Fidel Valdez Ramos, the former president of the Philippines, may no longer be a head of state, but he is still exerting his influence to promote world peace.
Ramos spoke to roughly 100 students Tuesday evening in Linsly-Chittenden Hall as part of a speaking tour at universities across New England. In his talk, Ramos said Asian countries and the United States can maintain peace, despite shifts in power towards Southeast Asia, by welcoming recent advances in globalization.
“Talk talk, peace peace. Fight fight, war war,” Ramos said. “World peace cannot be achieved unless we embrace one another.”
Over the past century, the U.S. has established a series of political alliances with Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia, forming a “great wall” that is meant to control China, Ramos said. But the United States’ relative influence in the region is quickly decreasing, he said, adding that Asia contains many heavily populated and economically powerful “new players.”
For example, China is expanding both its hard and soft power: Not only does China draws thousands of Ph.D.’s each year from outside its borders, Beijing and Washington are currently “in an undeclared arms race,” he said.
“The struggle for global dominance in the China Sea is just beginning,” Ramos predicted.
In the past, Ramos said, Washington has attempted to prevent any Asian power from expanding beyond the region and threatening the American mainland. But the advent of nuclear weapons has rendered this strategy ineffective, he said, since countries around the world are linked with the same economic, political and security networks, the U.S. can no longer approach issues unilaterally.
“It is no longer one country versus the other. Man now has common enemies — international terrorism, global warming, national calamities, [and] endemic disease.” Ramos said.
In addition to cooperating with the United States, Ramos said countries in Southeast Asia should work together to reap the benefits of globalization instead of competing for power and resources. Specifically, he called for Asian Pacific countries to sign an agreement to peacefully resolve all regional conflicts without “Uncle Sam assuming the role of the regional policeman.” He added that this commitment would provide stabilty and encourage more foreign investment in the countries.
Ramos said countries could promote regional peace by jointly seeking economic prosperity. He emphasized the importance of jointly utilizing resources, such as oil in the South China Sea. With attention to these diplomatic nuances, he said, countries could achieve “a flowering of civilization” for all people.
Matthew Kim GRD ’13, who attended the event, agreed with Ramos that economic growth is critical for regional peace.
But Paul Froese SOM ’13, who also heard the talk, said he fears that Ramos’ solution of globalization is too idealistic.
“He emphasizes the positive forces of globalization, but whether they are strong enough to oppose the forces of, for example, resource constraints, I’m not sure,” he said.
Before leaving campus, Ramos will donate a series of books, brochures and pamphlets related to peace in the Asia-Pacific region to the Yale University Library.