On Shifting Ground

Jonathan Alter, a Newsweek columnist and contributing correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, joins the Council to discuss his new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One. Providing an inside account of President Obama and his administration in action, Alter will assess Obama’s foreign policy performance so far—from sending over 60,000 more troops to Afghanistan, to the Copenhagen climate accord, to nuclear nonproliferation, to US-Israeli relations, to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, to combating terrorism at home and abroad. Among many revelations, Alter discloses that Obama reproached Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for encouraging insubordination, and pursued major healthcare reform in 2009 over the objections of his Vice President, Chief of Staff, and all of his other senior advisors. Alter will also discuss President Obama’s domestic initiatives, including the stimulus package, the bank and auto industry bailouts, regulation of the financial industry, and healthcare reform.

Direct download: 06-16-10_Jonathan_Alter.mp3
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Asia has been successful in expanding its domestic economies, integrating them, and linking them to the global economy. Market-led integration backed by national efforts and regional cooperation has greatly benefited the region and helped it to sustain high growth. But why, despite a dense network of arrangements and institutions, does Asia remain “institution-lite”—marked by few formal or explicit commitments from member countries in terms of agenda for cooperation? Two distinguished economists will present on the Asian Development Bank’s new flagship study “Institutions for Asian Regionalism: Enhancing Cooperation and Integration in Asia and the Pacific.” Eichengreen and Madhur will lay out a framework to strengthen the region’s institutional architecture to achieve the goal of an Asian Economic Community.

Direct download: 06-15-10_Asian_Development.mp3
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Without a central government for almost two decades, Somalia is often referred to as a failed state. In recent years, it has endured an incursion by troops from neighboring Ethiopia, a thriving black market in ammunition and arms sales and the rise of piracy on its shores; all this while trying to end nearly two decades of civil war. No matter its many troubles, Somalia has survived and there are still some isolated pockets of stability. Reverend William Swing will discuss four groups of Muslims, all affiliated with the United Religions Initiative, who have come together to build on these elements of civil society in Somalia. The Rt. Rev. William Swing served as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California from 1980-2006. He founded the United Religions Initiative (URI) in 2000 with the goals of promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation and ending religiously motivated violence. Today the URI is working in 75 countries, including 23 or the world hot spots of religiously-motivated conflict. URI work touches the lives of more than 2.5 million people each year.

Direct download: 06-15-10_Bishop_Swing.mp3
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The Global Philanthropy Forum and the World Affairs Council are honored to host the Department of the Treasury’s Under Secretary for International Affairs, The Honorable Lael Brainard. Recently confirmed by the Senate, she is entrusted with advancing the Obama Administration’s agenda to foster growth, create economic opportunities for Americans and address transnational economic challenges, including development, climate change, food security and financial inclusion.Before joining the Treasury Department, Under Secretary Brainard most recently served as Vice President and Founding Director of the Global Economy and Development Program at The Brookings Institution. Her prior government service includes tenure as the Deputy National Economic Adviser and Deputy Assistant to the President on International Economics during the Clinton Administration, addressing challenges such as the Asian financial crisis and China’s access to the World Trade Organization.

Direct download: 06-07-10_Lael_Brainard.mp3
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