Global Tennessee Podcast | Ambassador John Kornblum | Why Europe Matters | EP 31

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The Tennessee World Affairs Council has been honored to partner with the American Council on Germany, Nashville Warburg Chapter and the World Affairs Councils of America to bring you programs marking the year of German-American friendship.

Ambassador John Kornblum

Former United States Ambassador to Germany

Why Europe Matters

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Recorded: September 10, 2019

“Why Europe Matters”

Ambassador John C. Kornblum has a long record of service in the United States and Europe both as a diplomat and as a businessman. He is recognized as an eminent expert on U.S.-European political and economic relations, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany from 1997 to 2001. Before that, he occupied a number of high-level diplomatic posts, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, Special Envoy for the Dayton Peace Process, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Process), Deputy U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and U.S. minister and deputy commandant of forces in divided Berlin.

Join us as we gain insights and perspectives hard to find unless you’re talking to someone who has lived the history. As Ambassador Kornblum said, “Living history is part of understanding the world. Understanding history that you didn’t live is harder.” So that you may appreciate not only history but also where the U.S. and Europe are as we move forward, we are proud to present this Global Tennessee Podcast episode with John Kornblum.

3:25 Why Nashville? “Nashville is the place we like the best.”
4:30 Why does Europe Matter? Europe and a close relationship and close cooperation is in America’s interest.
6:30 Need in Europe for America to exert leadership. Largest community, the US with Europe, of like minded economies. Largest investment and trade community in the world. Trade: $1 billion a day.
8:58 Better to have a partner like Europe than to be finding our way alone in the world.
10:47 NATO is the only integrated defense force in the world. Article 5 (common self-defense) first invoked after US attacked on 9/11.
13:30 Should there be a focus on China?
14:20 What does it cost the U.S. for the Transatlantic Alliance.
17:40 Why isn’t Europe good enough for you. Europe IS paying their bills.
19:50 Amb Kornblum and an important role in resolving the Balkan conflict where over 200,000 people died – a real war.
23:51 American security begins in Europe – the Balkans conflict and US intervention.
24:38 Amb Kornblum assigned to implement the agreement.
26:17 What was the role of diplomacy in ending the conflict in the Balkans?
28:06 15,000 US troops involved, no combat casualties.
28:57 The Dayton Accord – “a very dramatic experience”
31:40 “Mr. President, you sit down!” — three weeks with Slobodan Milosevic.
33:18 Break
35:15 Taking a look at Brexit. Starting from the beginning. Born out of sense of disunity and keeping up with progress. Confrontation within the Conservative Party. Basis: England is not Europe – like Texas and Massachusetts.
42:02 “If there was ever a time for the United States and Europe to stick together, it’s now.” No alternative to working with others. There’s no “Make America Great Again” by being angry.
43:45 What is the feeling for other “Brexits”? There could be countries that “fall out.”
45:49 Freedom of movement in Europe. Lost generation in Italy. The danger of societies not being able to keep up. Conflict building in Europe between north and south.
46:54 “If you want to see a real wall go to the Serbian-Hungarian border.” Immigrant, refugee problem.
48:11 City/Countryside differences. People being left behind results in confrontation.
48:46 The world is coming together in ways we never expected not because of brilliant achievements but through the pressures of society – passage of time, immigration, technology, etc.
49:42 What’s going on in the U.S. diplomatic service?
50:20 Three Administrations have pushed away from traditional foreign policymaking.
51:04 New generations coming with new points of view. Sleep walking since 1990. “Living history is part of understanding the world. Understanding history that you didn’t live if harder.”
54:09 Last thoughts. Even a country as big and strong as the United States can’t go it alone.

About Ambassador John Kornblum

Ambassador John C. Kornblum has a long record of service in the United States and Europe both as a diplomat and as a businessman. He is recognized as an eminent expert on U.S.-European political and economic relations, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Germany from 1997 to 2001. Before that, he occupied a number of high-level diplomatic posts, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European affairs, Special Envoy for the Dayton Peace Process, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Process), Deputy U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and U.S. minister and deputy commandant of forces in divided Berlin.

From 2001 to 2009, he was chairman of Lazard Freres Germany. He currently serves as senior counsellor to the international law firm Noerr LLP and as a senior adviser to the worldwide consultancy Accenture. Mr. Kornblum has also served on a number of supervisory and advisory boards including those of Thyssen-Krupp, Technologies AG, Bayer AG, Russell Reynolds, and Motorola Europe. He is a member of the boards of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, the American Academy in Berlin, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and of numerous nonprofit organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. He received a B.A. from Michigan State University in 1964, and he has been the recipient of many awards, including a Knights Cross of the Order of Merit from Germany and an Order of Merit from Austria.

For more about the Year of German-American friendship, Wunderbar Together — [Link]


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