AAFSW Panel Discussion on Foreign Policy Expectations in the New Administration

On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, AAFSW held a panel discussion at the George Marshall Auditorium at the Department of State entitled: “Foreign Policy Expectations in the New Administration.” This turned out to be one of the most stimulating and informative panel discussions that AAFSW has put together, judging from the amount and diversity of attendees in the audience and the lengthy question and answer session at the end of the panel presentation.

The panel featured three remarkable speakers: Ambassador Elin Suleymanov from the Embassy of Azerbaijan; Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri from the Embassy of Singapore, who were both invited by Sheila Switzer, AAFSW Program Chair; and Dr. Douglas Macgregor, noted author, decorated combat veteran and retired U.S. Army Colonel, who was invited by Mrs. Ceres and Mr. Sonny Busa and Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, AAFSW President. In addition to AAFSW members and Foreign Service Officers, many ambassadors from other embassies were present at this event, which made the discussion lively and inclusive of all points of view.

All three speakers speculated on the time the Trump administration would need to plan the foreign policy of the United States for the upcoming years. Ambassador Elin Suleymanov talked about the new administration’s possible approach of being pragmatic about the delicate balances that exist on the ground where there is a variety of cultures, religions, educational, and socio-economic needs of many people living in relatively small areas close together.

Ambassador Ashok Kumar Mirpuri emphasized the necessity of the United States’ background presence in South China Sea and, generally, in Southeast Asia for continued stability, which results in economic prosperity, of all the countries in that geographic neighborhood.

Dr. Douglas Macgregor pointed out the Trump administration’s choice for Secretary of State and hypothesized that the new administration would probably not get involved in the internal conflicts of other countries. Rather, Dr. Macgregor assumed that the new administration would adopt a “let’s make a bilateral economic deal” approach with the powers that be in other countries, by which both the United States and the other countries would most likely benefit significantly.

This stimulating panel discussion ended with an extensive question and answer session. Through this session, our distinguished speakers and guests analyzed further the expectations the world has of the Trump administration regarding diplomatic, geo-political and military strategic balances. As it was pointed out, during the previous administration, the world experienced significant changes regarding the global economy, migration, geographical and territorial shifts, and international political agendas. During the question and answer session, it was obvious that the international community is greatly anticipating and speculating on the approach that the Trump administration will take on similar issues.

Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen
AAFSW President