What is America's place in the world?
Lee H. Hamilton is president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and director of The Center on Congress at Indiana University. Hamilton represented Indiana’s 9th congressional district for 34 years beginning January 1965. He served as chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. As a member of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee Hamilton was a primary draftsman of several House ethics reforms.
Since leaving the House, Hamilton has served on several commissions including serving as Vice-Chair of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, the National Commission on the War Powers of the President and the Congress, and the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. He is currently a member of the FBI Director’s Advisory Board, the Defense Secretary’s National Security Study Group, and the US Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Preventing the Entry of Weapons of Mass Effect on American Soil.
The overwhelming challenge in the world today for the United States is how we use this power – unrivaled power, unprecedented power, unmatched power – economically, militarily, technologically, culturally? How we use that power to protect American interests and to make a better world – safer, more prosperous. That is the great challenge for the country now, and I think will be for many, many years to come. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do. I think we’ve had quite a setback, and we have not used that power as wisely, and prudently and effectively as we should have used it – particularly with regard to the war in Iraq. But this is behind us now, and we are where we are. We can’t change recent events and recent history. So I think we have to apply American power pragmatically, realistically. We have to make sure that we do not set goals for ourselves that we cannot achieve. When President Bush said we’re going to end tyranny in the world, that is idealism beyond reach. When President Kennedy said we must bear any burden, that is beyond reach. It’s an ideal, but the problem is matching resources to achieve your goal. And Americans, I think, have tended to overreach in the world, and to think that our power is so great that we can achieve all kinds of things. I have become impressed with the limitations of American power, and with the necessity of matching our goals with the means to achieve those goals; and to apply for ourselves pragmatic objectives around the world – achievable objectives. And to think that we can suddenly make democracy bloom in Saudi Arabia, and in Egypt, and in Pakistan is a stretch. We can’t do it. But I am also impressed that American ideals are good and solid. But we cannot accomplish them without a lot of help. If you sit down and try to name the most difficult problems that bother you – I don’t know what they might be . . . climate change, drugs, conflicts of all kinds, rising tensions in the world, HIV/AIDS, whatever . . . nuclear proliferation – you have to be impressed, I think, with the fact that you cannot achieve those goals by yourself. We have to have help. As big as we are, as smart as we are, as rich as we are, we need help. And we have to learn to work together. The great genius of American diplomacy came about, at least in my lifetime, after World War II when the idealism of the American people was captured pragmatically, and we rebuilt Europe with the Marshall Plan – Europeans leading the way, of course, but with our help. And we had this flowering of diplomacy. The World Bank, the IMF, what eventually became the WTO – the World Trade Organization – the United Nations. In other words, we advanced American interests, but we did it by cooperating with other countries around the world. We did not say, “This is the way it’s going to be. It’s going to be the American model. We’re going to do it our way. We’re going to impose it upon you.” We rejected that, and we took the generosity of the American public. Just think for a moment. We defeated Japan and Germany. They were the great evil – Adolf Hitler, Tojo – some people will remember that – the Emperor of Japan. After the war, we immediately turned around – immediately – and gave aid to those countries. What a remarkable thing. Think of that. We gave aid to the people we had been fighting for years. Well how do you capture that spirit again? That generosity? That pragmatism? That ability to advance your interests, but also include the interests of others? That’s the great challenge for us. I think the United States wants to use its power in a way that will understand the cry for dignity in the world today; the cry for progress, for a better life. And the United States ought to try to say to the world, “We’re on your side. We can’t solve all of your problems. We would like to help.” Let me give you a very specific example. We think the madras schools in Pakistan are very bad. They teach hostility of Americans. They don’t teach the basics of education. So we have a program in effect now to help develop alternative educational systems in Pakistan. It’s a small program. It’s not gonna solve all the problems in Pakistan for sure; but the signal is right. “We’re on your side. We want to try to help you.” You see I think people around the world basically want the same things. They want a decent life for themselves. They want to be able to have healthcare and education. They want to be able to marry the person of their choice, and they want to have a decent retirement. All the things that we talk about all the time in America, I think it’s wanted by everybody in the world. So America has to be on the side of decency and on willingness to help; but it also has to recognize that we can’t do it all; that we can only say, “We can be on your side.” I’ll tell you an analogy. Every American politician is approached regularly by somebody who asks him or her to do something that is utterly impossible to do. I don’t know any successful American politician who says to that person, “I can’t help you.” What do you say? You say, “I understand your problem. I’d like to try to be helpful. I’m on your side.” It may be simplistic, but I don’t think it is. That’s what America has to do in the world. “We can’t solve all your problems, but we want for you the same thing we want for ourselves – a decent life – and we want to help.” Recorded on: 7/5/2007 at The Aspen Ideas Festival
America has to use its power wisely and decently.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.