Former U.S. Ambassadors on International conflicts

Former U.S. Ambassadors on International conflicts

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The years long civil war and the International interventions in Syria, and the looming trade war with China were big topics at Texas Tech. It is International week which brought former ambassadors to help understand just how complex these problems really are. 

Ambassador Ronald Neumann last served in Afghanistan. He said it is going to take years until progress is made in the Middle East. 

"I think we're going to have to think very much country to country and its going to be different," Neumann said. 

In Syria, he said our options are limited. 

"There's a real problem in Syria that we've never had any kind of a comprehensive policy," Neumann said. "We haven't done very well with what we did." 

He said it does not make sense to stay in the country but it is a different story in Afghanistan. He said it is important to finish training both it's military and it's government. 

"If in a couple years, the Afghan forces are much better able to handle the problem, which it could be if they don't try to rush things, then we will be able to start pulling down, probably not pulling out but pulling down," Neumann said. 

Neumann said if we rush out, we are risking an increase in terroristic threats.  

"People want to deal with time, but they don't want to deal with consequences," Neumann said. 

During Tech's panel discussion the focus was on President Trump's foreign trade policy. Ambassador Tony Wayne spent four years in Mexico. He said there are unfair practices from other countries like China, but said it is important to have a strategy that will not back fire on U.S. industries. 

"They worry that things can spiral out of control if you start going one and then the other, raising tariffs or taking action, that can affect trade," Wayne said.

Many argued the President's tariffs are a renegotiation tool for the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal supporting 14 million American jobs.

"Texas is tremendously important," Wayne said. "Texas would lose the most of any state in the United States if there was no NAFTA." 

He said it is time to modernize the decades old deal.

"It was negotiated in the early 1990's," Wayne said. "The internet hardly functioned back then, we now have all this internet trade, we've learned things from other trade agreements the past 20-25 years, all of that should be incorporated in NAFTA." 

While visiting Latin America, Vice President Pence said there is a "real possibility" the U.S. could reach a deal with Canada and Mexico within the next several weeks. 

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