GMC News

Cadets get taste of diplomacy

Cadets get taste of diplomacy
Secretaries of state offer taste of politics
By Scott Teague, Union Recorder

Nick Harper and Sarah Beadles don’t follow politics closely. Nick is interested in this year’s presidential election and leans toward Democratic candidate Barrack Obama, and Sarah finds herself undecided about whom she supports.

But these high school juniors from Georgia Military College Prep sat in on a once-in-a-lifetime political science class Thursday when they listened to five of the world’s most astute political minds discuss national and international policy.

“They hit some of the main topics,” Nick said. “They discussed the challenges the new administration faces, and they said that the challenges are very different from what other presidents have had to face.”

Former secretaries Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, James Baker III, and Henry Kissinger spoke about a wide range of topics.

From nuclear proliferation and pollution in developing nations, to national and international policy concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the five former United States secretaries of state lent their expertise to the issues America’s leaders currently face.

They reached consensus on a few issues, however, and it inspired Nick to see beyond political party lines.

“They said [the new president] should talk more and unite with the rest of the world,” the high school junior said. “All of the secretaries of state agreed we should close Guantanamo Bay [terrorist holding facility].”

Only students on GMC’s honor roll or merit list were allowed to attend Thursday’s event.

Sarah, who considers herself Republican, said she agreed with the secretaries of state who said the new president would have to make some hard decisions regarding the economy and the war in Iraq.

“I believe that we’re doing the right thing, but the new president will have a lot of take on in Iraq,” Sarah said. “I think the new president will have to consider what to do with the war and whether they’ll pull out [the troops], the economy and also the environment.

The pair of juniors were only two of the 107 students and 10 faculty that GMC Prep took to the event, Col. John Thornton, principal, said.

The school was one of the select few schools invited to attend the roundtable talk.

But the high school students weren’t the only ones who came away from the event having learned something new.

“What stuck with me was that in my time we worried about the Cold War, and now those countries are the most stable that we deal with because they’ve opened themselves to capitalism,” Thornton said. “They reminded the young people that while things might seem dismal now, that the recent past in the Cold War wasn’t a very good time to live either.”

Junior college cadets also attended Thursday’s roundtable discussion, and Cadet Col. Blake Bowles, who will enter the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant this spring, said he was impressed by the group’s unanimity on controversial topics.

“What surprised me the most was that all these different secretaries of state all seemed to have the same ideas as to what to do. I was surprised that the work they’d done wasn’t nearly as partisan as I’d thought,” Bowles said. “They all seemed like they did the same kind of job for the same reasons, regardless of whom they were working for.”

Both he and Thornton were impressed to hear the advice of men and women who helped shape the world.

Contact Scott Teague at (478) 453-1452 or