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Former Air Force general answers college community's concerns stemming from terrorist attacks
(Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)- Moravian College president Dr. Ervin J. Rokke, former president of the National Defense University and a retired Air Force general officer, has taken to the Internet to answer questions from the College community regarding the recent terrorist attacks on the United States. Moravian College students, faculty, and staff, were invited to pose questions to Rokke over a three-day period from October 10 to12. Those questions are being answered by Rokke and posted in a special section on the College website dedicated to the recent tragic events. The postings can be viewed at: www.moravian.edu/NewsInfo/terror/
Rokke's expertise in national defense, military intelligence, and national security are the product of a 35-year career in the U.S. Air Force that was distinguished by diplomatic, academic and operational leadership positions. He serves currently as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Rokke has responded to a number of difficult and complex questions about the attack of September 11 and its aftermath. A sampling of questions already answered and posted on the Web includes: "What are realistic objectives in the short term and in the long term for our efforts against terrorism? Can we really eradicate terrorism? What do you think are possible actions that would achieve favorable objectives for the U.S. without creating the perception that we are anti-Arab? What U.S. actions - military and non-military - would our attackers deem least favorable to their cause?"
In response to the question "In your opinion, what are our strengths and weaknesses as we pursue these efforts," Rokke listed several major strengths of the United States government. He said, "First and foremost, we are a democratic nation with a strong and united will to prevail. Our resolve as a nation is bolstered by a highly experienced and skilled team of foreign and defense policy leaders. The United States also has a fundamental economy and possesses the finest and most professional military forces in the world."
When asked, "What are some of the domestic costs of pursuing these efforts and do you think American citizens are willing to pay them over one year, five years or 10 years?," Rokke said the war on terrorism would be expensive. He said, "A prolonged battle against terrorists will not come cheaply. Sophisticated intelligence collection systems, for example, are very expensive and sometimes difficult to justify in a democratic context. The emerging notion of homeland defense, to which we traditionally have paid little attention, will require both economic resources and people. Substantial increases in foreign aid may well be required to neutralize the troubling (and increasing) gap between the "haves" and "have nots."
The Ideas and Issues Committee of IMPACT, Moravian College's student activities program board, sponsored the online question and answer session with president Rokke.
Dr. Ervin J. Rokke began his tenure as president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary on August 1, 1997. He is a Harvard-educated political scientist who held the rank of lieutenant general in the US Air Force. In his military career, Rokke held leadership positions as an educator, diplomat, and military intelligence officer in the United States and abroad, including Germany, the former Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom. He also served as chair of the political science department and dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Prior to his appointment at Moravian, Rokke was president of the National Defense University, the premier joint military educational institution of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college.