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PHOTO: The debate between pro­fessors West and Lieber (Josh Paladino/Collegian)

Saucy Dog’s Bar­beque food and foreign policy dis­cussion attracted an overflow crowd of about 120 people to Lane Hall Sept. 15.

The Alexander Hamilton Society held a debate between Robert Lieber, pro­fessor of gov­ernment and inter­na­tional affairs at Georgetown Uni­versity, and Thomas West, Hillsdale College pro­fessor of pol­itics, to debate the future of American foreign policy. Alexander Hamilton Society Pres­ident John Gage said during an election season, a con­ver­sation on foreign policy was needed.

Lieber argued the United States’ foreign policy is too hands-off under Pres­ident Barack Obama, while West, on the other hand, claimed the U.S. mil­itary inter­venes too often and for the wrong reasons.

West said, drawing from ideas dis­cussed by the American Founders like George Wash­ington and Thomas Jef­ferson, that the purpose of U.S. foreign policy is “to secure American’s rights, which means to protect cit­izens against injury at home and abroad, and refrain from attacking or inter­fering with other nations unless attacked or threatened.”

Lieber agreed with these prin­ciples in theory, but he said they are too narrow for today.

“We live in a world that’s glob­alized,” Lieber said. “Our adver­saries halfway around the world can launch an attack on us. The U.S. has to be engaged with its allies, and doing this is in our interest.”

Lieber said Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea pose the greatest threat to the United States, while West claimed Lieber’s foreign policy views were stuck in the Cold War and that these coun­tries are not a danger — so long as America doesn’t let ter­rorists into the country.

Lieber, however, said lim­iting immi­gration alone is not enough to keep America safe. He sug­gested an American presence in the Middle East to ensure sta­bility, though he sharply crit­i­cized the George W. Bush and Obama admin­is­tra­tions for how they handled affairs there.

Lieber added that America should promote cap­i­talism and democracy, defend inter­na­tional insti­tu­tions, support allies, and ensure regional sta­bility.

Hillsdale Pro­fessor of History Paul Rahe, who attended the event, said alliances in Europe and Asia are helpful, but those in the Middle East need rethinking.

“I think they’re gonna fight there for 100 years,” Rahe said. “We can stamp out ter­rorism in one place, and it will pop up some­where else. It could be in our interest to let them fight as long as they’re killing each other.”

Gage said the society will have two more outside speakers come to Hillsdale this semester to debate.

“The single most important thing the federal gov­ernment does is foreign policy, and there is no outlet on this campus for that debate, except for the Alexander Hamilton Society,” Rahe said.