Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series: What is America's Role in the World?

Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series: What is America's Role in the World?

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Christian Holm
February 20, 2015

International events – such as the continuing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the growing threat of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq - have dominated the world’s headlines so far in 2015. America’s role in those and other foreign policy matters made for an apt topic at The Washington Center’s first Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series discussion of the year.


The Feb. 13 panel included Nile Gardiner, director of The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom; Jennifer Harris, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Policy Center. Steve Scully, a senior executive producer and political editor for C-SPAN, moderated the conversation.


The panel started the conversation on the hot button issues in U.S foreign policy today: ISIS, the crisis in Ukraine and global terror. Harris, who specializes in U.S. foreign policy and economic diplomacy, says that while issues in Europe tend to get more media coverage, the biggest foreign policy challenges America faces exist in East Asia, where the U.S is set to project more power. “The pivot to Asia was a diplomatic insight that we can't just decide policy on what's in the news. The trends towards Asia are obvious and we need to put our economic, diplomatic and military attention towards Asia.”


Following the discussion, students took the chance to ask Harris, Gardiner and Pomeranz their own questions:


Drew Rice: (Institution: Furman University, S.C.; Internship: Purple Strategies) How do we combat the notion that the U.S. is in decline?


Pomeranz: Some say that we are in decline, but we are still the final destination for those around the world who seek opportunity. Our system gives people an opportunity and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit that no one can match.


Deeksha Machhral: (Institution: Amity University, India; Internship: Department of General Services) The U.S. needs allies around the world. What efforts can the United States make to form partnerships with rising powers like China and India?


Harris: We are looking for every possible way to cooperate on climate change with China and hopefully soon with India. While we want to reach out and cooperate with these nations on a number of things, we also need to address issues like cyber espionage and ensure that we are preserving our interests as well


To view photos from SMLS, click here

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