Former Prime Minister speaks to World Regions class

Former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, followed through with the promise he made earlier in the semester when he met with John Boyer’s World Regions class in McBryde Hall via Skype last night.

Currently a member of the Australian Parliament, Rudd spoke in regard to his article published in Foreign Affairs this month, “Beyond the Pivot: A New Road Map for U.S.-Chinese Relations.”

The “pivot” Rudd mentions refers to Washington’s reinforcement of military and political presence in the Pacific in response to recently increased aggression in that region.

The main topics conversation included the United States’ Pacific presence, the situation in North Korea, the rise of China as a world power and its value as an ally.

The core challenge though, is “how (to) manage the rise of China peacefully,” Rudd said

Boyer encouraged his students to come prepared with questions for the former Prime Minister about foreign policy, specifically the “pivot.”

“This guy has a ton of experience and a lot of foresight,” Boyer said of Rudd.

Senior economics major, Cody Eanes, asked Rudd about the response of the Australian public to current tensions in southeast Asia, if any aggression would affect trade in the region, and if he has a suggestion for a safe solution to the North Korean situation.

Most of Boyer’s students have opinions on the situation in Asia and the United States’ presence there, a topic that’s caused much controversy in the world of politics of late.

“We need to make our presence known… and make sure we protect our allies in case anything happens,” said Taylor Reed, sophomore animal and poultry science major. “The key is to make sure we don’t (take) opposite sides with the whole North Korea issue because that could escalate… and affect the entire planet.”

However, freshman geography major, Lucas Looney, disagrees.

“I think we have really solid economic ties and maybe we don’t agree on some social aspects, but I don’t feel like there’s any animosity between the countries,” Looney said.

In his article, Rudd calls Washington’s refocusing on Asia “entirely appropriate,” which he reiterated last night.

“Without such a move, there was a danger that China, with its hard-line, realist view of international relations, would conclude that an economically exhausted United States was losing its staying power in the Pacific,” Rudd said.

Reed saw the Skype call as a valuable experience.

“You can get different perspectives, see what’s happening on the other side of the world, it’s huge,” said Reed.

Largely, students seemed to appreciate the ability to talk to Rudd.

“It means that we’re important, obviously, if the former Prime Minister of Australia will talk to a World Regions class,” said Looney. “We must be doing something right.”


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