Three students from the U.S Army War College in Carlisle, PA presented various aspects of American foreign policy Thursday evening.
The event, entitled “Old and New Threats Facing the U.S in the 21st Century,” underscored the need for the United States to see its role in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape. The gentlemen who presented offered their views on such topics as the aging U.S nuclear arsenal, why enemy soldiers receive treatment from U.S medics, and the threats to open trade in the South China Sea.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Shine began the evening with an in-depth discussion about the U.S nuclear stockpile and the need for top-to-bottom upgrades in the near future. Lt. Col. Shine mentioned that the main goal of our nuclear posture is to establish deterrence in the mind of potential adversaries. To this, Shine explained that, given the age of our nuclear arsenal, enemies in the near future may not see our capabilities as adequate, leading them towards strike. Further, he explained that updating the U.S nuclear arsenal would cost an estimated $30 trillion. Concluding his argument, Col. Shine stated that he “is not trying to bring back the days of children huddling under their desks,” but rather insisted that in order for America to retain nuclear deterrence, the arsenal must be updated to display our commitment to that strategy.
Following Lt. Col. Shine, Col. Mark McPherson spoke about the need to medically treat enemy soldiers during times of combat. Discussing his time training medics in the Army, McPherson remarked that “We [the medical teams] expected a lot of the wounded wouldn't be our own folks, but the enemy we would encounter.” Col. McPherson reiterated the United States' commitment to the Geneva Convention, which states that soldiers are to receive good medical care when wounded; in addition, the U.S Law of Land Warfare echoes those sentiments. Lastly, Col. McPherson also mentioned that caring for injured enemy soldiers encourages surrender as opposed to an all-out fight from an enemy.
Commander Brett Holdiman lectured about the events occuring in the South China Sea. Commander Holdiman reminded the audience that the nations of Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Brunei all hold claim to various aspects of the South China Sea. Further, he stated that many Americans consider such affairs to be only the problem of those nations, yet it is not that simple. Commander Holdiman declared that “regional implications have global effects,” and explained that excessive Chinese island-forming creates trade problems that extend far beyond the South China Sea.
The evening concluded with a question-and-answer period in which Mount Union students and community members asked questions of the panelists. The majority of these questions revolved around the North Korean state, which has been of great interest in recent months. Lt. Col. Shine remarked that he did believe Kim Jong-Un, the leader of the reclusive state, was in fact a rational actor, in contrast to many other opinions.