Hedrick Smith Talks Putin at Pardee/COM Event

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At a event jointly coordinated by the Boston University College of Communications and the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, journalist and public intellectual Hedrick Smith discussed the impact and legacy of Russia’s divisive President Vladimir Putin and his czar-sized effect on world politics.

“As a foreign correspondent and a person who loved foreign culture and travel my entire life, I always appreciated that certain countries operate along psychic wavelengths. In Russia, the experience of having long periods of autocratic rule and crackdowns hangs like a cloud over dissent to Putin. He has enormous power and has made it a scary time to be a Russian,” Smith said. “He leads from his viscera, from his instincts. And to many in Russia and all over the world, that makes him an attractive figure.”

Smith’s talk was entitled “The Putin Challenge,” and took place on Nov. 10 at the Metcalf Trustee’s Ballroom. Before a large crowd, Smith joined Pardee School Dean Adil Najam and COM Dean Thomas Fiedler for a wide-ranging discussion of Russia’s actions in Syria and the Crimea, as well as the importance of foreign journalism in shaping a cogent understanding of the world.

“Hedrick Smith is truly a giant among journalists and thinkers on policy,” Fiedler said. “He helps put together pieces of the world’s puzzle. His work inspired me as a young journalist, and our audience was fortunate to have an opportunity to hear in such a clear way from an expert on an important and complicated topic.”

Smith advocated inviting Russia to rejoin the G8 forum, and exerting persistent diplomatic pressure on allowing the Ukraine to join the European Union and removing Assad from power in Syria.

“Working with COM to bring Hedrick Smith to Boston University was a wonderful experience,” Najam said. “One of our major goals for the Pardee School is to engage closely with our fellow Schools in bringing about conversations that touch on important topics in global studies. I was delighted to participate in this illuminating exchange.”

The event included opening remarks, a question and answer period and gala reception, as well as a book signing table where Smith signed copies of his book Who Stole the American Dream?

“The speaker was very inspiring,” said Jonathan Hauser, a member of the Pardee School Dean’s Ambassadors, who attended the event. “It was a great reminder about the importance of understanding history and culture when it comes to following current events.”

Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, is one of America’s most distinguished journalists. He has covered Washington and world capitals for The New York Times, has authored several best-selling books and has created 20 award-winning PBS primetime specials and mini-series on Washington’s power game, Soviet perestroika, the global economy, education reform, health care, teen violence, terrorism and Wall Street.