Former National Security Adviser and Georgetown professor Anthony Lake spoke about current foreign affairs to a group of about 50 students in the Leavey Program Room Tuesday afternoon. Lake, who was been quiet about the Iraq issue prior to address, described his “livid” reaction to reading an American official’s remark that countries who don’t agree with the United States’ position on Iraq will “lose legitimacy.”I believe that the U.S. is in the worst disarray I can remember in my adult life,” Lake said.

The School of Foreign Service diplomacy professor continued to articulate his view throughout the event. Saying that America has handled the situation “all wrong,” he asserted that we have already paid the price for an invasion whether it happens or not. “There’s already been a conscious decision to put North Korea on the backburner,” Lake said. He further said that, while there has been no evidence that an Iraqi threat is imminent, North Korea has the plutonium rods to make multiple nukes at any time.

Lake stated two specific problems in the administration’s approach to Iraq. He separated the threat of terrorism, which he believes should be our most central issue, into the categories of terrorists themselves, technologies of mass destruction and tyrants. The Bush Administration believes that by taking out the tyrant, the terrorists and the technologies are rendered moot. According to Lake, this is not realistic. Second, he said the unilateral solution the administration is taking is radical and wrong.

Lake outlined what he believed would be an effective foreign policy by reiterating that America needs to focus centrally on the war on terrorism. Terrorists, he said, offer a large threat to humanity with biological weapons such as smallpox.

“We must go after terrorists and the sources of terrorism,” Lake said. “It is time to drain the swamps of resentment producing leaders of terrorism.”

He further stated that America must become more involved in iddle East diplomacy, in Israel/Palestine relations and in making progress in hot zones such as Indonesia and Pakistan. Specifically, that we must deal with the economic and social causes within these countries that are creating resentment between the rich and poor. Consequently, their “horrible” governments blame poor performances on the U.S.

Lake also stated that we need “far more aggressive efforts” to get rid of the weapons of mass destructing, and said that he was “looking into” the criminalization of possession of biological weapons.

Shifting gears, Lake stressed that the war on terrorism must not invade our civil liberties. He criticized the detainment of American citizens without access to a lawyer, calling the situation the “most radical assault on our liberties in the history of the American republic.”

Speaking further about what an American foreign policy should be, Lake said that the U.S. needs to correct the image that has been discredited in the current situation. “Debates around the world are not just about how to contain Saddam, but the U.S. as well,” Lake said. “Our world image matters because we cannot do anything in the world without working with other industrial democracies.”

Changing topics, he said that we need to address the HIV/AIDS problem confronting the world. Calling it “the greatest threat to humanity beyond terrorism,” Lake noted that 25 million people have died from the virus already, 42 million are infected and 40 million more are projected to become infected.

Referring to the epidemic as not only a human tragedy but also as a national security issue, he said that the issue deserves a lot of attention. To combat this catastrophe, America must concentrate on education, a preventative strategy that worked in Uganda coupled with the provision of condoms.

Lake’s speech was part of the Lecture Fund’s Faculty Unplugged Series.

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