Laurence Pope ’67, a former U.S. ambassador and 31-year veteran of the United States Foreign Service, spoke about the “revenge of globalization” and the continued importance of diplomatic ties in a talk in Kresge Auditorium on Monday evening.

Pope said that the Trump administration’s abandonment of century-old American alliances, such as ties to Australia, would prove threatening to global order. He argued that this strategy would inevitably lead to armed conflict, noting that many of Trump’s advisors, such as Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and Mike Flynn, his national security advisor, who have demonstrated their inclination to use force, especially in the Middle East. 

Pope used the term “revenge of globalization” to describe recent world events. He cited the struggles of the European Union, the potential breakup of the United Kingdom and the rise of nationalist politics in states such as France and Poland as examples of anti-globalization. 

The most obvious example of the revenge of globalization, Pope said, is Donald Trump’s recent rise to power. 

“A skillful demagogue exploited the fears generated by globalization and promised to reverse the process,” he said.

President Trump did so with false information, Pope said. He cited the president’s questioning of former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and his allegation that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the election.

Pope served as ambassador to Chad from 1993-1996, where he worked to organize the country’s first presidential election. From 1997-2000, he was a political advisor to General Anthony C. Zinni, Commander and Chief of the United States Central Command. He retired in 2000 but was called back into service by Obama in 2012 to become the top United States diplomat in Libya after an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. 

Pope began his talk by reflecting on his own service, as well as on the experiences of many of his friends, colleagues and Marines who had graduated from Bowdoin. 

Pope argued that the United States is currently its own biggest threat. He asserted that, although America created a system of international norms built on alliances and diplomacy, the country is currently straying away from these norms and moving towards a world dominated by force and nuclear weapons. 

He stated that current American foreign policy focuses too heavily on national security with not enough emphasis on diplomacy. 

“The Foreign Service remains a reservoir of talent available to the president and the secretary of state; the opposition in its ranks to the administration’s ill-considered ban on immigration from some Muslim countries, revoking visas already granted, shows that its basic reflexes remain sound,” he said. “But its role in today’s militarized national security process is much diminished.”

Pope argued that this shift has derived as a reactionary force to globalization and that to counterbalance the strong forces of globalization, the world has begun to resort to old orders and alliances. 

“The world is not flattening out into a homogeneous liberal economic and political order. On the contrary, tectonic forces of globalization are generating new mountains and valleys along old stress fractures,” he said.

Student reactions to the talk were largely positive. 

“I thought that his discussion of the revenge of globalization was especially interesting and relevant, and his call for the U.S. to renew their focus on the international institution that we’ve built up for the last seventy years was especially important,” said Aidan French ’18. 

“It was interesting to hear a more historically informed perspective on the implications of Trump’s foreign policy and military intentions,” said Emilie Montgomery ’18.

Pope closed by offering Bowdoin students a piece of advice. 

“The choices you make will define you, just as they defined my father’s generation and my own,” he said. “So let me make one suggestion: no matter where your studies take you, take a moment to reflect on the right uses of American power in the world. It will not be a theoretical proposition for your generation.”