May 24, 2011

Lugar Says State Dept. Must Maintain Long-Term Strategic Focus Arms Control, Trade, Energy and Food Security Critical

Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following opening statement at the nomination hearing of William J. Burns to be Deputy Secretary of State:

I join the Chairman in welcoming Ambassador Burns once again to the Foreign Relations Committee.  Ambassador Burns is a good friend and familiar figure to this Committee.  We have often benefited from his analysis on some of the most important issues facing the United States.  He is an outstanding choice to be the Deputy Secretary, and the State Department and our nation are fortunate that he will be taking on this responsibility. 

Ambassador Burns would be the first Foreign Service Officer to serve as Deputy Secretary in nearly thirty years.  His nomination is a testament not only to his individual talents, but also to the commitment and service of the many career officers who serve our nation every day in dangerous and challenging circumstances around the world.  

Ambassador Burns’ deep base of experience in the Middle East is critical as the United States forges new relationships with governments in the region and responds to transformational events.  I appreciate also his time as Ambassador to Russia.  He has a thorough understanding of nuclear and arms control issues, Security Council dynamics, energy issues, and other global conditions that bear heavily on U.S. security and our relationship with Russia.

When Deputy Secretary Nides was before this Committee last November, I stressed the importance of making our foreign policy less reactive and promoting management of the State Department that does not lose sight of global priorities.  This Committee has worked to promote a more strategic approach to American diplomacy.  We have attempted to ensure that financial resources are efficiently utilized in support of our national objectives.  I believe that policy choices must be subject to the same analysis. 

There is limited bandwidth within any Administration to advance foreign policy priorities.  While the crisis of the moment may garner press attention, lasting relationships and effective diplomacy require hard work each day.   As the Department of State manages the shifting sands of the Arab Spring and the complex transitions from military to civilian engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq, we must not miss opportunities to make strategic, long-term gains related to non-proliferation, energy security, and international trade.  It is incumbent on the Deputy Secretary of State to ensure this strategic horizon is maintained within the Department of State.

I look forward to today’s discussion and to many future conversations with the nominee as we work to advance American interests and security around the world.  


Press Contact

Mark Helmke • 202-224-5918