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Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland who is widely credited with bringing democracy to his country, charmed apacked audience in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum as he spoke about the promise of globalization in the 21st century.
According to Walesa, the world has two choices: either American leadership or a restructured global government.
"The United Nations is a body 'with respect but no power," he said, while the United States has "power but no respect." Calling for "modified" U.S. action in Iraq, he insisted that the world has entered a "genuinely new epoch" where we must have new systems and political arrangements to tackle the world's development needs.
He argued for a "global parliament" empowered to send troops from around the world to combat terrorism, the resurgence of anti-Semitic or racist ideologies and aggression along national borders. He suggested that this parliament could replace the UN Security Council and argued for an enhanced role for NATO. "Let's place NATO as the defense authority of the entire world."
But if the United States is to remain the world's superpower, he argued, it must be prepared for the fallout of the world's remaining communist systems, including Cuba.
"It would be dangerous to push too hard for freedom in Cuba right now," said the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who called for the world to get ready for Cuba's future. "Castro won't live for long," he said, warning that everything will collapse in Cuba if the world community isn't prepared.
Walesa said he was puzzled about why communism could continue in the small Caribbean nation and joked that maybe a future role for Cuba could be to serve as a museum so people around the world could view what communism looked like.
Presented by the Institute of Politics, the event was co-sponsored by the Harvard Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe.