April 4, 2011

A Student Perspective - Former Ambassador Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad visits UNC Charlotte

On Thursday, March 24, Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United Nations, addressed members of the UNC Charlotte community as part of the International Speaker Series. Former student and photographer, Aaron Cress, shares his impressions and photos.

“My overall impression of Dr. Khalilzad's presentation was it was very informative from a perspective of an individual that had the ability to see inside the government and also able to visit a wide variety of the people whom that government serves. I found it very interesting when he was talking about the green initiative to get school kids to take care of trees and how, in a country that expects so much from its government, this idea was not well-accepted. The points he made about youth going in one direction and a regime going in another was bound to have a boiling point. Yet it wasn’t clear how things would unfold. We are seeing more and more countries reaching that boiling point now, and Iraq and Afghanistan maybe models to look at for stabilization. Dr. Khalilzad also spoke about the different types of government the people in these two countries had had, and how they chose the opposite form of regime when new post-conflict constitutions were written (Afghanistan having had a weak central government chose a constitutional model with strong centralized leadership. Iraq, having experienced despotic leadership chose a parliamentary system).

From this view point it makes me appreciate the governing system we have in the United States where there is executive authority able to make a quick decision if needed, but also having the legislature to slow the decision-making process, each balanced by the Supreme Court system.

I am glad I attended and believe I have learned a great deal from a perspective that isn't a history book and is still current enough that it affects me.”