From Penn State to the CIA to the State Department, one Penn State graduate has made an impact on the negotiations of the United States and nations of the world.
Sean A. Misko, class of 2004, spoke to students and community members in the HUB-Robeson auditorium. He focused on current diplomacy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Misko is the Special Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in the U.S. Department of State, and has worked on the diplomatic surge and political settlement for U.S. and Afghan relations.
Misko said his passion and interest for international politics grew at Penn State through classes and internships in the State Department.
“Working under Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton has been very interesting,” Misko said. “They have three very different leadership styles and with the high profile of Clinton, it has brought new diplomacy.”
Misko emphasized relationship building with other nations to reach a sense of where negotiations will be going.
When asked about how working with complex areas like Afghanistan and Pakistan are, Misko said that all the voices needed to be heard.
“Even behind the government, all voices need to be heard, which include women’s groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
The next question focused on the core of the lecture, on if diplomacy still matters in today’s age of engaged military operations.
Diplomacy creates new opportunities, international support, increasing trade and created new opportunities, Misko said.
“Through diplomacy we can reach out to the neighbors of Afghanistan to build new relationships and develop transparency in negotiations,” he said.
Misko had been in negotiations with Afghanistan for 22 months, and the agreement reached led the U.S. and Afghanistan to new relationships with economic systems, military security and many more commitments from Afghanistan.
Along with making sure progress is being made, sustaining and advancing the role of women and maintaining human rights, Misko said it is a symbol of pursuing a normal relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan.
“I’ve gotten to work with people who care strongly about their country, and it’s rewarding to see our efforts that advance and enhance national security,” he said.