Ambassador Evans June 22, 2020 Webinar with AMCHAM Luxembourg:
Moderator: It is my pleasure, Sir, to introduce you to 130 people who are interested in hearing your vision, and everything that you have to say. Welcome, and thank you for joining us.
Ambassador Evans: Well, Paul first of all let me say thank you to AMCHAM and to you for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts. I have to be very frank, that the world that I’m about to talk to you about today is very different than the world that existed when I arrived in 2018. And as a result, I think it’s critically important that thought leaders like those that we have on this particular evening stay directly attuned to the developments of the day, because things are moving so rapidly, at such a rate, and at such a rate of change that if you, to quote an old saying, “If you miss a day you miss a lot.”
When I came to Luxembourg, it was, candidly, the place that I picked, a place that I requested. Because it was, at that time, I knew it from having served in the Speaker’s office of the United States Congress. In the United States, that’s, the speaker is second in line to be the president of the United States. And I had become very familiar with Luxembourg as this beautiful country with an outsized influence that nobody knew about unless you had actually focused on the Grand Duchy was this little 600 to 700,000-person country. $5.25. trillion in investment bonds, second only to the United States of America. At the time, that nestled in between. But nonetheless, had produced presidents of the EU at an extraordinarily deep and abiding voice, and as an honest broker among the superpowers, and really provided, and continues to provide a great leadership role throughout the world. It was an exciting place to come to.
When I got here, however, there were so many things that I noticed that I wanted to do, and we’ll look at some of those through the slides, I’m not going to give you a, you know, a sales pitch, on the US Embassy, you can go to our website, see all the things that we’ve done over the past couple of years but I will touch on them to use them as talking points to launch into specific challenges and issues that confront international business and international leaders today. Oh, when I got here. I’ll give you a good example of what I was met with. And that is when I went to one of my very first meetings, and it was a meeting led by Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider.
And I sat down, and it was on one of my very favorite topics, which was space, a sector, which will dominate the future by necessity. It’ll dominate the future by necessity because it provides the kind of sustainable renewable resources. It provides the kind of goals and missions and aspirations. It provides the kind of innovation and technology that the world needs to capture. And as I sat there I looked across the stage and I saw the Luxembourg flag, and I saw other flags of countries that were actively involved in the space sector. But there was no US flag. And I thought to myself, how is it possible that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg could have a relationship with all of these countries but not have a relationship in the space sector with the one country that had landed a man on the moon. How, how is that possible.
And so I set out to kind of explore exactly how deep did the relationships run, obviously, by virtue of the United States, not once, not twice, but three times liberating Luxembourg, in the context of World War One and World War Two, I knew there was a deep patriotic, there was a deep, indelible core between the two of us based on freedom and resisting conquering forces who were occupying the Grand Duchy, but there had to be more to it because on the one hand I had New York City, which was the largest financial center in the world, and the second largest financial center, in terms of investment funds at least, was Luxembourg City, and yet we didn’t see those formal ties between the two and the question was why and, and, candidly, the answer turned out to be that no one, it appeared, had taken the time to formalize the kinds of relationships that were necessary in order to build platforms, or huge, huge projects that would enable both countries to benefit even more, and Luxembourg and the United States had so much more in common than many, many other partners that we had in the space sector, many other partners that we had in the financial sector. And so, my mission then was to try to, and through the US embassy, to strengthen those bonds, to renew the ties that had existed at the end of World War Two. And to build on those to help both American companies that are situated in Luxembourg, Luxembourg investment interests that are located in the United States, and then the shared relationships that we had around the world. And that’s the basis that you see when you look at the slides.
But I discovered one important characteristic that required most of my time when I started as the United States ambassador.
The truth of the matter was is that, with the exception of those who are directly invested in Luxembourg, very few people knew about Luxembourg. And certainly very few people in Washington DC, as opposed to New York City knew about Luxembourg.
In fact, I remember going to Clervaux and hearing a beautiful testimonial by a resident there who had been liberated at the end of World War Two. And she said that the thing that impressed her most about the American GI was that they were willing to give their life for a place they had never heard of.
