| 03.19.2018

Clearing future of foreign policy chaos


On Wednesday, the University of Idaho held its annual Martin Forum in the Administration Building Auditorium, with retired Ambassador Richard LeBaron as its speaker.
LeBaron’s foreign diplomacy experience, particularly in the Middle East, allowed him to discuss the topic, “The Future of US Foreign Policy.”
“Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, but learning from the past is also surprisingly difficult,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said statistics have shown the United States is currently living in one of the least violent times in history. He said this is mostly due to the fact that no country is even close to the military strength of the U.S.
LeBaron said despite the recent recessions in the U.S. and the economic growth in other countries, the United States continues to be one of the largest economic powers in the world.
LeBaron asked the question “What are we to make of China?” He specifically asked the
audience to say the first word which came to mind when he said the word China. Some answers were cheap, overpopulated and industrialization, but the word LeBaron thought of was “nuts.” He said he had some friends who made a living producing and selling cashews. He said they sold around 90 percent of their product to China.
“People all over this country are involved in China in ways they never would have expected,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said China’s success is not a threat to the U.S., but in fact China’s success is directly related to the success of the U.S.
“Our security, and that of our friends in Asia, is based on China’s success,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said the goal is for a confident and successful China as an ally of the U.S. He said in the past year 200,000 Chinese students studied in North America, a 23 percent increase from last year. He said the mutual advancement in education will allow both our countries grow and establish security.
“We need to make sure we maintain the best intelligence possible,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said the U.S. cannot define its strength simply through military assets, but also from
the knowledge and education of this countries citizens. He said the U.S. is slowly approaching the point of failure in education, with 35 percent of children failing to graduate high school.
“Most of the world expects us to be special,” LeBaron said.
Addressing the matter of terrorism, LeBaron said terrorism does not serve as a threat to this country’s current way of life, or its economic standing. He said we need to give less attention to terrorists so they cannot thrive and will eventually be wiped from the pages of U.S. history. LeBaron said even though terrorism is not unique to the Middle East, Americans view that area as the main hotspot of terrorist activity.
He said most Americans think the Middle East is a mess that we cannot help.
“It’s not impossible at all,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said he has seen members of hostile opposing Middle Eastern factions work together to achieve mutual goals.
“Building defensive walls around Israel is like healing a wound with very expensive bandages,” LeBaron said.
LeBaron said the better the U.S. is at planning for violence, the better we will be at disrupting it, and all this can be achieved through the U.S. foreign policy of the future.
Erik Fink can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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