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Visit of Matthew Barzun

Visit of Matthew Barzun

Matthew Barzun, US Ambassador to Britain, visits on Wednesday September 30th

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 and music.

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 address. 

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