And the problem was that in 2018, in 2018, when I went to the halls of Congress where I’d served for two consecutive speakers, when I went to Washington DC to the White House where I’d served presidents, when I went to the White House, when I went to other places where I dealt with business leaders and worked at very large law firms with offices all around the world I discovered very few actually knew about the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and so my mission became at the very outset, to try to make sure that everybody understood the enormous resources and potential that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg can offer, not just to the United States, not just a business interest, but also to everybody who had an interest in becoming involved in financial transactions or space or other areas like.
So if you look at the second slide there you’re going to see, and they’ll bring it up – the number of VIP visits that we have had to Luxembourg now. I will be very candid with you. That was the product of trying to become much more efficient in the use of time.
Because the process of me going back to Washington DC and talking to my friends around Capitol Hill within the courts and the Oval Office and in other areas, the process of doing that required a separate visit for each one. And it turned out to be far more efficient to ask them to come here. And we were very, very fortunate. We lead off with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who came over after we worked together with Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider to create the memorandum of understanding in connection with space. That was followed by a truly tremendous, and for those who attended can only appreciate a very tremendous visit by Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, and what has to be and was described at the time in the media as a legendary Independence Day celebration
In connection with that event, we had visits by members of Congress that were the largest delegations but much more significantly involved in leadership, that involved the leadership on both sides of the both houses of Congress, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, I could go down the list at the number of committee chairs and the number of Senate chairs that came.
And what that did was enable us to, then, all of a sudden, to put a place with a name and the ability to take the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to say this is the place that I’m talking about when we talk about these kinds of investment funds these kinds of this kind of vision in space. This kind of opportunity for the United States to have a partner that it has a has a blood spill bond created relationship to do even bigger things than we’ve ever done before. And so as you look through that list you can see the kinds of people that came, you can see that the speaker came.
And we continue to have, even after we pass the Independence Day, you’ll see many other slides that we had other leaders come along. I think if you look at the next slide you’ll see that, for example, we had the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge where we had the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we had the heads of state from around the world, all come to Luxembourg, and they visited in Luxembourg, and they got to see Luxembourg.
The combination of all of that, which was the efforts to go to Washington and bring Washington to Luxembourg, produced enormous opportunities.
I was, just as I was surprised that the American flag was missing from the stage whenever Luxembourg talked about space, I was surprised to learn, if you look over, past the next slide, I was surprised to learn that there were treaties that remain unratified for dozens of years. I learned that there were space initiatives that waited to be created and put together for cooperation in space and you can look on the slide there and you’ll see just a partial list of the kinds of initiatives that we put together by going to Washington DC, Deputy Prime Minister Schneider and Minister Brennan Stan and NASA to pursue directly a relationship with NASA, but also to see relationships that extended well beyond.
If you look at the next slide, you’ll see that what we had. We discovered the tax treaty which dealt with a variety of issues, specifically transparency, but also information sharing and other bilateral components that enabled us to move forward.
Now I gave you all of that as background because what then happened was a series of things that none of us could have expected. One of the things that happened, if you look by the next slide you’ll see that we did have a wonderful Memorial Day, but the part that I wanted you to focus on was two slides down, which is obviously what happened this year with COVID. So if you’ll hit that slide, go ahead. Memorial Day and then the next slide. So, the thing that changed our world was obviously the onset of the COVID virus. There are debates about whether the COVID virus predated February, began late last year, only to manifest itself as we started into February and March. It really doesn’t matter. In terms of where we are today, where we are today is that we’re confronted with a virus that threatens us all around and every country in the world will have to confront this in the coming weeks, the coming months.
Yesterday, many of many of you on this call, and certainly most Americans, watched as President Trump indicated the worst is still yet to come. Because we tried to fight our way through it. To make our way toward either a therapy or cure or vaccine, these are these are major things, but to pause and push back. Just remember what happened, or where we were at the time that COVID hit us. On the one hand, the United States of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg have built these enormous relationships that you had seen on the slides confirmed by powerful American politicians, influential American politicians who had come to Luxembourg, followed by very meaningful financial transactions solidifying the relationship between the two countries, and simultaneously, we had seen that, and, indeed, the world was beginning to prosper, as economic growth mounted.
