By Jan Buck ’67, Hannah Swenson ’16 and Alice Inchauspe ’16
We went to press for the Spring Newsletter just after the spectacular standing room only session with former Secretary of State James Baker, Ivy section of 1952, who explained that it was Ivy that prepared him for his first major governmental position as Secretary of the Treasury. Secretary Baker shared his vast insight into Washington’s politics, as he encouraged students to always stay true to themselves and to not fear staying the righteous path, even in the face of opposition.
For our last session of the Spring Term, we assembled a panel of the following knowledgeable and thoughtful luminaries on Oil and Politics in the Middle East. Alan Huffman is one of the most expert exploration and production leaders in the Oil and Gas Industry and is a longtime advisor to Saudi Aramco. Bernard Haykel is the Near Eastern Studies Professor at Princeton, Director of its Institute for Transregional Study, and is a recognized world expert on Al Qaeda and ISIS. General David Petraeus, Partner at KKR and Chairman of its Global Institute, was Director of the CIA and, of course before that, was the military commander for the U.S. in the Second Iraq war. These distinguished experts provided their unique insights into the issues that are tearing our world apart.
The panel explained that with a GDP of less than California and Texas, the Middle East provided sixty per cent of the world’s oil and thirty per cent of our needs here. Instability is prevalent in the region and appears to be getting worse. The consensus coalesced around the need for the U.S. to remain involved, particularly in support of stable regimes, and even increasing its presence on the ground. We were evinced by the fact that the cover of the following edition of the Princeton Alumni Weekly bore the image of Professor Haykel wearing the Ivy tie he was given at the event’s conclusion.
The Fall Term of the Program started off powerfully with a visit by the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. President Zuma spoke of the new surge of the African continent on to the main stage of the modern industrial world, not only from its traditional strengths in natural resources, but also due to the impact it was having upon international trade and agricultural production. He extolled the continent’s organic growth that was enhancing its increasing societal stability. President Zuma was an enthusiastic cheerleader for an Africa on the move. After the packed session in the Great Hall, which included non-members who spilled out through the open doors on to the Club’s terrace, President Zuma assembled a smaller group of interested students for a more intimate Q&A session in the Club’s Library. Upon finishing, he said how much he loved the event and how he would like to come again.
At our following session, the Program hosted HRH Prince Turki Faisal of Saudi Arabia. The session was preceded by a dinner in the Music Room with members of the undergraduate Leadership Committee, Club Officers, and Members of the Board of Governors and their spouses. Also attending were former publishers of the Wall Street Journal, Peter Kann and Karen House, the latter of whom has just published a book on Saudi Arabia and its royal family. And, of course, there was Professor Haykel, a close friend of the Prince. The session in the Great Hall was as memorable as it was insightful. The Prince, who is one of the most educated and thoughtful leaders in the Middle East, was brilliant and articulate, especially in his condemnation of the barbarity of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda who he claimed were the antithesis of Muslim tradition and Islamic principles. He also, consistent with the position articulated in the Spring’s panel, discussed the decreasing involvement by the United States in ameliorating the region’s challenges. When the session concluded, our new President of the Ivy Board of Governors, Charlie Lowrey rose to explain that, to date, the Ivy Club had only named six people as Ivy Fellows (an honor bestowed only on a nonMember from outside the University), and that the Board had voted to honor Prince Turki with this distinction. He was given a gold Ivy Leaf and was visibly moved by the gesture.
The Program’s year continues to blossom with near commitments of additional leaders such as Paul Volker and Ricardo Poma, a highly respected businessman and entrepreneur in Central America and Co-Founder with Mitt Romney of Bain Capital.