Month: October 2012

Half the population, plus

Salma Berrada, who has recently joined me as a Middle East Institute intern, makes her debut on peacefare with this piece on an event last week at Brookings: 

While some in the media hastily surmise that the Arab spring has given way to an Autumn rage, the panelists discussing “Women After the Arab Awakening: Making Change” begged to differ. The four women leading Vital Voices Global Partnership projects–in Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon –are committed to gender progress in these tumultuous times of transition in the Arab world. The recent protests and attacks on US consulates in Libya, Yemen, and Egypt were horrific and senseless, but it would be a mistake to assume they represent most Arabs or most Arab women.

The US ranks 22nd in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report released last week. Middle East countries lag far behind.  Women’s advocacy projects in the Arab world reflect a universal struggle for freedom and social justice. Each activist faces a different set of opportunities and constraints in her home country.  The common denominator is the hope of reducing inequality and exclusion.

The tide of the Arab Spring has so far bypassed Morocco. Except for a few peaceful demonstrations led by the February 20th Movement, the monarchy stands strong. Still, there are ripples of change.  To me as a native Moroccan, Souad Slaoui from the Isis Center in Fes looked more like my loving grandmother than a grand women’s advocate.  Endearingly pushing her big glasses back up the bridge of her nose, she explained how overcoming the gender gap requires the active support of local authorities and high-level government officials alike.

Eight years after the Morrocan family code (Moudawana) was updated and widely praised, barriers remain that prevent the full implementation of reforms in the Moroccan society. Child marriage was officially banned in 2004. But Article 20 allows a judge to sanction underage marriage. Slaoui underlined the importance of collaboration with other associations and politicians to curb this practice. The team began by examining the social and economic pressures that lead girls to be married as early as possible in urban and rural settings. A national media campaign was then successfully launched. While raising awareness about the dangers of child marriage, the strategy also enabled women to recognize and claim their civic rights.

In Jordan, the Sadaqa campaign aimed to require that Article 72 of the state’s labor law be enforced. It stipulates that business firms with more than 20 women are expected to provide daycare for the children of their employees. Not only did Sadaqa lobby the government to ensure that companies comply with the directive but it also set up workshops to highlight the economic benefits to companies for providing childcare to their staff. Randa Naffa, a young Jordanian, emphasized that Sadaqa in Arabic, means friendship. The campaign promotes “a friendly working environment for women.” Its success evinces the positive impact of engaging men to enhance women’s participation in formal labor markets.

Both Randa Naffa and Souad Slaoui emphasized that changing the way people think about gender should be prioritized as an integral component  of socioeconomic development in the Middle East and North Africa.  But social change is difficult and slow.

Egyptian Marianne Ibrahim, co-founder of the Al Gisr Center for Development, pointed out the importance of the Tahrir square rebellion of 2011 that unseated President Mubarak:  “being on the Square, day and night, broke so many red lines for Egyptian women.”  The Al Gisr Center sought to capitalize on the Arab spring by partnering with like-minded organizations to elaborate a women’s agenda with input from Egyptian women of all ages and backgrounds. Despite the political dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood and the rise of conservative rhetoric, the Center recently submitted its gender platform to the committee in charge of drafting the new constitution.

Lina Ahmed corroborated that social and economic development go together. This businesswoman and member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business believes women should be proactive and take charge of their destinies. Applying her entrepreneurial skills to further the cause, she identified 15 discriminatory provisions pertaining to labor, social security and inheritance in the civil code. Her team began by networking with local and international NGOs to advocate change.  This initiative enabled them to mobilize broader support from the public. Their campaign continues.  She is optimistic about the impressive progress already made in civil society engagement. As Tamara Wittes, the moderator of the debate and director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, asserted, “progress operates at all levels through women’s grassroots projects.”

Networking across borders in workshops organized by Vital Voices Global Partnership in the past few months has been important to each of these activists.  Many women in the Arab world are not aware of their rights. Awareness campaigns remain fundamental. Resistance is strong. Antagonism towards equal rights for women brings to light deeply entrenched social custom and prejudice.  Marianne Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian, views “long-standing patriarchal attitudes” as the greatest challenge faced by activists on the ground. The problem lies less in the potential for a fundamentalist regime to impose the veil than in the prevalence of this dark veil of ignorance. If this unprecedented time of change truly marks an Arab awakening, the rampant culture of patriarchy can no longer be allowed to deny Arab women their rights.

