• Recap: “China Rising: The Future of U.S. China Relations”

    China and the United States are the two strongest and largest economies in the world. Many have negative opinions about China and its rise to prominence on the world stage. Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes hosted distinguished panelists Dorinda Elliott of the China Institute, Ambassador Nicholas Platt, president of the Asia Society, Dr. Gary Jefferson of Brandeis University, and Dr. Lewis Rutherford, venture capital investor in Asian markets, for “China Rising,” a panel discussion on the future of U.S.-China relations.

    Dorinda Elliott began the discussion by noting China’s lack of strong policies regarding domestic and international relations which may clash with that of the United States, especially with their its rejection of democracy under a communist regime. She noted recent research that has shown that the Chinese people are satisfied with their government. With income levels in China increasing each year, the Chinese people are optimistic about their future and do not believe their way of life needs to be altered. Elliott warned that “we in the United States are in danger of falling behind and not even realizing it as China races into the future.”

    Ambassador Platt, who accompanied President Nixon on his historic trip to Bejiing in 1972, agreed America needs to play close attention to China in order to not fall behind economically and socially. He says competition and cooperation have been at the forefront of American and Chinese relations, but both countries have started to compete more, rather than cooperate. New policies are needed to strengthen the relationship between both powers to ensure peace, not conflict. Platt said he hopes President-elect Biden will not ignore the importance of good relations between the U.S. and China and will look to help them coexist as the world’s biggest economies.

    Dr. Rutherford, a seasoned venture capitalist in Asian markets and a China expert, added his remarks about his experiences as an investor. He said the “members of the panel and others have much respect for the Chinese people.” He said he hopes that other world powers will not misinterpret China as a real threat and recognize the positive opportunities of working with it.

    Looking at the future of China and the United States, Dr. Jefferson highlighted China’s quiet rise as America was preoccupied with various global challenges in recent history including its involvement Middle East conflicts, its domestic political challenges, and the ever-changing international political order. He said China sought to create order and prosperity after centuries of social, economic, and political chaos within, while America did not support its growth. To ensure productive relations with China, Jefferson said America must revitalize itself as the center of global innovation. He added this would allow many Chinese citizens to view America as a model country which may will help repair their damaged relationship. However, if America is in turmoil, the Chinese-American relationship will be too.

    After a brief question and answer session, a central theme of this lecture emerged: China is content with where they are and will continue to rise because of their strong government. America, the strongest economy and political power in the world, is losing its reputation as a partner for future innovation in the eyes of China. If the United States aspires to keep up with China, it must be willing to collaborate with it.

  • Recap: “What’s Next? Discussing the 2020 Election Results with Evelyn Farkas and David Shuster”

    The American people may be as divided as they ever have been politically, but there is one thing that all people in this country can agree on: the 2020 Election was an emotional rollercoaster. On Tuesday, November 12, Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes met with David Shuster and Evelyn Farkas via a Facebook live event entitled, “What’s Next: Discussing the 2020 Election Results” to debrief the Election of 2020 and what we should expect in the months before President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20, 2021. In this hour-long event, Shuster and Farkas dove into audience questions to help us truly understand the current state of America.

    Reporter and Emmy Award-winning broadcaster David Shuster believes the election was “unlike any election we have ever seen.” This is mostly due to the pandemic and the various ways that people had to vote, but also because participation in this election was the highest this country has ever seen. He believed Joe Biden would be the winner when it was all said and done, but was still surprised about how close the final margins were as vote counting continued to wrap up across the country. Former American National Security Advisor in the Obama administration, Evelyn Farkas, shared her thoughts in which she agreed that the results were surprising because of how close the vote was after Biden was projected to be the clear winner weeks ago.

    The importance of voting has never been more important. For Democrats, the African American population, and especially women, was a key factor in many states. For Republicans, surprisingly enough, the Latino and Hispanic vote were extremely important for their candidate Donald Trump in many states. For President-elect Biden and the Democratic party, it is imperative in future elections to appeal to the Latino and Hispanic population if they want continued support. Many voters around the country agree that the American government is “bleeding and needs to be fixed” and with President-elect Biden set to take office, it may just happen. However, it is important to highlight the fact that more people voted for former Vice President Biden to replace President Trump. The level of excitement that the country saw in the election of former President Barack Obama in 2008, for example, was not readily apparent in the Election of 2020.

