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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Debate to shed light on role of foreign policy

The United States Armed Forces is deployed across the globe, prompting debate on the degree of international responsibility held by the U.S. To add to this conversation, professors Jason Castillo and Peter Mansoor will discuss the United States’ role in global aggression deterrence at a debate hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society.
The debate will specifically focus on current events in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere, and how the U.S. can define its international role in an increasingly complex environment.
Rebecca Orrie, international affairs graduate student, said the debate is meant to provoke questions about how American foreign policy should handle problems in the world today.
“The specific question is, how should the United States deter aggression in the world, and this is just kind of in light of trying to take into account all the things that have been happening on the world stage, Chinese belligerence, Putin in Ukraine, but also ISIS and how we should go with that,” Orrie said. “A lot of arguments have come about that the United States doesn’t have the right approach to addressing foreign policy as a whole, and so that’s what we are trying to get at, American foreign policy and its direction.”
Orrie said the participants in the debate are well versed in the field.
“Our local faculty member is Dr. Jason Castillo, he did work at Grand but also in the Pentagon, he has a background in military affairs and also nuclear deterrence,” Orrie said. “Our guest speaker is Dr. Peter Mansoor, he teaches at Ohio State University but is most famous for his most recent book, where he was Petraeus’s number two during the surge in Iraq.”
Charles Hermann, political science professor and moderator for the debate, said both Castillo and Mansoor are uniquely prepared to participate in the debate.
“The two of them, are to address the question, ‘what grand strategy should the Unites States pursue to best deter aggression in the world in the 21st Century?’” Hermann said. “Both of them have a combination of experience in the policy arena — Castillo as a civilian, and Mansoor as a military asset, as well as their expertise as academics in this field.”
Castillo said he intends to argue that the United States needs to begin to prioritize its foreign policy concerns in a world that is growing in complexity.
“Well, the point I’m going to be making in the debate is we need to make choices,” Castillo said. “Most people have their reference point as an international system where the US is a number one power and terrorism is the number one problem but we are sliding into a world where we will have more great powers, energy is going to become more scarce, the world is becoming hotter, and multiple great powers will have competing interests.”
Amira Khemakhem, international affairs graduate student, said the debate is largely going to be driven by audience participation.
“What we really wanted to focus on was student engagement,” Khemakhem said. “We didn’t want a debate that would be led by a moderator, the purpose behind the moderator is simply to moderate the questions coming from the students.”
Hermann said he is excited to hear what each of the professors have to say and questions the audience is going to come up with.
“It is my intention to give plenty of time to the audience to ask questions,” Hermann said. “I’m going to let each of these gentleman make opening comments, then I’ll invite the audience to start pounding them with questions, and I will act as policeman. The key thing is that there is full opportunity for everyone in the audience to interact.”
Castillo said the discussion will provide a fresh perspective on foreign policy.
“It’s a good opportunity to talk about issues of grand strategy, what are American interests, what are the threats to those interests, and how do we best protect those interests,” Castillo said. “I think it’s a better conversation than you will get on the news. I hope we have a discussion that is beyond the conventional wisdom, because repetition of the conventional wisdom does no one any good, that’s what we do as academics.”
A&M’s Alexander Hamilton Society is a student organization with the goal of bringing students, faculty members, academics and experts in different foreign policy fields together to discuss various foreign policy issues.
The debate will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Hagler Auditorium in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. There will be a reception beforehand beginning at 5:45.

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