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Indifference to global developments is not a new phenomenon in America’s public life. In recounting the story of the Council on Foreign Relations, Colorado College political scientist David Hendrickson, writing in “Foreign Affairs,” noted the relative ignorance among officials and the public about the world. Of the former he said the U.S. State Department, in the wake of World War I, lacked the “detailed knowledge of European conditions that would be required for redrawing, as fairly as could be done, the map of the world.” Of the citizenry of the day, he said “American domestic opinion was returning with a vengeance, to the insular habits that had long characterized it,” citing as evidence the “Philadelphia Record’s” comment in 1928 that, “The American people don’t give a hoot in a rainbarrel who controls north China.”


Memo to Fox Postscript

June 1, 2010

Thanks to everyone who sent feedback about this week’s column, “Memo to Glenn Beck and Fox News Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch.” In it I mentioned that President Obama was giving Memorial Day remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois after Mr. Beck and others on Fox News (and elsewhere) asserted that President Obama was skipping the Arlington National Cemetery observance at the Tomb of the Unknowns in favor of a “vacation.” [Click on this post title to see the video.]


Generosity and Misperceptions in Meeting Needs Abroad

April 23, 2010

We Americans consider ourselves to be among the most generous people on the planet and when it comes to individual charitable giving that appears to be the case. Americans give three and one-half times more per capita than the French, seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians, according to a television news magazine story by John Stossel. When asked about Americans’ giving in response to the Haiti earthquake in January, Cass Wheeler, who knows something about raising money as former CEO of the American Heart Association, said, “When you think about this country, the spirit of volunteering time and making contributions is really a part of our fabric.”

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The World Comes to Cookeville

April 9, 2010

A wise man once told me that it’s much easier to sell people something “they think they want” than something “you think they need.” That dictum is especially apropos to the task of global affairs awareness – teaching people about the world. We are a nation awash in information resources that offer an endless stream of raw data, context and analyses of the world around us but most Americans are content to leave understanding foreign affairs, our interests abroad and international things to someone else.

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Stop the Clock

April 2, 2010

The “Doomsday Clock” is not really a timepiece. It is a metaphor marking civilization’s proximity to a self-induced conclusion adopted by scientists at the dawn of the Cold War. In 1947 the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the clock’s makers, set the time at 11:53 p.m., reflecting the danger of nuclear weapons, the sole province, at the time, of the United States. By 1953 with the introduction of an atomic bomb by the Soviet Union and testing of more powerful thermonuclear weapons by both America and Russia, the clock nudged to just two minutes away from humanity’s midnight.

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Israeli Housing Settlements Trump Peace Settlements

March 12, 2010

by Pat Ryan If you think the two-state solution is the annual meeting between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators on the gridiron or that a settlement is something a Tiger Woods mistress is seeking then you should read on. This week your Vice President was in Israel to talk about America’s relationship with […]

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Health Care You Can Believe In

March 2, 2010

by Pat Ryan It was an odd convergence of events that struck me as I was driving across Monterey Mountain in the snow last week. President Obama was hosting the health care “summit” in Washington and I was keeping up with the partisan back and forth on the radio. Meanwhile I was thinking through the […]

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Connecting the dots of America’s well-being

February 5, 2010

by Pat Ryan “Certain” was certainly an unambiguous answer to a question, about the likelihood the United States would be attacked in the next six months, put to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair in testimony before the U.S. Senate this week. “Al Qaeda,” he said of the group that killed over 3000 Americans on […]

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Now in Cookeville

January 22, 2010

by Pat Ryan “How did this happen in Cookeville?” was the question I was asked in both Nashville and Knoxville when, almost three years ago, I described the newly founded Tennessee World Affairs Council to university professors and civic leaders in those cities. I was on the road building relationships with institutions that would partner […]

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Resolutions Past, Present and Future

January 8, 2010

By Pat Ryan There’s no better place to start writing a column on international affairs than parked in front of Cookeville’s South Jefferson Avenue WalMart Supercenter, that bastion of global commerce, waiting for my family to finish their shopping. Did you know that Business Week magazine said if WalMart was a country it would be […]

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