Tag: Latin America

Trump is losing, but still making chaos

@MaxBoot tweeted last night:

Xi forces affirmation of “One China.” Mexico won’t pay for wall. 9th Circuit stops EO. Flynn/Conway scandals. Is Trump tired of winning yet?

140 characters permitting, he might have added that

  • Trump is delaying the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • The administration is forgetting Secretary of State Tillerson’s pledge to prevent Chinese access to the islands it has fortified in the South China Sea.
  • The wall is now projected to cost more than twice candidate Trump’s projection.
  • The President has expressed displeasure that Kellyanne Conway has been “counseled” for violating ethnics regulations.
  • Congressional Republicans are questioning whether National Security Adviser Flynn can remain in place, and the 9th Circuit decision makes it unlikely that the Administration will win an appeal.
  • Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has suggested that criticism of judges, which the President has indulged in repeatedly, is demoralizing and disheartening to the judiciary.

From my Schadenfreude perspective, these are all positive developments. To stimie Trump, or at least try to hold him and his minions accountable, is to make the world better place.

But let’s not kid ourselves. the Trumpistas have already had a devastating impact on American prestige and influence abroad. Trump’s doubts about the NATO Alliance have shaken European confidence. He won’t even be able to visit the UK, where giant crowds would protest his appearance. His immigration ban has demoralized allies in the Arab world, especially Iraq, and boosted extremist recruiting. His bromance with Putin has encouraged the Russians to continue their interventions in Syria and eastern Ukraine. His hostility towards Iran has encouraged its worst impulses, including additional missile tests after being put “on notice.”

While I have good friends who think Barack Obama was a frighteningly weak foreign policy president, his retrenching America is looking coherent and even visionary by comparison. In a few short weeks, Trump has weakened America, not strengthened it.

The ramifications are many. I had a note this morning from the Balkans that read in part:

I have to say that Trumpizm effects the rest of the world in which provinces like Balkans can not understand who is who and what is real American politics and interest towards them!

The same thing might be said in eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and even in Latin America. At the current rate, it will be true in the Arctic and Antarctica before long. All American presidential transitions are unsettling, but this one is an order of magnitude more chaos-producing than most. It has brought people to power in the White House who simply do not adhere to the well-established lines of American foreign policy, which have served pretty well since 1945. When you need to be reading an obsure Italian Fascist writer to understand the intellectual antecedents of the chief strategist to the President, you know something is wrong.

I’m not immune to radicalism. I indulged in it during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. There are things today that merit hard opposition in my estimation, including Trump’s appointment of cabinet members who oppose the missions of the agencies they are supposed to lead and his appointment of a documented and committed racist as Attorney General. But Trump’s radicalism appears to have little more than his own impulsive and erratic whims as its basis, combined with a few repugnant right-wing shibboleths about race, public education, the environment, and energy production.

The bully is already backing down on some of his worst impulses, but that does nothing to give the world an America that it can understand and rely on. Trump likes unpredictability. Friends and adversaries alike do not.

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It’s the oil

On Monday, Georgetown University’s Centers for Contemporary Arab Studies and Latin American Studies hosted an event “Oil, Authoritarianism, and Populism” to compare governance in the Middle East and Latin America after the discovery of oil. The discussion featured Daniel Neep, author of Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Space, Insurgency and State Formation, Georgetown Associate Professor Joseph Sassoon (author of Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime), and Angelo Rivero Santos, adjunct professor and director of Venezuela Programming at the McDonough School of Business.

Neep described the study of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as idiographic, isolated in part due to the complexity and variety in the region itself. At the end of the Cold War, the field of international relations started to shift and scholars increasingly focused on democratization. By the 2000s, the conversations switched to ways authoritarianism evolves and roots itself in the context of state and society. Much of this research is concerned with individual nations or bilateral comparisons, with little attention paid to international trends. Neep argued that there is much to learn from international interregional comparison. Comparisons between Latin America and the Middle East are particularly interesting. Populist authoritarianism is more successful in the Arab world, but Neep pointed out that political society’s conception of authoritarianism started in Latin America. He highlighted state-led industrialization, class uprisings, and land reform as key elements in comparisons of pre-2005 Syria, Egypt under Nasser, and South American countries. It is essential that scholars look at similar experiences across the globe to fully understand long term trajectories.

