A conversation with five of the most influential decision makers of our time took place earlier this afternoon in Lisner Auditorium. The event dubbed, "The Next President, a World of Challenges" was meant to spark a public discourse surrounding the issues that face the United States.
Former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright, Colin Powell, James Baker III, Warren Christopher, and Henry Kissinger graced the stage for the ninety minute event moderated by CNN Special Correspondent and GW Professor Frank Sesno along with Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent
The event covered an array of subjects including the economy, global warming, and the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Georgia, Darfur, and the role of the media in public life. Generally, the secretaries were in agreement over the issues. Among these topics was whether to engage perceived enemies like Iran. Albright summarized the consensus by saying, "You need to engage with countries you have problems with," but also warned against pushing too hard against the Middle Eastern nation saying that it may only rally anti-American support behind the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Quarrels arose over issues like Darfur where the secretaries sought to stymie the genocide occurring in Africa, but stopped short of demanding action because a response allegedly would not benefit American interests and would stretch American resources thin.
Despite being within fifty days of a general election, the secretaries only briefly touched upon the actual candidates, and instead focused on one of two lenses - the role of a 21st century America in a globalized world, and how America would engage it's enemies and allies to resolve the problems circumventing the globe.
While the event was meant to be a dignified gathering of students, diplomats, and foreign dignitaries, Secretary Baker, who served President George H.W. Bush, humorously claimed the solution to Global Warming was to kill all the world's cows because their methane riddled farts contribute to global warming. Meanwhile, in an assumed jab at Alaskan Governor, and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Secretary Albright claimed that Global Warming occurs everywhere except in Alaska. Both were rare light moments in an afternoon meant to transcend partisan lines and offer the next President of the United States guidance in a rapidly changing world.
The event will air on CNN beginning September 20th at 9pm.
- Jesse Regis