Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, South Korea and Haiti were a few of the countries mentioned Monday night at the Roblee Lecture Series’ "Roundtable on U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security."
More than 50 people attended the 90-minute Stephens College event in Windsor Auditorium, 1407 East Broadway. The roundtable was open to the public and followed by a reception.
Cathy Scott, political science professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., and James Wirtz, professor and chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., were on hand as panelists to answer questions from the audience. A. Cooper Drury, an assistant political science professor at MU, served as moderator for the evening.
To open the discussion, panelists addressed questions submitted ahead of time by Stephens College students ranging from how the United States and United Kingdom’s actions in Iraq without the approval of the United Nations might damage the U.N. Security Council’s future effectiveness to the role human intelligence in other countries plays in our national security.
"I think the most important point of the lecture is to hear different points of view on current and important topics," said Carolyn James, Roblee Lecture series committee member, before the roundtable discussion began.
Once the opening questions were answered, the floor was opened to the audience for further questions regarding U.S. foreign policy and national security. Although the first question was slow in coming, after it was asked there was a steady stream of people willing to ask the night’s experts their opinions on various matters concerning the United States today.
One issue discussed repeatedly was the U.S. involvement in Iraq and the implications of a continued presence in that country.
"The idea that Iraq is going to achieve the kind of sovereignty you’re used to seeing in the global system is not the case," Scott said. She said she believes that a U.S. and U.N. presence will be necessary for a long time to come.
Wirtz, on the other hand, citing the people that didn’t even have shoes on their feet as they greeted the U.S. soldiers rolling through their villages, declared himself an optimist. "We don’t really need Iraq to be an ally," he said in response to a question raised about the expected returns of the United States mission in the country. "We just need it to have responsible government that provides stability and protects the Iraqi people and provides what we all want — to buy people shoes."
Many points of view were raised throughout the evening by students, faculty and members of the community, which some found to be a refreshing change.
"I feel that our foreign policy as a country is one-sided," said Rhyane Wagner, a Stephens College student. "I think there’s a lack of knowledge in our foreign policy. I think we tend to go against things we don’t understand."