On Tuesday, the Morley Society was lucky enough to be visited by Hunter Treseder Esq., Political-Military Affairs Officer at the Embassy of the United States. After a California childhood, Mr Treseder has served for the United States Government in a number of different roles, in foreign postings from Finland to Iraq. He delivered a fluent contextual precis of US foreign policy, and the multiple domestic and foreign forces guiding it from 1945, via Suez, Cuba, Vietnam and Afghanistan, through to the early 1990s, before opening the discussion up to the floor on matters of more recent import.
A hard core of Upper Sixth historians and politicians remained well beyond the allotted hour, using this unique opportunity to the utmost and leaving Mr Treseder sprinting for his train! Issues of morality, political pragmatism, the economic self-interest of states, geopolitics, the ‘war on terror' and the emotion surrounding race and immigration all begged a torrent of questions. Mr Treseder was undeterred by all angles taken (even those posed by the Swiss) and in addition made a heartfelt plea, and one that had some in the audience blushing, that the students perhaps consider the rewards of a life of public service over high finance, with the attendant adventure and personal satisfaction to be gained from such a calling, even given the occasional dangers. For many, one of the most intriguing questions remaining by the end was in fact posed by Mr Treseder himself: “What exactly is it that the President gets told on his very first day?”, given how manifestos can so seemingly quickly bite the dust once any 'secret histories' are necessarily revealed in the Oval Office.
Going full circle back to 1945, Truman certainly knew how this felt. It was a striking reminder for us all of how wary one must be in making any sweeping judgments of those brave - or ambitious - enough to step up to the decision-making seat and say, “The Buck Stops Here."