Asia expert Jamie Metzl returns to Vail |

Asia expert Jamie Metzl returns to Vail

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – Renowned Asia expert and executive vice president of Asia Society New York, Jamie Metzl, returns to Vail Tuesday to speak about China’s rapid growth and what this means for the U.S. and the rest of the world. His discussion is titled “Rising China and the Dangerous Beginning of the Post-American World.” The lecture is the first program in the Vail Symposium’s winter 2011 lineup and is presented in partnership with the Asia Society. Metzl appears regularly in the American and international media, including BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and Fox News.

“So much is happening in that area of the world right now that impacts America that it is timely to have him back to give us a fresh perspective,” said Vail Symposium Executive Director Liana Moore.

As China grows stronger and the U.S. struggles under the weight of its problems in Iraq and Afghanistan and crippling debt, the American led global system created in the aftermath of WWII is being challenged in fundamental ways and is beginning to break down. Fears and questions are emerging worldwide over what a Chinese leadership will mean for the international system as a whole with America less able and, perhaps, less willing to serve as guarantor of the international system.

Efforts to limit the growth of nuclear weapons, promote a single set of rules governing the global economy, and promote human rights around the world are faltering. Metzl will explore these frightening prospects, as well as what we can do to help build a better future.

Metzl and former Vail Symposium Executive Director Fraidy Aber met more than four years ago and collaborated to create a speaker series on Asia that has brought some of the foremost authorities on that region to lecture here. Metzl last spoke in Vail in 2008 on the Asia policy changes facing the new Obama administration at the time. Metzl served as an unofficial Asia policy advisor to the Obama campaign. He has served on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Department of State and National Security Council.

1. Vail Daily? Have you always had an interest in international affairs, and what sparked that interest?

Jamie Metzl: As the child of a refugee who came to the United States following the war, I’ve always recognized how deeply international affairs can touch people’s lives. As a freshman in college, I met a classmate of mine at Brown who was a survivor of the Cambodian killing fields. I was so moved by his story that I cancelled my planned summer job in Kansas City, raised enough money for a plane ticket (by clearing out my parent’s basement and holding a massive garage sale) and went to Thailand where I worked with Cambodian refugees on the Thai-Cambodian border. My engagement with Cambodia, Asia, and international affairs grew from there. Working for the UN, the White House, the State Department, and now the Asia Society, I’ve spent a significant chunk of my life living and working abroad.

2. VD: What concerns should we as Americans have about China?

JM: China’s emergence over the last 30 years has been nothing short of miraculous. Hundreds of millions of people have been brought out of dire poverty and China has become a significant driver of global growth. At the same time, China’s rapid rise, and its seeming rejection or non-acceptance of some of the major pillars that have underpinned the U.S.-led post-war international system, are extremely troubling for a mix of reasons. China has lent essential support to rogue regimes in places like North Korea, Burma, Iran and Sudan in ways that have undermined the international human rights and nuclear non-proliferation system. Its massive military buildup, lack of military transparency, and breath-taking claims of sovereignty over wide swathes of the South China Sea have raised alarm bells across Southeast Asia, and its rampant disregard of intellectual property rights have led to massive losses for American and other companies. China plays an essential role in the 21st century world, but China’s rise will prove dangerously unsettling unless China can do more to articulate and then live up to a vision for the common global good.

3. VD: How can American’s best prepare for Asia’s rapid rise?

JM: America is the most incredible country in the world. Our embrace of enlightenment values, our welcoming and integration of immigrants, and global leadership have made our country and our world a better place. That world, however, is becoming more dangerous and more competitive and we are not doing enough to invest in ourselves and to renew our values. We are failing to bring in the most talented immigrants from around the world, our schools are deteriorating, and our growing debt are putting our future at risk. We’ve started two wars that were extremely poorly planned at the outset and are still suffering as a result. America has what it takes to turn things around, but the question for us is whether we will. We had an enormous head start at the end of the Second World War, but we’re going to need to reinvent ourselves in significant ways to protect our way of life and our role in the world.

4. VD: Tell us about the partnership that the Asia Society has with the Vail Symposium.

JM: I met former Vail Symposium director, the marvelous Fraidy Aber, and we decided immediately that it would be great to bring Asia Society experts to Vail. We’ve now had this partnership for years and all of our experts have very much enjoyed coming to the valley and meeting so many incredible people. I then joined the Vail Symposium Advisory Board, which has been a great personal pleasure as well.

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