    Farkas believes that we should be more worried about how Donald Trump deals with the loss rather than the transition that Joe Biden faces when he is set to take over in January of 2021. There are those in the Republican Party that will continue to avidly support President Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of this election but there are believed to be a few Republicans who understand how dangerous it is to continue to divide the country and the two parties like President Trump is doing now. All Joe Biden needs to do right now, according to Shuster, is worry about filling up positions in his cabinet and also to reassure the American public that he is not concerned with the President’s baseless claims and that we, as Americans, should continue to have faith in our democracy.

    The American Election of 2020 has drawn not only national attention, but worldwide attention as leaders congratulate Joe Biden on his win and promise to help the United States rebuild what many believe Donald Trump damaged. In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also shown his support for Joe Biden despite working closely with President Trump to address Israel’s lingering conflicts with Iran. In Russia, we may not see Vladimir Putin endorse Mr. Biden or abandon support of President Trump only because he fears what Trump would say or do in response.

    One of the most interesting questions of the event was “what lessons, if any, have been learned that would forestall the emergence of a more intelligent, ideologically driven, and more competent version of Trump in the future?” Shuster noted that even with all the problems and lawsuits against Mr. Trump in his presidential run, he still received 5 million more votes in this election. There is no real answer, but he urges the American people to be more aware about which candidate they choose and to have faith in American democracy. To bridge the gap between our parties in America, the American people and news media outlets alike need to unite to share common news that benefit everyone, not just specific parties and candidates. Both David Shuster and Evelyn Farkas are optimistic about the future of America, and with President-elect Biden in office, the country hopes he can address the coronavirus, deal with immigration issues, work on proper climate change measures, and most importantly, unite the American people.

  • Recap: “The Constitution and Foreign Affairs with Dr. Anthony Clark Arend”

    Constitution Day in the United States is held annually on September 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on that same day in 1787. While it spells out much of the American government’s framework, it says very little about the exercise of foreign affairs powers. However, some of the most contentious disputes between the legislative branches of the U.S. government have centered around foreign affairs. Dr. Anthony Clark Arend met with Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes for a Facebook live event entitled “The Constitution and Foreign Affairs” on September 17, 2020 to explore various questions, such as “how are we to understand these foreign affairs powers?” and “can these conflicts ever be resolved?”

    Dr. Arend started his lecture focusing in on a recent news headline hypothetical entitled “Allies and Former U.S. Officials Fear Trump Could Seek NATO Exit in a Second Term.” Arend believes that this could spark chaos in American politics if President Trump ends the alliance without the consultation of Congress and Senate. In 1979 however, President Carter was able to terminate the Taiwan Defense Treaty without judicial intervention.  In theory, President Trump would legally be able to pull away from NATO if President Carter was able to do it with Taiwan. This whole hypothetical is central to Arend’s argument because the Constitution and courts say little regarding foreign affairs, leaving these important decisions to the President and Congress.

    Congress does have some power when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs and these include regulating commerce, defining and punishing piracy and felonies on the high sea, and declaring war. The President is left with the job to faithfully execute these them. Arend stresses that in the end, the President and Congress must collaborate on foreign affairs. With Congress’ ability to declare war and the president serving as the commander in chief of the armed forces, it begs the question: “who has the final say when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs?”

    Arend has highlighted three main ideas when it comes to foreign affairs. The first being that the President’s authority has substantially grown since the end of World War II. When Congress authorized President Johnson to take necessary action to promote international peace and security in southeast Asia, they did not anticipate the resolution becoming the basis for expanding the conflict throughout the region. Presidential authority at the time authorized this act, thus being the first time Presidential authority went outside Congressional rule. Both Presidents Johnson and Nixon used the resolution to assume authority beyond Congress’s legislation.  When looking at the Cold War, Fidel Castro’s assassination attempts is another reach of Presidential power. Subsequent Presidents have continued to order covert missions that show the ever-growing power of Presidential authority.

    Arend says significant technological developments have enhanced presidential authority in foreign affairs. Some of these advances include the President’s ability to launch nuclear weapons. Prior to World War II, starting a war was a length political process, but with expanded presidential authority and the control of nuclear codes, Arend believes this is no longer the case, saying the President can “obliterate the world with the snap of a finger.” Arend adds that the court has been reluctant to get involved and will leave the majority of foreign affairs dealings to the President.

    Arend concludes his lecture by looking into the future of foreign affairs. He is uncertain about what will happen, but he left listeners with a quote to think about. Jackson Browne said famously that “the future’s there for anyone to change…” This resonated with Arend because he believes with each new President, actions will be different and thus, foreign powers will be executed differently. This Facebook live event, held by the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, and Dr. Arend’s knowledge on the topic of foreign policy is sure to raise awareness of the true powers each sect of the government has in the United States of America.