Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist predicts future of global issues

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Thomas Friedman visited Alaska Thursday as the final speaker of the Governor's Millennium Lecture Series, an event hosted by Alaska's First Lady Susan Knowles.

The author of two books, including the international bestseller, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization,” Friedman writes the Foreign Affairs column on the The New York Times' op-ed page and is one of America's leading commentators on national world affairs.

Lecturing on his book, “The Lexus and The Olive Tree,” which explores globalization, Friedman said that he believes that “a period of globalization has replaced the cold war era.”

Technology and the Internet have “broken down the walls of nations and states, making it possible for everyone to know what everyone else is doing on this once medium to small-sized earth.”

Friedman warned the audience to “fasten their seatbelts” and get ready for a wild ride where laws and the rules of business engagement will be broken and redefined.

“Before eight years is over, we are going to have to reconvene the forefathers and foremothers,” said Friedman. “The Internet was just the beginning.”

The skeptic in Friedman shined throughout his lecture, and the audience, made up of ever-present Alaskan skeptics, seemed to eat up every idea that Friedman embellished upon. From conservation tactics to the `Americanization' of the worlds cultures, Friedman explained his ideals that were both thought-provoking and frightening.

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Barbara Donatelli, Cook Inlet Region Inc. vice president, brought up her worry of Native Alaska cultural groups being engulfed by the rest of the world's cultures.

“If you do not have a robust culture, you are going to get steamrolled,” warned Friedman.

After Friedman's lecture and a question and answer panel, made up of Friedman, Donaltelli, Steve Lindbeck of the Anchorage Daily News and Governor Tony Knowles, the audience was asked to participate and pose questions for Friedman.

One lone college voice was heard in the vast sea of old white guys that bombarded Friedman with questions of the environment, oil production and privacy.

Brennan Veith Low, a senior at UAA studying economics, asked Friedman how technology and everyone's connection to one another would affect the rules and actions of war.  

Friedman's answer was brief. He simply said that people will use technology for both good and evil. Low said that he thought Friedman's answer was adequate.        

“I think, to the extent that it could be, he did (answer the question),” said Low.

Low said that he hopes that eventually our earth will know less and less of the levels of war, eventually coming to a period of globalization where war just doesn't exist.

Although Low had not read “The Lexus and The Olive Tree,” he said that after this lecture, he is now inspired to do so.