German diplomat advises students
German Ambassador to the United States Dr. Klaus Scharioth spoke on the Washington University campus on Monday in a discussion titled “After the U.S. Elections: A New Transatlantic Agenda?”
About 70 students, faculty and St. Louis-area residents—including two members of the Schlafly family and a Missouri congressman—attended the discussion.
“He was impressive,” Associate Professor of German Matthew Erlin said. “He had an encyclopedic knowledge of current events. He was calm, thoughtful and articulate. He offered a measured prospective.”
Scharioth was brought to campus through the collaboration between the St. Louis Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany and the University’s School of Law and International Studies Program.
His discussion Monday focused primarily on the responses of the United States, Germany and the European Union to current international issues, including the worldwide economic crisis, nuclear proliferation and global climate change.
“He thinks it’s going to be easier to solve these problems if Europe is unified and if Europe cooperates with America,” Chris Riha, coordinator for international programs in the International Studies Department, said.
Riha, who played a part in bringing Scharioth to campus, also said he felt that Scharioth’s outside perspective on international issues helped him and others present at the event to see certain issues, such as the rising price of oil, in a different light.
Riha recalled that Scharioth at one point argued that an indirect benefit of high gas prices would be an investment in alternative fuel sources, which as a result, would increase in popularity.
“Thinking about it in retrospect, it seems like a pretty obvious or clear solution, but it isn’t one that being here in America I would have initially thought of,” Riha said.
Erlin also valued the unique worldview that Scharioth was able to bring to campus.
“It’s always useful to get an outside perspective on these international topics,” Erlin said. “It’s extremely useful for students to get an understanding of how other people view this. They don’t always get that from the U.S. media.”
Scharioth also offered several suggestions to members of the audience who asked what he thought they could do in response to some of the current international crises.
“A lot of the conversation was on how Germany and the U.S. can work together,” Riha said.
Prior to serving as an ambassador, Scharioth was State Secretary in the German Foreign Office. He presented his ambassadorial credentials to George W. Bush on March 13, 2006.
Scharioth recommended that the attendees push for American cooperation with nations like Germany on international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, certain provisions of which will be up for re-ratification in coming years.
With additional reporting by Ben Sales