by Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering
Reviewed by Ambassador Michael Cotter
In May, three universities in the United Kingdom – Oxford’s Pembroke College, King’s College, London, and the University of Edinburgh – hosted the second in what hopefully will be an annual series of three lectures in honor of the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, inspiration for the Fulbright Program. Retired American ambassador Thomas R. Pickering was chosen to give the three lectures. His topics were “The U.S. in Iran,” “The U.S. Role in the Future of the Middle East,” and “The Decade Ahead: The U.S. Role in the World.” Ambassador Pickering is one of the premier U.S. Foreign Service officers of the second half of the 20th century. He served as ambassador to Russia, India, the United Nations, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and Jordan; and as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
This link is to the podcast of the last of the three Fulbright Legacy Lectures, at Pembroke College. As the title suggests, it is a tour d’horizon focusing primarily on the role of diplomacy as the United States faces an uncertain world. Ambassador Pickering divides his remarks into three sections: changes in the world, challenges those changes present to the U.S., and how American diplomacy can and should respond to those challenges. He describes a multipolar world in which military force is not the answer and where “clusters” of issues such as energy/environment/climate change, WMD/proliferation/disarmament, and global financial/economic problems need to be addressed comprehensively. He also summarizes the current situation in areas of the world of critical importance to the U.S., from the Middle East to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Russia, and China. Pickering’s vast experience and keen sense of today’s world make this talk well worth listening to.
We have thus far been unsuccessful in tracking down either video or text of the two earlier lectures by Ambassador Pickering, those at King’s College and the University of Edinburgh. If any readers know where they can be found, we will be happy to review them as well.