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August 2, 2015

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Where I Stand: Sun Youth Forum:

Youth Forum takes on international problems

About 1,000 students from high schools throughout Southern Nevada participated in the 56th annual Sun Youth Forum on Nov. 20. The students were divided into groups to discuss a variety of topics. A representative was chosen from each group to write a column about the students’ findings. Mathison Clore of Coronado High School writes about issues covered by his group, Around the World.

At the Sun Youth Forum, students from high schools throughout the Las Vegas Valley came together to discuss a variety of issues, such as problems in Nevada and the federal government’s foreign policy. I was part of the Around the World group moderated by Dr. Robert Lang, UNLV director of Brookings Mountain West. The group’s participants had heated opinions regarding foreign policy and the role the United States should play within the world.

To begin, we answered the following question: How should the U.S. involve itself in the Israel/Iran conflict? The group unanimously agreed that whatever is bad for Israel is bad for the United States and its interests within the region. We discussed a plethora of options, including pre-emptively striking Iran’s nuclear facilities, invading Iran or doing nothing and finally came to a conclusion. Iran’s nuclear capabilities clearly would present a threat to the United States, but many feared Iran would become another Iraq, with its weapons of mass destruction having gone AWOL, and the U.S. would become bogged down in another quagmire. Therefore, the group proposed that the U.S. should continue its economic sanctions of Iran and establish a tougher foreign policy toward it.

Next, we discussed the options that the United States could take to prevent a war between South Korea and North Korea. Students in the group feared that in the event of any escalation, the U.S. and China would be drawn into a conflict that would stifle the U.S. military and economy. Therefore, the group decided that it was best to make contingency plans with China if the armistice ends; if the planning fails, the status quo would be the next-best option.

Later, students discussed the role of the United States in Afghanistan. Zeina Amhaz from Green Valley High School and Alec Rogers from Foothill High School explained the role of the two different operations within Afghanistan. The first, the counterinsurgency operation of nation-building, was unpopular with a majority of students, as they believed that the Afghan people should be able to build their own nation in their own image. The second, the counter-terrorism operation, was much more popular, with a slim majority believing that drone strikes should be continued. As a whole, the group narrowly decided that it was best to stick with the status quo draw-down of troops in the summer of 2014.

Last, students were asked how to kick-start the sluggish global economy. One student suggested that the U.S. must first improve its domestic economy, which would then pull the global economy up with it. There were two solutions proposed: subsidize high-tech jobs within the United States and reform the education system to ensure that the U.S. can produce individuals who can perform in those positions. For the first, some students suggested that the U.S. subsidize green technology. For education reform, a few students deemed a meritocracy of education would be more appropriate because they feel the education system holds back advanced students. Others argued for an increase in vocational education. The group decided that by implementing these two solutions, the U.S. economy would be able to rev its engine and get the world economy back on track.

Overall, the Youth Forum was an outstanding experience that allowed students to share their views on topics from around the world that affect us all.

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