Action and Imagery in the Middle East Maybe Worth It.

Professor Michael R. Czinkota

President Donald Trump ordered the termination of Major General Quassim Soleimani of Iran in retribution for his terrorist plans and activities. Iran retaliated with a missile strike on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops. As the result, the President announced new economic sanctions against Tehran. Many now wonder whether this U.S.’s involvement is worth it.

But these exchanges are mostly imagery.  Our policy planners need to have a vision of how our relationship with the world should be 20 years from now. Future generations should know that our policies, activities, efforts, and investments were worth the effort.

At issue is the long-term outcome of these policy measures. Today, if you ask the State Department for travel advice, you will be referred to the “Travel Warnings” website. On it, you will find many admonitions of where not to go and what not to do. For example, the State Department issued a global security alert on January 8, 2020, to warn U.S. citizens of heightened tension in the Middle East. Americans are advised to “keep a low profile, avoid demonstrations or large gatherings, be aware of surroundings and stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.” 

The travel advisory puts Iran on a Level 4: Do Not Travel, which indicates growing risk of kidnapping, arrest, and detention of US citizens. Iraq and Syria are also ranked Level 4 due to terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict. US citizens who decide to travel to Iraq or Syria are advised to “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney” and to “discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, funeral wishes, etc.” 

All these measures are helpful but what is needed is continued long term thinking as to how we will achieve globally a rating of Level 1 as we have for Canada and Hungary, which encourages travel with normal precautions. Being American should eventually be a sign of safety and security, as it was for the biblical St. Paul. A brief review of the life of St. Paul, also called the 13th apostle, may provide guidance and inspiration. His birth name was Saul. He was a Jew and converted to Christianity. He was born in Tarsus of the Roman Empire, which made him a Roman citizen. He was an indefatigable traveler, an early globalist who wrote lots of letters, many of which significantly challenged the status quo, and therefore were written missives of equivalent to many missiles. He established churches in Asia Minor. He evangelized in Macedonia, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, and Malta. During his life and travels, he was often met with great hostility and persecution. The Roman emperor himself was none too pleased with Paul’s preaching and traveling. In an era of multideities, Christianity was not exactly popular in the reigning circles of the day.

What are the lessons here? St. Paul reached out to the world. His message was controversial, but it has survived quite well until today. He was not popular for his message—but he got the word out. He did not hesitate to go to the far corners of the world of his day. In spite of all the controversy and hatred that he faced, the people he encountered abroad did not harm him. Even when he was a captive in the provinces, he was untouchable and treated with respect and hospitality because he was protected by his citizenship of Rome. 

St. Paul’s circumstances can be our guide for a vision of the future. We are proud to be Americans and the world should know it. There are special conditions associated with American citizenship—and our exposure and policies should enhance rather than hide that fact. 

Some of that “specialness” is reflected in our international policies. In a statement addressing the nation the day after the strike against Major General Soleimani, President Trump stated that “under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies.” 

In order to find out whether the effort was worth it, we should see where we are in the next generation. By then, when requesting a travel advisory from the State Department, here is what I’d like to see: “As a traveler, you are advised to carry identification of being a U.S. citizen with you at all times. Wear an American flag pin to let everyone know that you are an American. This way, you will carry an umbrella of respect, safety and security. Remember, you represent your country. We wish you success in your travels.” 

Some might think of such a vision as perhaps lacking in humility. I see it as a worthwhile goal to strive for, as a translation of a national effort onto individual well-being, and as an outcome that will truly help bring peace to the world. After all, if Americans are secure, others will be as well.

 Professor Michael Czinkota teaches international marketing and business at Georgetown University. His most recent book is In Search for the Soul of International Business, 2019. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Reagan and 

Expert Talk: Paul F. Bolinger

Paul Bollinger, after serving as vice president of a micro-electronics firm, decided to retool himself as an American wood-carver and artist specializing in Father Christmas pieces. After expanding to supply Neiman Marcus and being featured as one of the 100 top traditional craftsmen in the United States he gradually expanded his reach to move beyond the U.S.    He gradually expanded his reach to move beyond U.S. production and had figurines made as well in Mexico, the Philippines and China. He spoke about the many international challenges he and his wife Camille encountered when shipments unexpectedly varied in dimensions such as color and shape. Nonetheless, individual figures reached a sales volume of over 50,000 items.  


