tv Council on Foreign Relations Discussion with Stacey Abrams CSPAN May 13, 2019 6:31pm-7:39pm EDT
>> stacey abrams was the 2018 democratic nominee for governor of georgia. she spoke about the role diversity plays in foreign affair ands the global impact of issues like climate change, income inequality and voter suppression. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon, everyone. >> good afternoon. >> glad to see we have a lively crowd, a full house. i think you're going to be very happy with the next hour or so. but first, a little bit of spinach before we get to the highlight of the afternoon. i'm jim lindsey, i am senior here at thent council, and it is my great honor and pleasure to welcome you to this keynote address and closing session of the seventh annual conference on diversity in international affairs. this conference is jointly presented by the council on
foreign if relations, the global access pipeline known by g.a.p. and the international career advancement program known by icap. i want to, besides welcoming everybody in the room, i want to welcome those who are joining us on c-span and also everyone joining us via the internet as we live stream today's talk. i want to encourage everybody to tweet about the event using the hashtag cdia2019. a bit of background on this conference, we hold this conference in recognition of the fact that while america's ethnic and racial makeup has changed dramatically over the last half century, the ethnic and racial makeup of the foreign policy community has not. and that isn't likely to change without concerted efforts to
identify talented members of underrepresentative groups, expose them to career opportunities in foreign policy and to recruit them for positions in the field. now, the diversity in international affairs conference is one of several initiatives here at the council intended to do just that. we hope that the conversations takingo place here today and the networks that are being built will bring important and new voices into the foreign policy debate. for those of you watching us on c-span or on the internet, you can see the public sessions not just of this conference, but of past years' conferences by visiting our web site, cfr.org. i noted this is the seventh conference we have had and the seventh time we've also had the pleasure of collaborating with both g.a.p. and icap. and i want to recognize the leadership teams at both
organizations not just for the work they have done to make today possible, but for the really terrific work they do throughout the year to broaden the foreign policy community. i also owe a special thank you to mr. tom rowe. if tom could stand -- [cheers and applause] you can see why i wanted to thank tom, he has some big fans. [laughter] tom oversees both g.a.p. and icap, and he has been a leading voice in putting diversity on to the foreign policy agenda. i also want to thank some of my if colleagues here at cfr, our meetings program, our events team and our human resources team for the work they put into today's event. finally, i would like to thank joan spear row. -- spiro, a
former c finishing r board member, and it's her support that has made this year's conference possible, and we are deeply in joan's debt. now, without further ado, i'm going to turn things over to eduardo porter who will be introducing this afternoon's keynote speaker, stacey abrams. i hope you enjoy. [applause] >> hi. [laughter] >> good afternoon, good afternoon. this is a great, packed house. i'm as excited as you are for the opportunity to speak with stacey abrams here and hear your thoughts about our politics and
our foreign policy. but i'd be remiss as a journalist not to start this conversation by asking the question -- [laughter] that everybody is asking -- [cheers and applause] what are the plans for 2020? senate? vice presidential opportunity? something else? >> okay. [laughter] i'm going to tell you a secret i've told no one else. if you believe that, i've got a bridge to sell you. [laughter] no, look, i gave a lot of thought to the u.s. senate. i recognized the critical nature of the senate, the role it plays not only in promoting our ideals and concretizing them in legislation, but also the role it plays in shaping our values. however, i do not believe you run for office simply because an office is there. an office is a job, and the skills fornl that job are
important, but so is the intentionality of that job. my particular set of skills, i think -- [laughter] certainly are could help me win that election, but when i thought about doing that job and that being the new path i would take -- because it is a different career path, it's 6 years, 12 years, 18 years, is the senate was not the right place for me. my bent for most of my adult life has been systemmings, figuring out -- systems, figuring out how to create msange, to structure and promote the ideals that i hold to be true. and there are a set of jobs that i think best bridge that. i've created organizations such as the georgia project, most recently fair fight action and fair count to tackle the issues that i see, and those tend to be more executive level jobs. i've run organizations, i have been a part of managing teams, and as you know, i recently tried to run a state. didn't quite get there, but we'll talk about that later. [laughter] all of which is to say that i am
looking at executive level opportunities, and that means that i am going to look at the 2020 presidential election. i know we have -- no, stop, stop. i didn't announce anything. [laughter] okay. look, we have an amazing crop of candidates running. but as i've tried to or articulate are, this is early. and it's early not only for the fce, it's early for, i think, all decisions. and i want to see what these candidates talk about. i think a number of them have been doing the work that needs to be done. i wantk to see how many of them make it through the first gauntlet. and as i think about my future, my goal is to think about whether i should be a part of this conversation. so that's one piece. i don't think you run for second place, so i'm not running on a ticket with anyone in the primary, but if i i decide not to run and someone wins and decides they like me, i am open
