Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Preparing to Prevent Crises

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Preparing to Prevent Crises

Article excerpt

Address delivered at Naval War College graduation ceremonies on 16 June 2006, by Senator Dick Lugar

It is an honor to celebrate the graduation of another remarkable class from the NavalWar College. I congratulate you on the hard work that has led to this day. This is a high moment in the lives of our graduates and in the lives of all who have given inspiration and support to them. We are especially appreciative of the families of the graduates. The work the graduates have done in the past and will do in the future is sometimes dangerous and often personally consuming. It requires patience, courage, and love from family members. Their sacrifices have made this day possible, and they are an indispensable element of our national security.

I am excited to be with so many individuals who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country and building international order. Since its establishment in 1884, the Naval War College has been a prolific contributor to the intellectual inquiry and skill development that our government and our military need to advance peace in the world. It has brought together representatives from all the military branches and numerous civilian agencies, as well as students from every corner of the globe, for shared studies and discussion.

Around the United States during the last two months, ceremonies have commemorated the graduation of students from institutions of higher learning. But few graduates, if any, are poised to have as much impact as you on our world in a historic moment of need. We are now sending you back into a geopolitical climate that is uncertain and dangerous. We are asking you to take on burdens that will weigh heavily on you and your families. We are asking you to perform extraordinary acts of leadership on a routine basis.

Seeking Global Transformations

In May, I had the pleasure of delivering a graduation address at St. Joseph's College, a small liberal arts college in Rensselaer, Indiana. It was a picturesque and memorable occasion-though far more landlocked than today. The class consisted of 150 bright graduates, mostly twenty-one- and twenty-two-year-olds from the Midwest. It would be difficult to pick two more different graduating classes to address in the same year. In fact, some of you may have children who have graduated from college or will soon do so. But despite the differences in your ages and circumstances, my message to you today has some similarities to what I said to them-namely, that the world is never far from transformational events. In your world, this means that no matter how many threats appear on the horizon or how intractable our national security problems appear, we should not rule out transformations that change the fundamental circumstances of the world order. We should be planning for these transformational events, and indeed, even attempting to make them happen. A nation such as ours that led alliances to victories in two world wars, helped rebuild Western Europe and Japan after World War II, won the Cold War, and expanded NATO to include twenty-six nations should not see any transformation as beyond the realm of possibility.

Political leaders and military planners continually attempt to foresee dangerous contingencies involving nations with whom we have current differences or whose fundamental interests may conflict with ours in some future scenario. This planning is a normal and necessary part of protecting our national security, and no institution has done it better than the Naval War College.

In a world as dangerous as ours, with terrorist groups and rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction, it is natural to fix on the most imminent and dangerous of these problems. But we must always guard against defining foreign policy solely as a response to negative contingencies.

Much has been made of President Bush's rhetorical flourish in his January 2002 State of the Union Address that identified an "axis of evil" made up of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. …

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