Expert Talk: Mr. Geir Haarde, Executive Director, World Bank Group.

Mr. Geir Haarde, Who visited our seminar last year in the roles of  Prime Minister of Iceland and Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the  United States, came back to us, now as the Executive Director of the World Bank, representing the countries of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden. Director Haarde explained how the World Bank addresses issues at the level of the firm and seeks to improve standards of living and economic performance. Though the bank has more than 9,000 employees in Washington, he conducts his work with a staff of 10. The interest and questioning was very engaged and answers were well received.

The Bear without the bull

Michael R. Czinkota

There is often a strong desire for partisanship both in our domestic and global thinking. Russia keeps being framed as our most vile adversary. Such thinking has much historic background. Of particular worry has been competition in technology – one can still recall the Russian leadership reputation effects of the space launches of Sputnik, the electric ball, and Leica, the spaceship dog. It took the successful North Pole transit of the U.S. submarine Nautilus to re-declare American advantage. 

My research in the Georgetown archives yields evidence that not all Russians are adversaries all the time. One example comes from the Russian years of Georgetown University and the Jesuit religious order which founded it. 

The order was initiated by Ignatius of Loyola in Paris in 1534, with its members taking vows of poverty, chastity and an ole of full obedience to the pope. Its principles and their execution turned out to be quite successful, particularly in the field of education. With its headquarters in Rome, the proximity to the pope helped global expansion and influence. 

However, not all was smooth sailing. In spite, or because of their success, the more than 22,000 Jesuits were suppressed in 1773 of all people, by their main patron, Pope Clement XIV. This leader of global Catholicism sent out specific instructions called a “papal bull” or edict to other heads of country, demanding the abolishment of the Jesuit order. The major ruling nations such as the Portuguese and Spanish empires, the French nation, and Austria/Hungary accepted such abolishment,  making the Jesuits virtually extinct. Virtually, but not totally, thanks to Russian policy.  

At the time Catherine the Great was the Tsarina or Sovereign of Russia and the protector of its orthodox religion. One of her key objectives was to bring Russia and herself as an equal partner to the table of international leaders. She recognized that raising the capabilities of the Russian population and its nobility to reason and analyze was an important foundation for such an achievement. She was further impressed with the manifold educational activities which the Jesuits had already set in place. So she was not feeling exploited when the Jesuits requested that the impending papal bull should not arrive or be read by the Imperial Court. She also agreed that existing Jesuits could select Russia as their central headquarters and even allowed them to expand the order. 

As a result, those Jesuits, which had been part of the Maryland province in Baltimore all became Russian in their affiliation, as did their institutions. This relationship remained until 1814 when Pope Pius VII removed the onerous order of suppression. Georgetown University and it’s Jesuit faculty then became American again.

The lessons learned for today: 

  • Political hardships imposed to totally eliminate one’s adversary may not have to be final – there often is a workaround 
  •  An international orientation can often be crucial to advancing one’s agenda
  • Adversaries and traditions do not have to remain steady and immutable; to the contrary, a new perspective should be raised in one’s analysis of conditions
  • Global strengths and unique expertise can set a player apart and permit quite unexpected alliances and cross-references.

The evidence indicates that all this was good for both Russia and Georgetown University. Might there be other strategic linkages possible?  It is necessary to separate the bear from the bull and to remember that there is always a bear market somewhere. 

Professor Michael Czinkota (czinkotm@georgetown.edu) teaches international marketing and business at Georgetown University. His key books are International Marketing (10th ed.) with Prof. Ronkainen and In Search for the Soul of International Business. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Reagan Administration

Key Words: Russia, Jesuits, Collaboration, Ignatius of Loyola, Suppression, Papal bull, Dog Leica, Nautilus, Catherine the Great, Education, Bear, Georgetown history, and Czinkota

Expert Talk: Mr. John Diamond – World Bank Group

We truly enjoyed having Mr. John Diamond to come and share his thoughts on working in the World Bank. He talked about the different projects that are being done in the institution. One of them is We-Fi, which is the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. He also talked about the formalization of businesses and how it affects international development. He covered the topic of FDI and how it fluctuates with different countries. The students showed a lot of interest in getting to know about Mr. Diamond’s journey to the World Bank as well as the opportunities to work in the prestigious institute.