Posted by Mike Colbrese on Apr 24, 2019
President Cindy Runger brought club member Paul Suzman to the stage to introduce the main speaker, retired Admiral Bill Owens. Paul mentioned that Admiral Owens, a native of North Dakota, is a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decorated war veteran, and business executive, who is currently co-authoring a book, which will be titled China and the US 2039: The End Game? Paul explained that Owens’s leadership was evident during the decade following the Cold War, which contributed directly to much of what today’s military does well.
Admiral Owens began by stepping to the front of the stage and thanking three members of the club, who are his mentors—Bill Center, Tom Hayward, and Father Stephen Sundborg. He stated that there are several issues at hand but two will be the focus of his presentation. While mentioning that he’s spent 3,000 days underwater in submarines, he offered to sing the North Dakota state song.
Owens stated that the national debt is our nation’s largest security threat. Currently, at $22,873,000,000, the national debt is rising at 1 trillion dollars a year, a debt our children will have to pay. “There is currently no action to fix it,” he reported, and we need to start handling our spending habits.
Secondly, “we can be great friends with China,” he began. “History shows we could be closer with them.” He admitted that there have been difficulties with the country and there are good reasons for that, but he reminded the club that the United States protected China from Japan during WWII. He encouraged the attendees to read Forgotten Allies.
Owens also explained that his experience has shown that the Chinese can be difficult to do business with, partly because they think long term and we need to compete with them on that basis. He counseled, “they are not the Soviet Union, and we should not treat them as if they are.”
The Admiral explained that the book on which he is working takes the perspective of what the US should have done in 2019 to prepare for 2039 when China will have the highest GDP, with the potential of having a stronger military, along with strong science and technology emphasizing artificial intelligence. The middle class in China is larger than the middle class in the United States, Owens explained, and that portion of the Chinese population is driving much of the country’s modern day thinking. China has 17 borders to protect. “The Chinese have never taken land and held it,” he explained. They have simply protected their borders. “They are a proud people wanting to establish a proud nation.”
To address the concerns about the world in 2039, Admiral Owens suggested that countries need to cooperate on national security in Asia, perhaps by forming a group with countries that would protect each other. He also offered that we need to bring peace to troubled nations, mentioning North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran. “There are over 300,000 Chinese students studying in America. We need to encourage our students to study there.”
“This is not the most popular story in the other Washington,” he added, “but we should not resist the overtures from China to become more cooperative.”
Following a brief question and answer period during which the Admiral spoke to the issue of the island China is building in the South Pacific, Owens provided explanations and encouraged the club members to work to understand China’s perspective. As the Admiral left the stage, he was given a standing ovation.
To begin the meeting, President Cindy rang the bell and asked the members to find a new friend during the Greet-n-Grin and to talk about what we were each doing 20 years ago. She commended the club members who worked on the interurban clean up and presented a certificate to former club president Mark Wright with a Rotary Foundation Award for the club’s work in eradicating polio through the Countdown to History Campaign. Past President Mark will moderate the conversation between Bill Gates and RI President Barry Rassin at the Spokane District Conference the evening of May 18. 
She then introduced Don Kraft, Linda Rough, Lou Lundquist, and Michael Harris who led the club members in a rousing rendition of Meet Me in Seattle at the Fair. As Mr. Kraft’s opening remarks indicated, this is the week 57 years ago when the world’s fair began, bringing to Seattle the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, opera house, and Key Arena, which helped make Seattle a world-class city.
Past President Bill Center inspired the attendees with his comments about the sacrifices that our military members make for their country, not only by putting their lives on the line but working through the constant change in family life and other military life circumstances. “It’s an adventure, and it’s an inconvenience,” he explained and then asked the club members to remember that we all live with stress and are much more apt to weather that stress by focusing on the joy and satisfaction of serving others.
President Cindy introduced guests, visiting Rotarians, and her son Thor. Cindy also welcomed a Winners for Life honoree, Caroline Deuwalder, back to the club. She then welcomed Faith Ireland, who introduced the club to new member Geoff Ball. Geoff, a native of Boston, is the Director of Development for the Millionair Club Charity. That club’s motto, “Building Lives, One Job at a Time,” is the driver for the philanthropic opportunities that it provides.
Jane Tornatore came to the podium to introduce new member Derek Ruckman, who is responsible for operations in the Pacific Northwest for Recology, which carries out recycling and solid waste management on the West Coast. The company’s vision is a world without waste and is particularly focused on reducing dependency on plastic.
President Cindy recognized super recruiters and Mark Davis spoke to the need to continue to recruit new members. Cindy thanked Liz Powell, Mark Davis, Jaime Mendez, David Woodward, Doug Picha, Jacki Lorenz, Jimmy Collins, Jon Bridge, Laurel James, Linda Cheever, Nancy Osborne, and Karl Ege.
Dorothy Echodu provided the attendees with an overview of World Malaria Day, which is April 25. Speaking about the work being done in Uganda, which is roughly the size of Oregon, Dorothy stated that there are 15 million new cases of malaria each year in that country, with a number of those cases becoming cerebral malaria, which causes long term brain damage. Working to eradicate the disease, the organization has established an area that includes 50,000 people (8,000 families). It has begun testing using three different means of treating the disease—nets; spraying and nets; and spray, treatment, and nets. They have discovered that in the area treated by nets only, there was a 20% reduction in the disease, a 70% reduction in the area treated by spraying and nets, and an 85% reduction in the disease for the area treated with spraying, nests, and treatment. She concluded that new nets and treatment strategies are having a huge impact and commended Rotary for its work of activating community education and support and providing funding, particularly in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
President Cindy introduced Rob LoBosco, who provided information about the May 1st program,  which will be presented by Sarah Sidman of ArtsFund. The meeting will be held at the Westin.
President Cindy thanked the program's participants and closed with a quote from Martin Luther King, “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must…transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
Media Sponsors