Former ambassador to talk in Carbondale about Obama’s foreign policy challenges
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Barack Obama will have one of the more challenging foreign policy agendas of any incoming U.S. president in recent memory when he takes office next week.
But if the grassroots campaign that helped elect him serves as a lesson, the new president might want to turn an ear toward the Roaring Fork Valley Friday night for a few tips before he officially takes the oath.
“Everywhere he turns there are terrible challenges,” Henry Catto of Old Snowmass, a three-time U.S. ambassador and former head of the U.S. Information Agency, said of Obama.
Just four days before Obama’s inauguration, Catto will address the international challenges the new president will face during a Jan. 16 question-and-answer dialogue at the Thunder River Theatre in Carbondale.
Catto’s visit is the first in a series of events organized by the new Roaring Fork Cultural Council, which was founded to bring prominent figures to the Roaring Fork Valley to speak on a variety of cultural, political and ecological issues.
When it comes to foreign policy concerns, the list will be long for the new president, Catto said.
“At the top of the list is the oil and energy situation, and the issues we’re seeing with the Russians and the Ukrainians,” he said. “That will be a big foreign policy problem as it relates to American relations with Russia.
“In the same league is the problem between the Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza,” Catto said.
Closer to home, there’s a building situation along the U.S.-Mexican border related to drug smuggling and a wave of murders that have taken place in northern Mexico.
“That’s a very serious situation that will require some attention on the part of the new president,” Catto said.
Asia, India, Pakistan … the list goes on, he said.
“Any issue that gets up to the level of presidential decisions is inevitably divided closely between solution A and solution B, and everything the president does is exquisitely difficult,” he said.
But Obama has some advantages in that regard, Catto said.
“He is so wonderfully articulate and he has a strong sense of who he is,” he said. “I might add that he has a very nice sense of humor, which he will need. And he listens.”
Catto is a former ambassador to the United Kingdom (1989-91), El Salvador (1971-73) and the United Nations (1976-77), as well as a former director of the U.S. Information Agency (1991-93), former assistant secretary of defense (1981-83), and former U.S. chief of protocol (1974-76).
Friday’s dialogue will be moderated by Jim Calaway, co-founder of the Roaring Fork Cultural Council. He will pose questions to Catto, and then take questions from the audience.
The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Thunder River Theatre, 67 Promenade, Carbondale. Tickets are $10, available online at http://www.rfculturalcouncil.org, the Colorado Mountain College Glenwood Center, 1402 Blake Ave., and the CMC Lappala Center, 690 Colorado Ave. in Carbondale.
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