As fragile and tenuous as the road to democracy may be in the Middle East, women’s initiatives are gradually recasting social, economic and political structures.  Beyond legal changes, it is important to change popular perceptions.  As Lina Ahmed so aptly said: “We constitute half the population and raise the other half.”

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Tidewater here I come

Most peacefare readers know me as a foreign policy person.  I’ve worked for the United Nations, the State Department and United States Institute of Peace.  I now teach post-war reconstruction in the conflict management program of Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.  I’ve blogged over the last two years from Sarajevo, Pristina, Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli and Benghazi.

NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” included a bit last weekend reminding me of just how boring to most people that is.  Drew Carey was guest hosting:

CAREY: The last presidential debate was supposed to be a conversation about foreign policy, but President Obama and Mitt Romney kept turning it back to the economy, jobs, and education here in the United States. Thankfully, moderator Bob Schieffer did an excellent job, steering the debate back to issues Americans couldn’t care less about like foreign policy.


CAREY: Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone say, “Can you turn off the game, I want to watch the foreign policy.”


CAREY: “Hold all my calls unless it’s about foreign policy.”  The worst is when your wife comes home early and you’re watching foreign policy.

It’s funnier if you listen to it.

Later this week I’ll be blogging from Suffolk, Virginia, where I’ll be campaigning for President Obama.  A neighbor asked me the other day why I have an Obama/Biden yard sign.  She is mostly concerned about abortion and supports women’s reproductive rights.  My own response was more multi-facted.  I prefer the President not only for that reason but for many others:  his intention to rebalance foreign and defense policy, his commitment to preserving the social safety net for the poor and elderly, his support for education and infrastructure, and his willingness to redress inequities that plague American society.  My patriotism tells me we all owe a great deal to America and should be prepared to pay back what we can.

But that isn’t necessarily going to help me in Suffolk, a town founded in the 18th century on the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp, where escaped slaves once took refuge.  Today Suffolk’s population of about 85,000 is 50% White, 42% African American and the rest Asian, Hispanic, mixed and other.  Two mainsprings of the local economy are peanut processing and the U.S. military, especially the Navy and the remnants of what used to be  Joint Forces Command, as well as military contractors and suppliers.  Median household income is over $65,000 per year.  Almost a quarter of firms are Black-owned and 30% woman-owned.  Three-quarters of the population owns its own homes, which have a median value of over $250,000.  This is an ethnically mixed, relatively prosperous place that depends on both private enterprise and the U.S. government for its livelihoods.  Money Magazine named it number 9 on its list of “where the jobs are,” due to a 43% increase (!) in employment from 2000 to 2011.

I’m anxious to hear what the citizens of Suffolk and surrounding communities have to say.  What are their main concerns?  What do they want from a president?  How do they think the Federal government can help or hinder their prosperity and well-being?  How has President Obama done in their view?  Are they supporting Obama or Romney?  What would convince them to support the President?  How can I help them make that decision, or if they’ve already made it how can I be sure they can get to the polls and vote?

My initial thinking is that many people will be concerned about the defense budget, especially for naval expenditures, and taxes, especially on the middle class.

Romney and Ryan have advocated major increases in the defense budget over the next decade, with particular emphasis on the navy.  But in FY 2013 (which began October 1), their proposal gives defense spending no more than an increase for inflation, while the administration proposes to straight-line the defense budget.  There isn’t likely going to be much difference once the Congress gets around to passing a budget.  Only in the out-years do Romney and Ryan propose increases for defense.  There are also substantial increases for defense in Obama administration plans.  All the “cuts” are from projected increases, not from current spending.

The Romney/Ryan budget proposal depends on reducing tax deductions that are likely to be important to people in Suffolk, especially the mortgage and charitable deductions.  It is unlikely that there are many salaried employees in Suffolk with household incomes over $250,000 who would see tax increases under the President’s proposals.  But there are probably quite a few small businesses in that category that file as sole proprietorships.  Their owners will not have been shy about talking to their employees about the impact of tax increases on small business.  But do those small businesses want to see infrastructure and education spending cut to the bone?  Imagine Hurricane Sandy without Federal backup for the states and local communities.

