World Affairs

What can the rise of Japan and Germany in the last century - or the rise of Athens 2,000 years earlier - tell us about the risks facing the US and China today? Is a US-China war inevitable?

Graham Allison, among the most astute geostrategic observers of his generation, terms this “Thucydides’s Trap.” He takes us back to the Peloponnesian war to remind us of the timeless insights of the historian Thucydides: When a rising power rivals a ruling power, danger is near. In fact, in 12 of the 16 occasions this global power pattern has repeated, the outcome was war. With this view to history, the existential challenge of our era is not violent Islamic extremists or a resurgent Russia; it is the impact of China’s ascendance on the international order. According to Allison, "Never before in history has a nation risen so far, so fast."

Even Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged that the world “work together to avoid the Thucydides trap… Our aim is to foster a new model of major country relations.” But is being aware of danger enough to avoid it? While the West seeks to encircle and constrain, China demonstrates, with aggressive naval exercises in disputed seas, that it will demand the respect due a major power in its own region and the world. Can the world escape the perilous prophecy of Athens and Sparta?

Graham Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, founding dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School and advisor to every secretary of defense from Reagan to Obama, shares insights from his career, and outlines the painful steps both China and the US must take to avoid disaster.

SPEAKER:

Graham Allison
Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

MODERATOR:

Michael M. Nacht
Thomas and Alison Schneider Professor of Public Policy; Interim Director, Center for Studies in Higher Education, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1732

Direct download: 06_06_17_Graham_Allison.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:56am PDT

In 2011, Cairo's Tahrir Square commanded the attention of the world as the Egyptian people demanded their freedom. At the time, President Barack Obama famously declared: “Egyptians have inspired us, they have changed the world.” But, half a decade later, is this the whole story?

The Arab World's most populous nation remains as volatile as ever and thoroughly enmeshed with a broader moment of political turbulence that is unfolding across the globe. In his new book, "The Egyptians: A Radical Story," former Egypt Correspondent for the Guardian, Jack Shenker, examines the roots of Egypt’s revolution, arguing for a much more nuanced, and far-reaching view of the forces that are reshaping the region. Egypt’s revolutionary turmoil has never just been about Mubarak, or his successors, or elections, says Shenker. It is not merely a civil war between Islamists and secularists, nor a fight between backwardness and modernity. Underlying it all, the unrest is about economically marginalized citizens muscling their way onto the political stage to demand sovereignty over domains previously closed to them: factories and urban streets, the houses they live in, the food they eat and the water they drink. The real story is more complicated and, ultimately, more hopeful.

Speaker Jack Shenker is an author and journalist, and Former Egypt Correspondent for the Guardian.

The conversation is moderated by David D. Arnold is President of The Asia Foundation.

For more information please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1683

Direct download: 02_02_17_Jack_Shenker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:12pm PDT

Our lives in 2050 will be vastly different than today. Rapidly advancing technology is changing everything from food production to health care, energy output, manufacturing and the military balance. Innovations already in development include brain-computer interfaces, vat-grown cruelty-free meat, knitted cars and guided bullets among many others. Technology which once seemed like science fiction is now reality - and even old news - where can we possibly go from here?

The Executive Editor of The Economist, Daniel Franklin, explores how technology will shape the future in his recent book, Megatech: Technology in 2050. His insights are based on extensive interviews with distinguished scientists, industry leaders, academics and acclaimed science-fiction authors who are at the forefront of the most exceptional inventions and sinister trends.

Where will technology be in 2050, and how will it affect the way we live? What does this mean for the job market and how we perform our work? In what ways can we prepare for the opportunities — as well as the dangers — that await?

Speaker Daniel Franklin is Executive Editor at The Economist. He is in conversation with Quentin Hardy, Head of Editorial at Google Cloud.

