Has the Iraq War damaged America’s bargaining position?
Theodore C. Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy and a widely published author on the presidency and foreign affairs, practiced international law for more than 36 years as a senior partner, and now of counsel, at the prominent U.S. law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The former chairman of the firm’s International Practice Committee, he has represented U.S. and multinational corporations in negotiations with governments all over the world and advised and assisted a large number of foreign governments and government leaders, ranging from the late President Sadat of Egypt to former President Mandela of South Africa.
Mr. Sorensen and his team at Paul, Weiss have advised U.S. corporations on factories in Russia and Africa, pipelines in the Caribbean and Latin America, and disputes in the Middle East and North America, and negotiated on their behalf with government officials at the highest level in dozens of countries. He has advised foreign corporations from five continents on investments in the United States and elsewhere, foreign governments on problems with the World Bank, the United Nations, the U.S. government and foreign investors, and on changes in their respective mining, petroleum, investment and election codes, and constitutions.
In 2002, Mr. Sorensen was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Sorensen is on the advisory board of the Foreign Policy Leadership Council, a director of the Council on Foreign Relations (until 2004) and the Century Foundation, a member of the advisory board of the Partnership for a Secure America and an honorary co-chair of the ABA Commission on the Renaissance of Idealism in the Legal Profession. Mr. Sorensen is the author of the 1965 international best seller Kennedy, seven other books on the presidency, politics or foreign policy and numerous articles on those subjects in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times and other publications. As an active figure in the Democratic Party, he has participated in 10 of the last 12 Democratic Party National Conventions and served in a number of governmental, political and civic posts. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, he served on the boards of the Central Asian-American Enterprise Fund (covering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) and the Commission on White House Fellows. He is experienced in the ways of Washington, the United Nations and the multilateral (World Bank, IFC, etc.) and U.S. (AID, OPIC, etc.) financing institutions.
Mr. Sorensen was born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1928. He is father of three sons, one daughter and is married to Gillian Martin Sorensen, a former New York City commissioner, a former United Nations under-secretary general and current senior advisor and national advocate at the United Nations Foundation. Mr. Sorensen's memoirs, Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History, were published by HarperCollins in May of 2008.
Question: Has the Iraq War damaged America’s bargaining position?
Ted Sorensen: Our diplomatic power used to rely on our moral authority. It used to rely on our values, our principles, our active role in the United Nations and in the international courts, and in multi-lateral agreements in Europe and around the world. It used to rely on the humanitarian aid and the economic development aid – I have to put in a word there for the peace corps – in which America showed its best face and noblest instincts to the world. For the last seven years we have shown our ugliest face and our worst instincts to the world. We have shown the world that we’re a threat – that we’re relying on our military to get our way like a bully in the schoolyard. And so that moral authority is largely gone until a new administration tries to regain the respect that the United States had for so long until the Supreme Court, on a decision that they had no legal basis whatsoever, chose the President in this country against the wishes of the American people.
Question: What’s the best way to fix our image abroad?
Ted Sorensen: The best way to fix our image in the world is to elect a president who will show a different face to the world; who will immediately begin a different policy toward the world – not only a more peaceful, more lateral policy committed to justice and human rights instead of war, but also a policy that represents American values. We are still a great and generous country. There is still so much we have to show the world. A new president . . . And there’s only one in my view who can do that – Senator Obama . . . A new president can convince the world that this ugly chapter of the last seven and a half years is over at last. And that will require that president saying so to the United Nations, which the current administration has largely ignored or opposed. It will require that new president appointing ambassadors . . . not an ambassador to the UN who despises the UN such as Mr. Bush and Mr. Bolton, but ambassadors to all the world; doubling the size of the Peace Corps; doubling our humanitarian aid; being sincere and realistic about trying to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa. That’s good that we’re giving money. That’s fine. But we refuse to let the money be spent on condoms, which are essential to prevent the spread of AIDS in the rest of the world. So there are so many ways that we can demonstrate that yes, we want to help, not hurt the rest of the world.
Our diplomatic efforts used to depend on our moral authority, Sorensen says.
The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
Research has shown that men today have less testosterone than they used to. What's happening?
- Several studies have confirmed that testosterone counts in men are lower than what they used to be just a few decades ago.
- While most men still have perfectly healthy testosterone levels, its reduction puts men at risk for many negative health outcomes.
- The cause of this drop in testosterone isn't entirely clear, but evidence suggests that it is a multifaceted result of modern, industrialized life.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.