Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) discusses American foreign policy in Asia

Hosted by the College Democrats, International Relations Club, GU Pride and M.E.Ch.A, Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) spoke last night to an eager audience of mostly Pennsylvania residents and other interested Hoyas. Casey assumed office in 2007 after defeating incumbent Rick Santorum, who was a Republican presidential contender until recently.

The Senator started his remarks by applauding Jesuit education—he is a Holy Cross alum—and stressing the importance of service. “We need you,” he said, “you will learn so much from the service you provide.”

Casey serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and specifically the subcommittee on Near East, South and Central Asian Affairs. Considering that much of United States’ current obligations and concerns abroad fall in this region, the senator nonchalantly remarked, “it’s a pretty busy subcommittee.”

He first discussed the committee’s proceedings in regards to Pakistan. Having visited the country three times, Casey explained: “to say it is a relationship of tension is an understatement.” Highlighting the challenges posed by Pakistan’s troubled politics, Casey pinpointed America’s first priority as “the terrorists elements targeting the central government that has nuclear weapons.” He also stressed the importance of rebuilding “a relationship which is very important for our security.”

On the subject of nuclear development, Casey referenced recent increased sanctions on Iran and urged patience to let them take effect. “It’s not just the launch of the weapon but the development of the capability” that concerns the United States, explained Casey, who fears a regional nuclear arms race should Iran become a nuclear state.

Casey reminded his audience that one particular challenge the US faces on Middle Eastern issues like Iran and Syria is the lack of cooperation from China and Russia. It is necessary, Casey said, to have “not just a coalition putting pressure on Assad, but to figure out pathways to get humanitarian aid to Syria.” He stated that the ultimate goal would be to see Assad out of power.

On Afghanistan, the senator explained that the troop drawdown was necessary for several reasons: the financial burden is unsustainable, the Afghans need to take responsibility, and the US must consider the sacrifices made by our armed forces.

While Casey highlighted some of the challenges the US has faced in Afghanistan—he described Karzai as a leader with “serious limitations”—he also remarked that a million more children are now in school, and one third of them are girls. It is these achievements that “we need to make sure don’t get eliminated.”

Photo: Lucia He

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