I’ll be reading the The Suffolk News-Herald for the next six days, trying to get myself into the frame of my Virginia neighbors.  It reports that Suffolk, which weathered the hurricane well, swung hard to Obama over McCain in the last election (by 13 per cent), but no one knows what will happen this time around.  Donations to Romney are running marginally ahead of Obama’s.  Virginia is still up for grabs, though Polltracker at the moment has Obama up by two percentage points and some.

The front line in this contest runs through Tidewater Virginia.  I am pleased to be heading there.

PS:  Polltracker this morning says the race is tightening in Virginia, with the President still up by a point and some.

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No magic wand

François Heisbourg advocates NATO-backed military intervention in Syria without a UN Security Council resolution, based on Turkey’s right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN charter.

That is daring, but then he pulls his punches:  he wants no more than a 50-mile no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.  No intervening aircraft would fly into Syrian air space.  Enforcement would be by missiles fired from the Turkish side of the border. France and Britain would somehow “join.”

Then he waves a magic wand:

The zone would include Aleppo, which means the regime’s bombardment of Syria’s largest city would cease.  Its fall, along with unimpeded access to logistical support from Turkey, would give the insurgency the upper hand.

And with no boots on the ground, this intervention would not require an exit strategy.

I guess it could work that way, but the odds are at least as good it would not.  Aleppo is barely within 50 miles of the Turkish border.  Missiles fired from Turkey won’t keep the Syrian army out of Aleppo.  Nor will they do anything to block the Syrians from bombarding the city with artillery.  The Syrian regime would surely escalate Kurdish guerrilla attacks inside Turkey, intensifying the already considerable political opposition to the Turkish government’s aggressive posture on Syria.

What if I am wrong and it works?  An “exit” strategy might be unnecessary, but an entrance strategy would be vital.  There is no reason to think that a sudden collapse of the Assad regime will be a peaceful and loving affair.  The Turks and Americans are not going to sit around letting the chips fall where they may, since they might well fall in the direction of an extremist Sunni regime.  Neither will the Iranians and the Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, or for that matter the Qataris and Saudis.  Each will have his own agenda.  The aftermath of the fall of this regime could be even bloodier than its lengthy and sanguinary demise.

I hesitate to repeat what I have said many times previously:  safe areas are target-rich environments that will attract the murderous instincts of the Assad regime.  If you want a no-fly zone, it will have to be far wider than 50 miles and enforced with active patrols, as we did in Iraq.  That means destruction of Syrian air defenses, and continued willingness to destroy them on a daily basis.

Heisbourg is also hoping the Americans will rouse themselves from inaction after the November 6 election.  I doubt it.  More arms may flow then to the Syrian rebellion, but people in Washington is really worried about empowering more jihadi in ways that we will come to regret.  “Fast and furious” in the Middle East could be a lot more serious than in Mexico.

The best bet for a decent outcome of the Syrian rebellion is a negotiated exit of Bashar al Assad, followed by an internationally supervised transition.  I know that’s not on the horizon yet.  But until it is we are likely to see the fighting continue.


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My advice

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU High Representative Katherine Ashton will be in the Balkans together this week. Their common objective is to maintain peace and stability there and to hasten integration of the region into Euro-Atlantic institutions, especially the EU itself.  A visitor Friday suggested I tell them what to say.  Here is what I would advise, though I hasten to add that I have no reason to believe anyone is listening:

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina are a mess.  The European Union is unhappy with Bosnia’s progress towards candidacy for membership.  The country’s proudest cultural institutions are closing shop due to lack of funding. Constitutional reform at the central government level is stalled.  The Americans have launched an apparently open-ended effort to change the Federation constitution, the 51% of Bosnia governed by a Croat/Bosniak entity.  The President of the other entity, Republika Srpska (RS), passes up no opportunity to declare the country is falling apart and is trying hard to make it happen.  The RS’s founder, Radovan Karadzic, is busily denying war crimes in The Hague.

