By Theresa Mancuso

On April, 11 Hamilton College hosted a Sacerdote Great Name series combined with a Common Ground event. College President, Dave Wippman, opened the talk noting the state of the political landscape today as a “polarizing political time.” He then went on to say, “The goal of the series is to have a civil dialogue amongst opposing political sides while focusing on the power of the moments of agreement amidst divisions.”

The discussion was hosted by CNBC Chief Foreign Correspondent, Andrea Mitchell and featured Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and National Security Advisor to President Obama and former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under President Bush, Condoleezza Rice. This political roundtable addressed many hot-button political topics, from across the aisle, facing our world today.

These two women, both of African American descent, have helped shape the decisions of the foreign policy which drives American government today. They gave their assessments on topics from the talk of a summit meeting in North Korea, to U.S. airstrikes in Syria, the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal to diplomacy with Russia and North and South Korean regimes. Interestingly, they did not address any questions regarding Russian influence in our electoral process.

Both Susan and Condoleezza agreed when it came to the majority of the topics yet did differ in opinion while talking about the Iran nuclear deal. Condoleezza made her point adamantly stating her belief was that the deal is not ironclad and leaves room for Iran to still proceed with the development of nuclear weapons.

Susan, on the other hand, said the Iran nuclear deal is working and will prevent the development of weapons. Both agreed that whatever the outcome of the deal the question becomes, how to move forward especially with the state of the current foreign policy under the Trump administration.

Condoleezza voiced her concern with the President Trump’s praise of authoritarian foreign leaders such as Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Vladimir Putin of Russia, while she does understand the need to enter into talks with these leaders. She stated clearly that the foundation of democracy has been highly prioritized by the U.S. government both domestically and internationally. She opined that praise of this sort of government is dangerous and can be viewed as admiration for their authoritarian dictatorship. Susan added to that statement, that Trump’s attack on free press and civil society erodes our own fundamental belief system of democracy.

Andrea Mitchell ended the conversation with questions posed by Hamilton College students. Both Susan and Condoleezza were able to provide insight in the regards to their political contributions during the time they both served in their positions, as well as how they became the women they are today. Both stated that education was a priority in their homes and their parents supported all they were to become.

This writer found both of these women to be inspirational, but more importantly, the reason we need to understand the condition of our world, why we must vote, and how we can all impact other lives by fighting for what is “just and good” for all of us.

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