American foreign policy has been lacking strategic direction for several decades, said retired United States Marine Corps general and decorated Vietnam combat veteran Anthony C. Zinni. Foremost among these strategic blunders, he said, was the enlargement of NATO after the Cold War, and the diplomatic isolation of Russia that ensued.
Speaking on campus last week, Zinni also talked about the threat of climate change, cybersecurity issues, and the importance of education, among other topics. He also bemoaned cuts to America’s diplomatic and foreign aid budgets, elements of so-called “soft power” that would give the US options beyond purely military ones when it comes to foreign policy, he said.
“The greatest fault we have,” Zinni concluded, “is we’ve stopped thinking strategically, and we have not been thinking about the kind of world we face, and… what we need to achieve… and the best ways to get it done.”
He was the featured speaker in this year’s Everett P. Pope Lecture, sponsored by the Bowdoin Marine Corps Society. Everett Pope ’41 was a World War II Marine Corps veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. The event enables the Bowdoin community to engage with foreign policy and national security practitioners and experts. Zinni was introduced by former diplomat Larry Pope ’67, the son of Everett, who worked as a political adviser on Zinni’s staff in the 1990s.
Earlier in the day, Zinni was a guest on the WCSH6 television program 207, where he told host Rob Caldwell the US should invest more in education.