World Affairs

With the Obama Administration in the White House, what are the new goals and objectives of US multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations? While President Obama has reaffirmed America’s commitment to the UN, how is the United States working multilaterally on “hot issues” such as food security, development, climate change, and humanitarian issues? Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer joins the Council to discuss the Obama administration’s approach to revitalizing multilateral diplomacy, and how it can achieve our foreign policy goals, as well as our priorities in international organizations. Dr. Esther Brimmer was nominated by President Obama to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations on March 2009. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she leads the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which strives to advance U.S. interests through international organizations in areas including human rights, peacekeeping, food security, humanitarian relief, and climate change.

Direct download: 10-29-09_Esther_Brimmer.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari’s arrest and subsequent incarceration in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in 2007 became an international incident that sparked protests from some of the world’s most influential public figures—including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Madeleine Albright. What started as a regular visit to her elderly mother, ended with Dr. Esfandiari as the victim of the far-fetched belief on the part of Iran Intelligence Ministry that she was part of an American conspiracy for “regime change” in Iran. Through her ordeal, she came face-to-face with the state of affairs between Iran and the United States—and witnessed first-hand how fear and paranoia could create a government that would take her captive. Dr. Esfandiari joins the Council to share her personal story and extensive knowledge of Iran to paint a picture of this country today and how it came to be.

Direct download: 10-28-09_Haleh_Esfandiari.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

His Excellency Maen Areikat, Chief Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States, joins the Council to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East peace process and to take a look forward at the opportunities and challenges for a Palestinian state. President Obama has demonstrated a renewed commitment and urgency to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and much has been happening. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being pressured to stop settlement construction in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to negotiate until this commitment is realized. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad recently released an outline to create a Palestinian state by 2011 through internal institution building. Meanwhile, tensions between Hamas and Fatah still remain. Reconciliation talks have floundered and new elections are scheduled for 2010. Mr. Areikat previously took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun/Erez in Gaza and Taba, Egypt, in 1996, in Jerusalem in 1997, and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation at the Wye River negotiations in 1998. He recently returned from Bethlehem where Fatah held its first party conference in 20 years and elected a mostly new leadership committee.

Direct download: 10-27-09_Maen_Areikat.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is an expert of game theory—the idea that people compete and that they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory and its insights into human behavior to predict events and his forecasts have a 90 percent accuracy rate. He boldly predicts that President Obama is unlikely to quash the terrorist influence in Pakistan, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, and that global warming will prove immune to government prescriptions. In his new book, The Predictioneer’s Game, Bueno de Mesquita uses his mathematical model to predict outcomes in business, national security, and people’s day-to-day lives based on the self-interest of decision makers. He joins the Council to detail his system of calculation that allows him to predict the outcomes of North Korean disarmament talks, the Middle East peace process, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Iran-Iraq relations following American troop withdrawals, and many other vexing national security challenges. Since the early 1980s, CIA officials have hired Bueno de Mesquita to perform more than a thousand predictions and a study by the CIA, now declassified, found that his predictions “hit the bull’s-eye” twice as often as its own analysts did.

Direct download: 10-26-09_Bruce_Bueno_de_Mesquita.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:19am PDT

In the wake of the global financial crisis, the unique relationship between China and the US has become the fulcrum of the world economy. As our largest creditor, China’s lending to the US has buoyed American companies and even allowed them to reinvent themselves, selling to Chinese consumers. Author and economic trend analyst Zachary Karabell argues that our two economies have become so interconnected that they’ve become one system: Chimerica. Karabell traces the initial forging of Chimerica that began after the suppression of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 to the present. With a look at current affairs and the changing global economy, he urges that we accept China as the predominant economic partner of the future, or find ourselves left behind.

Direct download: 10-21-09_Zachar_Karabell.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:05am PDT

Despite widespread media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global terrorism and events in the Middle East, little is truly known about what a majority of the world Muslims really think and feel. What do Muslims have to say about violence and terrorist attacks? What do they have to say about democracy, women, and relations with the West? What are their values, goals, and religious beliefs? To help put to rest misunderstandings and present the often-silenced voice of the Muslim world, Dalia Mogahed joins the Council to discuss Gallup largest study of Muslim populations. Based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study which challenges conventional wisdom and sheds greater light on what motivates Muslims worldwide. Mogahed has recently been appointed to President Obama Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Direct download: 10-21-09_Dalia_Mogahed.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:01am PDT

What is petroleum’s role in our economy, and what will be the benefits of further developing domestic resources? How have assessments of our country’s domestic petroleum resources been affected by public opinion and the debate in Congress? What role will alternative and renewable sources play in the future, and what will be the environmental impact of technological advancements in energy production? Rayola Dougher, American Petroleum Institute’s senior economic advisor joins the Council to discuss industry perspectives and the benefits that responsible policy in the energy sector can provide Northern California and the world

Direct download: 10-15-09_Rayola_Dougher.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:08am PDT

The International Museum of Women in partnership with the World Affairs Council presents a conversation with Nicholas Kristof on his latest work, Half the Sky. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Kristof has written widely on global health, poverty and gender issues in the developing world, with particular attention in recent years to issues in Darfur, Sudan. This discussion will focus on the imperative for global action on the empowerment of women, exploring the connections between economic progress and unleashing women potential. Half the Sky is described as a call to arms against our era most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world.”

Direct download: 10-14-09_Nicholas_Kristof.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:07am PDT

From Iraq and Saudi Arabia to Equatorial Guinea and Ecuador, what has been the impact of oil on the countries that produce it? To what extent has petroleum production helped or hurt nations develop not just economically, but also politically and socially? And, how have campaigns like that of Hugo Chávez’s to redistribute oil wealth in Venezuela created new economic and political crises? With a focus on the rebels, royalty, environmentalists, indigenous activists, dictators and CEOs associated with the petroleum industry, Peter Maass examines the world that oil has created. A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Maass has reported from the Balkans, Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and Slate.

Direct download: 10-08-09_Peter_Maass.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:06am PDT

From the Berlin Airlift to the Iraq War, the UN Security Council has stood at the heart of post-war global politics. Sometimes seen as part public theater, part smoke-filled backroom, the Security Council has enjoyed notable successes and suffered ignominious failures, but it has always provided a space for the five permanent powers to sit down together. Despite its many failures and shortcomings, the Security Council has still served an invaluable purpose above all: to prevent conflict between the Great Powers. A former senior editor at Foreign Policy, Professor David Bosco joins the Council to examine the role of the Security Council, diverging interests of its five permanent members, and to discuss why this is the one place where we should be working to resolve the world major problems of peace and security.

Direct download: 10-07-09_David_Bosco.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:22pm PDT