Inside Vandy: IMPACT series opens with Senator Lamar Alexander

Posted on March 19, 2012

Tennessee Senator and Vanderbilt alumnus Lamar Alexander opened the three-night IMPACT series entitled “Rise of the Rest: What is the Future of American Foreign Policy” Monday night, addressing the importance of energy policy in American foreign relations.

The recurring theme in Senator Alexander’s address was the prevalence of energy in the future of foreign policy.

“I am not an expert on foreign policy, but I know one thing: foreign policy is energy policy, and energy policy is foreign policy,” Alexander said.

Senator Alexander’s career has focused primarily around education policy.  He served under President George H. W. Bush as Secretary of Education from 1991-1993, in addition to his positions as Tennessee Governor from 1979-1987 and University of Tennessee President from 1988-1991.  He made the connection in his expertise by discussing the importance of innovation and research in American policy.

“We are the world leader in energy and research.  That is why I propose to the United States a new Manhattan Project for clean energy independence,” Alexander said. 

The Senator went on to discuss his support for increasing energy independence, focusing on nuclear energy and battery technology.  He insisted that by investing more in these areas, the United States will become both more energy efficient and independent.  

“We are twice as energy independent now as we were in the seventies.  I believe we can double that number again,” Alexander noted.

Senator Alexander also had a few words of advice for Vanderbilt Students.

“Find those two or three people that you admire the most, and attach yourselves to them.  Do whatever they tell you to do, as long as it is legal.  They will teach you the right things and the wrong things that will help you in your futures,” Alexander said.

The next Impact Series speakers are former Utah Governor John Huntsman and retired United States General Wesley Clark.  They will participate in a discussion Tuesday at 7 p.m. moderated by Vanderbilt political scientist Brett Benson.