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.