Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Presenter: Yale H. Ferguson
Yale H. Ferguson, Ph.D., Professorial Fellow, Division of Global Affairs, Rutgers University- Newark, resident of Bluffton and Cambridge, UK.
Moderator: Dr. John Miller
Dr. Ferguson challenged the audience to set aside well-known notions about smart, practical and ethical behavior on the part of nations; to think of the issues as
both complex and filled with unknowns.
He used the wisdom of experts across the ages to force thinking in unfamiliar ways:
Thucydides: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Machiavelli: “Here a question rises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse, The answer is, of course, is that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.”
Morgenthau (realism): “To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another.”
Kissinger: “In the end, peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power.”
Constructivists point out that our personal preconceptions and biases, our dependable “knowledge” of the world, is limited; therefore, when we “read” objective reality incorrectly, undesirable consequences may occur. Examples of such mistakes include the assumption of the Aztecs that Spaniards on horses were gods and the assumption, on the part of the George W. Bush administration, that Saddam Hussein was a threat because of weapons of mass destruction.
Liberalism advocates say that cooperative behavior is as “normal” as competitive behavior and is often, or possibly even usually, more successful.
On the basis of 50 years of studying and teaching in the field of international relations, Dr. Ferguson offered this as one of his own conclusions: “Most foreign policy decisions are colored in shades of gray.”
He addressed two issues under hot discussion in the presidential campaign:
Immigration: “We are all of us, in fact, a nation of immigrants.” Currently, the net immigration flow from Mexico is zero or less. Today’s immigrants are about 40 percent from South and Central America, 40 percent from Asia, 20 percent from Europe and Africa.
Hispanics and Africans tend to land in menial jobs, Asians in jobs requiring high-level skills and education.
Many agree on the need for better control of this nation’s borders, but there is deep disagreement about handling those already here.
As for future immigration of refugees, Thomas Friedman sees the world “being redivided into regions of order and disorder” and the situation being made worse by climate change, technology and markets.
Trade, especially treaties: (He said this as a bone of contention) is odd in light of the remarkable recovery in the US economy since 2008 as 14.4 million new jobs have been added in 73 consecutive months, unemployment has dropped from 10 to 5 percent, and the budget deficit has fallen by $1 trillion.
On the other hand, the US has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, and average middle- income families’ income have stagnated and possibly declined over the past few decades while the incomes of the top 1 percent have soared. Also, dramatic and increasing income inequality brings on much anxiety and leads Americans to blame trade agreements.
And yet, many old-style manufacturing jobs are not coming back for many reasons, and protectionism (tariffs and such) will strangle the economy and bring on even more job losses. “Future trade patterns,” he said, “are likely to rely on big-data transmissions enabling things like 3- D printing of goods abroad rather than shipping actual products.”
From the audience:
What about the UK pulling out of the European Union?
There will probably be economic costs to England, he said.
What about might being right across the world? Don’t guns and gold rule?
There is a great deal to be gained by cooperation.
What will happen if this country drops its trade agreements with others?
What are the coming impacts of climate change on the world?
“I absolutely believe in it, and I see nothing being done to solve the problem.”
What’s the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used today?
North Korea could put one into the United States from a ship; this country would then destroy North Korea; a balance of power is the only possible deterrence.