The MPD delegation began day two by visiting the Brookings Institution, a non-profit, nonpartisan think tank celebrating its centenary.
Ryan McElveen, assistant director of the Brookings Institution’s John L. Thornton China Center, gave us an overview of both the Institution and its China Center, which is among the most respected in the world. Asked about whether the relationship between the U.S. and China will remain amicable or will eventually result in conflict, McElveen said, “Brookings is optimistic about our relations…. I do believe China will continue to be a partner on major issues, such as climate change.”
Following a tour of the Brookings Institution’s facilities, the MPD delegation sat in on a well attended forum with keynote speaker Filippo Grandi, the newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
“On the 5th anniversary of the crisis in Syria, we should reflect on the collective abysmal political failure that Syria represents for the international community,” said Grandi. “The human cost of this failure is quickly becoming incalculable. Never forget, behind all those numbers are individuals experiencing unthinkable suffering.”
From the Brookings Institution, the MPD delegation traveled to Capitol Hill, where they were led on a tour of the Capitol building by the staff of Congressman Adam Schiff (D-28th District, CA). President Obama happened to be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day lunch with House Speaker Paul Ryan at the Capitol during the MPD delegation’s tour.
Following the Capitol tour, the MPD delegation met with Congressman Adam Schiff in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building. They discussed his role on the House Select Committe on the Benghazi Attacks, the importance of diplomacy in strengthening the U.S.’s national security, the controversial issue of “comfort women” between Japan and South Korea, and Mr. Schiff’s Freedom of Speech Caucus.
“We don’t have much to show for the $6 million we spent [on this latest Benghazi investigative committee],” said Schiff. “It was largely a fishing expedition [with political goals].”
Schiff also noted that diplomacy is “absolutely essential” to strengthening the U.S.’s national security. “For some years there was some level of disdain for diplomacy efforts, but people have recognized that there are real limits to even the most powerful military in the world. So some of the steam has gone out of the school of thought that diminished the value of diplomacy.”
As soon as the meeting with Congressman Schiff was over, a large buzzer in his office indicated that it was time for him to rush through the underground tunnels to the House floor to cast his vote on an energy bill. Meanwhile, the MPD delegation traveled to the other side of the city to meet with representatives of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Madeleine McGill and Sarah Kyrouac.
It was interesting to note the difference between the legacy of John F. Kennedy (i.e. the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts) and the legacy of Richard Nixon (the Watergate Hotel), right next door to each other.
To wrap up the day, the MPD delegation knocked back a few brews at the Elephant & Castle with several MPD alumni currently living and working in Washington, DC.
Tomorrow, the MPD delegation is scheduled to visit the State Department and the Atlantic Council. However, in an unprecedented move, Metro DC announced that it will shutdown the entire Metro subway system for emergency system-wide safety checks for 29 hours starting at midnight tonight. So tomorrow should be very interesting!
Stay tuned for more updates!