Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer speaks on foreign policy

Come one, come all, was the call to the student body to hear speaker Tom Hanson speak on current foreign affairs under President Trump’s administration.

The message was strong but weary of an uncertain future. Hanson presented a lot of fascinating information in his nearly hour and a half presentation, plus question sessions both midway and at the end of his presentation.

A special thanks to “Mankato Area Lifelong Learners” for bringing this opportunity to us, with Dave Allen announcing, “We need to thank the sponsorship, Community Bank and Mary Jo Surprenant.”

Hanson is a retired U.S. diplomat presently serving his third semester as Diplomat in Residence at the Royal D. Alworth Institute for International Studies. In the fulfillment of that role, he gives one public lecture per semester and does a variety of in class lectures as well.

His focus is on helping students with an interest in diplomatic careers, most specifically in the U.S. Foreign Service as well as the U.S. State Department.

While his online information sheet explains how diplomatic jobs have been steadily increasing since 9-11.
“Under President Trump,” he said, “that is no longer the case.”

At this time of need, the diplomat core is being drastically reduced, said Hanson, citing the reduction of those taking the test to enter these field dropping from 7,000 in 2006 to 2,000 in 2017.

Hanson explained how the U.S. political instability is having a fragmenting affect across the Western World. He spoke of Antonia Guaviare’s warning that “we should not sleepwalk into the future,” he said. Hanson also pointed out that by 2025, China will have more scientists than 35 countries of the Western Block.

He also spoke of how world debt is continuing to rise with Japan now at 200 percent of GDP and the US at 100 percent of GDP. He spoke of Brexit and the steadily increasing Populist movements in Europe and Eastern Europe as the refugee and immigration crisis grows

On foreign policy, Hanson spoke of Trump’s “America don’t get no respect” policy, and his claims that the rest of the world isn’t paying its fair share. Trump’s policy has shifted from multilateral to bilateral and this is affecting trade agreements, Hanson stated. The total restructuring of the State Department around this policy will affect foreign policy and Congress is pushing to reform the foreign service.

He talked about the U.S.’s withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and how that has forced China to create its own replacement policy. He also talked about his expectation that Trump’s new trade deals will reduce trade via tariff’s starting with steel.

Hanson spoke at length about the “New Silk Road” China and Europe are working on, and how that will move a huge percent of global trade back onto land and away from the modern sea routes.

“This is a huge change coming in the near future,” Hanson said.

He spoke of China taking the leadership role on climate change after Trump pulled us out and discussed how far China is ahead of us on genetic engineering since they have none of our restrictions. This discussion brought up the disturbing topic of how long we will be able to avoid war with China as our power declines and their’s rises.

During the question and answer portion of the talk, Hanson was asked if the U.S. could have done anything, intentionally, to have caused more instability in Europe than the influx of Muslim refugees. Always the diplomat, he answered that these were indeed factors, but steered away from any political blame.

One thought on “Former U.S. Foreign Service Officer speaks on foreign policy

  • January 26, 2018 at 1:22 pm
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    I recently transited from my adopted hometown of Bangkok over to Calcutta, an impoverished, slow paced artsy city with a Marxist tradition with streets packed with men carrying sagging bundles on their heads, scratchy voices coming from everywhere and rainbow colored Tatta lorries on the Howrah Bridge blaring an undulating roar across dark urban canyons clogged with old style Ambasador bumble bee taxis . Since my first visit in 1995 to Calcutta’s Howrah slums on the Hooghly River where you could look through crumbling walls into bathrooms and living rooms in the feverish evening light and where men shoveled Himalayas of garbage off of the streets–the Howrah slums are no more, but northern India in the winter is blanketed with a huge cloud of smog. If you want to know where Saint Paul’s Ford Motor plant went to–it went to Chennai in southern India. After two weeks of inhaling northern India’s vast cake of carbon, on this my seventh visit to the world’s most sensual riot of colors and smells–Bikaneer’s Camel Festival with its fierce maenad of ungulate dromedaries decked out in colors from head to foot I made the jump from Delhi over to Ryadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia where I am teaching at King Saud University. Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a three year old war with Yemen, a country I have traveled extensively. You probably had no idea that there was such a war going on. Two years ago I was living on the border of Yemen in Jazan Province teaching in an Aramco technical college now closed due to the war. Scuds exploding over Jazan Airport and over Khamis Al Mushaeit put an end to that gig.

    Most Americans seem unaware that under Obama the USA was fighting seven wars at one time. Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the disastrous war with Libya was a result of Khadafis attempt to establish a pan African currency to undermine the petrodollar. The result of his overthrow was the desperate migration into Europe of tens of thousands of Saharan and sub Saharan Africans. Other leaders have attempted to undermine the petro dollar, like Sadam Hussein, which is what the 2,003 war was about the result being ISIS rampaging across Syria murdering tens of thousands of Shiites and Christians,destroying hundreds of ancient Roman temples and Byzantine churches as well as beautiful new Shiite mosques. Trump has slated Venezuela for a possible brutal war for having attempted under Chavez to undermine the petrodollar.

    So this is America: we destroy other countries, then turn around and tell these people that we have loved them all along and we want to celebrate their diversity. There is no contradiction here. The reason ROTC has participated in campus multicultural events is that militarism and diversity go hand in hand: we destroy other countries then turn around and give them ours. Why? Probably because we no longer have the means or will to invest in our own children. We would rather invest in bombs because most of our teachers are religious zealots who know nothing about the sciences. Our schools have failed, so lets turn the world into a huge social Darwinism cesspool where we take the most talented survivors of the countries we have destroyed and bring them into America to train in our top universities.

    Daniel Sebold
    English/Spanish Alumnus and 91’Gulf War veteran, former US Navy Arabic Cryptologist

    Reply

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