Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to Britain, visits on Wednesday
Radley was honoured to host a visit from His Excellency,
Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to the Court of St James, as the post is formally
known, on the morning of Wednesday 30th September. The Theatre was
full for this unique occasion and a large number of Radleians had the
opportunity to ask the Ambassador questions.
After thanking Radley for so prominently displaying the
Stars and Stripes in the Theatre, Matthew Barzun began his address by
recounting the advice President Obama had given him as a diplomat - just the one
simple word: “Listen.”
And that was precisely what he did for much of the following
hour-and-a-half, in a talk very much led by audience participation: with the Radleians
present nominating those issues about America and its place in the world that troubled
or inspired them.
They were encouraged to identify, for example, those aspects
of the US that “frustrate, concern, confuse” them the most. The Ambassador then
addressed these concerns: including Gun Control (America has three hundred million guns
in private ownership, but “only a tiny fraction of these are used in violent
crime”) and Fox News (as he explained, only three million out of 320 million
Americans watch Fox).
Matthew Barzun then challenged his audience to ponder past global
events and issues when American involvement had worked, and had not worked. His thesis was that of President Obama’s:
“When the US stays out of world events, good things tend not to happen”. So how could
we ensure America becomes involved globally in a helpful way – as in the
example of World War II?
Finally, he asked the audience to consider what inspired
them about the USA. Topics here included space travel, independence, innovation
His Excellency closed by stressing the very strong ties
between Britain and the US (“We have no closer friends”): ties based upon
“sharing frustrations and being honest with each other as nations.”
The Warden thanked Matthew Barzun for this inspirational