When preparing for the Dept. of State “Foreign Policy Classroom” with Marc Norman, Director of Africa, Europe and The Americas, I was not at all expecting what I got. I figured there would be a lot of talk about those specific countries. How we research terrorism and defend attacks from terror cells in those areas. However, this lecture was the most detailed comprehensive lesson on taking down terrorism in general. Marc Norman, while hilarious spoke on broad terms on how US effectively has taken down terrorist attacks.
Norman stated a line that really has stayed with me and I never thought about. When defending the United States, we have to be luck 100% of the time to keep our people safe. However, any terrorist unit, only has to be lucky once. When thinking about it, I’m sure we have been lucky most of the time considering the rareness of a large scale terrorist attacks.
Norman spoke about taking down down terrorists in a very systematic way. For instance you make money harder to wire and transfer. There goes their funding. You make it hard to talk on any normal way of communication. You take away their communication. When you spread out their leaders in different prisons across the world, or even take care of the leaders in a more permanent manner. There are so many thinks that the US government does to make life so much more difficult for terrorists. These are probably the things that do the most damage, that the average American citizens don’t even realize.
A factor I never thought about with work the state dept. does is how much red tape they have to cut through. Norman made a joke that the best way for a terrorist cell to evade punishment is to change their name. Thats the easiest thing for them to do, something so easy and simple. I know the government has to follow the same rules as everyone else, but working for a bureaucracy such as the Government must get very frustrating. The work the State dept. never has seemed more rewarding and with Norman’s insight, the audience really felt like they were the good guys.
On February 27, I attend a State Department classroom presented by Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller There were a number of other students in attendance, we all sat inside a lecture hall in front of a large screen. As the lecture progressed pictures began to be displayed across the screen. These ranged from past world leaders to weapons facilities. Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller was very passionate about this topic and it was easy to see that she was driven and determined to get her message across.
As Gottemoeller opened up the classroom she began by explaining the beginning of nuclear weaponry in the United States as well as in other countries. She explained to us that as the years have gone on not only the weapons improved but so have our defenses. The United States is one of the countries with a nuclear arsenal, but as Mrs. Gottemoeller described the weapons aren’t harmless just because they aren’t engaged to fire. As time goes on the material housed inside of the nuclear weapons can begin to leak out of the weapons and into the areas they are contained in. In addition to the weapons growing in age the areas they are contained in are only deemed safe for a period time. All across the world these containing areas have begun to age and a rapidly approaching the age in which they will need to be repaired and replaced.Instead of spending the large amounts of money to repair these areas she is calling for nuclear proliferation. She explained nuclear nonproliferation as the effort to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. She told us that stopping the spread of nuclear weapons was going to be essential in the future. Nuclear warfare would be devastating. There have been steps taken in order to begin the process of nonproliferation but she believes that more must be done
The presentation lasted only about 45 minutes and then we were given a time for a question and answer session. The questions asked came from a wide range. Some asked about previous positions she has held while others asked more recent questions. There were a few that she was unable to answer due to their nature and topic.
Overall my experience here was a good one. I was disappointed that the weren’t many people their but in the end that added to the intimate setting and allowed for the students to get plenty of time for their questions. The topic of nuclear weapons has always interested me and I believe that as a whole more people should take a look into this topic.
I attended the Foreign Policy Classroom at the US Department of State. The topic was on “US-China Economic Relations.” The guest speaker was Lawrence Grippo, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs who serves as a trade policy analyst for the Office of Bilateral Trade Affairs. Mr. Grippo discussed various aspects of US-China economic relations. He touched basis on how US companies are making profit compared to the labor rates paid to Chinese laborers. He also discussed how the Chinese economy has been successful after the economic reforms after long dependence on the Soviet’s to enhance the Chinese economy.
He also explained the Chinese government’s efforts in helping their economy by providing money to subsidize small businesses, innovations and researches. China has also had success in clean energy production, pharmaceutical industry, and building aircrafts. Mr. Grippo went on explaining that China is focused more on investments and not on labor. There are also some regulations that both US and China have on companies especially when it comes to national security. This event was very helpful for me to understand some basics about US-China economic relations.
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
Last week, a group of 13 Marymount students visited the State Department to attend an hour-long briefing with two officials from the Bureau of African Affairs to learn about U.S. efforts to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. Three students (including Jon Couch, pictured below) asked questions.
For students choosing to study politics at Marymount, the university’s “capital location” is a draw based on its potential to provide students with opportunities to learn more about the government first hand. Such an experience was conducted in Dr. Chad Rector’s American Foreign Policy class in March when Dr. Peter Howard of the State Department came to speak.
Dr. Howard was able to give students as much of an inside look at the inner workings of foreign policy and the United States government as declassification would allow. Working in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, students were quick to engage Dr. Howard in discussion concerning the Arab Spring, especially since several of the students hailed from those countries involved. Continue reading A Taste of the Arab Spring: Marymount students discuss world politics with Dept. of State official