New York / Washington D.C. 28.10.2007 - 11.11.2007
In meetings with Sally McNamara at the Heritage Foundation and Hillary Shelton, Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), we discussed relevant social issues and experienced conflicting sides of the debate.
Between October 28th and November 11th 2007, IFIL.ch organized an intercultural study trip to Washington DC and New York. During the two-week trip, we were able to get a differentiated perspective of the political system and culture of the United States as well as the workings of the United Nations.
Who are the decision-makers on the international political scene? Where are the world-shaking decisions made? Which weltanschauung is currently driving the two international heavyweights, the USA and UN?
The two-week program was able to offer us interesting answers to these questions:
In discussions with two top government officials, Thomas Mahnken, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning, and Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, we explored current trends in US foreign and military policy. We were further given a firsthand description of the situation in Iraq by Geoff Millard, an Iraq veteran.
In addition, we met Prof. Kathleen McNamara at Georgetown University to learn more about current financial developments and the international importance of the US Dollar. Furthermore, the group was invited to a tour of the White House and visited Capital Hill for a day, where we attended a hearing on the Iran nuclear debate and were spontaneously invited to a short meeting with Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT).
The week in Washington was accompanied by Prof. James Davis from the University of St. Gallen (HSG).
The second week in New York was devoted to the UN and the international implications of US foreign policy. The stay in New York was supported by the Lassalle-Institut/Bad Schönbrun in Zug, Switzerland.In meetings and presentations with representatives of various UN Departments such as Human Rights, Humanitarian Assistance and Peace Building, we received an insight into the versatile range of activities of the international organization. We were further given an account of the reform efforts within the UN.
In order to get a better depiction of the up-and-coming presidential elections, we visited Prof. Robert Shapiro at Columbia University. The week in New York was toped off with a meeting at the Swiss Mission to the UN, where a political counselor gave us a picture of his daily work.
Oscar Avalle from the World Bank gave us an insight into the scope of activities the bank is involved in as well as interesting developments within the big financial institution. Furthermore, Mansour Sadeghi from the Iranian UN Mission described the Iranian side of the current nuclear conflict.
In Washington we encountered a more unilateral approach to solving international problems whereas the UN representatives, as expected, took a multilateral stance. This contrast accompanied us during the two weeks and sparked many interesting and heated discussions.
«The briefings at the World Bank, the Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN and the US State Department were a great enrichment for every person interested in international affairs. Therefore, this journey is an extraordinary chance to talk to people who influence international relations in a decisive way.»