Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

Reaching in, reaching out: Lee H. Hamilton, head of the Woodrow Wilson centre in Washington D.C., has won international acclaim for his work in foreign affairs ...



For tall, trim former US Congressman Lee H Hamilton the workday begins early--sometimes by 5.30 am. He parks his car, goes to the eighth floor of the majestic, sprawling Ronald Reagan Building Coordinates:  The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center  in Washington, DC--three blocks from the White House--to his office as director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. There he begins the quiet reflection that became a habit during his 30-plus years as a Representative for southern Indiana Southern Indiana, in the United States, is notable because it is culturally distinct from the rest of the state. The area's geography has led to a blend of Northern and Southern culture that is not found in the rest of Indiana.  in the US Congress. With the phones silent and no interruptions, he reads the morning newspapers and meditates. He checks his priorities and thinks ahead. `This is the most important time of day for me,' he says.

As chairman of the House Committee on International Relations The Committee on International Relations, also known as CIR, is a one year Masters degree graduate program in the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. It is the oldest international affairs graduate program in the United States.  and other powerful congressional panels, Hamilton built a reputation for his calm, analytical approach. The 1998 Almanac almanac, originally, a calendar with notations of astronomical and other data. Almanacs have been known in simple form almost since the invention of writing, for they served to record religious feasts, seasonal changes, and the like.  of American Politics said he had `a strong intellect and capacity for hard work plus a sense of moral imperative'. So it came as no surprise when President Bill Clinton dispatched him to Taipeh last March to help ease tensions between the newly elected pro-independence President of the Republic of China The President of the Republic of China (Traditional Chinese: 中華民國總統; Hanyu Pinyin: Zhōnghuá Mínguó Zǒngtǒng; Tongyong Pinyin: JhōngHuá MínGuó JǒngTǒng; Wade-Giles: Chung-Hua Min-Kuo Tsung-T'ung) is the head of , Chen Shui-Bian Chen Shui-bian, 1951–, Taiwanese political leader, president of Taiwan (2000–). Born into poverty, he obtained his law degree from National Taiwan Univ. in 1975 and practiced as a maritime lawyer. , and Beijing.

`I met with Chen and conveyed a message of restraint,' Hamilton recalls. He was relieved to find Chen already conveying that message. So it was a short trip. It nevertheless symbolized the stature Hamilton had achieved in foreign policy circles. He was expected to be Secretary of State if Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis Michael Stanley Dukakis (born November 3, 1933) is an American Democratic politician, former Governor of Massachusetts, and the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988. He was born to Greek and Vlach immigrant [1]  won the presidential election in 1988. Both Dukakis and Clinton considered him as a possible running mate running mate
n.
1. The candidate or nominee for the lesser of two closely associated political offices.

2. A companion.

3. A horse used to set the pace in a race for another horse.
. Hamilton says he withdrew his name as a Clinton vice-presidential prospect in 1992. He was also on Clinton's checklist for Secretary of State.

Hamilton was born in Florida in 1931, the son of a Methodist minister who led large churches in that state, Tennessee and Indiana. But how did the gaze of the young Hamilton, with roots in the Midwest and South, come to encompass the world?

It began with a trip abroad in 1952-53 when he studied briefly at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, but mostly toured the country. That experience fired his interest in international affairs Noun 1. international affairs - affairs between nations; "you can't really keep up with world affairs by watching television"
world affairs

affairs - transactions of professional or public interest; "news of current affairs"; "great affairs of state"
. `There were many sites then still bombed out,' he recalls. He met men who'd been Hitler's bodyguards. He even played in Germany's national championship basketball team. The German `economic miracle' dazzled him. But he hungered to see more of Europe, so he and a friend made a low-budget tour, staying in youth hostels and surviving on one meal a day. `This was a vast new world.... The residue of war was an obsession everywhere.'

