Clinton urges global cooperation

He said the United States won’t be the supreme power in the world forever.

by Cati Vanden Breul

Former President Bill Clinton told a packed Northrop Auditorium on Saturday to stay politically active and to not let disappointments with elected officials make them feel disempowered.

The University invited Clinton to speak at the 25th anniversary of the Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series.

He spoke about the importance of global interdependence and offered suggestions on how the United States could improve life for its citizens and make more world partners and fewer enemies.

The United States needs to work with organizations such as the United Nations, Clinton said, because it won’t be the supreme political, economic and military power forever.

“We should be trying to build a world Ö we would like to live in when we’re not the only big dog on the block,” he said.

Although members of an organization are bound to disagree in some areas, they are still better together than apart, Clinton said.

Reducing poverty for the billions of people who live on less than $2 a day is key in helping reduce terrorism, Clinton said.

Giving aid to the poverty-stricken people around the world is less expensive than war and more effective, he said.

Before the tsunami hit Indonesia, its people’s approval rating of the United States was 36 percent; but after Americans donated millions of dollars in aid, it rose to 60 percent, he said. In the same period, the Indonesians’ approval rating of Osama bin Laden dropped from 58 percent to 28 percent.

“It’s always easier to kick down a barn than build one,” Clinton said. “We know how to help people reduce poverty in poorer countries now, and the more we do it, the more we’ll be rewarded.”

He also criticized the Bush administration’s failure to reform the health care system, saying the United States needs to find a way to provide health insurance to all its people. The administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy are putting average Americans at a disadvantage, he said.

Clinton said he turned a national deficit into a surplus during his presidency by raising taxes and cutting spending, not by giving tax cuts to the rich and borrowing money from other countries to pay for war.

“We’ve never cut taxes in wartime before, and asked other countries to pay for it,” he said.

Instead of giving tax cuts to affluent people like himself, Clinton said the government should spend money on health care and job creation.

“I don’t think it’s ethical, and I know it’s not good economics,” he said.

Fred Beukema, a 2004 University graduate, said he saw Clinton speak on the campaign trail in 1996 and when he heard the former president was coming to Minneapolis he was excited to hear him again.

“I really enjoyed it,” Beukema said. “It was an extremely well-written lecture; very smart, very honest.”

He said Clinton was respectful when he criticized the current administration.

“He didn’t do it cheaply,” Beukema said.

Minneapolis resident Zhen Zhen Lou said the lecture was inspirational.

“I want to go outside and make a difference now,” Lou said.

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, University President Bob Bruininks and J. Brian Atwood, dean of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, also spoke at the event.