In an effort to bring foreign-policy issues from Washington to Los Angeles, the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations hosted U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Rogue States: Engage, Isolate, or Strike? a conference featuring former presidential hopeful and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Burkle Center senior fellow Gen. Wesley Clark.
Academics, policymakers and government and military practitioners discussed the concept of a rogue state and U.S. foreign policy relating to countries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea on Tuesday.
In an effort to bring foreign-policy issues from Washington to Los Angeles, the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations hosted “U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Rogue States: Engage, Isolate, or Strike?” – a conference featuring former presidential hopeful and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Burkle Center senior fellow Gen. Wesley Clark.
Anna Spain, the assistant director of the Burkle Center, said the topic of this year’s annual conference arose as a result of the hype surrounding the presidential election and the nearing administration change.
“World affairs demand that we take a close look at U.S. foreign policy and our relationship with the world,” she said.
Panelists debated various foreign-policy options such as engagement, isolation and intervention, in relation to a variety of states, including Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Sudan, China and Russia.
Many said they believed there is need for withdrawal from Iraq. They also generally agreed the United States should solve future conflict through diplomatic relations and use military action as a last resort.
In his keynote address, Richardson entertained the audience with stories of late-night meetings with Saddam Hussein and talks about baseball with Fidel Castro, while emphasizing the need for engagement and discussion when resolving issues with nations such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Cuba.
“Dealing with rogue states is not always going to work, but I believe what you need is an effort of engagement,” Richardson said.
For example, in reference to Iran, Richardson said he believes the U.S. should partake in sustained multilateral negotiations to keep the country from participating in nuclear proliferation.
He added that the U.S. should work to improve its reputation as a country that stands for democracy and human rights and regain its position as a respected world power by shutting down Guantanamo Bay and reinstating habeas corpus.
“We should be leading and participating and trying to make the world better,” he said.
In the discussion about foreign-policy decisions facing the next administration, Clark addressed the complexity of the global situation George W. Bush’s successor will be thrown into.
“Our next president is going to have to start with a comprehensive national strategy,” Clark said. “It’s going to consist of making more friends and fewer enemies in the world, ... of working with others to make America stronger and safer, and it’s going to move away from the idea (of preventative war).”
Clark also reiterated the need for America to regain its power and prestige but expressed optimism in the nation’s ability to do so.
“We’re still the most potent player in the world arena” he said. “I think America can come back (and) I think (America) will come back.”
Ryan Mullen, a first-year global studies student, said he felt the opportunity to hear the opinions of such qualified sources was valuable.
Ayla Dillard, program assistant for the UCLA Burkle Center, said she was pleased with the turnout and felt that the conference succeeded in instigating conversation about important and relevant issues.
She added that she hopes the audience came out of the conference with a more well-rounded view and educated mind.
“It’s about getting the dialogue started,” Dillard said. She also said she hoped individuals would leave ready to be more active global citizens.
Spain said she wanted the audience to gain an understanding of past, current and future foreign-policy options.
She also added she wanted to encourage the audience to be more informed about and involved with foreign policy because she felt these issues are extremely relevant to the upcoming change in presidential administration.
“The public is capable of understanding complex matters and making decisions,” Spain said.
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008