Additionally, Neep highlighted the error in thinking of authoritarian and democratic systems as diametrically opposed, or even as different“species.” He rejected the tendency to consider authoritarian regimes as a stage before the development of a democratic system. A more accurate way of thinking frames authoritarianism as a particular type of state. He went on to cite the current political crisis in the US as an example of crossover, a democratic regime with (potential?) authoritarian characteristics.

Sassoon identified fundamental elements of Middle Eastern regimes congruent with Latin American history such as widespread use of torture, a strong security apparatus, and a strong military. Yet, despite its military dictatorships, Latin America managed to move past authoritarian structures. Sassoon proposed that oil might be the factor retarding democratic progress in the MENA region, especially considering the failure of the 2011 uprisings in the region. Sassoon points out that Iraq and Egypt were more developed than Chile in the 1960’s, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth today. Aspirations for reform suffered from a lack of proper opposition and control of the ruling party.

Latin America possessed requisite structures to establishing a strong opposition entrenched in civil society that are not present in the Middle East. Sassoon warned that whether nations are producers or intermediaries of oil, there is too much reliance on the resource. This is a fundamental issue. No country has figured out how to divert oil wealth into something more productive. Sassoon used Libya as an example of this challenge; when Gadhafi took power Libya was a rich country, with no border disputes and no enemies in the world. Forty years later it is a failed state.

Santos identified Venezuela as the best country in Latin America to compare with the Middle East because of its position as the second biggest oil producer in the Western hemisphere after the US. The history of democracy in Venezuela is complicated, with over 25 constitutions since it’s independence in 1810. Equally complex is its relationship with oil: it is both a curse and a blessing. Oil propelled Venezuela to relevancy in the world stage through membership in OPEC and the Jose Accords, and triggered social and political transformations at home. But the country is a classic example of “Dutch Disease,” where the discovery of oil shifted the formerly diverse agricultural economy to one dependent on a single resource.

Venezuela differs from many countries in the MENA region because the government always believed that the oil belonged to the people, and worked to create social contracts that addressed the role of oil in society and how to distribute resource wealth. However, you cannot distribute wealth that you do not have, and Santos remarked that low oil prices cause problems such as the current unrest.

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Big trouble brewing

President-elect Trump’s cabinet appointments were not moderates from the first. With the exception of Defense and Homeland Security, he has appointed people who oppose the missions of the departments they have been named to lead. Rick Perry famously couldn’t even remember that Energy was one of the departments he said as a candidate he wanted to abolish. Ryan Zinke, named to Interior, opposes the conservation that department is entrusted with.

On domestic issues, we can anticipate that Congress will present a roadblock to some of the more outrageous proposals from the new administration. Abolishing Obamacare without providing an alternative isn’t going to happen, for precisely the reason Republicans opposed it in the first place: there are a lot of people enjoying its benefits. Depriving 20 million people of health insurance is not a winning political maneuver. The Energy Department isn’t going away, if only because it makes our nuclear weapons and manages nuclear waste. I’ll bet the national parks will still be the national parks four years from now, even if they will be open to more commercial activity than today.

On foreign policy, there are fewer constraints. The beneficiaries are not so well defined and presidential powers are dominant. Trump shook the One China policy with a single phone call, precipitating bellicose rhetoric from Beijing about the South China Sea. He has named as ambassador to Israel an advocate of Jewish settlements on the West Bank who opposes the two-state solution and looks forward to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. His bromance with Putin is already shaking allied confidence in NATO. Trump is a master at upsetting apple carts with small gestures.

His nominee for Secretary of State, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, is not at first sight the same type. By all reports, he has been a capable, maybe even an outstanding, manager of a gigantic energy company, which under his guidance even accepted that global warming is real and caused in part by human activity. But he too has been willing to defy expectations and do business not only with Russian President Putin but also a non-sovereign state like Iraqi Kurdistan as well as with petty dictators in weak states who need Exxon to exploit their resources so they can steal the revenue and keep themselves in power. It is hard to picture Tillerson supporting democratic reforms after a career of ignoring regime abuses, as Rachel Maddow ably made clear last night in an interview with Steve Coll:

Perhaps the most important foreign policy nomination has not yet been made: the US Trade Representative is presumably the person who will need to fulfill Trump’s campaign promises by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, and ending the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). If he follows through, these moves will make Europe, Asia and Latin America doubt America’s longstanding commitment to free trade and investment, present the Chinese and Russians with opportunities to fill giant gaps, and undermine the World Trade Organization.

