All posts by Richard Cavalier

International Relations

As an intern at The Heritage Foundation, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to see and hear a number of congressmen and Senators, but one of the first, and by far my favorite such occasion, was an event with Senator Rand Paul on 6 February 2013 entitled “Restoring The Founder’s Vision Of Foreign Policy” in which Senator Paul discussed the rise of Islamic radicalism and his containment policy regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. Aside from my own background research I did in regards to Heritage’s and other’s studies of Iran before and after the event itself, I found Sen. Paul’s application of George Kennan’s early Cold War policies, namely containment, applied to a modern and, forgive my pun, radically different geopolitical foe than the former Soviet Union very interesting, to say the least.

My second favorite event I attended during my tenure at the think tank, which was as head and shoulders above the rest as the Senator’s was above this one, was an annual lecture on 20 March 2013 entitled “The Enduring Legacy Of America’s Commitment To Asia” with an address from Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Committee On Foreign Affairs, and, as you might expect, the major topic at issue was U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific region. A course I took on the Politics Of East Asia last semester only served to highlight the dynamic evolution in Asia. However, the trade driven development seems more and more to be slowly but surely leading to nationalism on both sides of the ocean, which makes for a much less peaceful Pacific, but, interestingly enough, Representative Royce points toward the failure of America’s North Korea policy as the cause of an even greater threat than nationalism itself. Certain aspects of his solutions for continuing to build trade relationships we have been constructing for generations is a bigger role in India, trade and investment in Taiwan and dealing the rise of China better than we have dealt with N. Korea.

I can say with confidence that I learned a lot of new information and am now able to better process old information just for attending these events and others, and I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone with the opportunity to do so to get out into the District and hear these great thinkers speak if your goal is, like mine, to continually grow your knowledge of the world Washington helps shape every day.

Politics Of East Asia

This semester I went to two events in Washington, D.C. related to Asian politics, in general, and China, specifically.  The first event was a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing titled “Beijing As An Emerging Power In The South China Sea,” and the second was Wilson International Center For Scholars event with former Secretary Of State Henry Kissinger and former United States Ambassador To China Stapleton Roy.

The House Foreign Affairs hearing focused on China’s policies and influence, but it examined U.S. policy in the region, as well.  The Committee began the hearing by marking up H.R. 6313 about a peaceful and collaborative resolution to maritime territorial disputes, and, while the room was full of interns with copies of the bill, they put them away almost immediately because the hearing continued just as immediately.  The Chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), opened with remarks not only about her intolerance of Chinese aggression but also about the terrorist attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, which occured late the previous day.  A dozen or more congressmen and women went around the room making remarks of their own by order of seniority, and they probably pertained to Benghazi as much as they did about China, especially with the Republican congresspeople.  After the remarks, the witnesses were introducted: Toshi Yoshihara, Chair of Asian Pacific Studied at the U.S. Naval War College, Bonnie Glaser, Chair in China Studies at the Center For Strategic And International Studies, Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow of National Security Affairs at the Heritage Institute, and Richard Cronin, Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center.  The witnesses gave remarks of their own and took questions from the congresspersons, once again by senority.  As the representatives asked their questions, the room began to empty until the chairwoman herself left, and someone else took her place while the most junior members of the asked their question before the hearing was adjourned.

The Wilson Center event focused on U.S.-China Relations as they related to the Eighteenth National Congress of China.  Former Secretary Henry Kissinger is a very humorous man, and he got a lot of laughs from the panel and the audience alike.  The panel included Melissa Block, the host of NPR’s All Things Considered, Jane Harman, the President and CEO of the Wilson Center, David Lampton from the School Of Advanced Internation Studies’ China Studies Program, Cheng Li, a Senior Fellow and Director of the Brooking Institution’s China Center, and, of course, the former ambassador.  Even as distinguished as everyone was, all seem to be honored to be in the presence of former Secretary Kissinger.  After breif remarks from Secretary Kissinger, the floor was opened for questions.  There was one, in particular, about the disappearance of Xi Jinping and how it may affect Chinese succession in the future.  There was a lot of talk about the new leaders of China and their experience with the U.S., along with a lot of their experience that were uniquely Chinese and how it would affect their policies.  However, the general consensus was that no one really knew or even could know so all they were doing was speculating, especially in regards to Xi, but one thing everyone agreed upon was the China would be changed.  It just depended upon which faction of the Communist party won the internal struggle that was undoubtably going on.  Althought, David Lampton highlighted the fact that he believed no surprises would ever come out of the Party Congress, but he could see the changes on the horizon.  There were remarks to the effect that the U.S. does not affect Chinese policy as much as it once did, as well, and that might be a result of the new leadership within China.  They want to create a legacy for the Party, but change is still possible from the provincial level.   After all, China has reformed from the dictatorial government it once was.

Overall, both events were very informative, and I feel as if I’ve learned a lot from some of the great minds of our generation.

U.S. Foreign Policy And Social Media

Today I went to the U.S. Department of State for their Foreign Policy Classroom series.  The speaker was Alec J. Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Ross’ prepared remarks included an anecdote about him, two Katies, and a Kaitlyn, four thirtysomething diplomats with twelve hours and a $19.00 charge on his credit card, created text messaging codes to raise $40M in two weeks for victims of the Haiti earthquake.  During the question and answer session, he showed his passion for mobile banking, especially for foreign soldiers that have not been paid in years.  Mobile banking empowers individuals to securely transfer money and save through accounts over cellphones.  I think that he was very informative, and I feel that every student, Politics majors or minors in particular, would have benefitted from attending