United States Senator Chris Murphy visited the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on April 11 to unveil his new foreign policy proposal, “Rethinking the Battlefield.”
The event was hosted by University of Connecticut Global Affairs and the Thomas J. Dodd Center, and around 200 people- including UConn students, students from other colleges and Connecticut residents- were in attendance.
Murphy began by talking about the United States’ attacks on Syria last Thursday.
“What happened on Thursday night was impressive- and frankly in many ways completely expected,” Murphy said. “But on Friday morning, no one was surprised to find that the battle front in Syria had not changed, and that a solution to the crisis still seemed like a billion miles away. Although the attack was a success, it did not change the fact that Syria is still a nightmare inside.”
He then told the crowd that he doesn’t agree with the fact that, though America does not hesitate to use its resources on military actions, the same cannot be said for other crises that the country is currently dealing with.
“In a world in which the new crises presented to the US are by and large not military related, we are inadequately equipped to deal with them,” Murphy said.
Murphy introduced his new foreign policy proposal, which involves strengthening the Department of State budget so that it is on par with that of the Department of Defense.
“I’m not arguing for a transfer of money from the Department of Defense to the Department of State, but rather to plus up the State Department’s budget so that it looks more like that of the Department of Defense,” he said.
Murphy said that he believes we should look at our non-military toolkit the same way we look at that of our military.
“We don’t ask a question of resource capacity when we decide that there’s a military operation worth pursuing, and I want us to be able to look at economic and other crises the same way,” he said.
He said that, though these investments may seem like an excess to the many Americans who believe that our foreign policy solution lies in continuously beefing up our military, they are actually among the most important things we can do to protect American national security.
“The United States has the most powerful military in the world, and we need to keep it that way. But the world is changing. And in this new world, a strong military alone simply cannot protect American interests,” Murphy said.
He said that if we are serious about protecting the United States from the threats presented to us, we need to recognize that many of the problems we are facing are immune to the blunt power of the American military force.
When asked how people who disagree with President Trump’s foreign policy proposals should voice their opinions, Murphy said that those citizens need to demand that Trump uphold the constitution and need to continue public protest and raising their voices.
Murphy commented on the fact that it is important that college students are engaged in what’s going on in the world around them because they are the ones who will be presented with these challenges in the future.
“There has never been a great social movement in this country that hasn’t been led by young people,” Murphy said. I think some of the big international conversations, whether it be the war in Vietnam or the debate over the Iraq war have been led by students, so I hope students plug in- they’ve always been leaders in these conversations about the United States’ role in the world.”
UConn students and Connecticut residents spoke on why they decided to attend the event and what they got out of it.
Roger Kuhns, a resident of Mystic, Connecticut, said that he decided to attend the event because of his involvement with a group called Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
“We are trying to get the house and the senate to support a carbon fee and dividend bill, where a carbon fee is collected in locations where fossil fuels are produced from mines, wells, or the first court of entry,” Kuhns said.
Kuhns said that they are lobbing for a fee rather than a tax because funding the bill comes from the fee collected, rather than the general budget of the United States government.
“The dividend component is that every household in America gets a check by taking the money raised from the fees and dividing it up,” Kuhns said.
He said that both Murphy and Senator Blumenthal have been introduced to their group and that they are hoping that the senators will be leaders in getting bipartisan support for the bill in the senate.
Second-semester political science and human rights double major with a minor in Middle Eastern studies student Kate Seelye said that she came because she believes it’s important to stay up to date with our state representatives, especially with all that is going on in the Middle East today.
“I believe that solutions to the crises in the Middle East are vital for our future, and I especially liked and strongly agree with the way that Senator Murphy came at them through an international development and humanitarian point of view,” Seelye said.