That however is not my biggest concern. Trump is an ethnic nationalist with an extreme ethnic nationalist, Steve Bannon, as his chief strategist. They will be sympathetic to ethnic nationalist reasoning, which is what Russian President Putin is offering as an explanation for his aggression in Crimea, Donbas, Transnistria, South Ossetia, and  Abkhazia. “Just trying to protect ethnic Russians,” Putin says. How many of these places will Trump be willing to concede to Russia in order to consummate his bromance with Putin? The Trump administration may also be more sympathetic than Obama has been to Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence ambitions, setting off a series of partitions in the Middle East (Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, even Turkey and Iran are potential candidates).

Four years is a long time. I don’t think it will be more than a month before some of Trump’s international moves brew the United States big trouble.

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Rare success

I’m no expert on Colombia, but you don’t have to be one to welcome the ceasefire negotiated with Cuban mediation between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC) after 52 years of rebellion. The Economist gives an excellent overview of the accomplishment and the problems that lie ahead.

I would just signal the capital importance of preventing FARC cadres from going the way of rebels in El Salvador and Guatemala. In the aftermath of their civil wars, which ended in the 1990s, criminality has remained a major problem and even grown dramatically in El Salvador. Colombia has had significant success against its once rampaging drug cartels, but demobilization of the guerrillas will increase the challenge. Thousands of unemployed youth with few talents other than avoiding the authorities and handling a gun constitute a serious problem. Nor will their commanders miss an opportunity to organize protection and smuggling rackets, especially if they don’t do well in the post-war political competition.

Colombia has a neighbor to the east, Venezuela, already in desperate straits. Its left-wing Chavistas have wrecked the country’s economy, despite sitting on what are arguably some of the world’s largest, albeit low quality, oil reserves. They have also made a hash of the government’s institutions, which include a parliament now controlled by the opposition. The power struggle there and its consequences may well boil over to Colombia as Venezuelans flee economic implosion, straining Bogotá’s capacities just as it embarks on the challenge of implementing a complicated and for some people not very palatable peace deal.

A slowdown in Colombia’s economic growth will likely worsen in the aftermath of Brexit as the world slips into recession. The government will have trouble anteing up all the resources needed to implement the peace deal, which includes commitments to rural development among other things. The US has spent about $8 billion on Plan Colombia, one of Washington’s more comprehensive efforts to strengthen a fragile state and help it block both drug cartels and leftist guerrillas from damaging US national security. While criticized on human rights grounds and for its efforts at drug eradication, the Plan appears to have contributed a good deal to Colombia’s current success.

Sustainment will not be automatic. A special tribunal and disarmament, as The Economist reports, will be particularly important to the Colombian public. Jobs and political inclusion will be important to the guerrillas. Colombia is the third most populous Latin American country, with 50 million people (only Brazil and Mexico are larger). It needs to make at least as much success of its post-war transition as it has already made of its internal wars. Success in negotiating the end of a rebellion is rare, but success in managing the post-war process is even rarer.


