Good evening. I want to begin by thanking Dawn Teele and Professor Paul Gronke for bringing me here as well as the Oregon World Affairs Council and, especially, the sponsors of the Munk-Darling lecture series.
I am truly honored by the invitation to Reed College and grateful for your warm welcome. I’ve been privileged to spend much of my day here with Reed students and am thoroughly impressed by this unique and remarkable place. I am looking forward now to spending some time with you discussing what I hope you will agree is an important topic.
First, allow me to extend greetings from that strange and rarified place, Washington, D.C. Now, Washington is actually my hometown, and I love it. But, I am sad to say that, though I am not so old, even in my lifetime, so much there has changed. In the last fifteen years, and even more so in the last several, Washington has become incredibly polarized. Partisan rancor is at an all time high. True states-men and women, the venerable work-horses of Congress, are few and far between. Effective congressional oversight is almost an oxymoron.
Yet, in other ways, not enough has changed. Those of us who care about Africa must lament that, in the hierarchy of national security priorities, conventional wisdom still places Africa near the bottom. Some Members of Congress, regrettably, deem assignment to the Africa subcommittee as “drawing the short straw.” Sometimes, the most ambitious Foreign Service officers prefer postings to Europe or Asia or the Middle East over Africa. So, along with others, I labor to try to change the perception that Africa matters only marginally. I do so, because such ignorance is not just shameful. It’s dangerous.
[Nikki Haley] would make speeches that bore little or no relation to Trump’s position.
People are afraid of [Mr. Trump] because he’s got a lot of power but they are also wise to the act because they find him ridiculous...Some of them thought they could flatter him, but during the past few months European and Asian leaders have realized that isn’t enough to get substantial concessions and now they are looking for leverage.
Most presidents would outline a plan to deal with Iran after the nuclear deal, or to transform NATO to cope with the threat from authoritarian states, or to resolve the trade war...But Trump is not one for detail or course correction. In his world, there was a problem, so he did something quickly. And now it’s solved. To say anything else is to suggest the unthinkable — that he is not a magician.