We had some unexpected developments if you’ll go, just go back one slide. And just stay here. We had some unexpected, or not unexpected but predictable developments. The development was Brexit.
I can remember when all day every day on the news here. I heard about Brexit. Brexit came, but in the, in the course of the COVID crisis, it was a mere footnote. We saw efforts consistently, presented by elections that started to occur throughout Europe, started the process of our presidential election in the United States, which themselves inherently involve challenge. And we saw, basically, a series of things that happened that were unrelated but all of it was dwarfed, when the COVID virus came along.
Now Meanwhile, the systems of government continued to progress, and one of the systems of government that continued to progress was the court system and we saw decisions being handed down that themselves had their own implications. I’m sure that in the question and answers we’ll probably talk about the Schrems decision. What are the implications for determining that the existing arrangements for the sharing of data between American companies and EU countries and companies had been dealt a blow by the court in the Schrems case, we have the issues of digitalization tax currently progressing on a piecemeal basis led by France, but other countries to follow, eager to find sources of revenue to try to fund the deficits and the borrowing that’s keeping, keeping both worlds afloat. As we see record unemployment numbers, and we see businesses struggling and economies contracting. We’ll see the impact of trying to figure out where this idea of tax subsidization based on a country by country analysis goes, but we also see very similar problems that exist, both in the United States, and EU with regard to the ability to hold different governing powers together, as the challenges of the COVID manifests themselves in very different ways.
So for example, the challenges presented in our country, and in the state of New York are very different than challenges presented in Florida, and the challenges in California are very different than the challenges that are presented in the state of Texas, that’s no different than in Europe, in Europe we see that the challenges presented to a small country are very different than those of a large country, we see that the challenges of those countries in the north are different than the countries in the south. It’s encouraging to see the EU come together to create a mutual assistance package to try to help all of the members of the EU weather the storm of the COVID. But the bottom line is that those challenges will remain very different depending on the very nature of how every country, every state in the US responds.
I am always surprised to hear the media talk of the amount of tension that exists, about how that these crises tend to bring about the systemic unraveling of alliances and coalitions when the truth of the matter is that on the ground, as a US ambassador, as my colleagues are on this, on this very cause itself, my colleague the Japanese ambassador to Luxembourg, my good friend the EU, the Luxembourg ambassador to the US Gaston Stronck can attest, the truth is the levels of communication and working together, have actually never been stronger.
What has happened that is different is that the media is very different in that the focal point is consistently on the areas in which we disagree, as opposed to the areas in which we do agree.
And the options that are available to democracies, are so much more unlimited and different than the than the options that are available to countries that have utilitarian or totalitarian control – completely different. But in effect, applied, completely different. A totalitarian control permits a lockdown, which is of its very essence to deny individual citizens every benefit every component every part of a free society.
Whereas, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, like the United States of America, you can have lock downs, but you can’t arrest every citizen. You can’t put every citizen in jail.
And so, there has to be this constant tension that exists between what are the options that are available to free government or dealing with a virus that knows no boundaries.
But nonetheless depends on the ability of a citizenry to comply with the directions, and the systems that are, that are imposed by the government.
My message has consistently been, as the United States ambassador here in Luxembourg, is that whatever decision each individual government makes, we have to support the decisions and free and democratic elected governments because you have the option to change them when the next election comes along, but right now we have to literally focus on trying every alternative that might work. The decisions and the types of things, differ greatly. I don’t know, I don’t think any of my colleagues know at the end of the day, which will be the magic bullet that helps us deal with the COVID crisis. But I do know the more options that we try, the more likely it is that we will find a solution that helps us solve the problem. And that will come through a free exercise of independent thought eventually being tested by the merits of each attempt being reflected in the success of that attempt and bringing some stability to the markets that exist.