to conversation after june. [laughter] and there still is the state of georgia, and it does need a governor, and so i'm looking at that too. [cheers and applause] >> great. so turning to the topic that brings us together here, i wasn't really aware of your interest in foreign policy and foreign affairs, but i've been made aware by the folks at the council that you've actually been a lifelong member, and you've engaged in all sorts of projects with foreign leaders. but i'd love it if you could tell us a little bit about this story of yours, this side of you. how did you come to be ofinterested in this? >> so it actually began with the council on foreign relations and the carnegie endowment. i have a dear friend that i met in college. he and i were summer fellows here. i was working -- we were both working for different departments in the u.s. government. but he invited me out to lunch to have a conversation. he and i were die yam metrically
a opposed -- diametrically opposed on many things, and i was pushing the domestic side, he was talking about foreign policy. but what he challenged me with was, look, if you want to be a leader, you have to understand more than your space. and he said you do that in every other part of your academic life and your intellectual life, why are you closing yourself off on the foreign policy side, and i couldn't effectively rebutt him, which iso really annoying -- [laughter] so i started learning. and because of my friend, i was introduced to the salzburg seminars. i'd been doing a lot of work dedependently on civic engagement and voter registration in college and had become very well versed in how we build a more robust voter class and became an international fellow on civic engagement, worked with some amazing people from colombia and sierra leone on those conversations internationally. from there, i was invited to participate in east asian
studies to think about what was missing, in particular the lack of awareness among communities of color in the u.s. about east asia. so i became an east asian fellow. from that, i've worked with the british council, the italian cuncil, i've worked with the german marshall fund, i was a fellow for all those places, went and traveled. i was an american young leaders person, so i went to australia for a few weeks. but throughout that i've tried to build a row bust understanding because -- robust understanding because the u.s., while we are, i think, a leader in so many ways, we do not have all the answers. and part of my responsibility as someone who was going to be focused on domestic policy, i needed to understand the international approach to these questions, but also the intersectionality of our policies and the effect we were having on the world and vice versa. and so i've been very intentional. i've visited, i think, 11 countries, i've worked with council corps in atlanta. we have a fairly large one. and so i've worked a lot
especially with our central american and south american council corps. i've done a lot of work with israel. i've worked with both the previous and the current ambassadors who are stationed there. and writ large, i've tried to be engaged. i serve on -- i'm a lifetime member of the council on foreign relations, and i read a lot of stuff. lo -- [laughter] all of which is to say this: i no longer believe that there is this bright line between domestic and foreign policy. and i think what we have seen nay out in the last few years has shown u.s. just how thin that lines is, if the line exists at all. and you cannot be an effective leader in domestic policy if you do not understand how foreign policy not only informs, but sometimes challenges and pushes into relief the tensions that exist. and so for me, the intellectual exercise is also married to my political interest and so, or yes, i care a lot about foreign policy and have been doing it for a while. >> great. [applause] so, listen, what's your
assessment? i mean, american foreign policy -- >> don't have that kind of time -- [laughter] >> hasnig taken a prettied radil turn in the last couple years. and so, you know, for people around the world the u.s. is behaving like it hasn't in a long time, and i'd love to hear s u evaluate what's going on. >> certainly. i mean,lo we've, unfortunately, returned to what can often be cast as sort of the know-nothing time of our foreign policy. ehen we were an isolationist country, when our national leaders a ashoed their responsibility for engagement, that is much of what we're seeing now. instead of it being grounded in the sense of america's droninger by itself -- stronger by itself, it's couched in racism and xenophobia and sexism and homophobia, misogyny, and it's driven by a fear-mongering that is undermining exactly who we should be in the body politic,
in the national -- international conversations. my deep fear is that we will have to take a long time to restore our position in the world, because our moral credibility has has been dimini. it is difficult to around a tick late ideals of who we should be wd who we expect the world to be when we are living those ideals at home; when you engage in family separation or when you trample minority rights, when you enshrine into law or attempt to demonstrate a lack of trust and dehumanization of your own people. you cannotma then go abroad and espouse a different set of ideals. you cannot bar transgender people from the our military and at the same time argue against countries that are criminalizing, like, azerbaijana they're criminalizing the hgbtq -- lgbtq community. it is a matter of degree, not difference. we have to realize that the suppression of minority rights,
when we yell at burma, we have to remember that in the united states it looks slightly difference, but we have a muslim ban on entry. but we also have undervalued and mistreated voters right here at home, and we've allowed the blossoming of laws that have systematically suppressed minority rights and votes in the united states. and so, again, these are matters of degree and not difference. and because of that, i think we have the most dangerous foreign policy that we've had in multiple generations. i may have disagreed with george bush and george h.w. bush and clinton and obama on things, but i never disagreed fundamentally with the positions the united states held in the international order. i do now. and that challenge is one that the has an effect on how safe we are as americans. it is a challenge on how effective we are at actually intervening. and we have to recognize that this through line is not going to simply be tied off with a new leader.
