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The Dilemmas of New Global Disorder

June 9, 2020

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times Columnist, author, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist
Moderated by Dean Eliot A. Cohen
Remarks by Ambassador Mark F. Brzezinski, former US ambassador to Sweden and former director of Russian/Eurasian affairs and director of Southeast European affairs at the National Security Council

The school welcomed New York Times Columnist and author Nicholas Kristof and Ambassador Mark Brzezinski for a discussion launching the new Brzezinski Current Issues Seminar.

Dean Eliot Cohen reflected on this week's widespread protests roiling US cities that have brought attention to police brutality against African Americans. The atmosphere hearkens back to demonstrations in 1968, offering a useful perspective to analyze the issues driving US policy then and today.

Kristof argued that the US has under-invested in human capital for the past 50 years and the result has been declining quality of life for vulnerable Americans. Today, many rural communities are deeply distressed by crises of unemployment, substance abuse, and suicide. To understand why the American working-class has largely supported policies that harm their own interests, Kristof and his wife co-authored their latest book, "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope."

The speakers discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges it presents to US global leadership. Sharp polarization of the crisis is making the health problems harder to combat, Kristof noted, yet he hoped the pandemic may lead to a more compassionate and evidence-based approach to healthcare policy.

Questions from the audience explored the state of Sino-American relations and civil discourse in an era of US political turmoil.

Ambassador Mark Brzezinski shared remarks on the legacy of his father: former US National Security Advisor and longtime professor of international policy at the school's Foreign Policy Institute, Zbigniew Brzezinksi. The entire family was honored to carry on Zbig's tradition through this seminar series, the ambassador said. As the consummate storyteller, Zbigniew translated his monumental life into lessons everyone can understand, and this approach will continue to be celebrated at future sessions of the Brzezinski Current Issues seminar.