If you had told me that the United States of America would have a stock market that’s running around 25,000, at a time when we have unemployment numbers at the numbers we have, I would have thought that it was impossible, but it does illustrate it does illustrate that indeed, it can be done. It’s just that we have to focus on how those get done. Now, you will see through what you the slides that you can briefly look at, there’s no reason to scroll through them. You could see from those slides the wonderful things that we can achieve when we don’t live in the midst of a COVID crisis. What you can’t see are the responses that we’ve had since the crisis began as we work together to provide resources. And the reason I stopped on this slide is because this is where, this is a slide that reflects the United States working with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and Luxembourg working with the United States to say, how do we provide hospitals, therapies, and other things to both to both help individuals who’ve contracted COVID, but also to stabilize our respective economies to move forward as we work our way through the crisis. And with that, I’m going to stop so that I can answer any questions that we may have because I’m sure that with looking through the list that was signed up we’re going to have some individual questions dealing with the legal and financial challenges that exist between, not just not just the US and Europe but also US, China, Russia, and so, Paul. I’m open to questions.
Moderator: Daniel, you have visibility of the questions. Do you want to read some of them?
Ambassador Evans: Okay, great. I will.
Moderator: If anyone does have questions if they would quickly send them into the chat room feature. Wait a second, I think I see a few on the chat room.
Ambassador Evans: Ok so while you do that, I’ll talk about Schrems only because I anticipated that it would come up. For those who don’t know what Schrems is, Schrems is a court decision that some view, that I think that invalidates the transmission, the transfer of data, the transatlantic transmission of data, personal data between the United States and Europe. It’s something that both the EU Commission and the United States were comfortable with, but apparently, the courts were not. And it’s something that we’re going to have to work through. You know the next steps are still in the process of being decided. Obviously, the implications of invalidating the contract provisions and the other provisions that permitted the free and open transmission of the personal data are financially enormous it could not have come at a worse possible time than in the midst of the COVID crisis. But that is the nature of the rule of law, the rule of law doesn’t recognize that there’s an ebb and a flow to what the boundaries are, it’s up to the political machinery to figure out how to adapt to exactly what those boundaries are, as defined by the courts, and then to address them in a way that’s politically acceptable to both the US and the countries within the EU as well as the countries throughout Europe.
Moderator: First question coming up …. How do you and your family like living in Luxembourg?
Ambassador Evans: Well, to be fair with you, it’s been a little bit difficult. Unfortunately, my wife has a very rare medical condition which meant that the outset of COVID she had to go home. And so we’ve largely been apart. We were apart for 83 days and then I went back to the US to visit with her to make sure that she was okay. You may ask yourself how do you how do you get to the US and get back with the quarantines and the way you do that is with multiple COVID testing. So, if my eyes look swollen, it’s because if you get the probe, put in, often and pretty soon it looks like you’ve been in a heavyweight boxing match. That’s why I was glad when I came back that Luxembourg was using the throat swab test. I encourage everybody who gets the letter to go get the throat swab because it is completely painless and something that’s important because Luxembourg is actually trying something very different which is to test every member. Every member or every person that lives in Luxembourg, which will provide a petri dish. I don’t know how petri dish translates, I need Ambassador Stronk to tell me how petri dish translates into Luxembourgish, but an experiment, to be able to say, where are the risks, how do we address the risk what works and what doesn’t. And so, the short answer is, prior to February, we had a wonderful time. We visited everywhere we went to every place of interest. And we also took the time to retrace the footsteps of my wife’s great uncle who died in World War One. And her uncle who was blinded in World War Two. And it was the, those were magical moments for us to read retrace those steps. Since COVID, it’s been pretty tough, but I’ve had some great friends to help me get through it.
Moderator: Sir, we, we are getting some good comments coming in now. Let me read a few of them in sequence that you answered them, assuming International Air traveling returns, do you anticipate that there will ever be direct flights between the US and Luxembourg?
