Former Ambassador says US Role in the World Should be One of Engagement

Sep 9, 2016

A former Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush and current President of the non-partisan, not for profit International Republican Institute says America's role in the world should be one of engagement.

Ambassador Mark Green was in Iowa this week to speak to the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations. He told host Ben Kieffer on River to River that America needs to stand with its allies and help them achieve their goals, stabilize the world, and address conditions like destitution and absolute poverty that can be exploited by extremists.

Green is an Africanist by background and training. He says that continent is a good example of how presidential administrations build on each other when it comes to foreign relations. He points to President Bush's AIDS initiative, known as PEPFAR. Green says President Obama has built on that effort as well as undertaking some of his own initiatives such as Feed the Future, and Power Africa. "So I view foreign policy with respect to the developing world as an extension from one administration to another."

"I think this is one of those areas that's a safe place for bipartisanship," says Green. He acknowledges that we're living in, "highly charged times." But says "Foreign policy is one of those areas where we should be able to, and fortunately often do, work shoulder to shoulder."

Green says he doesn't think foreign relations is a top consideration for most voters, in part because people are tired of what they see as open-ended engagement around the world. But he argues that American engagement has provided tangible benefits for the U.S. economically, diplomatically, and from a security standpoint.

"So the fact that people don't necessarily draw the connection between the two is something that we need our leaders on both sides of the aisle to take up."