World Affairs

While the use of private contractors predates the Bush Administration, the privatization of American foreign policy has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years, becoming one of the most important trends in government and global politics. From the international activities involving homeland security to USAID and the State Department, what is the true extent of outsourcing of US government’s activities, and what has been its impact on American foreign policy? Are public-private partnerships here to stay? And if done right, can these partnerships significantly extend the reach and effectiveness of U.S. efforts abroad? International relations scholar Allison Stanger tells the story of how contractors became an integral part of American foreign policy, and why a new approach using private actors may be essential.

Direct download: 12-08-09_Luis_Moreno-Ocampo.mp3
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While the use of private contractors predates the Bush Administration, the privatization of American foreign policy has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years, becoming one of the most important trends in government and global politics. From the international activities involving homeland security to USAID and the State Department, what is the true extent of outsourcing of US government’s activities, and what has been its impact on American foreign policy? Are public-private partnerships here to stay? And if done right, can these partnerships significantly extend the reach and effectiveness of U.S. efforts abroad? International relations scholar Allison Stanger tells the story of how contractors became an integral part of American foreign policy, and why a new approach using private actors may be essential.

Direct download: 12-07-09_Allison_Stanger.mp3
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From December 7-18, delegations from 192 countries will gather in Copenhagen for the highly anticipated negotiations that aim to establish a new global treaty on climate change. The meeting has the potential to create a unifying starting point in the fight to reduce emissions worldwide. But many taking part already anticipate failure: lack of political will and disagreements between developed and developing nations over emissions reduction and financing could halt progress toward a new, legally binding treaty. Experts Kammen and Levine join the Council to share their insights on the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations. What is likely to be achieved? What commitments can be expected from such superpowers as the US and China? new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.

Direct download: 12-02-09_Kammen_Levine.mp3
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Drawing on the results of the new World Energy Outlook 2009, Ambassador Jones joins the Council to provide a comprehensive update of energy demand and supply projections and their implications for energy security and the environment. This latest analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) takes into account the dramatic economic downturn that has now hit all parts of the world as well as revised expectations about energy prices, which have ridden a veritable roller-coaster over the past year. Ambassador Jones outlines the results of an in-depth assessment of the prospects for global gas markets, including the emergence of shale gas as a potentially low-cost source of supply in North America. He also presents a post-2012 scenario, which the IEA prepared as input to the UN climate negotiations, which details a pathway for the energy sector to achieve a transition to a low-carbon world. Ambassador Jones is joined by energy expert David Victor, Professor at UC San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and Director of the School’s new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.

Direct download: 11-23-09_Richard_Jones.mp3
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As the US weighs a change of approach toward the Iranian government after thirty years of confrontation, Middle East expert John Limbert joins the Council to share his assessment of how to engage Iran. Drawing on four case studies highlighting past successes and failures, Limbert challenges both Americans and Iranians to end decades of mutually hostile mythmaking and create a platform for cultural and historical understanding. He argues that Iran will not change its behavior immediately and stop all of its misdeeds in the areas of Middle East peace, human rights and nuclear development. Yet by entering into serious negotiations, the US may discover areas of common interest that lurk behind walls of hostility and distrust. Limbert has served in numerous foreign service positions and holds the State Department highest award—the Distinguished Service Award—and the Award for Valor, which he received after fourteen months as a hostage during the Iran hostage crisis.

Direct download: 11-16-09_John_Limbert.mp3
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For the past two decades, author and award-winning journalist Mark Danner has reported from Latin America, Haiti, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Moving from mass murder on election day in Port-au-Prince, to massacre by mortar bomb on the streets of Sarajevo to suicide bombing in the suburban neighborhoods of Baghdad, his reporting has not only explored the real consequences of American engagement with the world, but also the relationship between political violence, war, and power. One of America’s leading foreign correspondents, Danner joins the Council to discuss the work behind his reportage, and to examine the considerations of a wide range of policymakers in Washington, Langley, and various world capitals, and the effects their decisions, and their mistakes, have made on people at home and abroad.

Direct download: 11-12-09_Mark_Danner.mp3
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Improving healthcare in Africa is a daunting task. Recent statistics issued by the World Health Organization show that Africa holds 11 percent of the world’s population but bears 90 percent of the burden for neglected tropical diseases, which include malaria and yellow fever. In addition, most of the world’s 33 million infected with HIV reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Many are aware of the problems facing Africa, but how deep is the understanding of possible solutions? Join leaders from four prestigious non-profit organizations that are working on the ground to improve healthcare in Africa for a discussion on what’s working and what isn’t from the standpoint of medicine, leadership, and sustainability. What has gotten better and what has gotten worse? How is success measured? Are non-profits better suited to provide healthcare in Africa than government or private for-profit organizations? Join the Council as we move beyond healthcare policy toward pragmatic implementation and finding solutions that work.

Direct download: 11-10-09_Africa_Healthcare.mp3
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Over the past decade, renowned environmentalist Lester Brown has called for a worldwide mobilization to stabilize climate change, including a strategy for cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. With a look at recent geopolitics, Brown believes that food may be the issue that finally convinces the world to take the steps necessary to achieve this goal. He argues that we are entering a new food era, one marked by higher food prices, growing numbers of hungry people, and an intensifying competition for land and water resources. The issue of food security has become highly complex with every major environmental trend making humanity more vulnerable to food shortages: from climate change and population pressure to eroding soils and water scarcity. Brown joins the Council to share the newest edition of his strategy to address food insecurity, stabilize climate change and avoid environmental collapse: Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

Direct download: 11-09-09_Lester_Brown.mp3
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People in the West generally share a common narrative of world history that runs from the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia, through Greece and Rome, to the rise of the secular state and the triumph of democracy. However, this story largely omits an entire civilization; one that until recently saw itself at the center of world history and whose citizens have shared an entirely different narrative of world history for a thousand years. Rich in science, poetry, politics, and religion, what can we learn from this parallel historic perspective which begins in Mesopotamia and the Persian highlands, moves through the Prophet Mohammed’s life and the struggles among his immediate successors, a succession of great Muslim empires, and into modern age dominated by Western powers and cultures? Tamim Ansary joins the Council to discuss why two great civilizations grew up almost totally oblivious to each other, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe had somehow rewritten history.

Direct download: 11-05-09_Tamim_Ansary.mp3
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Have you wondered what kind of organization you would get if you mixed the business savvy of a corporation with the passion and heart of a non-profit? Come spend an evening with John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children across the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. At age 35, John Wood left his high-paying job as Microsoft Director of Business Development in China to create Room to Read. What started as a personal goal of delivering 3,000 books by yak to a remote Nepali village in 1999 has become an award-winning NGO providing educational resources to over 3 million children and establishing over 7,000 libraries in impoverished regions of Asia and Africa. Described as an organization that combines the heart of Mother Theresa with the scalability of Starbucks, Wood joins the Council to share how he was able to develop Room to Read into one of the fastest-growing non-profits in history and how his unique business and non-profit approach guide his vision of educating some the world’s poorest children.

Direct download: 11-04-09_John_Wood.mp3
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