Ambassador Evans: Well, one of the, one of the things that I worked committed to work hardest on was to create a nonstop between Luxembourg City in the United States of America, whether that is through Atlanta, through Dulles in Washington DC or through JFK in New York City. I’m proud to report that we were getting very, very close before the public crisis hit. I am confident that whoever my successor may be can pick up those pieces. And hopefully put that, bring it over the finish line. Gilles Feith, being at LuxAir is an enormous advantage to us, because he’s got the tenacity that it takes to put the deal together to make sure that it’s a win. I personally believe that with the impact of Brexit on London combined with the emergence of Luxembourg City, and the continued dominance of New York City, that a nonstop is, will be a great, great benefit to both countries, and to both financial centers.
Moderator: An easy short question, do you think that American companies find it easy to relocate to Luxembourg, and do you have any suggestions from your experience that you think would make that process easier?
Ambassador Evans: Let me do, let me divide it into the pre COVID world and the post COVID world. Obviously relocating to anywhere is very, very challenging in the COVID world. As we see, borders go up. As we see, barriers go up to travel. Obviously, it’s much more difficult now, to try to make that transition.
Pre-COVID and I suspect post, my advice to any American company that wanted to locate into Luxembourg, is to say, you have to remember to yourself, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is not the 51st United State. It’s not. It has its own identity, it says it has its own personality, it has its own way. And to accept that way. A country with three or four fluent languages with a very well educated population with connectivity on the internet close to 97-98% with a with a multi-party as opposed to a two party system, you have to immerse yourself into the very culture and the very nature of the way Luxembourg is as a consensus country where, where people come together to try to find answers rather than compete to see who has the best answer.
And so once you understand that fundamental difference between the two, but recognize that both countries are founded upon a very solid premise of freedom that individual citizens are free, that that is the predicate of all other things and you take that and you combine it with the differences that I think you will find that some of the most profitable companies in the world have operations in both the United States and in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Moderator: Sir, you have made some moving comments about things that the United States has done to proactively strengthen ties and, and for the benefit of Luxembourg. And I think in return, it’s the person who wrote this comment thinks that it’s fair to ask in return, can you tell us some things that Luxembourg has done to the benefit of the United States? And are there some things that the United States wants Luxembourg to do?
Ambassador Evans: Well, if I were to list all of the things that Luxembourg has done to be helpful, we don’t have enough time left in the program. Deputy Prime Minister Bausch came over to the United States of America earlier this year, he sat down with 10 United States senators, sat down with members at the Pentagon, he sat down with members at commerce, he sat down with the Secretary of Commerce and we talked about meaningful and realistic ways to build on the successes that we had already achieved. And if you look at the list that’s in the slides, and I offer the slides to anyone who’d like to see them, the number of memorandums of understanding, the number of statements to mutual interests, the number of treaty ratifications, if you went down that list all of those are a two way street. They were us coming over and saying, Luxembourg, you must do this. They were leaders in the Luxembourg Government and municipalities in different areas and different parties coming together and saying we could do this together.
So every one of those is not a success for US. And it’s not a success of the Grand Duchy. It’s a success of the both of us working together. And I think the only part that I did call my little tiny contribution was, you know, being bold enough to ask the question, why, why do we not have a relationship in space? By asking the question, the response was a memorandum of understanding that is created a multi-platform that will enable Luxembourg to be and remain among the elite in the space sector in the entire world. I expect in the coming days, people in both countries, both the US and Luxembourg, are going to be stunned by the kinds of things that are consistent with the principles of both countries that we’re going to agree to do in pursuit of mission to get a station on the moon, and to reach Mars. I think they’re going to be stunned at the kinds of things that we’re going to do to assure the cybersecurity of every citizen in Luxembourg, from malicious attack from either a rogue country or a rogue group. So the kinds of things that are on the horizon that we work on every day. I think you’re going to be surprised by the kinds of things that we do in connection with remembering those who suffered and died in the Holocaust, but those who also survived and how we make a, a pointed statement of never again. Those are the projects that we’re currently working on with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and you can’t, you can’t work on those things alone. We work on them because there are there are people in the government in every single party in the government willing to work together to make that happen.