Hamilton had graduated with honours from DePauw University DePauw University, at Greencastle, Ind.; coeducational; United Methodist; est. 1832, chartered 1837. The school opened in 1838 as Indiana Asbury College, and in 1884 the present name was adopted.  in 1952, but remained puzzled about what to do with his life. He flirted briefly with the ministry but `was not attracted'. `I considered coaching or getting a doctorate in history.' Finally, law students he met in Europe helped convince him to enter law school at Indiana University Indiana University, main campus at Bloomington; state supported; coeducational; chartered 1820 as a seminary, opened 1824. It became a college in 1828 and a university in 1838. The medical center (run jointly with Purdue Univ. , where he received his jurisprudence doctorate in 1956. After brief work in Chicago, he joined a small law firm in Columbus, Indiana Columbus (IPA: [kəˈlʌm.bəs]) is the county seat of Bartholomew County, Indiana. The population was 39,059 at the 2000 census. The current mayor is Fred Armstrong. . But politics summoned and landed him in Congress in 1965 for the first of 17 two-year terms.

A member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is a sports museum and hall of fame in New Castle, Indiana. It honors men and women associated with high school and college basketball in Indiana.

The museum was founded in 1970 in Indianapolis, and moved to New Castle in 1986.
, Hamilton devoted eight years to the sport--four in high school, four in college. `The coaches had a lot of impact on me,' he says. `The teamwork, the lessons from athletics are very important--the sportsmanship, the need to be highly disciplined. In basketball you are very dependent on your team mates.' Discipline, teamwork and fair play are qualities dear to him.

After Hamilton decided in 1998 not to run for re-election, he was flooded with job offers. He could doubtless have named his price if he'd wanted to become a lobbyist. But he accepted the invitation to head the Wilson Center. He checked out of his congressional office one day and into his new one the next.

The Wilson Center ranks as one of America's--indeed the world's--premier institutions of scholarly research and exchange of ideas among academics, lawmakers, journalists, government officials and other policy makers. It accepts 150 scholars annually from throughout the world. They research and write but also interact with each other and with elected officials, other public policy specialists and leading thinkers.

Near the end of his Wilson Center stay this year, Victor Avksentiev, Chairman of the Department of Social Philosophy and Ethnology ethnology (ĕthnŏl`əjē), scientific study of the origin and functioning of human cultures. It is usually considered one of the major branches of cultural anthropology, the other two being anthropological archaeology and  at Stavropol State University in Russia, told me that his experience at the centre expanded his conception of the causes of inter-ethnic conflict. He had gained a better grasp of the role political leaders and other significant individuals play, and of the fact that such conflicts are often not inherent but stoked stoked  
adj. Slang
1. Exhilarated or excited.

2. Being or feeling high or intoxicated, especially from a drug.
.

Former Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek said recently that his own time as a Wilson scholar in 1978, when he watched Congress work, gave him the stronger conception of democracy which he brought to Solidarity, the workers' movement that did so much to end the Communist system in his country.

Once home, many scholars write to tell Hamilton how deeply their experience affected them. Wilson alumni have regional associations to keep them linked and interactive.

Nazokat Kasymova, a lecturer in economics at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy The University of World Economy and Diplomacy is located in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It was founded in 1992 by the decree of the President Karimov to train future leaders of the country. External links
  • University's website
 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, told me as she was about to return home that she would share her greater grasp of democracy with her students.

Two hundred radio stations across America broadcast the Wilson Center programme, Dialogue, to 200,000 listeners. The Wilson Quarterly Wilson Quarterly is a magazine based in Washington, DC and published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. It was founded by James H. Billington when he was director of the center.  has more than 60,000 subscribers. The Wilson Center and Close Up Foundation have collaborated to bring policy-issue briefings to high schools with televised student forums on the C-Span national cable network.

Since Congress founded the Center in 1968 as a monument to the nation's 28th president, Wilson scholars have written more than 800 books and countless papers. Alumni include the historians Gertrude Himmelfarb and Edward Tenner, the writers Vassily Aksyono and Mario Vargas Llosa Noun 1. Mario Vargas Llosa - Peruvian writer (born in 1936)
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, Vargas Llosa
, the diplomats Madeleine Albright, Simcha Dinitz, George F Kennan and Anatolii Dobrynin, and the journalists Thomas L Friedman, John J Fialka and Rajmohan Gandhi.