we are going to have to rebuild and restore our credibility, and that means that we're going to have to confront the very real harm that's been done to our foreign policy by our current administration. [applause] >> to your point about how the domestic policy platform and the foreign policy platform are really enmeshed and kind of flow from each other, that is very, very clear in this administration where this kind of, like, very hostile stance against immigration, against trade and so on comes from a reading of what's wrong with the united states and what's afflicting american workers. so i'm wondering how do you address that? how do you change that? >> you win the 2020 election. [laughter] cki mean -- >> how do you get the toothpaste back in the tube? >> and that's the thing, we can't get the toothpaste back in the tube, but we might have to buy a new tube, and we have to -- okay, this is a terrible analogy. [laughter] here's the reality. for example, we're possibly, as
of midnight tonight, in the midst of the largest trade war that we have been in in a generation again. this is a trade war that the has real imp pacts. it is the -- impacts. it is the u.s. consumer that will be paying the price, as we have been for the last two years, for this trade war. and while so far most of the costs have actually been passed alongg to business and hidden in our prices, we're about to see a consumer goods wave of tariffs. that means you're going to feel it at target, at wal-mart, you're going to feel it in your daily life. and for people who face stagnant wages that have not grown despite the contraction of our labor market and having the lowest unemployment we've ever had, you cannot recover from a trade war. nnwith the resilience that a corporation can. so we have very real consequences for that. the only solution will be to engage in trade policy and a trade engagement that is not based on, you know, sort of brinksmanship which is what we've seen play out for the past few years. when you think about our
immigration decision, we are going to haveo to restore the humanity of our refugee policy because that is our obligation, and that is who we are as americans, but we also have to anticipate the fact that from my state, for example, and for many states, our agricultural sector for georgia is the number one industry. and that is true for a number of states. when you cut off those or who are exporting our goods, you are hurting our farmers at home. they cannot afford it. and we are undermining our national security by undermining our economic security. and so our only solution will be, again, to finally have a robust and real policy for immigration that recognizes america's deep reliance on foreign labor. that is our responsibility. but we have to have a congress and a president who are willing to actually confront these issues and cease worrying about the next election, actually worry about the next 20 years of american existence. [applause]
>> so given the title of this conference, which is about diversity, i would love to hear your thoughts about diversity of our foreign policy establishment. i mean, when i sit here and i look at it, it looks like a lot of old, white guys. >> you are right. [laughter] >> so is, is diversity in foreign policy kind of like a pipe dream? is there a strategy? >> yeah. >> and what's the rationale for, i mean, i guess i can see the rationale, but how do you change that? >> sure. we have to -- so today, as of 2018 our foreign corps, foreign service corps was 88% white and two-thirdsrv male. that has not always been so. under george bush, george w. bush, under clinton, under obama we actually saw a diversification of our foreign policy corps in a way that was truly reflective of who we are as america. and it is a native good for us.
representation matters, but also the diversity of ideas and our abilityod to engage. when we send our foreign corps to the middle east, having women who can have conversations with other women is an important consideration that we have long espoused and, or unfortunately, under recent leadership we have walked away from. having senior advisers who have not only cultural competence, but also have access and relationships that can be built because of your abilityls to bud common cause, that matters. and, unfortunately, under the current administration we have seen a retrenchment to a 1950s notion of what foreign policy looks like. but we can solve that. we can solve that in three ways. one is conferences like this. one of the reasons it was so important for me to have the conversations i had whether to learn about -- with will to learn about foreign policy was i was never spoken to about foreign policy. we tend to dismiss the engagement of communities of color in theat conversation at e early stages.
he cured that for me, and because of that i've also been very intentional about bringing young people with me to places where they're not expected to be. it informs and expands their capacity to be effective leaders, and it is a helpful thing for america for us to have better and more effective leaders. number two, when we can show the world that we actually value minorities, then we have a moral leg to stand on when we tell l em the participation of minorities in their body politic is important. we know that when autocracies come into power, when authoritarian regimes come into power, their first act is to eliminate minority rights. when you can suppress minority rights, you make it much easier to do your work, and that's part of what we're seeing, and the nation-states have gone backwards from their democracies, what happened in egypt, what happened in turkey, what's happening in us a -- us a tremendous yahoo!. we know -- austria. so there is a public benefit,
there's an international good to minority representation. but we cannot demand that or encourage that in other places when people can see we don't do it ourselves. and so it is a very useful thing for our foreign service corps to actually reflect the composition of america. right now i think it's about 6% hispanic, 5.6% african-american, 6.8% asian, .3% native american. that is not atal all reflective of the composition of our country. and when people are checking us for our values, they can see that our representation in the enternational order does not reflect who we are. which means that our credibility is undermined immediately. >> talk to us a little bit about your work in voting rights and battling voter suppression, voters of color. and if you will, if there's an international -- what you've done also on the international stage. >> sure. i mean, voting rights are
essential and fundamental to democracy. we are facing an existential crisis in the united states. when our democracy is shredded by a naked pursuit of power that allows states to suppress the right to vote and handicaps and neutralize -- or neuters our only federal response which was the voting rights act, we face a crippling challenge to our democracy. and for those who would argue based on having read a fairly spurious op-ed from the editorial board of the wall "thl street journal," that's like saying because they're apples, orangessen don't exist. [laughter] no. you can have both. and what we have seen play out in the last 20 years has been an vegressive attempt at voter suppression that is directly targeted to communities that have long are been outside the body politic. andd it began when they started to enter and actually start to affect elections in real and tangible ways. and let me give you some recent
examples. there'ss. georgia. but i can talk about that later -- [laughter] where we had a secretary of state, the election superintendent who was in the charge of his own election. i was recently with a group of foreign minister, and when i was introduced -- i didn't even say anything. oten they introduced me and explained just the tagline that the secretary of state oversaw my election, the boos and hisses from developing nations where this happens on thursday was a bit problematic. even the worst authoritarians understand that if you want to manipulate an election, be in charge of it. [laughter] and that's what happened in the state of georgia. and the fact that there was silence on the part of people who say that they believe in civil society, that's even more problematic. there should have been scourges and screeds written against brian kemp during the 2018 election, but there were not because the naked attempt at grabbing power was seen as more preferable than the protection of our democracy.