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1699

Direct download: 03_29_17_Daniel_Franklin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm PDT

In April – shortly after triggering article 50 of the Lisbon treaty which started the process of withdrawing from the European Union – British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap general election to be held in June. There is no turning back on Brexit, but a strong win by the Conservative Party would give May a stronger mandate in executing it as she sees fit. May hopes to increase her majority in Parliament as she strives to negotiate a good deal for Britain, and local election results and polls indicate that this is a likely outcome.

The UK vote comes in the wake of the French elections, where pro-EU Emmanuel Macron won with 65% of the vote. One of his first public statements was to warn the UK to expect “tough” Brexit negotiations. Regardless of how the deal is cut, it will redefine the political and economic relationships between the EU and Britain, as well as the US, that form the bedrock of the Western alliance.

What is the future of the European Union, and how will the upcoming UK elections influence it? How will this impact the transatlantic US-UK relationship? Colin Brown, chairman of the British-American Business Council and Christophe Crombez, senior research scholar at Stanford’s The Europe Center and professor at KU Leuven in Belgium, will discuss prospects for Brexit, the European Union and international trade negotiations.

As part of our "Engage" series, this event features a post-discussion Q&A, when you will have the chance to participate directly with the speaker and gain incredible insights that you won't get anywhere else.

SPEAKERS

Colin Brown
Chairman, British-American Business Council

Christophe Crombez
Senior Research Scholar at Stanford’s The Europe Center and Professor at KU Leuven in Belgium

MODERATOR:

Kausik Rajgopal
Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company

For more information please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1734

Direct download: 06_12_17_UK_Elections.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:02pm PDT

According to recent studies by Pew Research, consumers are now just as likely to get their news from social media as from traditional news websites. And while some Americans are confident in their abilities to detect "fake news," two-thirds feel some confusion about navigating the facts in current issues and events.

What obligations do government and media have to filter fake news, and what steps have already been taken to prevent these stories from gaining undue attention? What is the future of journalism in this post-facts era? How can we know what is credible and what is not?

Joaquin Alvarado, CEO of the Center for Investigative Reporting, will share his thoughts about reporting in a time when our country is being confronted by an unprecedented assault on basic facts.

SPEAKERS

Joaquin Alvarado
CEO, Center for Investigative Reporting

Janine Zacharia
Former Jerusalem Bureau Chief and Middle East Correspondent, The Washington Post

MODERATOR:

Edward Wasserman
Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1724

Direct download: 05_24_17_Fake_News.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 4:03pm PDT

Is American influence in Asia and around the world set to decline? In the years following the global financial crisis, the US has increasing ceded its leadership in the world, while China has rushed in to fill the gap left behind. Based on the inward-looking economic nationalism of the Trump administration, some say this trend is poised to accelerate.

Gideon Rachman, chief foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times, terms this phenomenon “Easternization” - the tectonic shift of the world’s center of gravity from West to East, and from the US to China. Though obscured by the headlines of the day, in the not-so-distant future we may come to view this, as Rachman does, as the momentous transformation of the young century.

How is the growing wealth of Asian nations transforming the international balance of power? Will Trump’s temperament lead to war or peace with Asian nations? After striving for years to be a part of Europe, is Russia now returning to its Asian roots? How would a shift to the East shape all of our lives? This event is co-organized with the Mechanics Institute.

SPEAKER:

Gideon Rachman
Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, Financial Times

MODERATOR:

Carla Thorson
Senior Vice President, Programs, World Affairs

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1714

Direct download: 05_23_17_Gideon_Rachman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07pm PDT

In November, the international community watched as Americans elected Donald Trump the next President, leaving many with unanswered questions about what lies ahead for international development. The United States government is currently the biggest foreign aid donor in the world. Washington’s actions also influence how much other governments contribute to global efforts to eliminate poverty, reduce hunger, empower women and local actors, and increase access to education and healthcare.

Trump said little about his stance on international aid throughout his campaign. Republicans have supported foreign aid in the past because it contributes to national security at home, which is also one of Trump’s biggest priorities. However, if his nationalist ideologies and “Make America First” rhetoric are any indicators of future actions, foreign aid — despite representing less than 1% of the national budget — may be on the chopping block.

