SIR Voices

Student Perspective: Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley Visits IR 303

By Yining Bei

Seeing abstract classroom concepts translate into real-life figures or events has always been an awe-inspiring experience. The visit of Kim Beazley, the Ambassador of Australia to the United States, to our Diplomacy and Leadership class was no exception.

In his one-hour talk, Ambassador Beazley gave a broad overview of Australia’s foreign policy strategies from the end of WWII, a period of wholehearted support for UN collective security, to the Cold War, when Australia’s preoccupation shifted to its alignment with the west for survival, and finally to the present.  Beazley elaborated on Australia’s growing importance to the US due to increasing geopolitical significance of Southeast Asia, its leadership in multilateral regional organizations, and its role as a “channel of communication” between the US and the rest of the US allies in Asia. On the other hand, Beazley emphasized that Australia’s dependency on the US was far greater now than ever. According to him, Australia was only able to surpass its neighbors, in a more and more trouble-filled region, with access to American technological, economic and security support.

Beazley dedicated the final and most revealing part of his talk to describing his job as the Ambassador. He generously shared inside stories of how he played a role in negotiating with the Congress to pass the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty and more recently, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Moreover, he contributed to such debates that we had in class as “political appointments v. career ambassadors”, as one of the only three political appointees of Australian Foreign Service. Also, he spent time detailing his handling of diplomatic cables, complementing our previous class discussions on George Kennan’s Long Telegram and assignments that analyzed cables sent by the US Embassy in Kenya.

Student Perspective: Global Threats Roundtable with General Petraeu

By Claire Bond

On Thursday, November 5th, General David Petraeus (ret.) spoke alongside Dr. Robert English and Dr. David Kang. The speakers identified what they saw as the primary threats in their areas of expertise.

General Petraeus talked more broadly about threats to peace and stability all over the world. He sees the erosion of peacekeeping methods of international organizations and the rise of the power if China in these international organizations as a threat, especially because of China’s aggression in the South China Sea. He also discussed how Iran’s threat to regional hegemony could destabilize the region and threaten neighboring countries, creating a security crisis in the area. General Petraeus also mentioned how he views the partisanship and lack of compromise in DC as a threat to global security, because the US is not able to efficiently and effectively enact security policies.

Professor Kang talked about the TPP as how it can be a cornerstone of the US pivot to Asia and cement our relationship with Asian countries. He sees the biggest threats coming from China as their desire for global primacy, not from their economic slowdown. China buys into the capitalist market in practice if not in name, so the biggest challenge is how and if the US will fight them for the role of the primary global superpower. China wants to push the US out of the South China sea, and how that situation plays out could be telling for our future relations with China.

Professor English spoke about how the US should not misinterpret or overreact to the actions of Russia, because then it can blind us to areas of cooperation. We need to understand Russia’s motivation and long-term strategy. They are very nervous about terrorism and instability in areas like Syria spilling over, which is why they fear as regime change. A possible way to help ease the tension would be to convince Syrians, especially Alawites, of their post-conflict security.


2015 Jerry Bender Award: Interning with the Rwanda Development Board

By Rebecca Homan

As an International Relations and Environmental Studies double major and as a rising senior I was faced with the challenge of finding the “perfect internship” during my last summer as an undergraduate student before I’ll unleashed into “the real world.” With the feeling of uncertainty hanging in my future I decided to take a risk and take the unconventional route for my last summer internship. Instead of entering a heavily structured 10 week internship program at a top consulting firm or working as a research assistant like many of my peers I decided to take an internship with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).  By accepting an offer at RDB I hoped to continue pursuing my interest of learning about post-conflict societies and developing countries.

Without a question my time in Rwanda was the most personally challenging time period in my life. After being away from home for over 5 months I came to Kigali after a semester abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. Landing in Kigali was a whirlwind. Coming to Rwanda by myself pushed me and challenged me in so many ways. I had never been in a position where I had been thousands of miles away from any one I had known in a country so culturally different than my own. Comparing this past summer in Rwanda to my first trip to Rwanda with the USC PWP program was completely different. Being completely on my own for two months with no familiar faces around pushed me to befriend travelers at the hostel I stayed at and co-workers that were often at least 10 years older than me. My life in Rwanda forced me to be truly independent and self-sufficient and offered me an accurate insight as to what it would be like to pursue a career in economic and social development.

Therefore, with the previously mentioned in mind I would recommend for future students to pursue their independent interests and projects—even if it is a little more unconventional. What I learned during my time in Rwanda gave me a full dose of the real world of life and reality outside the USC bubble and outside of the United States that simply can’t be learned in classroom.

Prof. Wayne Sandholtz Appointed SIR Director

Prof. Wayne Sandholtz has been appointed director of the School of International Relations. He will begin his term Spring 2016.

Rising China an Illusion?

SIR Professor Daniel Lynch's new book, China's Futures: PRC Eiites Debate Economics, Politics, and Foreign Policy (Stanford UP), questions the concept of the inevitable rise of China. In conversation with Andrew Good, Professor Lynch notes that economic and foreign policy projections may have to scale down and that some domestic unrest in China may be the result. To read more, click here.

SIR Undergrad published Online

Alexis Dale-Huang (SIR undergraduate student) has a piece "The Changing Face of China's Military", published online in the Huffington Post. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation is on the increase. Read more by clicking on the link above, or at the online magazine, China Hands.

PWP Arctic Reunion

Dean Lamy hosted a reunion for his 2015 PWP Arctic students!

Prof. David Kang Appointed CIS Director of CIS

Prof. David Kang was recently appointed director of the Center for International Studies beginning Fall 2015. He also serves as director of the Korean Studies Institute.

Prof. Laurie Brand Appointed Middle East Studies Program Director

Prof. Laurie Brand was recently appointed director of the Middle East Studies Program. Click here to learn more about MESP.

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