A year ago, Anthony Lake GS 69, 74 stood before a University audience as a man muzzled by his pending nomination to be Director of the CIA.
Yesterday, Lake showed he does have plenty to say, though he conceded at the outset of his remarks that what he says "doesn't mean very much anymore."
Lake, who served as National Security Advisor during President Clinton's first term, left the government last year after withdrawing his name from consideration for the CIA job when it became clear the Senate would not approve his nomination. In the weeks before confirmation hearings were expected to begin, Lake was prohibited from speaking publicly, even as criticism of him intensified.
In his speech yesterday in Dodds Auditorium, "Post Cold War Security Threats," Lake reflected on his non-speech of last year upon receiving the Madison Medal. "Oddly enough, the experience a year ago at Princeton taught me the value of hypocrisy," Lake said, explaining that he was being honored for his commitment to public service at a time when he had all but lost any faith in that idea.
Since then, Lake said he has come to the conclusion that, though he was being hypocritical at the time, he really is committed to public service. "If you say it, it reminds you that that's what you believed all along," Lake said.
In considering issues of foreign policy, Lake presented a set of three paradoxes that he said define the challenge America faces in a post-Cold War world. The first paradox, Lake said, is that while people worldwide have more say in their government than ever before, governments are losing their ability to affect people.
As an example, he gave the problem faced by leaders of newly democratic nations who wish to affect often painful economic reforms but also have other objectives in mind. "If you want to get reelected, either don't do the economic reforms or cheat. Or you can lose," Lake said. "None of these are good options."
The second paradox, Lake said, is that in order to preserve democratic authority, democracies are going to have to cede some of their sovereignty to international organizations. Here, Lake talked specifically of terrorism, a problem that knows no national boundaries. Lake said the problem is compounded by a communications revolution that has made shutting down computer systems of a hospital from thousands of miles away just as much a weapon as an exploding bomb.
Finally, Lake proposed the notion that "democratic politics may be the greatest barrier to saving democratic sovereignty." Explaining that globalization creates both winners and losers, Lake said he expects and fears that some will revolt against notions of interdependency.
"They are going to want to blame someone, and they are increasingly blaming global forces that they see as intruding on their lives."