Obama adviser says U.S. global role to evolve

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 08:59

This article was originally published in the February 11, 2012 edition of the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

By BRYN HARTENSTEIN '14
Gazette Contributing Writer

SOUTH HADLEY—A Mount Holyoke College graduate who served as deputy chief of staff in the Obama administration says America's role as a global leader is poised for drastic change.

Mona Sutphen told an audience at the school's Chapin Hall Thursday that given economic instability at home, the U.S. likely can no longer afford the high cost that comes with the global power it has exercised since the end of World War II.

Sutphen, who graduated in 1989, was introduced by Vincent Ferraro, a professor of international relations, who welcomed his former student to the stage. She was recently named to the president's Advisory Intelligence Board.

Sutphen addressed whether the United States can hold on to that power, or if sharing the burden is the better global approach.

She noted that the world is so used to the U.S. holding immense power, and paying for programs in countries all over the world, that many have a hard time imagining another way.

"The United States can't foot the bill forever for programs that many take for granted," said Sutphen.

"We pay for programs that benefit people all over the world, such as making sure the Middle East has energy, and the Tsunami Warning System in Hawaii, and we can't keep paying for all of them by ourselves," she said.

Sutphen said a global feeling of unease stems from not knowing where things are headed politically or economically. She said that feeling is present all over the world.

Europe and the U.S. are in a period of economic unrest, while China is rising as an economic giant. But she noted that "societies need predictability and comfort," and at this moment neither can be given.

Even if it is no longer the sole global power, Sutphen said the U.S. remains a huge player in global decisions.

"Mona is rightsaid Robin Barson, a Mount Holyoke student who attended. "The United States doesn't need to be number one for everything."

"We wouldn't be giving up all our roles, because, let's face it, no other country would take on programs such as the tsunami warning program we set up in the Pacific. We just need to share the power so other countries can help lift the burden off of us."