What issues are missing from the election agenda?
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: What issues are missing from the election agenda?
Ted Sorensen: Many. We still have, as I mentioned earlier, serious civil rights problems in this country in terms of the unfair treatment and status of our Black, and Hispanic, and other citizens. In addition to that we still . . . They are talking about medical care. They are talking about education, at least in very broad terms. And we certainly have a long way to go before our schools can compete with the education being received all over the world in math, science, and other subjects. On the foreign policy front, we’re saying almost nothing about Pakistan, which I think may be the next great danger point in the world – at least to the values that we hold dear. We’re saying almost nothing about logical, balanced solutions to the continuing conflict in the Middle East, because American politicians are afraid to address a balanced solution in the Middle East. So there are a good many subjects that . . . I might add in 1960, the candidates – or at least John F. Kennedy – talked about real issues and real proposals. It was in the 1960 campaign that he advanced the Peace Corps idea. It was in the 1960 campaign that he advanced the Alliance for Progress with Latin America. It was in the 1960 campaign that he proposed an arms cord control and disarmament agency; that he talked about having more Blacks in the foreign service, and so on. He was not afraid to talk about very important issues and sensitive decisions.
Question: What’s holding the candidates back?
Ted Sorensen: Politics.
Recorded on: 1/30/08
Too many to count, says Sorensen.
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