and let's put this into context. kris kobach was also secretary of state. he was toooo embarrassed to run his own election. and so i was in the only state where the secretary of state was standing for governor and ran goe election and used an entire gauntlet of voter suppression siactivities. there are three types; registration access, ballot access and ballot counting. registration access, we know that this works because we're seeing it play out again. tennessee saw 90,000 new african-american voters put on the rolls in 2018, and in response they have now passed a law that criminalizes third party registration and makes it nearly impossible for underresourced groups to do this work. the law basically says if you get a form, you have to turn it in because we don't want people picking who gets to turn in their applications for voter registration. this says if you have too many forms that aren't completely filled out or mistakes are made, that -- not the person who filled out f the wrong form, but the organization who did the
work to go and get those forms can be criminalized for doing so. you also have an issue of ballot access, or texas where they have passed a law that says if you accidentally go to the wrong county because you're -- the way you vote or the way you're told to vote, if you make a mistake, there are certain mistakes that will now not result in your ballot not being counted, it will result in jail time. if you know you can make a eistake and go to jail, what are you likely to do? you're not going to vote. in arizona, where mail-in ballots are part of their process because of the dramatic increase of latino voters in the 2018 election, they are passing rules that will limit access to those mail-in ballots and going to criminalize emergency centers n. -- 1.4 million people were just reenfranchised, and a new poll tax has been passed that requires restitution. there are those who will say they should have to pay their fees and fines. there was a new york times
article about one of those people, so she was accused of larceny and, technically, her restitution's $59 million. >> oh, gosh. >> there's no way she will ever be allowed to vote. and we, as a nation, have decided that only certain crimes should result in you losing your right to vote. and we have now put in place in the state of florida a poll tax that says you will never get that right back. that is not who we are as americans. and again, the international consequence is that we are no longer credible as election supervisors and election oversight monitors when, in our own country, some of our large states are engaging in voter suppression as a native good. we know that elections are changed when new people come into the process, when we can increase minority participation. minority voices often lead to progress because typically they are upset that they were left out of progress. and, therefore, when you suppress those votes, when you tell people their voices do not
count, you have the effect of actually silencing entire communities. as i said before, when you suppress minority participation, that is the first step to autocracy. and we like to think that we're invulnerable, but we are not. we are not invulnerable. our democracy may be resilient, but it is also fragile. and that fragility is what is at stake now. when i think about the 2020 election, my deepest fear is that -- the more insidious part of voter suppression will take place, and that is people think they no longer count. and when people self-select out of participation, that is actually a much more effective consequence. because making it hard is one thing the, but making it seem irrelevant is a much more pervasive and permanent effect. and when you have a nation-state where the majority of the minority decides their voices no longer matter, then we are in a
dire state, and that is a threat to democracy for the united states, and that's a threat internationally. [applause] >> to a large extent, it seems that we're already in that state the, and we have been in that state for some time. participation by latinos, participation by african-americans is very, very low compared to participation by -- >> well, because there have been laws -- we tend to forget the laws that precluded participation. there's only been one community that has had permanent access to the right to vote, and those are wealthy white men. they have never not been allowed to vote. ederyone else has had to scrap and had to beg to be included. native americans were not citizens of the united states until the 1920s. 0srican-americans, our right to vote was i femoral until the 1990s -- ephemeral. and in some places until the 1970s. women didn't get the right to vote until the 1920s, but that was white women. as a country, we've always used the power of the vote to
socially engineer the type of government we want. because that's what voting is. it's about shaping who represents you and who speaks for you. what's happened in recent years is that there's no longer shame on the republicann side. let's be clear, democrats were really good at voter suppression. >> oh, yeah. >> they did fantastic work in the south. that is not a compliment. [laughter] but what has happened in the last 20 years, what has happened in communities of color, what has happened in communities that are underresourced is that the surgical precision of that suppression has the effect of not only silencing that voter, but violencing an entire community. and when that happens, those communities exempt themselves from participation even though they are the victims of most of the consequences. when you don't vote and you have children in the school district, that school district does not serve your child. when you do not vote, you do not get the road services that you need. your trash doesn't get picked up. but you also get a court system
that overly incarcerate ares your community. and -- incarcerates your community. and there are long-term consequences, again, for the international space, it is a signal of how we treat our people, which means the ideals values we espouse abroad we do not enshrine at home, then our ability to call for that liberal democracy order that actually does treat humans as humans, it's eroded. and is so we have to the recognize that we don't exist in a bubble. people watch what we do, and they emulate our baer. id to the extent they're emulating the behavior of america and the erosion of democracy, we have to recognize that democracy is not a permanent good. >> yeah. yeah, for sure. for sure. [applause] so i think this is a time where i give all of you an opportunity to ask your own questions. please, if you could just state who you are briefly and then if they could be questions rather than comments. back there.
