By Danielle Rideau
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 18, 2005
The fallacies and downfalls of American foreign policy were directly questioned and addressed by award-winning author and lecturer yesterday as part of the J. Byron McCormick Lecture series.
Pulitzer Prize winner, Samantha Power, asked the crowd of 250 in the James Roger's College of Law, "Are American foreign policy and security compatible, and can the United States be secure with the rate that we are going?"
Power outlined the structural problems with the foreign policy implemented by the United States and the future of ally and enemy relations.
A structural fault with the foreign policy abroad is that the recipients, victims or benefactors, of America's policies are not direct players in the decision-making, she said.
Since the countries and citizens receiving policies are not directly involved in the process, the United States does not hear about the effects of their decisions, Power said.
Power said while the framers of the U.S. constitution were "extraordinary men," they wrote policies based on the idea that American people must have restrictions to protect them from themselves.
"If we don't have checks on power, we won't do things for people who are different than us," Power said. "And if we are left to our own devices, we would choose short term over long term."
Many countries recognize there are widespread problems throughout the world, but the number of people doing something to change those issues is limited, Power said.
One of the only groups helping to rid the world of oppression and strife, Power said, is the evangelical groups who are helping the Christians in struggling countries.
A common misconception might have something to do with why foreign policy is lacking, because many leaders believe when they come into office they have to completely start over, Power said.
"The clock doesn't start over with each new leader, the leadership and policies have to be cumulative," Power said.
Many leaders are handling the policies as situational issues and making changes with each country, said Power, who refers to this trend as "a la cart-ism."
With this practice, countries discount the effect of other policies when helping other nations in need.
Power said the 2000-2004 George W. Bush administration preferred the United States to be feared rather than liked in the world, but they are now changing that perspective and trying to gain respect.
She said the Bush administration is changing their philosophy and trying to win back the affection that was lost. But now, it's less about affection and more about respect.
Students thought what Powers said about foreign policy was thought-provoking.
"The idea that leaders have had the perception that they could wipe the slate clean and start everything over is interesting. It's a cumulative effect through time," said Matt Hitzhusen, a third year law student.
"America is very important in Human Relations and we are a country that needs to help. We are just touching the surface and not really giving as much assistance as we could," said Roopali Desai, a third year law student.
Power's speech was a part of the J. Byron McCormick Lecture series, which honors the memory of J. Byron McCormick, who served as the president of the UA from 1947-1951.