Former NY governor talks terrorism and US response

Rosemary Lausier, Culture Editor

The New Hampshire Institute of Politics is well known for bringing prominent speakers and politicians to Saint Anselm. With the 2016 presidential campaign just about to start, the Institute will be presenting possible presidential candidates to our swing state.

On Wednesday February 4th, former New York Governor George Pataki gave a discussion to students and Manchester residents in the West Wing. Although a potential Republican presidential nominee, Pataki came to NHIOP to give a discussion on his experiences in the United Nations and on international terrorism post- 9/11.

Governor Pataki was the 53rd Governor of New York and served 3 consecutive terms, serving during events such as the terrorist attacks of 9/11. As governor, he created the Clean Water/ Clean Air Environment Act which improved drinking water quality, clean waterways, and developed recycling programs as well as creating the Greenhouse Gas Task Force.

In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Pataki as a US delegate to the United Nations. While there, the main issues he tried to tackle were climate change and problems with terrorism.

Pataki gave a warm welcome to the attendees; however, he quickly started the discussion on global security and terrorism. He started by stating how our global security is in the most dangerous state since 9/11 due to terrorism. Although the media has been focusing on the actions of terrorist organization ISIS, Pataki was quick to note that the group does not stand alone. There is Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Qaeda among others who everyday threaten our lives.

Pataki stated how civilizations that respect human rights and humankind are at war with these barbaric groups (ISIS specifically) who are taking us “back to the Dark Ages”. However, Pataki offered his views on how our government should react to these potential threats.

One important suggestion he made was that the United States needs to recognize these groups. He believes the United States should be doing more to fight. The French, British, Japanese, and Jordanian governments are all taking a serious stand against these groups after the recent attacks in France, and beheading and burning of other citizens. The United States, Pataki believes, is at a standstill.

He wanted to make one very clear, distinct point to the younger members of the audience. Because he was the governor of New York during the 9/11 attacks, he said, “I saw the consequences of not acting in 9/11. I don’t want you [the students] to experience that in your lifetime”.

He mentioned two choices that the government should not make when dealing with the insurgents. The first option is that we send a massive number of troops and spend years and money building a democracy in a nation where one could never exist. The second is to ignore the problem.

He emphasized that we should enter a country only for a short term and avoid occupation. When the U.S. stayed in Iraq for the long-term, our efforts were unsuccessful. When we pulled out of the country, we created a “vacuum” and allowed threats such as ISIS to develop. Now ISIS has grown stronger. The group has a Facebook page, gained money from oil fields, recruited Western citizens, and have controlled territory. As a result, the group has grown stronger and poses more of a threat to our security.

However, Pataki proposed a middle ground. Instead of occupying a country or ignoring the issue, he believes that our military should attack the insurgents first, not react to their attacks. He stated, “There is no question that the lesser evil is being proactive instead of reactive”. We should stay in their area for a short-period and destroy the forces while we can.

He emphasized how passivity is completely wrong. We need to be active in fighting these terrorist groups. He said, “The threat to our way of life is growing. It is up to us to act”.

Governor Pataki also briefly spoke about his experience in the UN. He said how despite society’s conflicting views on the UN, the assembly is an opportunity for intelligent dialogue among nations. There is an ongoing discussion about issues and finding common interests among nations.

He noted how every leader should do what they can to protect their country’s security as their laws allow. However, it is critical of them to seek help from the UN when needed, especially in a time where terrorist groups are threatening global security.

After his discussion, attendees asked Pataki questions on various topics from the government in Washington D.C. to the NSA.

In regards to Washington D.C, Pataki believes that we need to reduce the size of the government, and provide security, a better economic climate, and safety net for those who need it; especially veterans. He said how DC has become too big to succeed and how it is essential to lessen the size, power, and influence of the government for it to be successful.

He also addressed how it is critical for the NSA to monitor those we think may be engaged in terrorist activities. However, it is imperative that we focus more on those with reasonable issues and not on regular citizens whose privacy would be violated.

Those caught participating in terroristic activities should be charged with an act of treason according to Pataki. Americans who are training for ISIS should have their citizenship revoked and hence lose every right to be an American citizen.

At the end of the question period, a student asked whether the former Governor would consider running for President. His response was, “I really care for the country. I could go to my place in Champlain, kick the T.V. in frustration, or go do something about it… I will be making many trips to Iowa and New Hampshire in the next few months.”

We should all keep our eyes out for Governor Pataki’s return. The next time he comes, he might be running for the next President of the United States.