Woodrow Wilson had been President of Princeton University Princeton University is led by a President selected by the Board of Trustees. Until the accession of Woodrow Wilson, a political scientist, in 1902, they were all clergymen, as well as professors. President Tilghman is a biologist; her two predecessors were economists.  before becoming President of the United States The head of the Executive Branch, one of the three branches of the federal government.

The U.S. Constitution sets relatively strict requirements about who may serve as president and for how long.
 in 1913. `Wilson was our only President with a PhD,' notes Hamilton, who strongly believes that the interaction of public officials with scholars nurtures democracy.

For all the action he left on Capitol Hill, Hamilton delights in the `stimulation' of his new job. He also directs the Center on Congress which he initiated at Indiana University. That takes him back home twice a month. `There is a huge public lack of understanding of the role of Congress,' he says. With his radio commentaries and other outreach, the Center on Congress aims to serve `the kind of people who have breakfast at McDonalds', in Hamilton's words. It even has a web site on how bills become law. The site features a game that takes viewers through the maze.

Now almost 70, an age when many men are retired, Hamilton shows no sign of slowing down. But he often gets home earlier to his wife, Nancy, a talented painter whom he met at DePauw (they have three children and four grandchildren). `And I've discovered weekends,' he enthuses.

One incident tells a lot about him: `A few years ago, when I still represented southern Indiana in Congress, I was getting ready to take part in a small-town parade when a young woman--a teenager, actually--came running up and said she wanted to talk to me,' he recalled in a radio commentary. `She was so obviously distressed that I had my car pull over to the side and let the rest of the parade pass. Her parents, she said, were addicted to drugs, and she felt trapped. If she went to the police, her parents would be arrested, and she'd lose them. If she didn't report them, they would continue their abuse. It was a horrible dilemma, and I promised I would do what I could to help out.'

He said that encounter and a few others galvanized gal·va·nize  
tr.v. gal·va·nized, gal·va·niz·ing, gal·va·niz·es
1. To stimulate or shock with an electric current.

2.
 him `into a concerted effort to improve the availability of drug treatment and drug education activities in rural communities generally, and in southern Indiana in particular'. This experience drove deeper his conviction of the need for `ongoing conversation between elected officials and the people they represent'. Reaching out was a Hamilton hallmark.

Asked if he wouldn't rather have concentrated wholly on foreign affairs when in Congress, Hamilton responds with an emphatic `No'. He says he devoted about half his time to domestic issues, and loved meeting his constituents. To help a teenager in a family crisis, or a town get a needed fire truck, meant as much to him, perhaps, as winning a House vote.

His reputation nationally and internationally came, however, from his long experience in foreign affairs for which he has received many honours and awards, including, last year, the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit Order of Merit
Noun

Brit an order awarded for outstanding achievement in any field
 of the Federal Republic of Germany. He has also been showered with honours for his work on domestic issues and received four honorary degrees.

A defining moment for Hamilton came recently when at the end of an AIDS panel discussion at the Wilson Center he quoted from a Washington Post story that day which raised the question whether, finally, a change in human behaviour must come to control the spread of the disease. There is within him, to be sure, that `sense of moral imperative'.
COPYRIGHT 2000 For A Change
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:For A Change
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:1578
Previous Article:Khot-La Cha: man with a kind heart.
Next Article:Media make Sarajevo commitment: five years after the Dayton peace agreement, Michael Smith visits the Bosnian capital Sarajevo to attend an...
Topics:



Related Articles
Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History. (Political booknotes: old wives' tales).
Some useful websites.
Bush's Wilsonian internationalism: how radical is President Bush's globalist agenda? Establishment pundits approvingly compare him to President...
Irreconcilable differences. (History -- Struggle for Freedom).
Health coalition gains seats on PeaceHealth committees.
IRAN - May 8 - Prominent US Scholar Detained In Iran.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters