Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner David E. Sanger expressed concerns about national security, foreign policy and the presidency during a lecture hosted by the University of Tennessee Campus Events Board’s Issues Committee in Alumni Memorial Building Thursday, Jan. 25.
Sanger, a veteran correspondent for The New York Times, divided his lecture into three topics: Trump’s rhetoric and foreign policy, North Korea and cyber security.
Sanger discussed issues surrounding President Trump’s controversial rhetoric. He noted the president’s resistance to respond to foreign policy questions with an example from an early interview.
Sanger questioned foreign policy in the American nuclear umbrella asking, “will you pull American troops out of the Pacific?” Trump ignored Sanger’s question twice during the interview. Finally, the president answered Sanger’s third attempt saying, “they can do what they want.”
Sanger likened Trump’s campaign to Charles Lindbergh’s 1940 “America First” campaign. Trump responded, “America First….I like the sound of that.”
Trump’s response troubled Sanger because global perspective is increasingly important, especially given recent threats from North Korea.
Issues Committee member Avery Arons said, “My biggest takeaway from Sanger’s lecture was his point on North Korea. Our issues with North Korea are a clear problem, and they could be coming to a head very soon.”
Sanger said Trump faces one of the most unlucky presidential positions since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. For the past 25 years, sitting presidents have given little attention to North Korea’s Nuclear Missile program. North Korea did not successfully launch a missile until 2017.
Now, North Korea possesses nuclear weapons capable of destruction. Trump remains skeptical of North Korea using a nuclear missile on an American city, but Trump must decide to what degree he will attempt to prevent a nuclear strike.
Sanger said Trump has two options: speak with North Korea and contain their nuclear capabilities or take military action. Sanger also said if talks with North Korea are to happen, Trump needs to avoid Twitter. Trump has tweeted about the North Korean crisis, and such tweets have only created bigger barriers between the United States and North Korea.
Sanger finished his lecture with cyber security analysis. U.S. intelligence tied Russian hackers to the Democratic National Convention and 2016 election. Sanger compared the incidents to the Watergate scandal. Then, Sanger discussed potential impacts on democracy and other global threats from cyber-attacks. He listed examples of cyber hacking and manipulation in companies and foreign powers.
For example, Sanger mentioned the 2014 Sony Pictures hack. North Korea sponsored a hacker group to destroy Sony’s internet servers after the film company released “The Interview,” a comedy poking fun at North Korea.
“I think Sanger’s discussion on cyber-attacks was incredibly interesting, and I was happy that he gave a realistic portrait of what the rest of the world thinks of President Trump’s foreign policies,” Issues Committee Chairman Dylan Douglas said.
In addition to his national security reporting, Sanger authored two best-sellers: “Confront and Conceal” and “The Inheritance.”
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Edited by Lexie Little and Taylor Owens