanding, courage, determination and tireless efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Sen. Lugar was keenly aware of the dangers our world faces from nuclear weapons. The result of working together across party lines with former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act has played a significant role in helping to safeguard our world from the threat of nuclear war. According to the AP, “The Nunn-Lugar program led to about 7,600 Soviet nuclear warheads being deactivated and the destruction of more than 900 intercontinental ballistic missiles by the time Lugar left office. The program is credited with removing all nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus.”

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It is notable that this week representatives of nation state parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will begin two weeks of deliberations at the United Nations during the 2019 NPT Preparatory Conference. These deliberations are in preparation for the 2020 NPT Review Conference. The nuclear states are obligated by article VI of the NPT to work in good faith toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. This year’s conference comes at a time of deteriorated relations between the U.S. and Russia on arms control. This follows the United States withdrawal from the INF Treaty on February 2 and the unilateral withdrawal from the multinational Iran nuclear deal. Under such circumstances, the non-nuclear nations have grown increasingly frustrated with the nuclear nations’ failure to abide by their disarmament obligations. This frustration ultimately resulted in the passage by 122 nations of the July 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which currently has 23 signatory states in route to 50 needed for ratification.

With the United Nations declaring this past month that the risk of nuclear war is higher than it has been in generations, measured and thoughtful bipartisan voices and leadership — like Sen. Lugar’s — are needed now more than ever. This issue is not a partisan political issue. It is a survival issue and represents the greatest eminent threat to our world and future.

The loss of Sen. Lugar leaves a giant void. Our nation and world await the next bipartisan leaders able to put country ahead of party, reaching across the aisle in spite of differences for the sake of our future.

Robert Dodge, M.D. is a family physician practicing in Ventura, California. He is the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.psr-la.org), and sits on the National Board serving as the Co-Chair of the Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons of National Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org). Physicians for Social Responsibility received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and is a partner organization of ICAN.