Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 04.18.2013

April 18, 2013

Today: Paul Mooty: The Faribault Woolen Mill (Barnes)

Birthdays: Wayne Abdella (4/17), John Fossum (4/19)

Next Week: Adnan, Youth Exchange Presentation (Quinnell)

Last Week:

When and how should the “international community” intervene in the affairs of a sovereign state is a tough, tough question. It invites us to revisit a medieval world order where absolute despots treated their subjects like chattel. Unfortunately, that model persists in some corners of the world.

Former ambassador Robert Flaten challenged us to consider whether sovereignty belongs to the individual or the state. A 2005 United National General Assembly Resolution proclaims a right of the international community to intervene militarily in sovereign states to protect people. Critics have viewed this as a neo-colonial effort to reassert the influence of western countries. They see it as a double standard when the United States is not held accountable for its treatment of Native Americans or Russia or China for their treatment of Muslims.

“Is it a valid concept,” Robert asks, “to take nation states out of the center put people in their place?”

It’s an ongoing dilemma because intervention does not always succeed. Failure is as bad as doing nothing at all, he said. “By intervening, do we do more harm than good?” he asks.

Intervention worked in Kenya and recently in Libya, but Somalia was a disaster. Bob said there is still no consensus in the international community about how to handle Syria.

Other observations from the former ambassador:

— Egypt will be resolved eventually, but it will be messy.
— North Korea saber-rattling could be only for internal purposes.
— The U.S. military has assumed far too many diplomatic functions. That needs to be reversed.


Robert Flaten is a true Northfield product. His grandfather and father were both professors at St. Olaf College. Bob grew up here and, no surprise here, graduated from St. Olaf College. After a stint in the Air Force, he earned a graduate degree from George Washington University and then spent 32 years in the United States Foreign Service. He served in France, Pakistan, Washington D.C., Israel and ended his career as Ambassador to Rwanda.

Member Induction: Victoria Langer, a teacher on leave from the Northfield School District, was formally inducted into the club. Her sponsor is Laurie Williams, a longtime friend.

Guests: Susan Hatfield (Taylor), a clean-shaven Steve Wlimot (Fenton), Tim Willgohs (L. Willgohs), James Rehwaldt (Yogi) and our exchange students: Mizuki, Rachel, Diatou, Adnan and Cindy, some of whom are enjoying winter’s long embrace.

Scholarship Enhancement: David Wolf


— Dave Brown reminded members of the half-price sale for Paul Harris Fellowships. A $500 donation will be matched by the club’s credits with the foundation to qualify you for the award. The promotion is open to new and repeat fellows.

— Rotary will host a graduation party Thursday, June 6, for our graduating inbound students, our returning outbound students and for our new outbounds. More to come.

— Rotary will be partnering with The Key to produce a concert in July to raise funds for the youth center. If you have anything to contribute to this effort, contact Missi Arens.

— Peg Prowe reported that the Minnesota House has $1.7 million earmarked for the Mill Towns Trail, part from Legacy funding, part from bonding. This still needs approval from both the Senate and the Governor.