>> [inaudible] my question is what criterias do you have and would you encourage us to have as we're looking at the candidates running for 2020, maybe one or two or three things, like these are things i'm looking for in a candidate. >> one, i want to see they actually have a plan for victory. and plan for victory does not mean i'm going to suppress my values and try to appeal to the broadest group. i want to know that they're an authentic candidate, stands on the values that they hold and that they're willing to talk about them. number two, they have to have a plan to end voter suppression. woif they do not have a plan, tt is deeply problematic, because they will not win. we have to recognize that the accelerated behavior that we're seeing in the states that i mentioned will be replicated across a number of states, and we have to, we have to fight. number three, i want candidates who recognize that we are not running against donald trump.
we are running for america. and there's a difference. [applause] if you are running against donald trump, then you are localizing his behavior and making that the fulcrum against which you make your decisions. if you're running for america, you're actually espousing the kinds of conversations we need to have. you're talking about foreign policy as an authentic and deliberate space that we should operate in, and you're talking about it in a way that is thoughtful. you are rejecting this notion of fear mongering and demonization as a way of winning an election. and if we are running for america, you bring more people to the table. for a lot of communities, fear has always been a part of how they operate. especially minority communities. fear isre a given. fear is not a reason to vote. a reason vote is hope. you believe change is possible, and we need candidates who are willing to talk about that in that progressive way. >> thank you. here, please. >> hi. thank you for joining us. my name is simone williams.
so you started off the conversation saying that an effective leader blends domestic and foreign policy. you're speaking to a very biased group here. we all like foreign policy, but that's not the case for the general public at large, so what would you recommend in terms of getting the conversation out there and to the greater public tt large? >> part of which is explaining why foreign policy matters. trade policy, immigration policy, climate change, those are all things that we have to connect the dots for. and this is true about any type of politics, any type of policy. people care about what affects them. you guys are an interesting group of folks who decided that you care about foreign policy, but i d promise if i investigatd most of your conversations, you'll have a reason why it affects you and why you're doing in the. that is true for the broader population. and so in think the responsibility of foreign policy leaders is to actually reminded domestic communities answer why ou matters to them -- about why
it matters to them, that it matters how people operate abroad because it increases our national security if they're not angry with us. it increases our national security if we are making smart policies about access to weapons, but also access to medicines. and so it's connecting the dots so that people recognize that we are part of a global community and that we are safer and stronger and more effective when we have foreign allies. and even if our enemies willing to understand that our power is greater because of our foreign engagement. >> thank you. so there in the back, yeah. >> how are you? my name's travis atkins from georgetown university, and the question that i had for you is around something that i hear a lot of leaders and politicians say, you know, this is not who we are, right9?
but as you speak and you run down this history, the fact of the matter is it very much is who we are. and i'm wondering as a leader looking at 2020, you talk about voter suppression. the other side of that being apathy, right? and how do we call people back to the process who are not just apathetic because they don't care, but they're apathetic because they come from communities where for generations they were marginalized and disregarded? >> absolutely. so i would take it in two ways. one is, yes, this is who we are, but it's not who we have to be. is so our responsibility is to always have a forward vision that assumes that we will be better than we were. and that's been the experiment of the united states. our national experiment has always been about recognizing that we make deeply, deeply flawed decisions, that we have been inhumane in ways that are a shame to our national history. but why we are who we are is
that we confront those challenges, ande we try to improve. we don't always confront them effectively, and our timeliness is horrendous, but we eventually typically do get to the point, and we do try to do better. but that also requires that we incognize the pendulum swing against that progress is also deeply harmful and predictable. that's one piece. i don't believe in voter apathy. i believe in voter despair. because most of those communities, they are not apathetic. they care, they just don't think they can do anything about it. and that's why i'm so dogged about the conversation of voter suppression. voter suppression convinces you that your consequences are your own, that it's user error and not systemic error. which is -- when that happens, you no longer believe you have cy control over what happens next, and that's why i engage so deeply in the act of voter engagement. oecause going back to the question simone asked, one of ye ways you get people to vote
is you actually show them how their vote is connected to their progress. our group, fair fight action -- which is fighting voter suppression in georgia -- we're filing a lawsuit, we do legislation to make sure better things happen, but we do advocacy. my responsibility is to reminded you, you care about voter suppression because you care about health care in florida because we haven't expanded medicaid. unless you get to vote, your hospital will shut down, and you will die of a curable disease because our state is too cheap and too mean to take care of you. that criminal justice reform, the progress we made is not eermanent and canip be undone ba single person who decides he no longer cares about the consequences of what happens when you come out of jail or the travails of mental illness and drug addiction. and so our obligation is to connect the dots for those ilmmunities and not assume they will connect the dots themselves. they have connected dots, and they've seen that elections do not lead to change and, therefore, we have to have a conversation about how you force elections to lead to change.
that's our responsibility. >> here in front, yeah. >> good to see you again. >> you as well. >> my question is you gave a very clear diagnosis of the problems of america right now, you know, the fact that, you know, american credibility is damaged when we preach on one hand democracy, but at the same time we suppress, you know, voting rights. our credibility is damaged when we unilaterally pull out of an international agreement, our credibility's damaged. my question is even if there was a change in the occupant of the white house, we learned, we have learned in life that credibility is very hard to be restored, trust is hard to be restored. so would you be able to offer some thoughts on how we might be able to restore the world's trust in america? >> so i think we have to remember our credibility's been threatened before. the cold war, during the cold
war russia was, the us is sr was -- ussr was very effective at using the propaganda of america in latin america, asia and africa. they basically reminded them, this is the country that tells you to trust them, but they are purveyors of inequality and racism, and why would you believe them? and our credibility was deeply damaged in the 1980s. having a president who said that apartheid was an okay economic system. is so it's not that our credibility hasn't been damaged before. i don't think there's been theon sustained attempt to actually harm our credibility that we have seen from the current occupant. hee of the ways to change that is for america to show that we want something better, so there is an absolute good that happens when we change our leadership, when we reject the current order. that restores at least an intentionality on our part. and then the next president is going to have to revisit the paris accords. they're going to have to revisit what we've done with iran. it may be too late for us to
rerestore that conversation, but we watching the consequences of pulling out with iran restarting its conversations about how it's going to operate. and so part of our obligation is going to be the immediacy of our response. but the reason this is so important is that we don't have a counselor corps. we don't have a foreign service that is ready to actually respond. there's been a decimation of our foreign service to occupants, and that's deeply problematic. especially at senior levels, but also at entry levs. people are leaving -- levels. people are leaving in droves. and that was by design. there was an intentionality in reducing who participates in our international conversations, because those who were selected by the trump administration to lead our state department did not believe in engagement. and so part of the opportunity is there are going to be a a lot o jobs available. [laughter] and so you need to be ready to take those jobs. [laughter] and one of the ways we restore credibility isle to demonstrate that we have a new crop of
people who are reflective of the values we say we espouse, that are willing to do the work of actually building those the relationships again and that there is a sustained opportunity that we actually fix what was broken. there are ways that weth need to look at our laws where we should not have been able to the lose our place so dramatically, so quickly. and that's a conversation for congress, and it'sy. a conversation for our courts. >> back there. yeah. >> hi. so china's one belt, one road initiative is one of the most ambitious projects in human history, and china's going to gain intense global influence. how would you combat it? >> so -- i'm about to have a -- it's a complex question, and when i'm taken out of context, i want them to at least put that part in the bottom.