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Peace Picks May 2-6

  1. 2016 Global Strategy Forum | Monday, May 2nd | 8:30-5:30 | Please join the Atlantic Council’s Strategy Initiative, in the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, for its flagship annual conference, the Global Strategy Forum. This year’s theme is “America’s Role in the World,” and will feature three panels—Strategic Foresight, Strategic Challenges and Opportunities, and Strategic Solutions—a debate on America’s role in the world, and a keynote address by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work on the Third Offset and how artists can help with it. On May 3, we will also hold Global Strategist Roundtables, by invitation only. If you are interested, please contact AWard@atlanticcouncil.org.The full agenda may be found here.
  1. Political Crisis and Democracy in Brazil | Monday, May 2nd | 12:30-2:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Georgetown University, in partnership with the Brazilian Club, Latin American Policy Association, Center for Latin American Studies and the Latin American Initiative invite you to attend a panel discussion on Brazil’s political crisis with Professor Monica Arruda de Almeida, Center for Latin American Studies, Professor Bryan McCann, Department of History, and Mr. Paulo Sotero, Director, Brazil Institute, Wilson Center. Professor Elcior Santana, Center for Latin American Studies, will moderate.
  1. Advancing Women in MENA: Should We Keep Trying? | Wednesday, May 4th | 2:00-4:00 | U.S. Institute of Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Since its adoption in 2000, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has inspired more than 50 member states to adopt National Action Plans to implement its provisions. Iraq in 2014 became the first country in the Middle East to adopt such a plan. Palestine approved its NAP in 2015. But insufficient public awareness and political buy-in and a shortage of targeted resources have stalled efforts elsewhere in the region and continue to hamper implementation even where advocates have succeeded in promoting the adoption of a plan. USIP is preparing to publish a Special Report on these issues, led by the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Center Director Paula Rayman will be among speakers at that May 4 discussion addressing the connecting between implementation of UNSCR 1325 and long-term national security, with a special focus on Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. The experts also will explore the importance of including men in the development of national action plans and creating safe spaces for productive conversations to prepare for peace. Dr. Linda Bishai, Director of North Africa Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace, will offer opening remarks. Martin Meehan, President, University of Massachusetts, and Dr. Paula Rayman, Director, Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, will make other remarks. Panelists include Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Civil Society Network, and Ambassador Steve Steiner, Gender Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace. Kathleen Kuehnast, Senior Gender Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace, will moderate.
  1. Power and Change in Iran: Dynamics of Contention and Conciliation | Thursday, May 5th | 9:30-10:30 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Drawing from their contributions to the recently published book, Power and Change in Iran: Dynamics of Contention and Conciliation, (co-edited by Daniel Brumberg and Farideh Farhi), Daniel Brumberg and Shadi Mokhtari will shed light on political and social struggles that are shaping Iran’s domestic politics and its evolving engagement in the Middle East and wider global arena. Their presentations will highlight insights from the scholars who contributed to this volume, including Farideh Farhi, Kevan Harris, Payam Mohseni, Shervin Malekzadeh, Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Koroush Rahimkhani, Yasmin Alem, Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, Mehrangiz Kar, and Azadeh Pourzand.
  1. Third Annual Security Forum: American and Japanese Interests and the Future of the Alliance | Friday, May 6th | 9:00-5:00 | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Sasakawa USA is pleased to welcome distinguished guests including Japanese Minister Shigeru Ishiba, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Scott Swift, Michael Chertoff, Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador Ryozo Kato, Ambassador Richard Armitage, former Japanese Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto, Michèle Flournoy, and many others, for this high-level discussion. Panel topics include Japan’s global security role, a new era in U.S.-Japan maritime cooperation, a view from Congress of U.S.-Japan relations, recommendations for the alliance through 2030, cyber security challenges, and the effect that the U.S. elections may have on the alliance. Panel topics may be found here.
  1. National Security Challenges in Asia for the Next U.S. President | Friday, May 6th | 11:00-12:30 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | America’s next president will inherit a multitude of national security challenges in Asia. These include instability and terrorism, nuclear proliferation, territorial disputes, and threats to critical sea lanes, among others. R. Nicholas Burns, one of America’s most accomplished diplomats, will discuss what he views as the major concerns in Asia for the United States, and offer guidance as to how the next U.S. president can best tackle them. He will give special attention to how, and to what extent, Washington can cooperate with its friends in Asia, such as India, to help manage and address these challenges confronting the broader region.
  1. Peace After Paris: Addressing Climate, Conflict, and Development | Friday, May 6th | 10:00-11:30 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | 2015 was a milestone year for international commitments on climate change, sustainable development, and peacebuilding. Where are the opportunities at the intersection of these processes to address climate security risks and build peace? What needs to happen in the next five years for these frameworks to achieve their long-term goals? Nick Mabey, founder and Chief Executive of E3G, will provide his analysis of these processes with commentary by Ken Conca, author of An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance, and Sherri Goodman, former deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security and current Wilson Center public policy fellow.
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Peace Picks April 4-8

