Path Home Shows 2009 Show Archive September 2009 Show 0936 I-Debate


Retired General Tommy Franks has turned his attention from war to developing future leaders. His leadership institute brought young people from around the world to Oklahoma to take part in a debate that he hopes will be the beginning of a conversation that just may change the world.


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Show 0936: I-Debate

Air date: September 6, 2009



Rob:  Our world changed on September 11th 2001, from our country’s direction to our daily lives.  And through it all, an underlying anxiety, are we doing the right thing to keep our loved ones safe?  Today, we are going to hear from those with some very unique perspectives, and none more so than the man who led our country’s march into Iraq.  General Tommy Franks was the U S general leading the attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.  Now retired, Franks has turned his attention to developing future leaders.  This summer, Frank’s leadership institute brought young people from around the world to Oklahoma to take part in a debate that he hopes will be the beginning of a conversation that just may change our world.

Russ:  The issues are real, the strategies, crucial, and the experience, unforgettable.  That’s what’s in store for these top high school students, the chance to broaden their knowledge of national issues while brushing up on their leadership skills, all through the art of debate.

(NATS):  It also decreased the rate of economic growth significantly and reduced the number of job opportunities and increased unemployment.

Russ:  It’s called, I-Debate, a week-long summer camp for high school students at Oklahoma Christian University conceived by one of the most influential leaders in recent American history, retired general, Tommy Franks.

Tommy Franks:  I-Debate is important for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which we have just been talking about, issues around the world, issues internationally, issues within our own country.

Russ:  And issues that Franks says will fall squarely on the shoulders of these young Americans.

Franks:  Ultimately 5 years from now, 10 years from now, where do we go with these problems?  Where will the leaders be found?  Where do the leaders come from who will run our country for the next 30, 40, 50 years?

Russ:  Franks says you’re looking at some of them right now.

Franks:  They’re forming themselves.  They’re forming their views.

Russ:  Franks’ goal with the camp was to create an environment where students could not only learn about world issues, but learn the importance of civilized discourse in the dialogue of those issues.

(NATS):  Spending is expected to exceed SS spending, and by the middle of the century, Medicare is expected to be twice as large as social security spending due to rising healthcare costs.

A lesson he hoped to impart while showing camp participants around his museum in Hobart.

(NATS):  You know what the moral of that story is?  Ain’t this a great country.

Franks:  The answer is in the process that we use to stay engaged with the problem of terrorism, to continue to fight the problem of terrorism and in that process we go a long way to keep ourselves safe.

Russ:  And engagement was the name of the game at camp the next day.  Students were hunkered down in every corner of the building fully immersed in the study of their various topics.  For many of them, the importance of studying these topics in their youth is already clear, especially for Jordanian high schooler, Jeris Abuhouran.

Jeris Abuhouran:  These problems are problems that we are facing now.  And if we don’t face these problems, and we don’t solve these problems and look for solutions now, we’re just delaying the problems.  Us, as a generation, to learn about this stuff, it’s vital.  Because we are the ones who are going to make the decisions of the future, not the people who are making decisions now.  We are the ones in the future who are going to make those decisions that count.

Russ:  And while General Franks did conceive the event, students received wisdom from a host of other heavy hitters, including Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins; Texas gubernatorial advisor, Jay Kimbrough; and perhaps the most experienced debater in attendance, FOX News host, Mike Gallagher, who moderated the final event of the camp.

Mike Gallagher:  The great debate clubs are sort of forgotten, I think, in all the hype and hysteria now of the football stars and the big basketball jocks.  I mean these are the kids who are really going to be the movers and shakers, I hate to disappoint the basketball stars, but these are going to be the leaders, and this is something these kids are so proud to be a part of.  And to have young people engage and learning how to debate, it’s just a neat opportunity for these kids to sort of grow, and I guarantee you these kids have grown a lot in one very short week.

Franks:  We have to remain engaged with countries around the world, in order to maintain trading relationships, in order to maintain dialogue, in order to gain support to solve the issues which we, as well as they, have to solve.

Abuhouran:  Showing that a little friendly debate may just be the key to future democracy.