WorldAffairs

Russia’s enormous energy resources have generated a large profit as well as a bargaining chip in its relationship with Europe. Europe gets roughly 40 percent of its natural gas and over one-third of its oil from Russia. Journalist, author and longtime Russia-watcher Steve LeVine joins the Council to discuss Russia’s energy policies and how Europe and the West plan to respond to their reliance on Russian energy. How did the Russia-Ukraine natural gas disputes in 2005-2006 and 2009 impact European security and cohesion? How do the fluctuating energy prices affect the Russian economy and stability? Is Russia using its position as energy supplier as a way to send political messages and extract concessions from its allies and opponents?

Direct download: 8-6-2009_steve_levine.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:27am PDT

A leading political figure in Polish, European and transatlantic affairs, Radoslaw Sikorski’s involvement with politics began with the Solidarity social movement of the early 1980s. Following the events of 1981, he sought political refuge in Great Britain, and later went on to work as a journalist covering the wars in Afghanistan and Angola. After the demise of communism, Minister Sikorski returned to Poland in 1992 to help build a new democratic and free state. Still in his twenties, he served as the nation’s Deputy Minister of National Defense and was closely involved with Poland’s accession to NATO. Subsequent to serving in both of Poland’s legislative bodies and numerous senior posts in the government, he assumed the Office of Foreign Minister in 2007. Join us for an evening with Minister Sikorski as he discusses Poland’s new place in Europe and the international community.

Direct download: 8-5-2009_radoslaw_sikorski.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:21am PDT

In November 2007, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared with more than 90 percent certainty that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are responsible for a significant portion of the increase in the Earth’s average temperature since the mid 20th century. As a result, the debate over climate change has largely subsided; however, a new debate has emerged. What is the best climate change policy moving forward? More importantly, what is the most efficient and cost-effective policy? How will the cap and trade bill currently debated in Congress affect climate change policy? Join the Council and a panel of economic and policy experts for a discussion on the economic costs and barriers to implementing a successful climate change policy. What are the foreseeable costs to individuals, businesses and government? The panel will also compare climate change policies across developing and developed economies—specifically, taking a comparative look at China and California.

Direct download: 07-27-09_Plante_Williams_Lin.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:31pm PDT

In recent years a number of Muslim movements have started transitioning from taking up arms to partaking in politics. David Phillips joins the Council for an analysis of non-state Muslim organizations abandoning violence at different stages and pursuing their goals through a political process. Some have successfully made the transition while others are in mid-stream. Some have tried but backtracked, splintered, or simply abandoned the political process and reverted back to violence. Phillips considers six case studies: Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Kurdistan Workers Party, Free Aceh Movement, and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Phillips will discuss the origin, ideology, structure and leadership of each organization and assess each group’s commitment to elections and its acceptance of the responsibility that comes with governance. Looking at past mistakes by the US government, particularly following 9/11, Phillips offers a strategic global template aimed at transforming groups from violence to politics, from bullets to ballots.

Direct download: 07-23-09_David_Phillips.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:52am PDT

Having received a warm welcome from European counterparts during his recent visits to the continent, President Obama appears to be rebuilding America’s ties with its traditional allies. How will this new thrust of diplomatic engagement affect the dynamics of US-European relations? How are perceptions of the US changing within Europe? Could Obama’s trip to Moscow signal a new beginning for ties with Russia? Anne Applebaum joins the Council to discuss the development of America’s relationship with Russia and Europe under the Obama administration. Applebaum is a journalist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and expert on Central and Eastern European affairs.

Direct download: 07-22-09_Anne_Applebaum.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:50am PDT

With no colonial past, China has been bringing investment and needed infrastructure to the continent at a rapid rate. However, are Chinese investors and their projects yielding mutually beneficial results that stand to change Africa’s position on the global stage? Or, will China follow in the footsteps of earlier colonial powers? Award-winning photojournalist, Paolo Woods joins the Council to show his photos which document the story behind China’s business ventures in Africa. Traveling from Beijing to Khartoum, Algiers to Brazzaville, Woods’ work provides a visual account of the involvement of the individual Chinese working in Africa, as well as helps us to understand the impact that they potentially stand to make on geopolitics.

Direct download: 07-21-09_Paolo_Woods.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:47am PDT

When elected to the presidency of Mexico in 2000, Vicente Fox broke the reign that the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party had held on the State for seven decades. Described as a charismatic reformer, President Fox is credited with playing a vital role in Mexico’s democratization and strengthening the country’s economy. During his tenure, he succeeded in controlling inflation and interest rates, and in achieving the lowest unemployment rate in all of Latin America. Join us for an evening with President Fox as he discusses the challenges faced by Mexico and the greater hemisphere.

Direct download: 7-16-2009_Vincente_Fox.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:25pm PDT

The World Affairs Council is pleased to co-sponsor the Marines’ Memorial Association George P. Shultz Lecture Series event with General David Petraeus. Responsible for US military operations across the Middle East, as well as in Afghanistan and Central Asia, General Petraeus serves as the 10th and current Commander of US Central Command. He previously served as the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, where his name became linked with the Bush administration’s “surge” strategy that was widely credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq. While overseeing all coalition forces in Iraq, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential leaders of the year and one of four runners-up for Time Person of the Year, as well as by Esquire magazine as one of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century.

Direct download: 7-9-09_Gen_David_Petraeus.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:52pm PDT

It is a time of great difficulty and change in Pakistan. The country is dealing with an insurgency that is putting significant pressure on the military, police, government, and citizens. Terrorist threats and attacks are on the increase. People are being displaced in significant numbers. The country faces profound economic challenges. As Pakistan military steps up an offensive against the Taliban, what is the true state of affairs within Pakistan? In tribal regions, how does the development of civil society, the judicial system, and local governance differ from the rest of the country? And, how has recent fighting in the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal belt near the Afghan border impacted the region’s inhabitants? Dr. Jon Summers, an Asia Foundation expert based in Islamabad until last month, and in Kabul, prior to that, joins the Council to discuss the current situation in Pakistan.

Direct download: 07-08-09_Jon_Summers.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:44pm PDT

Since his boyhood in Libya, Neil MacFarquhar has developed a counterintuitive sense that the Middle East, despite all the bloodshed in its recent history, is a place of warmth, humanity, and generous eccentricity. In total, he has spent more than 25 years in the region, including five years based in Cairo as the Bureau Chief for lt;igt;The New York Timeslt;/igt;, preceded by seven years as a correspondent for The Associated Press during which he lived in Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus. Seeing the violent news from the region creating a large gap between the outside image and the internal reality, MacFarquhar joins the Council to share the stories of a men and women across the Middle East who are pioneering political and social change from the most unexpected places.

Direct download: 06-29-09_Neil_MacFarquhar.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:35pm PDT