On Shifting Ground

Sebastian Mallaby, author of More Money than God and director of the Council on Foreign Relations Center for Geoeconomic Studies, will explore how hedge funds got their start and what role they’ve played during the economic ebb and flow of the last 50 years. Hedge funds have survived in spite of various financial crises, remaining remarkably stable through the stock market collapse of the early 1970s, the bond market downturn of the 1990s and the dot-com crash in 2000. As the cornerstones of the American economy—from Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to AIG and Citigroup—have faced bankruptcy and bailouts, the hedge fund industry has survived the test of 2008 far better than its rivals. Sebastian Mallaby will offer explanations as to why the future of finance lies in the history of hedge funds.

Direct download: 09-28-10_Sebastian_Mallaby.mp3
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While the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were not total losses, rash hopes, intelligence failures and grandiose designs certainly lead to blunders and avoidable failures. As President Obama turns his attention increasingly towards the war in Afghanistan, how can his administration avoid some of the same counterproductive patterns that have plagued US foreign policy decisions in times of war? A professor of foreign policy at Georgetown University, Derek Leebaert argues that the cause of many of America’s foreign policy mistakes lies in “magical thinking” – the idea that the US can manage the world through well-intentioned force. From the belief that we can accomplish anything out of sheer righteousness to the conviction that American-style management will fix any global problem to overconfidence in miracle technology, whether drones over Pakistan or helicopters in Vietnam, Leebaert believes that unless our leaders confront these notions we are destined to repeat the strategic mistakes of the past.

Direct download: 09-16-10_Derek_Leebaert.mp3
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When President Bush announced a new military strategy for Iraq in July 2007 dubbed “the surge,” it immediately drew both supporters and critics. Yet few are as intimately familiar with the surge as journalist David Finkel, who spent eight months embedded with the 2-16 infantry battalion deployed on the outskirts of Baghdad as part of this new strategy. Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Washington Post, will discuss his book, The Good Soldiers, which provides his account of the war as experienced on the ground. He details the successes, struggles and psychological traumas of soldiers on the front lines, while underscoring the cognitive dissonance between the violent reality taking place on the ground and the abstract policy debates back in Washington.

Direct download: 09_09_10_David_Finkel.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST