Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

April 18, 2014

Crisis in Ukraine focus of benefit lecture

TRAVERSE CITY — When people talk “war” — whenever, wherever — it’s time to “tune in” and listen, said Jack Segal.

Segal presents “Ukraine: A New Cold War?” — in lecture and Q-and-A format — Monday at 6 p.m. in Northwestern Michigan College’s Milliken Auditorium. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. The NMC lecturer and former National Security Council Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia is fundraising for Traverse West Senior High School’s Academic WorldQuest program.

Segal recently gave the same lecture in New England, and will address the topic again at Ferris State University on April 22.

Calls to sell Ukraine weapons or place “trip wire” troops near borders evidence the need for a “deeper understanding” beyond saber rattling, Segal said.

Arms control and non-proliferation was one focus of Segal’s State Department work in the region, and few people understand Ukraine’s military and weapons realities — the country exports weapons to Russia — as well its “dismal history” of corrupt political leadership, he said.

“There are a lot of bad ideas out there about our role in this situation, if any,” Segal said. “Ukraine and Russia need to settle this together.”

Connecting people to the crisis is important as Americans shape foreign policy more than they realize, Segal added.

Everyday Americans flooded political representatives with calls for non-military solutions in Syria, effectively stopping potential action.

“They got the message and thank goodness for that,” Segal said. “We can play an important role but it needs to be constructive and informed.”

Engaging high school students and teachers across the country in global affairs is also a goal of the regional Academic WorldQuest competitions where teams of four test their knowledge of international affairs. The 2014 Academic WorldQuest National Competition takes place April 26 at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center.

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