Texas Tech University

Global Policy and Rhetoric the Focus of Civil Counterpoints

George Watson

September 26, 2018

Civil counterpoints

The conversation series will examine the role of the U.S. in global affairs under President Trump.

From the moment the Donald Trump administration took office – and even before that – there has been a clear signal that their approach to international diplomacy would look nothing like it has in the past.

That much was evident as the president began having open dialogue with Russian president Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un while getting into verbal spats with traditional U.S allies such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But that was just the beginning. President Trump applied his different view of foreign affairs to his economic policies, imposing, or threatening to impose, huge new tariffs on Chinese, Canadian and European goods, forcing retaliatory tariffs on American products and leading to higher costs for some products and services and more difficult access to international markets for some U.S. producers.

The intent in disrupting those long-standing methods to dealing with global affairs was to keep the campaign promise of putting the interests of the U.S. above all other considerations, regardless of how the rest of the world reacted. New policies, ranging from the controversial travel bans and trade barriers to more adversarial language toward long-time NATO allies and U.S. intelligence agencies and curiously softer language toward dictatorial regimes, have left some traditional foreign affairs experts scratching their heads.

Traditional policy, politics and trade have been turned upside down, and some members of Congress, the diplomatic corps and other agencies have tried to calm fears from allies of whether the U.S. will remain a partner they can count upon. The role of the U.S. in foreign affairs and the rhetoric that will be used going forward will be the subject of the Civil Counterpoints session of the fall semester.

“Global (Dis)order? The U.S. Role in International Affairs,” the sixth installment of the Civil Counterpoints series, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday (Oct. 1) in the Red Raider Ballroom of the Texas Tech Student Union Building. Audience interaction is encouraged, and a reception with the expert guests will follow.

“Is ‘America First' America's best? Do traditional alliances still matter? Does ‘free trade' promote international partnerships and peace or inequality and class warfare? Can the United States be a world leader without securing its own borders?,” asked Sean Cunningham, chairman of the Department of History in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of the faculty advisory council to Civil Counterpoints who will host the session.

“These issues – and others like them – permeate conversations about our nation's role in the world and the responsibilities that come with global leadership in the age of globalization. Civil Counterpoints will explore these issues from every angle, with the help of an expert panel and a fully engaged audience, ready to embrace both mutual respect and diversity of thought.”

Experts for this installment of Civil Counterpoints include:

  • Col. David Lewis, a retired United States Air Force officer and the director of the strategic studies graduate program in the Department of Political Science. Lewis garnered extensive operational and staff experience in his time a professor of strategy at the United States Naval War College, and he teaches courses in strategy, intelligence, terrorism, counterinsurgency, national security and public sector security. Pavlik, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Her research interests fall broadly within the fields of economic growth and development, with a particular emphasis on the role of institutions. Her narrower focus is on the role of corruption within institutions. Within these areas of interest, she seeks to thoroughly answer unexplored questions as an applied economist.
  • Mark Tokola, vice president of the Korea Economic Institute of America in Washington, D.C. A retired U.S. senior foreign service officer, he most recently served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London, and has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at embassies in Seoul, South Korea; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia; and Reykjavik, Iceland. He earned the U.S. State Department's Superior Honor Award for helping implement the Dayton Peace Accords while serving as Political Counselor in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1997 to 1999.
  • Robert Murphy, a research assistant professor in the Free Market Institute. Murphy also serves as the senior economist at the Institute for Energy Research in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis on the functions, operations and government regulation of global energy markets. He also is a senior fellow with the Frazier Institute, an associated scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute and research fellow at the Independent Institute.

Jorge Ramírez, the Walter and Anne Huffman Professor of Law in the Texas Tech School of Law, will moderate the discussion.

Civil Counterpoints is a collaboration among faculty members from the College of Media & Communication, the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources and the Honors College to encourage civility and open-mindedness in discussions of controversial topics. Support is provided by Texas Tech's Office of the President and the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, and segments of the discussion will air on KTTZ-TV in the future.
The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in the event also can follow along on Twitter and contribute to the discussion using the hashtag #ttubecivil.

For more information on Civil Counterpoints, including dates and topics for future discussions, go to its website.