[laughter] okay. what china is doing with infrastructure, it is deeply concerning that china is leading the way. because that type of largess comes with obligations. and the places where they are going, the fact that they are essentially building thet infrastructure of africa, they are investing deeply in south america, the work that they are doing is not altruism. and the way they're structuring some of these contracts, the consequences for some of these nation-states that are just emerging from, you know, deep authoritarianism to authoritarianism lite, they're going to be very, very harsh consequences for whomever inherits the long-term debt that will now be owed to china. but there is, there's a good to building infrastructure in places where colonization and disinvestment has disrupted development. and so i cannot dismiss as a good the fact that we do need
this infrastructure built, and america is not doing that. and so while i think, i think the result of having infrastructure in places that has long been denied the accoutrements of development is a good, i think we should be deeply concerned about how it's coming into being, and we need to be prepared to intercede when the bill comes due. because china understands what they're doing. they are building out not only tnfrastructure, but they're building relationships. and they're building relationships in places where we have exempted ourselves from responsibility or worse, we have been participants in the undermining of those nation-states. and that is deeply trouble thing, and that's -- troubling, and that's one more reason for an international foreign service that's actually reflective of diversity. because we need to be able to iveak with credibility. and the history of american intervention in most of these countries is not a good one for us. and, therefore, having foreign policy conversations that are
driven by cultural competency and by awareness but also by recognition of why these countries took those gambles with china, i think, is going to bees critically important not in the next decade, but in the next 20-30 years. >> madam, here? >> i'm connie -- [inaudible] my question is given the widespread nature of voter suppression, what are the top two or three states where we could volunteer to maybe turn the needle in a different direction to have the outcome of changing the occupant in the white house? >> i would welcome you to togeorgia. y[laughter] look, here's how we should think about voter suppression. e listed four stateses that are doing new bad things. you've got a raft of states, 25 states since 2010 have passed laws to increase voter suppression and decrease access to the ballot. those are largely states -- not exclusively, but i think 99 president if -- 99% of the
states are run by republicans. we know wisconsin and michigan have republican legislatures which means that the bad bills that were passed years ago remain in place. the voter suppression of 2010 the didn't disappear with the election of democrats in 2018. so we need to be there, because we know those two states where voter suppression had not been as aggress and active, and if people hadn't been engaged in despair, we could have won the 2016 election. georgia, arizona and north carolina are three states that actually outperformed ohio in 2016, and those are all states where the demography is trending in the direction of more progressive beliefs and, therefore, those are three states i would focus on. we know in north carolina, clinton lost, but roy cooper won. all the voter suppression activities that they engaged in remain in place. i've told you about the horrific nature of georgia, and arizona
is a place where we know the burgeoning population, but also the fact they're going to have a very active and aggressive senate race -- as will georgia -- those are two places. so if you hiv in the -- live in the north, go to wisconsin. >> yes, sir. we've got somebody there in the back. ma'am, there. yeah. >> hi. my name's -- [inaudible] and i'm a graduate student at harvard kennedy in cybersecurity. my question is how do we prepare the future generations to compete in the job market on a global scale within foreign policy? >> so i think you begin with an important part which is cybersecurity. one of the issues i made a central part of my campaign is the fact that we do not teach our children computer skills unless they live in the right district, with the right resources, and we wait too late. i believe we should start inculcating robotics and coding
in kindergarten, that it is never too early to teach that set of skills. because there is never going to be a time where those skills aren't necessary, and we have to ndart building that capacity. by having the skills, you're almost necessarily forced into an international frame of mind. because part of being in a global society, part of the way the cyberspace works is that you are inherently required to think about everywhere else and everyone else because it is not a parochial conversation. so that's one piece. but i think the other piece goes back the simone's question. vi have to start having this conversation and localizing this conversation at the very beginning. for most of us there were -- unless you come from a family that had a reason for international engagement, there was no conversation. and absent that conversation, we grow up and away from this international idea. i want to spend more time pushing people the way i was pushed. i wish i'd had that conversation when i was in high school or when i was in middle school.
