Posted by Ben Hanstein
FARMINGTON – On the heels of a congressional trip to the Middle East and a speech on the Senate floor about the dangers of cyber-terrorism, Sen. Angus King appeared at Lincoln Auditorium Friday, at an event hosted by the University of Maine at Farmington and the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association.
King spent approximately an hour discussing some of his takeaways regarding United States foreign policy to an audience comprised of equal parts students as well as Fulbright scholars, local officials and residents. King, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, serves on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, among others. He said that he had requested the Armed Services committee appointment, as Maine has had a sitting senator on that committee almost without interruption since Sen. Margaret Chase Smith served in 1948.
King has traveled to the Middle East three times, as well as a trip to India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most recent of these, as part of a congressional delegation that traveled to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel, concluded Monday, with the senators flying back in time for Tuesday’s State of the Union address.
The senator laid out his remarks as a list of things that he’d learned about foreign policy since he began serving on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees. He stressed the complicated nature of American relations with nations and non-state actors in a changing foreign policy landscape. Speaking chiefly about the Middle East, King said that it was important that the United States understand the history at the root of ongoing conflicts as it attempted to shape policy.
“We as Americans need to understand the history, so we know where we can make a difference and where we’re going to complicate things,” King said.
King touched upon the falling price of oil, the impact of climate change on foreign policy and the advent of social media as one of the newest recruitment platforms for the ISIL and other organizations. One of the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction, King said, were unemployed, 22-year-old radicalized young men. In addition to supporting forces opposing ISIL and similar organizations, King said, foreign policies needed to include plans about what to provide populations to prevent them from becoming terrorist training grounds.
The senator also touched upon cyber-terrorism, which was the subject of remarks he gave at the Senate Thursday. Cyber, King said, would be the next war and the attack on Sony should serve as a wake-up call to the dangers posed by cyber-terrorism.
“Thank God it was a movie studio and the not the New York Stock Exchange,” King said, calling the country’s lack of preparedness in regards to cyber-terrorism a gap in its defenses. “Shame on us if we don’t deal with that.”
King concluded by calling America a “world leader,” whether it wanted to be one or not. “We can’t just shut the door to the rest of the world,” King said.
The Fulbright Program, which invited King to speak at UMF, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. There are 15 current and recently-retired Fulbright Scholars at UMF, which was recognized as a 2012 Fulbright Scholar “top producer” by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – the Fulbright Program’s sponsor.
Senator Angus King or “King of Maine” as he is known on Capitol Hill makes stop for a full house at the Robert Owen Center, UMF, on his way to to ski at Sugarloaf, Friday afternoon. Sponsored by the Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association King hit upon 10 different important issues ranging from climate change to challenges abroad in the Middle East and President Putin (pronounced Pootin) of Russia.
Outgoing President of the Maine Fulbrighters Jane Knox, Professor Emrita of Bowdoin College, originally of Farmington, and Incoming Fulbright President Robert Lively, Professor Emeritus of UMF passed the baton from one to the other at a reception for King held at the home of UMF President Reception for Senator King, Fulbrighters, invited campus guests, and special community guests at President Kate Foster’s home, 104 Lake Avenue, The public talk by Senator King followed at Lincoln Auditorium (LC 131), Roberts Learning Center, UMF Campus. His ten-point speech was followed by a lively, sometimes heated, Q&A session as King defended his upcoming negative vote on the Alaskan pipeline, volatile events on the Gaza Strip in Israel as well as his position and other domestic and foreign affairs.
Maine Chapter of the Fulbright Association