The big threat to Bosnia is the EU itself, which ironically describes the peril this way:

Some political representatives are questioning Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capacity to function as a country and are calling for an Entity-level EU agenda separate from the Bosnia and Herzegovina state.

If Brussels gives into this temptation, Bosnia will break up, with the RS pressing for early entry into the EU as an independent state and the Federation thrust into a struggle that can only end in a breakup into Croat and Muslim mini-states.  There is no two-way partition of Bosnia.  The three-way partition risks leaving an Islamic state with uncertain borders somewhere in central Bosnia, a threat to both its Croat and Serb neighbors.  It is not difficult to picture the Bosniaks of Sandjak seeking to join this Islamic state, thus threatening the territorial integrity of Serbia and requiring Belgrade to act vigorously to protect itself from the threat of losing yet another province.

So the joint message from Clinton and Ashton should be this:  Bosnia and Herzegovina needs to put its own house in order and create a government in Sarajevo that can act authoritatively in implementing the Stabilization and Association Agreement already signed with the EU and in eventually negotiating EU membership. The EU has already said this in its typically opaque terms:

Establishing an effective coordination mechanism between various levels of government for the transposition, implementation and enforcement of EU laws so that the country can speak with one voice on EU matters, remains an issue to be addressed.

Clinton and Ashton should make it clear there will be no partition and no separate EU negotiations with the RS and Federation.  If the current mess continues, Bosnia will be left to stew in its own juices while the rest of the Balkans moves ahead.  Aid will be cut and diplomatic exchanges curtailed.  Those who are most responsible for the mess will find themselves barred from travel to the U.S. and EU and cold-shouldered in European and American visits to Bosnia.


Belgrade has a new president and government whose help on Bosnia Ashton and Clinton should seek.  Serbia today understands the risks partition in Bosnia would cause for stability in Sandjak, its own territorial integrity and its own EU prospects.  President Nikolic and Prime Minister Dacic have no brief for RS President Dodik, who was a favorite of the previous administration in Serbia.  Before he manages to compromise the new president as he did former President Tadic, the Americans and Europeans should let it be known they will greatly appreciate Belgrade’s help in strengthening the central state in Bosnia and ending Dodik’s increasingly strident tirades against it.

Kosovo is the other big issue in Belgrade.  Clinton and Ashton need to tell everyone they meet that there will be no partition of Kosovo, something Dacic in particular has sought in the past.  Serbia, as the EU put it recently, has to accept the territorial integrity of Kosovo, whatever its status.  There is no basis in UNSC resolution 1244 or anywhere else for Serbia to hold on to the north, which it still occupies (even if it does not fully control the various enterprises there).  As Chancellor Merkel has made eminently clear, this means dismantling the parallel structures in the north and integrating it with the rest of Kosovo, in accordance with the wide-ranging self-governance provided for in the Ahtisaari plan.  The other issues Dacic has expressed an interest in can and should all be handled in the bilateral dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade.

There is more:  Kosovo will get an armed security force next year, in addition to its police.  The NATO-assisted design of that security force depends on the threats Kosovo faces.  If there continues to be a threat to Kosovo’s territorial integrity from Serbia, the Kosovo security forces will have to be armed and trained to meet that threat, in combination with guarantees and backup from NATO.  If, however, Belgrade establishes a more cooperative and business-like relationship with Pristina and unequivocally accepts Kosovo’s territorial integrity, the reduced threat will require less arming and training, and lower military expenditures in Serbia as well.


The Americans and Europeans have more reason to be satisfied with Pristina at the moment than with Sarajevo or Belgrade.  Despite political resistance inside Kosovo, Prime Minister Thaci met recently with Dacic, at Ashton’s behest and with U.S. encouragement.  The fulfillment of Kosovo’s obligations under the Athisaari peace plan and the consequent end of “supervised independence” in September was an important moment.

But Kosovo is far behind Serbia and other parts of the Balkans in preparing itself for EU membership.  Belgrade’s progress in this direction is likely to slow, at least for the next year or so.  Kosovo can do itself no greater favor than trying hard to catch up.  Clinton and Ashton should say this will require a stronger focus on implementing its mostly EU-compliant legislation and campaigning seriously against corruption and organized crime, as well as fixing its fraud-vulnerable electoral system.  It also requires avoiding all violence against Serbs or other minorities and showing the Kosovo state can maintain order when more nationalist Albanians take to the streets.