  1. Is Europe Post-Secular? Religion and Politics in the European Union | Monday, April 4th | 12:00-1:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels have put religion back on the European agenda. François Foret will discuss his book, Religion and Politics in the European Union: The Secular Canopy, which analyzes the place and influence of religion in European politics. He presents the first ever data collected on the religious beliefs of European decision makers and how they act on these beliefs. Discussing popular assumptions such as the resurgence of religion, aggressive European secularism, and religious lobbying, Foret offers objective data and frameworks to analyze major issues in the contemporary political debate.
  1. The European Refugee Surge: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities | Tuesday, April 5th | 9:00-10:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The humanitarian catastrophe that is now unfolding at the gates of Europe raises profound challenges as well as opportunities to European nations. In the long term, growth will depend on how effectively they integrate in the labor market. The panel will ask the question: Which policies can ensure that this challenge is transformed into a success story? The report presentation will be followed by a panel discussion between American and European experts who will shed light on best practices in migration policy and lessons learned on both sides of the Atlantic. The event is part of the Atlantic Council’s transatlantic EuroGrowth Initiative, focused on getting Europe back on the path to sustainable economic growth by convening top policymakers, business leaders, and academics who work to identify and apply best practices and policies on both sides of the Atlantic. Antonio Spilimbergo, Head of Mission to Turkey for the International Monetary Fund, will present a report. Other panelists include Moreno Bertoldi, Principal Advisor to EU Delegation to the US, and Laura Lane, UPS President of Global Affairs. Katerina Sokou, Kathimerini Greek Daily’s Washington DC Correspondent, will moderate.
  1. Global Military Spending and the Arms Trade: Trends and Implications | Tuesday, April 5th | 10:00-11:30 | The Forum on the Arms Trade Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Global military expenditure and the international arms trade are driven by changing economic circumstances, shifting priorities, emerging security threats, and regional and international instability. Examining the recent trends in the global arms market and in the budgets of government militaries allows us to identify potential hot-spots and future areas of concern. Each year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) releases data on current trends in military spending and international arms transfers. SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Database contains information on defense spending by almost all countries, and monitors broader trends that emerge over time. Likewise, SIPRI’s arms transfers database identifies top exporters and importers of conventional weapons. Drawn from open source documents, SIPRI’s databases provides analysis on the economic, political and security drivers that influence military spending around the world and offers insights into their implications for global peace, security and development. Please join us on April 5, 2016 to discuss the findings of SIPRI’s most recent data and the potential implications on U.S. national security and foreign policy. This event will present major findings and key trends in global military expenditures and international arms sales.This event is co-hosted by SIPRI, the Forum on the Arms Trade and the Stimson Center. Speakers includeAude Fleurant, Director, Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, SIPRI, Gordon Adams, Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center, and Aaron Mehta, Senior Pentagon Correspondent, Defense News. Rachel Stohl, Senior Associate, Stimson Center, will moderate.
  1. Latin America in International Politics: Challenging US Hegemony | Tuesday, April 5th | 4:00-6:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In recent years, the countries of Latin America have moved out from under the shadow of the United States to exercise their agency as active players in the international system. What changed? Why? And why did it take so long for that change to happen? A new book by former Latin American Program Director Joseph S. Tulchin, Latin America in International Politics: Challenging US Hegemony, explores the evolving role of Latin American states in world affairs from the early days of independence to the present.   Please join us for a book discussion featuring Dr. Tulchin along with commentary from two distinguished diplomats. This includes Juan Gabriel Valdés, Chile Ambassador to the US, and Luigi Einaudi, Former Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. Cynthia J. Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center, will moderate. A reception will follow.
  1. Saudi Arabia’s Regional Role and the Future of U.S.-Saudi Relations | Wednesday, April 6th | 2:30-4:00 | Project on Middle East Democracy | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Saudi Arabia has long been one of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East, among the largest recipients of U.S. arms sales globally, and perceived as a crucial partner in the war on terrorism. Nonetheless, there have always been serious questions regarding the costs of the U.S.-Saudi military relationship, which have become more pronounced over the past year. The Saudi military intervention in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians, and recent executions in the Kingdom, including of nonviolent dissidents, have renewed longstanding concerns about the state of human rights in the Kingdom. In addition, concerns remain about Saudi support for extremist networks in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, as well as the impact of Saudi militarism on divisions throughout the region. How has Saudi Arabia’s role in the region changed in recent years, and what has driven these changes? What relationships have various factions in Saudi Arabia had with extremist movements throughout the Middle East and North Africa? What impact does U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia have on the Kingdom’s role in the region, as well as on human rights concerns within the country? How have recent events, such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Saudi’s role in the Syrian conflict, and mass executions within Saudi Arabia, affected the U.S.-Saudi relationship? And what might we expect for the future of bilateral relations. This will be a conversation with Andrea Prasow, Deputy Washington Director, Human Rights Watch, Amb. Stephen Seche, Executive Vice President, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, and Stephen McInerney, Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). It will be moderated by Amy Hawthorne, Deputy Director for Research, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).