Moderator: Sir, one of our guests has asked a question about what’s going on with regards to the government response to the COVID situation in United States and our guests says that if you listen to the media, there are a lot of attacks against President Trump faulting him for the present situation. And it would be helpful, perhaps to a European audience, if you could explain a little bit how the separation of powers works within the United States, and which activities are left to the federal government to handle which are generally the purview of the states. And within that kind of context, if you could comment a little bit about the leadership of the national government and the limitations on the national government for dealing with this kind of crisis.
Ambassador Evans: Well, I know you’re gonna get me in trouble Paul, with a question eventually, but so let me answer that question this way. There are two parts to it. One part of it is, you know what’s going on in the United States that makes it appear that there’s not a single comprehensive strategy to deal with COVID. And the short answer to that is our founding fathers concluded that 50 experiments on an unknown is better than one experiment that fails, or that has a chance of winning. And the net effect is the COVID is so unknown, so uncontrollable, so difficult to manage that the best option is to let every locale. Every one of the states, try their hand, and whoever through a meritocracy starts to emerge with a solution that works, then that is a solution that the rest of the states can look at evaluate and decide to follow. An all or nothing all eggs in one basket approach would, as reflected in Europe itself where every one of the 27 EU countries differ. A single strategy would have been enormously dangerous. It could have put the entire population of the United States at risk the same way a single strategy in Europe, could have put the entire the entire population of Europe at risk whether it’s Sweden’s approach, or whether we decide to go with Luxembourg’s test everybody approach, which, which I should address in just a moment. But instead, we went with: We don’t know the answer. So let’s try as many possibilities as possible and see which ones start to emerge to lead us to better and better answers. So that’s, that is your question as to the separation of powers. The part of your question as to the media is much more troublesome for us.
We’ve long. We’ve long held the premise that the first amendment to our constitution freedom of the press was our most sacred amendment. But what we have seen is now a systemic media approach that undermines the single most important quality that we Americans, share, and that is to constantly hope for a better future.
And we have a media that can consistently systematically every day, tells us that it can’t be done. And everything that anyone does, what’s wrong with it. I was, I was so disappointed yesterday when the news that we were making great progress for possibly having not one, not two, but three vaccines available sooner than anyone expected. And rather than cheer the possibility of hope that these vaccines might work, the predominant news story was is how can we trust the reliability of the vaccines because, you know, we’ve got an election coming up and we don’t want anyone taking credit for that we might actually have a successful vaccine. And that level of cynical thought that is now so politically divisive has started to undermine one of the most important qualities that we have as a country in order to make it through, not just this crisis but any crisis. And so it’s a real challenge for us. It’s a real, real challenge where the news of the day every day is not how to beat COVID. But how to either elect or defeat Donald Trump. And that’s a real challenge for us and I don’t know how I don’t know the answer to it and I’m prohibited by the various rules from even speculating on it but the fact of the matter is that it’s an issue.
Let me talk about Luxembourg’s universal testing approach. I think it is one of the, it is a bold move. I think it is, for Luxembourg, the right move because it has a population small enough that is capable of doing it and that will enable the scientists to effectively, then allow scientists to effectively weigh the options, and see what to do. I know that there will be plenty who will second guess both me and the government. But as soon as I got my letter in the mail I went down I got tested. And I’ve been encouraged systematically every day, every other Luxembourger to go get tested so that we had the best data that we possibly can, because I know my science class, the better the data, the better the result.
Moderator: Sir, I’m moving in another in another direction and talking a little bit about digital transformation. Digital transformation is a big theme in Luxembourg and it’s a big theme in the United States. Do you have any words that you can share with us about the direction that the United States and Luxembourg, are moving to promote digitization and digital transformation within their societies and do you believe that those efforts that are happening, will be harmonized in a way that brings Luxembourg, and the United States even closer together than they are now?