Bottom line:  The EU and U.S., when they act together in the Balkans, get what they want.  The trick is to make it clear that there is no daylight between them on the vital issues:  no partition in Bosnia or Kosovo and serious focus in all three capitals on preparing for EU membership, with all that implies in terms of strengthening the central state in Bosnia, Belgrade’s acceptance of Kosovo’s territorial integrity and reintegration of the north, and Kosovo’s effort to make its governance conform to European norms.

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Destiny or chance

It is still dry in Northwest DC, where I am ensconced, but NASA has provided a clear picture of our destiny. Sandy is poised to turn west and wallop the east coast of the United States:

Our destiny

It is notable that there are several other apparently strong storms in this picture, besides Sandy. Maybe this is less destiny and more mere chance. Whatever. It’s going to rain big. Glad I cleared those gutters I can reach this morning. Also brought in wood for a fire. We are always well-stocked with food and drink. The big worries are trees and power. Let the oaks stand and our power stay on and I’ll count us lucky indeed.

PS:  How does @AdamSerwer find this stuff?

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This week’s peace picks

Peacebuilding and corruption get a lot of attention this week.  I hope “Frankenstorm” won’t affect too many of the events. 


1. Global Corruption: Money, Power, and Ethics in the Modern World, Monday October 29, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Venue:  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, Choate Room

Speakers:  Laurence Cockcroft, Michael Hershman, Claudia Dumas, Raymond Baker

Corruption is a key factor in sustaining appallingly high levels of poverty in many developing countries, particularly in relation to the provision of basic services such as education and health. It is also a major reason why increases in the growth rate in Africa and South Asia have failed to benefit large segments of the population. Corruption drives the over-exploitation of natural resources, capturing their value for a small elite – whether timber from Indonesia or coltan from the Congo. In the developed world, corrupt party funding undermines political systems and lays policy open to heavy financial lobbying.

Corruption has to be seen as the result of the interplay between elite ‘embedded networks’, political finance, greed and organized crime. It has been facilitated by globalization, the integration of new and expanding markets into the world economy, and by the rapid expansion of ‘offshore’ financial facilities, which provide a home to largely unregulated pools of finance derived from personal fortunes, organized crime and pricing malpractice in international trade.

This analysis probes beneath the surface of the international initiatives to curb corruption which have evolved since the 1990s. It indicates that there remain key ‘roadblocks’ to real reform which have to be addressed before major progress can be made. These include recognizing that the huge ‘shadow’ unrecorded economy in many countries is a reservoir of corrupt payments, that organized crime is a critical factor in controlling many political systems, that the finance to fund political parties always requires a pay-off which endangers political stability, and that ‘mispricing’ by local and international companies continues to prevent a just return to lower income countries participating in world trade.

RSVP for this event to


2. Diplomacy in Conflict:  A Panel Discussion of US Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis, Monday October 29, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Elliott School of International Affairs

Venue:  Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, Room 213

Speakers:  Edward Gnehm, David Shinn, Patricia Lacina

In the wake of the tragedies at the U.S. outposts in Libya and Egypt, this event will serve as an opportunity to examine what goes on inside embassies and consulates during times of crisis. The panelists will discuss their experiences in the Foreign Service, the communication flow from leadership to staff on the ground, and other realities of diplomacy in conflict zones.

7:00 PM – 7:30 PM Pre-reception
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM Discussion

Register for this event here.


3. From Conflict Analysis to Peacebuilding Impact: Lessons from the People’s Peacebuilding Perspectives, Tuesday October 30, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Venue:  Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Rome Building, 1619 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036, Rome Building Auditorium

Speakers: Janet Mohammed, Teresa Dumasy, James Ndung’U, Robert Parker

Rigorous conflict analysis is essential for all actors operating in settings of violence and social conflict. Many different assessment frameworks are in use by various international non-governmental and governmental institutions working in development, peacebuilding, and governance sectors, including US agencies. But analysis tools and the manner in which assessments are conducted vary widely, with mixed results.

