The discussion was part of the College of Arts and Sciences Lecture Series: Madison Center Celebration honoring the inauguration of Delta State President William N. LaForge which will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.
Morhard opened his discussion by saying that he was there to get students to think about “where you are going in the 21st century.”
He then went on to the explain that during the 20th century the country built a lot of walls in confrontations, such as the Vietnam war which was brought up by Jennings.
Jennings hoped that through the use of Vietnam as a model, it would challenge people on how to deal with the world.
“These wars were wars of attrition … we built these walls but none of these walls have worked and then 9/11 comes around and you realize that no walls protected us and we were attacked and we were ill prepared,” said Morhard.
The second focus of the evening was China.
Morhard expressed that many believe there is a power struggle between the United States and China.
“They want to be economically successful. China looks at themselves as a civilization, not as a country. If you study them, they have their capital, then kingdoms within China, and everything outside they consider the barbarians. I submit to you that they look at us as barbarians,” said Morhard.
Morhard continued to explain how many continue to look at China as a power struggle and who would be that super power.
“I come here today to tell you, not that we are going to get into a war with these guys, but that we are already in a very complex situation with that country and many of the other countries there,” said Morhard.
He then went on to say that on the tip of India ports are growing and China is building its military presence there.
“They watched us in Afghanistan in Iraq and they know that those wars did not serve us well. They are looking at it with a long view saying ‘what are we going to do so we don’t have those problems and can also continue to grow,’” said Morhard.
Jennings interjected to ask about what the Chinese policy was to which Morhard answered that he couldn’t explain exactly what the policy was but “I can tell you where I see things going.”
Morhard went on to describe a concept in the "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power" written by Robert Kaplan which said during the 20th century the world map focused on America, however in the 21st century the map will include China and India.
“That is where things are going to happen,” he said.
With China continuing to be successful Morhard expressed the important of others to learn a second language.
He also explained that the U.S. is at a disadvantage because those in are government are limited by their time in office or position, which limits any long term strategical plans that can be made.
“At best, if you’re a president, you’ve got eight years and you know the last two years you’re linked up—you cant do anything. You’ve really got six years to get something done. Under our current structure we’re really challenged on how we create that strategy,” said Morhard.
Jennings stepped in to say, “This is an inheritancy problem. We’ve been staggering through the decades with this problem. At the time of 9/11 we had only a handful of Arabic speakers in the intelligence area.”
“Eight percent of the Pentagon knows a second language. Think about that. And yet their dealing with the world issues. I don’t know what the stats are in the state department but I’m afraid to ask,” said Morhard.
He then continued on to say that he believes this is an even bigger issue.
“How can you have a long term strategy when you only have six years to do it?" He said of the constitution, "while it was supposed to be a living document, we are not able to change it at this point to accommodate the changes in the world. I think that’s our biggest challenge,” said Morhard.
He believes that there is a choice to build walls or bridges. “You save lives building bridges,” he said.
Towards the close of his lecture, as an encouragement to the students sitting in the theatre listening, Morhard once again urged them to learn another language and said that their generation would become the next generation because they will have to.
“Unless you study other countries, unless you learn their language, you’re never going to understand their soul,” he said.