Presenting a harsh rebuke of the Bush administration’s foreign policy and prescribing diplomatic solutions to current international challenges, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) delivered the annual Goldman Sachs Distinguished Lecture in memory of Michael Mortara (SFS ’71) Monday morning in Gaston Hall.

Framing his speech in the context of the seven-year anniversary of 9/11 and the upcoming presidential election, Feingold said that the administration’s foreign policy in the seven years since the tragedy cannot be repeated.

“This administration has made a series of very serious mistakes in response to 9/11,” he said.

Feingold began his career in Washington as a Democratic senator from Wisconsin in 1992. Since then, he pioneered a bipartisan effort with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for campaign finance reform, opposed the war in Iraq from its start and was the only senator to vote against the USA Patriot Act.

The senator said in the address, sponsored by the Mortara Center for International Studies, that the administration’s dissipating commitment to diplomacy centered on the rule of law has been at the root of the country’s problems over the past seven years.

“The gap between our rhetoric and our actions undercuts our diplomacy,” he said.

According to Feingold, the president has not been able to make the country safer but has only diminished America’s international standing. “We have jettisoned some of the principles that have defined us,” he said.

Contrasting the model of democracy through force with what he envisions to be a model of development governed by the rule of law, Feingold emphasized that the United States can no longer rely solely on the military to fight terrorism. For democracy to flourish and terrorism to diminish, diplomacy must be recognized as an equal partner to military might, Feingold said.

The Wisconsin senator said the new administration will need to recognize the importance of increasing civilian diplomatic resources, noting that current policy leans strongly towards defense spending, as the annual budget for the Department of Defense is $600 billion and only $39 billion for the Department of State.

While acknowledging the real threats that terrorism and extremism present, Feingold repeatedly came back to his position that the future for the country lies in democracy, development and implementation of the rule of law around the world. In a question-and-answer session following his speech, one student asked the senator about his past collaboration with Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Feingold responded that the Arizona senator, despite his strong record, does not have the best plan for the country.

“Right now I have a moratorium on saying good things about McCain because I’m trying to get Barack Obama elected president,” he said.

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