Bheko Dube–USAME Seminar

The following reports were written by Bheko Dube, a student in International Studies, Political Science, and Anthropology. The Tower Center funded his conference trip to “The United States Meets Europe: A Forum for Young Leaders (USAME)” in New York and Washington, DC.

Monday, April 19, 2010
The conference began with a mini tutorial and a speech by Klaus Linsenmeier of Heinrich Boll Stiftung followed by a Q&A session. Mr Linsenmeier spoke about the need for transatlantic cooperation in the development of green technologies. Mr Linsenmeier and his European counterparts have advocated for a new strategy, ”The Green New Deal” to combat the myriad of contemporary global problems that have slowly nipped away at our world as we know it. What’s the issue – It is a combination of a credit-fuelled financial crisis, accelerating climate change and the looming peak in oil production. These three overlapping events threaten to develop into a perfect storm, the like of which has not been seen since the Great Depression. To help prevent this from happening and to lay the foundations of future economic systems a new solution has been coined — it is called The Green New Deal. History- The original New Deal was a series of economic programs passed by congress during FDR’s first presidency. These programs were implemented as a response to The Great Depression. The Green New Deal much like the original New Deal, each solution is viewed by some as fit for current issues. What I gathered from the presentations is that green technology can be used to simultaneously fix the environment and the economy. That is a very commendable suggestion by Mr Linsenmeier and his counterparts but it is overly simplistic and idealistic; case in point South Africa received a loan for USD$4B from the World Bank to build a new coal station — coal is hardly green. Assuming that green technology is just as good if not better than coal why wouldn’t the World Bank channel those resources into green technology? If green technology cannot be used on a micro level in a relatively small country like South Africa an argument can be made that green technology is not viable enough to sustain a thousandth of the world???s population and therefore the green revolution is still a pipe dream.

From Drop Box

In the picture From the left Bheko Dube (SMU), Klaus Linsenmeier (CEO Heinrich Boll Stiftung), Mamadou Diallo (SMU)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The morning session featured a lecture on Transatlantic relations during the cold war by former ambassador to Hungary Mark Palmer. His main thrust was emphasizing how Russia and the United States became paranoid and fearful of each other based on unfounded assumptions. The ambassador also went on to articulate how the Central and Eastern Europe had changed since the end of the cold war. The question that remains to be answered is whether another cold war could emerge as the US, Russia and China are displaying the same paranoid tendencies that gave rise to the original cold war.
The afternoon session featured an interactive seminar at the Congressional Research Service with speakers Kennon Nakamura and Matthew Weed. They discussed the evolution of US public and foreign policy since the end of the cold war and up to current policies. It was a very informative session as both speakers were able to give insight as to how why the US takes certain foreign policy stances. Of particular interest was the current state of affairs regarding the treatment of rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran. What kind of threat do they pose to the US and their allies?
At the end of the seminar Mr Weed was kind enough to explain how we can work as Interns with various governmental and non governmental public policy institutions.