The Honorable Robert L. Gallucci Delivers Lecture on American Views of Middle East
24 September 2006
Speaking last week at the Four Seasons hotel, the Honorable Robert L. Gallucci, Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, discussed American perceptions of the Middle East.
Before a crowd of more than 200 students, faculty, and distinguished guests, the long-time diplomat discussed the views of the American people and their opinions of the current events in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran. The September 20th lecture was sponsored by the Center for International and Regional Studies at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
Gallucci said that the American population has two overriding interests that impact their views of events in the Middle East. First, Americans understand the importance of access to petroleum resources, and an interest in maintaining regional stability. Second, Americans have an interest in protecting Israel’s security and right to exist. “Americans have a deep sympathy for Israel’s plight,” Gallucci said. “They see Israel as surrounded by governments and violent groups dedicated to that country’s destruction.”
That doesn’t prevent them from sympathizing with the Palestinians. “I would say yes; there is genuine concern about the plight of the Palestinian people, but it is growing slowly.” Dr. Gallucci said Americans regard the Israeli and Lebanese peoples as the victims in the most recent conflict, noting the Bush administration’s slow response in calling for a ceasefire as a difference between the government’s policies and the beliefs of the American people.
In discussing Iran, Gallucci noted that the US government is greatly concerned about whether Iran’s nuclear program will be used to make weapons and whether the government is strong enough to prevent that technology from falling in the hands of radical groups. The ambassador was a member of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that oversaw the disarmament of Iraq in 1991.
In closing, Ambassador Gallucci offered a positive view of American citizens. “Americans are fair-minded and learning to understand that policy in the Middle East is textured and complex,” he said. “I think they are learning slowly, and for that I pray for your understanding and tolerance.”
The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar is the fifth major U.S. university to come to Qatar Foundation’s Education City. Students who enroll in SFS-Qatar follow an interdisciplinary liberal arts curriculum that focuses on international affairs but covers a wide range of disciplines including government, history, economics, philosophy, theology, and literature.