What progress has been made, and what hope is there for the world’s most vulnerable people? Dana Hyde, the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Richard Leach, the President and CEO of World Food Program USA, will share insights about major achievements in recent years and shifting priorities for the future.

Dana Hyde, Chief Executive Director of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Richard Leach, President and CEO of the World Food Program USA, are in conversation.

The discussion is moderated by Jane Wales, CEO, World Affairs and Global Philanthropy Forum; Vice President, The Aspen Institute.

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1674

Direct download: 01_11_17_US_Development.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:36am PDT

The US Presidential elections were a wake-up call to many that millions of Americans are angry and want drastic change. While our new global economy has benefited many, they feel that they have been left behind – losing their livelihoods and income to companies abroad. As a nation, we need to do something about these issues, although Trump’s promises and actions to pull out of international trade deals may not be the only or best solution.

The problem, according to Council on Foreign Relations’ Edward Alden, is not globalization itself, but the failure of domestic policies to address its associated challenges. US policymakers have long recognized the challenges that Americans would face in the new global economy, but mainly looked the other way.

In his book, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy, Alden explains why support for free trade is disappearing, and how to improve the situation for citizens whose lives have been negatively impacted by it. What can we do to minimize these impacts, and how can we build a workforce that is adaptable and resilient to rapidly changing global markets? What potential federal policies would develop more internationally competitive industries and improve the overall American economy?

Speaker Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The conversation is moderated by Jane Wales, CEO, World Affairs and Global Philanthropy Forum; Vice President, The Aspen Institute.

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1713

Direct download: 05_10_17_Edward_Alden.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:51pm PDT

Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," in reference to his stance on foreign policy. Today, many Americans - wary of waging another war and maintaining a military presence abroad - question this approach.

But given the threats posed in today’s increasingly dangerous and nuclearized world, can the US afford to shy away from hard power? Can diplomacy be divorced from military power? Would deploying forces and strengthening our naval or military presence to thwart Russian hostilities, irrational regimes and China’s transgressions in the South China Sea serve to weaken America’s interests and security?

Dr. Eliot Cohen, a former senior advisor to George W. Bush, professor at Johns Hopkins University and renowned political commentator, will make the case that hard power remains essential for American foreign policy. Sharing insights from his recent book, "The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force," Dr. Cohen will provide a nuanced argument for the use of force in the service of American security and ideals.

Speaker Eliot Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University.

The moderator for this discussion is Stephen Krasner, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; and Senior Associate Dean for the Social Sciences at the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University.

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1702

Direct download: 05_09_17_Eliot_Cohen.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:03pm PDT

North Korea has threatened the United States with a “merciless” nuclear attack. While not a new threat, they may soon be capable of actually making good on that promise. North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, has recently been pushing to develop a missile capable of hitting the US, as witnessed by a series of tests. The likely target? California.

Meanwhile, escalating military tensions in the region have further isolated the nation both politically and economically, setting the stage for long-standing internal human rights abuses to worsen. Situations involving political prison camps, unresolved disappearances and the abduction of Japanese and South Koreans are all cause for concern. Add to that savory list, power struggles within the family itself. According to Malaysian authorities, Kim Jong-un's half-brother was recently murdered with chemical weapons in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, further escalating tensions.

How serious is the risk of a North Korean nuclear attack? How will Trump’s reaction and willingness to work with our allies in the region influence the situation? And what obligation, if any, does the international community have to intervene on any and all fronts? Experts Philip Yun, Director of the Ploughshares Fund, and Daniel Sneider, Associate Director for Research at Stanford’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, will share their insights.

SPEAKERS

Daniel Sneider
Associate Director for Research, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

Philip W. Yun
Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, Ploughshares Fund

MODERATOR:

Neil Joeck
Research Scholar, Institute for International Studies, University of California, Berkeley

For more information about this event please visit: http://www.worldaffairs.org/event-calendar/event/1708

Direct download: 04_12_17_North_Korea.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:48pm PDT