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Posted by on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Academics, College Life, Conference, Extracurriculars, Speakers, Speakers Committee, Vanderbilt Programming Board.

Each year, Vanderbilt Programming Board hosts several distinguished speakers at its IMPACT Symposium to give lectures on consecutive nights about a variety of political topics. In the past, speakers have included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Strom Thurmond, and Robert F. Kennedy (just to give a sample of the many prestigious guests). This year, I had the privilege of attending the second night of the symposium for a discussion on foreign policy between Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) and Gov. Jon Huntsman.

The above paragraph will be seen in the “excerpt” section for this particular article, so now I’m free to give a more honest assessment of my feelings on the matter.


(Turns out you can do fancy formatting. Expect to see more of this!)

I was a Huntsman supporter in the Republican primaries (note: these views are strictly the author’s and do not reflect/are not affiliated with the official views of the University, or something like that) before he dropped out to leave America in dire straits. He really attracted me with his extensive foreign policy experience (as former ambassador to China) and his willingness to work across the aisle (he accepted the position from President Obama), both of which established him as a very moderate, bipartisan candidate and a seemingly rational man. Needless to say, I was really excited about getting to hear him speak! Combined with the star power of Gen. Clark, who served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe for NATO, the speakers made for a very intellectually engaging night.

VU ROTC with Gen. Clark!

InsideVandy covered the talk in more detail than I’ll delve into, but the duo discussed three main issues: China as a rising superpower, U.S. policy in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and a nuclear Iran. I found the fact that the pair agreed on virtually every issue, despite their divided party loyalties, to be a mark of commitment to country – Wisdom and experience in foreign policy dictated their views, rather than a party line. After the foreign policy talk, each speaker closed with a short plea to Vandy students, urging us to use our excellent education for the good of the nation. “I don’t want anyone to walk out of this room tonight, particularly students, without recognizing a commitment back to society,” Huntsman said, advice that, frankly, made me want to get out of my seat and go engage in some hardcore diplomacy.

After the talk, General Clark ran straight to the ROTC section (there were five cadets plus a few cadre) to shake our hands and get a picture with us! I had my eye on the prize, though – Once Gen. Clark had brought us on stage, I refused to leave until I could get in a picture with Gov. Huntsman.

I was the only silly one with my arms in front of me... Alas.

Mission accomplished.

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