but we tend to treat the rest of the world as the rest of the world as opposed to thinking about america as part of a global conversation. it doesn't duh minish our strength -- diminish our strength and primacy to acknowledge that we are one of 197 countries. i may be off -- the i don't know what's happened in the last couple of minutes. [laughter] but ourno obligation is to creae spaces that aren't simply about who we're at war with, who we're angry with or who we're buying stuff from. our opportunity is to talk about it in terms of how do we enrich who we are, how do we build deeper connections amongst ourselves if we think about the foreign policy and h if we think about the international possible. that's >> at the back. you've been trying for a while. [laughter] >> hi. my name is mark. helping start a nonprofit called inclusive america to try to increase the diversity inclusion in political appointed
positions. many companies when they deal with this problem create a chief -- the bless you -- chief diversity or chief inclusion officer, and i'm wondering what your thoughts are for candidates that are running for president for 2020 including in the as part of their platform. obama included chief technology officer, we sort of see sometimes copying government the way companies create these positions, if you think that would be a helpful thing sphwhrsmght i think it would be useful, but think we have to do it across the board because it's not just in foreign policy we have this mismatch. it is the most acute in foreign policy, and this is what you guys talk about all the time, so i'm focusing here. but it is true we need that type of inclusion and diversity in almost every facet of our federal government. but i do think the foreign policy piece is critical. i would certainly put that in a twitter -- i would tweet it out. because i promise you by thursday of next week, thereer will be at least two candidates who now have clear inclusion officers on their platform. [laughter] i think your point is the right one which is there is, there has to be a proven intentionality to
te this. if we simply wait for people to decide they want inclusion, it does not happen. we can have to organize for it. this is an amazing room, but to recruit a sufficient number of communities that are marginalized or outside of the norm, to recruit the levels that we needec the will take a long time. and the reality iss we've not only got to fill the corpus of our foreign service, we now have to restore the leadership of our foreign service. and that means that you are going to have to be very thoughtful and creative about where we go to find those folks. and youou do want someone who is giving a lot of thought to this, because this is going to be a very intensive operation. and to your question, we're going to have to stand it up very quickly. >> yeah, ma'am. >> hello, good afternoon, ms. abrams. it's an honor to be in your presence. >> well, thank you. >> thank you for joining us. my name is regine, and i had so
many questions, but i will just ask one. [laughter] i was wondering your thoughts on the future and resolving conflicts or compelling other countries to behave in a way that reflects whatever america's values are using trade wars versus armed conflict or military combat. what are your thoughts on that as a future way to resolve conflict? do you think it's good, bad? what are your thoughts? >> i think this is certainly -- there's certainly, there's something appealing about the notion of using trade versus weaponry. the challenge is the harm that is done and the effectiveness of the tool. we, because we have a global economy, our ability to the use sanctions to force behavior has been diminished over time, and it requires not simply our engagement, but as with war,
with wars that are military, it requires the participation of our allies. and as we have seen recently, simply having one or two of the major economies drop out of the conversation completely undermines that reality. but the other reality is that often the armed conflicts that we enter -- not always, and certainly recent experience has demonstrated that we have some poor decision making when it comes to why we go into war, but there are some armed conflicts where it is about the protection of people's bodies. and we cannot diminish the importance of americain leveragg its military might to the actually protect those communities that are at risk. i think we should always be judicious about and careful with our use of military might. war is a terrible, horrific aing. trade wars have consequences too. and particularly when you decide to weaponize trade, we run the
very real risk of undermining burgeoning economies and burgeoning communities that are the least able to withstand the harm but are not responsible for the behavior. and that is a difficult thing to calibrate in an economy, in the economy the world has today. so i understand the appeal of the idea, but i think we have to be very careful about how we think through the execution and the application. re>> thank you. sir. >> this is like foreign policy jeopardy. [laughter] >> yeah. >> thank you -- >> what's your name? >> earl carr -- >> i take earl for 400. go ahead. [laughter] [applause] >> repping momentum advisers, i'm based in new york city. you've talked a lot about foreign policy issues facing the united states. in your opinion, what is the quintessential foreign policy issue that is facing the united states at this present moment in
time? >> okay. [laughter] i'm going to be a politician on this one, so here we go. [laughter] so i truly believe vote or suppression is the -- voter suppression is the foundational issue, because it is the direct antidote to the policy issue. so if you do not have the right to vote, if you cannot participate in the values that are leading our country, then we are in danger. and those values are going to be necessary if we are going to address climate change, which is probably outside of democracy's winnowing power, we have an existential crisis of our actual -- i mean, we use that phrase a lot, but this is truly an existential crisis. if the earth ceases to function and operate in a way that lets usnd stay here, we've got a problem. [laughter] but we will not address climate change in the united states without the ability of people to actually hold their leaders
accountable. and to the extent we have leaders that disengage from this conversation, that's a problem. con commit about the to that is the issue of not inequality, but inequality of itself. poverty is a danger. and as it's exacerbated in our nation, it makes us weaker. it makes people angrier, it makes it harder to maintain civil society. and because it was also linked to climate change, we can't dismiss and separate these conversations out. and so -- [applause] i call it a political answer because you wanted a single response, but you can't do single responses with what's happening in the united states. we are too advanced a nation to actually have a single reply, because most of our pathologies are intersectional. and they are integrated. our gun violence is directly tolated the our economic beliefs and the treatment that we have for our communities. what's happening in the education and undereducation of our communities has a lot to do
with how we think about minority rights and minority participation. and so if we solve the eshoo of voter engagement -- the issue of voter engagement and voter suppression, we create a more robust conversation for how we solve all of these other crises that are facing s our country. [applause] >> sir,ry yeah. >> thank you. my name is -- [inaudible] i'm from columbia university. so there is a lot -- there are a lot of problems argued that there is link tightly between income inequality and -- [inaudible] private debt that are generated by corporate, wall street. i wonder, what is your stand for that? this have been a lot of laws that were initiated in 2008 crisis, dodd-frank and others, but all of them, actually, are delayed until 2020. i'd like to know your stance the on that.