Saferworld and Conciliation Resources are leading NGOs working internationally on programs and policies relating to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The People’s Peacemaking Perspectives (PPP) project was a joint initiative implemented in close collaboration with a number of local actors and organizations on the ground. Panelists will present the conclusions of the PPP project and implications for US agencies and other institutions working in conflict settings using case studies in Kenya and other contexts. They will illustrate the benefits, success criteria and challenges to taking a participatory approach to conflict analysis.

This special event is co-sponsored by 3P Human Security, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and the Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Register for this event here.


4. Third Annual Conference:  Preventing Violent Conflict, Wednesday October 30, 9:00 AM – 5:15 PM, USIP

Venue:  USIP, 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20037

Speakers:  Abiodun Williams, Jim Marshall, Nicholas Burns, Deborah Avant, Johnnie Carson, Robin Wright, Moeed Yusuf, Victor Cha, Lawrence Woocher, Michael Lund, Joseph Wright, Michael Lekson, Patrick Meier, Melanie Greenberg, Bertrand Ramcharan, Patricia Haslach, Chester Crocker, John Prendergast

Preventing violent conflict has been high on the agenda of several governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organizations in recent years. Last January, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared 2012 the “Year of Prevention.” These various actors have also taken necessary steps to develop frameworks for designing and implementing prevention strategies, as well as to enhance their institutional capacities for prevention. The justification for this is clear: conflict prevention is preferable to reactive approaches for moral, strategic, and economic reasons.

Yet from Syria to Mali, from Iran to the Korean Peninsula, effective conflict prevention remains an immense challenge. There is a need for a better understanding of how conflict prevention strategies can be applied to country-specific situations. To support this effort, USIP will convene experts and policymakers to  discuss challenges and opportunities for conflict prevention around the world at its third annual conference on Preventing Violent Conflict.

The keynote address will be delivered by Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Professor at Harvard University and former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs. The first panel will highlight regional challenges in preventing future conflict. The afternoon panel will reflect on the roles and tools available to key prevention actors, including the U.S. government, the United Nations, regional organizations and civil society. This year’s conference includes four concurrent break-out sessions allowing participants to discuss specific challenges facing conflict prevention efforts, including the prevention of mass atrocities, nuclear proliferation, and violent transitions from authoritarianism.

The goals of this event are to spotlight the importance of conflict prevention; address specific challenges facing prevention efforts; and identify priority areas for USIP’s future work on conflict prevention.

Schedule for this event here.

Register for this event here.


5. What the UN Can and Should Do to Fight Corruption, Wednesday October 31, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM, UN Foundation

Venue:  UN Foundation, 1800 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington, DC 20036, Conference Room

Speakers:  Frank Vogl, Janine Wedel, Nathaniel Heller

Frank Vogl, a founder of Transparency International, will discuss his new book “Waging War on Corruption- Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power” to begin the conversation on corruption and transparency worldwide.  Vogl’s book has received positive reviews from media sources, having already been featured in The American and in interviews with and Voice of America.

Professor Janine Wedel from George Mason University and Nathaniel Heller from Global Integrity will follow with brief remarks on the topic before all three speakers invite audience questions.

Please feel free to bring your own lunch to enjoy at this event.

Register for this event here.


6. The Missing Peace Symposium:  Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings, Thursday November 1 through Saturday November 3, USIP

Venue:  Attendance by webcast at or at USIP by invitation only

Speakers:  Donald Steinberg, Zainab Hawa Bangura, Jody Williams, Patricia Sellers, Melanne Verveer, Wegger Christian Strommen, Abigail Disney

Sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings is increasingly recognized as a threat to international peace and security. From conflicts in the Balkans to the Democratic Republic of Congo and from East Timor to Guatemala, state and non-state armed actors have used sexual violence against women, men, and children to intimidate and to terrorize populations, and as a means of displacing people from contested territory, destroying communities and silencing victims. As these wars have ended, however, sexual violence often does not end—which, in turn, undermines reconstruction efforts and the transition to more stable, secure, and peaceful societies.

Despite the increased international attention to sexual violence as a weapon of war, including the adoption of UN Security Council resolutions, and important rulings in international criminal courts, initiatives to prevent or mitigate these violent acts continue to fall short. Existing international interventions may lack an integrated understanding of the causes for sexual violence and its implications for societies at large.