  1. Is There Any Hope for Peace Talks in Afghanistan? If Not, Then What? | Wednesday, April 6th | 2:30-4:30 | REGISTER TO ATTEND | In recent months, the Taliban has intensified its insurgency in Afghanistan. It now holds more territory than at any time since 2001. Civilian casualties reached record levels in 2015, and scores of Afghans are fleeing the country. In an effort to finally bring an end to Afghanistan’s 14-year war, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and the United States have formed a Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QDC) to prepare the ground for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Despite periods of progress, this effort has so far fallen short. What will it take to launch and conclude a successful peace process? And if it fails, what’s next for Afghanistan? This event will consider these questions and others, with particular focus on the thinking of the four QDC countries. Speakers include Vanda Felbab-Brown, Senior Fellow at Brookings, Raoof Hasan, Executive Director of the Regional Peace Institute in Pakistan, Barnett Rubin, Senior Fellow and Associate Director of the Center on International Cooperation for New York University, and Andrew Small, Trans-Atlantic Fellow of the Asia Program at German Marshall Fund.
  1. Distract, Deceive, Destroy: Putin at War in Syria | Tuesday, April 5th | 2:30-4:30 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Please join the Atlantic Council for the release of Distract Deceive Destroy—Putin at War in Syria. While President Putin announced the end of Russia’s military operations with much fanfare, the modest forces withdrawn thereafter suggest that by no means is Russia’s military role in Syria over. Using digital forensic research and open source investigation methods, a new Atlantic Council report presents the reality of Russia’s Syrian campaign: Russia launched air strikes on hospitals, water treatment plants, and mosques. Russia used cluster bombs. Russia almost exclusively targeted non-ISIS targets—Truths that Russia will not admit, but truths that must be understood when negotiating with Russia as a potential partner. Panelists may be found here.
  1. A Conversation with NATO Secretary General H.E. Jens Stoltenberg | Wednesday, April 6th | 4:00-5:00 | Atlantic Council | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The Alliance is facing a broad range of challenges of unprecedented complexity and increasing urgency. Confronted with a newly aggressive Russia to its east and an arc of instability across the Middle East and North Africa, NATO must take bold and innovative steps to respond to a fast-changing security landscape. Secretary General Stoltenberg will join the Atlantic Council to discuss NATO’s strategy to deal with the serious challenges along the Alliance’s flanks, and outline the Alliance’s priorities for its summit in Warsaw this summer. Jens Stoltenberg has been Secretary General of NATO since October 2014 after a distinguished career in Norwegian politics. As Prime Minister of Norway from 2000-2001 and then 2005-2013, Mr. Stoltenberg played an instrumental role in strengthening Norwegian armed forces and fostering stronger transatlantic unity on challenges close to Alliance territory. During his tenure in the Norwegian government, he also served as Minister of Finance, Minister of Industry and Energy, and State Secretary at the Ministry of the Environment. Throughout his career, Stoltenberg has held a number of international assignments, including Chair of the UN High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence, Chair of the High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change. Mr. Stoltenberg holds a postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of Oslo.
  1. Looting and Trafficking of Antiquities in the Middle East | Thursday, April 7th | 9:30-11:00 | Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | While the world watched in horror as ISIS destroyed the ancient city of Palmyra, the terrorist organization was simultaneously conducting a second—and nearly invisible—form of cultural destruction: looting antiquities from archaeological sites. These artifacts, along with material culture from similarly plundered sites throughout the rest of the Middle East, have been funneled through a complicated network and sold to collectors throughout the world, most of whom are unaware of their origins. Join us as four experts discuss the global illicit antiquities market and its impact on how the modern world views the true value of these ancient artifacts. Speakers include Tess Davis, Executive Director, Antiquities Coalition, Iris Gerlach, Head of the Sanaa Branch of the Oriental Department, German Archaeological Institute, Monica Hanna, Egyptian archaeologist (via Skype), and Alexander Nagel, Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.The moderator will be Henri J. Barkey, Director, Middle East Program, Wilson Center.
  2. Securing development in insecure places | Thursday, April 7th | 10:00-11:30 | Brookings | REGISTER TO ATTEND | The defining development challenge for the next 15 years will be whether rapid progress can be made in conflict-affected places. The historical record is mixed. Some countries, for example Cambodia, have put conflict behind, achieved rapid economic growth, and brought down poverty levels significantly, while others, such as Afghanistan, continue to have stubbornly high rates of poverty with little discernable progress over the last decade. On April 7, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings will host a discussion on the links between security and development. Japan International Cooperation Agency President Shinichi Kitaoka will lead off with a keynote address on the interaction between security and development and what Japan has learned from its development cooperation in Mindanao, Syria, and South Sudan. He will then join a panel discussion moderated by Brookings Senior Fellow Homi Kharas.  Panelists include Sharon Morris, State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Bruce Jones, Project on International Order and Strategy Senior Fellow, and Joel Hellman, Dean at Georgetown University. Afterwards, questions will be taken from the audience.
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