>> so i, i disagree with income inequality. i think it is an economic harm, and i think it exacerbates all of the other tensions that we iave in our society. i think the challenge, and this goes back to the question of trade wars, our economy is not simply -- i'm hesitating because i want to say a few things at once. part of our challenge with the way we pass our laws is we don't, politicians often don't want to be held accountable for fe consequences. so, yes, we will pass a law that says do x, but we delay the implementation so that it's long enough that people forget we did it. and it gives us time to undo it if we decide we don't want to. in the wake of the 2008 crisis, we attempted to respond, but we did so in a way we didn't want to alienate or offend anybody, including the perpetrate theres of the crisis. and that is deeply propmatic what we see -- the problematic.
what we see happening with the cfpb, it's being undermined by the very person who's been in charge of it who also happens to be the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker in the trump administration right now. and when you have, for example, a cfpb that's pushing to accelerate the ability of debt collectors to hound communities as opposed to protect them, when you have you have an education secretary who attempts to actually force more debt on students instead of reducing that debt, what we know we have is laws that have no teeth because our rulers have no intent of actually doing the work. and that's problematic to me. and so i do believe that we have a framework for addressing income inequality. now, let's be clear, i'm less concerned about what the richest person has than i am about making sure other people have the opportunity to have that too. and as long as we're focusing on pulling down as opposed to pulling up, then we're having the wrong conversation.
[applause] because when you're, when you're only focused on the pulling down, people can argue that's just classism. what we should be talking about is poverty. and poverty in america now is a muched broader range than it -- much broader range than it used to be the, which is why the trump administration is trying to change the definition of eoor. we have to the realize that income inequality is a danger because of what it signals to our economy. when people cannot afford to participate in their communities, that is a harm, and we need to be increasing access in economic security, we need to be taking aggressive steps to insure that more people can make more money and do more things. but i disagree sometimes with the notion that if we just reduce the top, then that's enough. ..
.on >> but what about the threats of russian state-sponsored aggression with the misinformation campaigns and speaking against that? and the other forms as other petitioners can use to arm ourselves and how doo we protect global democracy when it comes under increasing threat nobody want to check the aggressive power? [laughter] [applause]
. >> i think about this in three ways work other russian disinformation campaign will not stop so the only antidote is to overwhelm with accurate information that's one of the reasons i believe in advocacy and engagement because you cannot stop that from happening even the cyberexpertsan cannot do that and that happens to be engaged in the educated populace to discern the difference between what seems wrong and what is actually real. number two russian hacking is a crisis george is about to invest in machines that are called the most trackable machines in the country. more money that has ever been spent from what we can find in world history $150 million and
we are paying for this over the next 20 years. we know they are hack a bowl. we know there are problems but yet we refuse to recall those because those that calculate it is worth the risk to have someone interfere in the election rather than lose power if that is the calculus that we are in a deeper danger than a foreign policy. this is an internal crisis when our power is tied to the belief it undermines the entity to be in charge of. when we make our choices or climate change of any of these issues, russia has a very deep embedded interest in the dysfunction of america. as long as we are grappling with what should be a problem that we are not addressing
their influence on the election that just happened or the work they tried to do in france. china tries to build infrastructure russia is doing everything it can to disrupt it. we have to have leadership in this room and across the world who understands the global good of democracy is a system for all and while we have gone through some gyrations that are deeply problematic and poor leadership even with horrific leadership and the definition of democracies in favor of other regimes and autocracies we can reverse those gyrations to increase our liberal democracy if we decide we will use the united states as the example we have been before and can be again. to tackle the internal crisis
over cyberissues and humanitarian issues and what we hold to be true russia is diminished much in the same way as the cold war. our response to propaganda as we got better when they pointed to racism as a nationstate and individuals and citizens demanded better from our leaders and we got better than the ussr got weaker. we have to do that again. putin is not going anywhere apparently. [laughter]er but neither are we. as long as we understand this is our country and we elect her own leaders. let's be clear 77000 people in 2016 to change the trajectory of our country. you can solve the 77000 person problem is 6 million voices lifted up that is our responsibility.
hard work of farming. to show what they can accomplish in america to provide growth opportunities for anybody and everybody. >> we live in the greatest country in the world. and to enjoy the benefits and consequences we can have a mix of people from all walks of life coming together to make decisions about governors. you had every chance to try and to fail. >> first of all, to be a citizen of the united states is an honor and a great responsibility to protect and make sure because as my first
time as mayor so with that change and responsibility to protect the citizens of laramie and the state of wyoming. it is a privilege " continues. host: john conger is the director . >> the director for the center for climate and security here to talk about the national security impacts of climate change. group? your . >> the center for climate trade the small think tank focused solely on drawing attention to national security implications of climate change to get people to take commensurate action to address g that.