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute North America (SIPRI North America) will convene a group of scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and military and civil society actors to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, identify gaps in knowledge and reporting and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence.

See the conference schedule here.


7. Military Strategy Forum:  The Future of the United States Army:  Critical Questions for a Period of Transition, Thursday November 1, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, CSIS

Venue:  CSIS, 1800 K Street NW, Washington DC, 20006, B1 Conference Room

Speakers:  Raymond T. Odierno, John J. Hamre, David Berteau, Kim Wincup

Discussion with General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Dr. John J. Hamre, President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International StudiesFollowed by Q&A with General Odierno, moderated by David Berteau, CSIS Senior Vice President and Director of the International Security Program, and Kim Wincup, CSIS Senior Adviser.

Discussion: 10:30-11:00 a.m.
Q&A: 11:00-11:30 a.m.
Sponsored by Rolls-Royce North America

Dress is business attire or working uniform

Register for this event here.


8. Linking the Caspian to Europe: Repercussions of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Agreement (TANAP) for Azerbaijan, Turkey, and the Region, Thursday November 1, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Rethink Institute

Venue:  Rethink Institute, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002, Suite 1125

Speakers: Michael J. G. Cain, Rovshan Ibrahimov, Michael Ratner, Fevzi Bilgin

The intergovernmental agreement recently signed between the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey begins the next phase of the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline project (TANAP). The pipeline, which is estimated to cost $7 billion, will transport 16 billion cubic meters of gas each year from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, with most of the gas volumes going to Europe. Deliveries of Azerbaijani gas are expected to begin in 2017, while project planning starts in 2013.

Although the volumes of gas reaching Europe are relatively small compared with the original Nabucco project, TANAP officially opens the coveted “southern gas corridor” to EU states. This corridor will provide Caspian gas directly to European markets not controlled by Moscow or Tehran. Despite the strong backing of the United States for Nabucco across several US administrations, the European goal of weakening Moscow’s resource influence on the economies of the European Union remains a distant dream. Considerations of power politics notwithstanding, European, US and Russian power probably did not ultimately determine Nabucco’s fate. Realist power politics had little role to play. Instead regional political and commercial considerations associated with the smaller TANAP project sealed Nabucco’s fate. TANAP emerged as the preferred pipeline to Europe from the Caspian, because of its local political and economic appeal. This suggests an important lesson for international relations in the 21st century-that regional politics when combined with commercial interests and local market development can trump geopolitical resource competition.

Why did realist politics among the great powers give way to the local interests of smaller regional states? This paper identifies several key internal domestic drivers of TANAP for both Azerbaijan and Turkey to better understand why TANAP prevailed over the much heralded, Western backed Nabucco pipeline project. These domestic factors illustrate how exploiting natural resources and geographic comparative advantages translate into increased political power for each state. The paper also shows how the construction and operation of TANAP will likely accelerate the economic integration of Caspian states while strengthening the economic and political linkages of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia to Europe.

Register for this event here.


9.  Becoming Nonviolent Peacemakers, Friday November 2, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

Venue:  Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, 3307 M Street, Washington, DC 20007, Suite 200, 3rd Floor Conference Room

Speaker:  Eli McCarthy

Why do many US residents, Catholics and Catholic leaders among them, too often fall short of adequately challenging the use of violence in US policy? Even when community organizers, policymakers, members of Catholic leadership, and academics sincerely search for alternatives to violence, they too often think about nonviolence as primarily a rule or strategy. Catholic Social Teaching has been moving toward transcending the limits of these approaches, but it still has significant room for growth. In order to contribute to this growth and to impact US policy, McCarthy draws on Jesus, Gandhi, Ghaffar Khan, and King to offer a virtue-based approach to nonviolent peacemaking with a corresponding set of core practices. This approach is also set in conversation with aspects of human rights discourse to increase its possible impact on US policy.

Eli McCarthy, author of Becoming Nonviolent Peacemakers: A Virtue Ethic for Catholic Social Teaching and US Policy, will be joining us to discuss his new book and provide insights into these questions.

Register for this event here.


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