Trump and trade tackled at most recent Al Stone lecture

Category:  News
Thursday, October 4th, 2018 at 9:41 AM

The regulars of the Al Stone Lecture Series gathered again on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 27, to hear Dr. Gerald Gendlin speak on “Trump, Trade, and the International System.” The room of a little over 20 huddled intimately in the Al Stone Integrational Center in the basement of Diebold. 

Dr. Robert Rhodes introduced Gendlin as having, “one of the most distinguished bios of anyone at the university.” Gendlin, a political science professor at Edinboro, came here from MIT where he was engaged in research on Russia’s political infrastructure. In addition to his other accomplishments is being the first full time faculty member at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Gendlin began his speech with a Donald Trump impression that set up the feel for the rest of his talk. “You’ll have to excuse my ability to do impressions,” he began, “I’m not that good at impressions.” 

“That’s a good impression,” a member of the audience remarked. 

“Now I say that this is a bad impression,” Gendlin said after reading off the quotes, “because those quotes aren’t from Donald Trump, they’re from Bernie Sanders.”  

Uncomfortable laughter filled the room as the audience realized the set up. Throughout the rest of the talk, Gendlin would work with the participants’ preconceived notions and put spins on those notions to draw them into thought about his arguments. 

The U.S., Gendlin argued, guides the world by dominating it in three systems that form a triangle configuration: economics, by setting up a rule-based free trade market; politics, by demanding democratic governments; and global security, by preventing the oppression of people and protecting free markets.  

These theories Gendlin stated had their grounding not in economics, but in his observations as a political scientist. 

Throughout his speech, Gendlin attempted to present an alternate viewpoint, or as he put it, “a realist’s perspective” on the policies of Trump. In fitting with that approach, he said that “Trump’s America first policies are a classic realist’s approach,” because according to the realist’s school of thought, no policy should exist without having some benefit to the parties which uphold it. 

“Trump’s policies are designed to protect American interests, and that all policies should be designed to protect American interests.” 

On Trump’s policies on tariffs, he said: “In theory, Trump’s tariffs should help the American people. There is some value in keeping foreign made goods out of the United States; it can promote growth.”

This statement was reminiscent of the statements Dr. Robert Cogan made in his talk last week at the lecture series. 

Al Stone, hosted by the retired Rhodes, will continue next week with a lecture by Dr. Michael Morrison on “The Economic Cost and Benefits of Tariffs.” That will provide an economic viewpoint on Trump’s implementation of tariffs. The lecture will take place Thursday, Oct. 5, at 9:30 a.m. in the basement of Diebold. 

Shayma Musa can be reached at

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