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Global Concerns of National Importance for the Next U.S. Administration

Global Concerns of National Importance for the Next U.S. Administration

This video was recorded at MIT World Series - Starr Forum. "I've drunk kava in the South Pacific and rubbed noses with natives," says William Fallon. "I've enjoyed tender baby camel as a delicacy. I've met presidents, kings, prime ministers and many ordinary folks. I've done a lot of things. That was yesterday. What matters is today and tomorrow." Now, says Fallon, is the time for all Americans to get down to business addressing the key crises confronting them. And he does mean ordinary Americans, not just the next president. As a naval man with 45 years of experience dealing with conflicts all over the world, Fallon figures that the major challenges facing the nation will be at minimum "daunting," but they are not beyond our collective capability. There's the financial crisis; nuclear and other threats from Iran, North Korea and wide-ranging terror organizations; the competition for resources and the issue of climate change; and the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. All these issues are global, and increasingly interconnected, notes Fallon, and addressing them will require "close cooperation with other nations." The problem is that the U.S. has lost much credibility internationally in recent years, says Fallon, and so our leaders will have to reestablish the trust and confidence the rest of the world once had in our country. While top politicians can begin a process of diplomacy and cooperative engagements with other nations, Fallon thinks it's equally or more important for ordinary Americans "to get our domestic house in order." He's of the opinion that the individual behaviors of Americans "have contributed to a general malaise," and only by addressing these on an individual basis will our nation be able "to reestablish its prestige and influence for the betterment of a very interdependent world." Fallon focuses on the U.S. education system, which apart from world class universities like MIT, "wallows in underperformance … releasing millions of alleged graduates who can neither read nor write, understand math beyond elementary levels, find any place on a map…." Add to this "mediocrity" the fact that Americans feed their "self-indulgence in personal material goods" while starving such critical infrastructure as bridges and roads, which enable daily activities. Our critics rightly view us as "increasingly self-centered and heedless of the interests of others," notes Fallon. It's time to set our priorities straight. The U.S. has the "human capital, traditional values and the immense resources to take on and fix any of these problems." What remains is the "willingness to do the job. Let's get going," he concludes.

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