Richard Lugar, G.O.P. Senator and Foreign Policy Force, Dies at 87

Security was upgraded at nuclear weapons sites, at a time when the greatest fear was that a terror group would take advantage of the chaos in Russia or in one of the former Soviet states and buy or steal a weapon. New jobs were found for the Soviet Union’s nuclear scientists and weapons-developers, in an effort to keep them from being tempted to sell their services.

In 2005, Mr. Lugar took a young senator, Barack Obama of Illinois, on his first trip as a new member of the Foreign Relations Committee to Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, to examine dismantled weapons and sites. Mr. Obama later credited that trip with fueling a commitment to further reduce the size of the American arsenal after he was elected president three years later.

But while Mr. Lugar sometimes compared his efforts to those of George Marshall, the creator of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe, he watched the fruits of his efforts begin to wilt in his last years. Under President Vladimir V. Putin, the Russians began to resent the American funding of the disarmament effort, and some Russians saw in it a Washington plot to further weaken their country. Mr. Putin set the country on the course of nuclear modernization, and Mr. Lugar, over a dinner several years ago, lamented that Mr. Obama had not been more aggressive in dismantling parts of the American arsenal that Mr. Lugar considered no longer necessary.

Richard Green Lugar was born in Indianapolis on April 4, 1932, to a farming family with generations of roots in Indiana.

His early life and career were marked by the most traditional signposts of American success. He was an Eagle Scout and president of both his Shortridge High School and Denison University senior classes. He got along so well with his college class’s co-president, Charlene Smeltzer, who was known as Char, that they married after graduating. She survives him.

He then became a Rhodes Scholar, and during his studies at Oxford, he visited the American embassy in London in 1957 to enlist in the Navy.

After his return to the United States, Mr. Lugar was commissioned a second lieutenant and became a briefer for Admiral Arleigh Burke, the chief of naval operations, who had been a hero of World War II and was renowned as a guileful player in Washington politics. Friends said that this was Mr. Lugar’s most significant exposure to geopolitical thinking, and probably the single greatest source of his fascination with foreign policy.

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