AU students launch Alexander Hamilton Society chapter to promote non-partisan policy discussion

The launch featured a debate on U.S. relations with North Korea

AU students launch Alexander Hamilton Society chapter to promote non-partisan policy discussion

David Banks (left), Gabriel Scheinmann (center) and David Maxwell (right) speak at an Alexander Hamilton Society event.

Students marked the launch of a university chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) with a debate on U.S. relations with North Korea on Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the Don Myers Innovation and Technology Building.

The Alexander Hamilton Society is “an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate” on foreign and domestic policy, according to the AHS website.

The debate, titled “Mission: Impossible Paths to Peace on the Korean Peninsula,” featured former U.S. Special Forces Commander Colonel David Maxwell and AU School of International Service professor David Banks. AHS Executive Director Gabriel Scheinmann moderated the event.

Juliana Geran Pilon, the chapter’s faculty adviser, told The Eagle that AU previously had an AHS chapter and this event marked the organization’s re-opening. Pilon is an adjunct professor in AU’s School of Public Affairs.

Sophomore Kevin Norton, the chapter’s president, gave an opening introduction to the event.

“Now I don’t doubt that we all have our own thoughts about the role the United States should be playing in the world, but I encourage all of you to listen to what the speakers are saying and to critically think about why they believe what they do,” Norton said.

The debate began with Maxwell and Banks each giving an opening statement detailing their current position on how the U.S. should deal with matters relating to the Korean peninsula. Scheinmann asked the participants questions based on their opening statements later on in the program. The event ended with students asking questions to both Maxwell and Banks.

“Anything I say should be challenged,” Maxwell said in his opening statement.

Throughout the event, Maxwell reemphasized his position that the U.S. should support the unification of North Korea and South Korea as one country: “The United Republic of Korea.”

“I believe unification is the only answer -- the only way we’ll see an end to the North Korean nuclear program and the crimes against humanity being committed against the people living in the north,” Maxwell said.

Banks was in favor of a different approach. He said that the U.S. should “continue to do what it’s been doing” and “pursue a policy of containment”.

“I use the word containment as being slightly different from what has been done in the past because, up until now, North Korea hasn’t had nuclear weapons,” Banks said.

Scheinmann ended the debate by thanking the speakers for participating in “probably the most complex topic in American foreign policy.” He congratulated AU on opening its AHS chapter.

“It’s really enlightening and inspiring to see a lot of young people who actually care about the future of American foreign policy and America’s role in the world,” Scheinmann said.

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