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December 15, 2005

Sir John Major Discusses China's Growth, Iraq War at Faculty Luncheon

Sir John Major, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, gave his perspective on events that have fundamentally shifted the international landscape


Sir John Major, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, gave his perspective on events that have fundamentally shifted the international landscape — from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks — at an intimate December 12 luncheon with faculty members and students.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union ended the age of two global superpowers and left communism in ruins, said Sir John, who is currently a senior advisor to Credit Suisse First Boston. It also allowed for China’s meteoric reentry onto the global stage.

“China is not a phoenix rising, but an old power reasserting itself economically — and soon, politically,” Sir John said. “There are going to be quite significant changes to the power blocks of the world over the next 20 years.”

Like the economy, terrorism has been globalizing, Sir John said. He described two potential outcomes of the war in Iraq: the eventual creation of an essentially democratic state or a descent into civil war, in which the country would become a “playground for terror.”

Throughout his remarks, Sir John stressed that powerful nations must examine the underlying roots of radicalism, which are often injustice and inequality.

“Physical antiterror measures, whatever you choose them to be, will not of themselves be sufficient,” he said. Nations must address such problems as international poverty, inequities in trade and the victims of globalization. If not, he said, “We will leave a trail of what is perceived as injustice that will be used ruthlessly against us.”