Ambassador Evans: Well, again, I’ll divide that into two parts. One part is digitalization as a universal method of communication and receipt of information. And as you know through optic, the optic network, Luxembourg is far ahead of the US. We have, we have parts of the United States that don’t yet have the internet, not fully at a at a functional level. Those kinds of challenges and then we have families who don’t have the wealth or wherewithal to afford to access the internet or don’t have to an iPad they don’t have a computer. That’s why whenever I’ve heard of folks saying, you know what, it’s not that difficult to stay at home and watch Netflix and look at your computer all day, I thought about where I come from, there are people who don’t have either one of those. And so Luxembourg is very fortunate in that you do have such a level of penetration, on the internet and you have a level of penetration in terms of digitalization. And as a result, it starts to shrink the stress fractures, that come from economic, the division between the haves and the have nots because digitalization in it allows that that gap to be bridged not completely not close but it allows it at least to have a bridge. Whereas when there are when there are entire parts of the society that don’t have access it’s very difficult to get the bridge.
If you’re talking about 5G, which is right I think you may have been building into that question. My hope is that, like the like the British, that Luxembourg stands for, and understands that if there’s any hope of privacy in the future, if there’s any hope of having the ability to retain that individual identity of who you are free from government intrusion, that it takes aggressive, solid steps to make sure Huawei and ZTE are not parts of any digitalization, and that in the 5G realm that they, go with a clean path that they go with a path that enables them to protect the privacy of citizens. And it’s a fail to do that it only takes one crack one crevice to allow the penetration to threaten the privacy of ever.
Moderator: Sir, we live in a world where there is so much information that’s available to everyone, via the internet, that to cope with that there’s a tendency on the part of many people to self-select the information media that they go to, and to only go to certain media sources that happen to be a good cultural fit for themselves. In a world like that, do you have any suggestions and advice on how we can make sure the average guy on the street and Luxembourg, and the average guy on the street or gal on the street in the United States can build common understanding of the way the world is in order to promote greater mutual understanding and cooperation? I know that’s a tough question but that’s kind of a combo a combination of several questions that several people have asked.
Ambassador Evans: Well, it’s a greatly interesting question in this sense, when I first got here the greatest fear was that every country would border itself up and become self-isolated. And yet, we know that with COVID borders have been erected completely around. Interestingly enough, it is not borders, geographic borders, it’s not geographic borders that have isolated us. It is the borders of our mind, where we seek reinforcing information. And so the borders exist within each individual as opposed to within each geography, and you’re exactly right this idea of self-reinforcing information flow, which is you only watched the television channel that tells you what you already believe, you only have the friends on your Facebook that already share the value you have, you only stream the information that reinforces what you already think. The very essence of free speech is the diversity of thought that comes with thinking outside of the box, and having that information and not worry is that absent a solution which I can’t think of which is a way in which we can get individuals to consider life is different than what they believe, then we’re going to have this constantly reinforcing pull inward. And it creates an isolation.
And now I’ll end our program with this story which I shared on one of your television stations here that was an enlightening moment for me that changed my entire life, and is reflective of the challenges that we have in the United States of America with race.
When I was when I was young when I was in high school, my best friend was an African American and we palled around all the time. And one spring, we went, and in the United States, one of the things that you do in spring is you go to the beach, and I went to the beach. And while I was on the way to the beach, riding with my best friend, we got pulled over by the police. And my friend turned to me and he said to me, quick, I want you to put your arms out the window. I said, what are you talking about. He says I want you to put your arms out the window and I said why. And he says, because I want them to know that one of us is white.
I realized at that moment, I would never know what it was like to grow up African American in the US. I wouldn’t know what it was like to grow up as a woman in the United States. I would never know what it was like to grow up as Hispanic of the United States, I would never know any of those things. I could read every book there was, I could watch every movie there was, I could take every diversity course there was, but because I didn’t live it, I didn’t know. And until we start to surround ourselves by people who are different than we are. We’re never going to know what they think. What we should think, what the possibilities are and how we can come to a consensus. And I leave that with that story because to me, that’s what Luxembourg is. It is the convergence of a country with no borders, willing to work with people from all round to reach solutions that are good for everyone. It’s an aspiration I think we in the United States can learn from. And it’s something that I try to take on every time I visit. And I do appreciate your having me here. And I appreciate the opportunity to talk to everyone.