On Shifting Ground

Siberia takes up one-twelfth of the land on earth and spans eight time zones. This storied region is sparsely inhabited and rarely seen. Ian Frazier, author of Great Plains and On the Rez, traveled throughout Siberia on numerous trips over 10 years, collecting stories for his new book Travels in Siberia. He will discuss his experiences traveling through the vast expanse of Siberia in a post-Cold War landscape.

Direct download: 10_28_10_Ian_Frazier.mp3
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In 1991 the United States trounced the Iraqi army in battle, only to stumble blindly into postwar turmoil; 12 years later, Americans found themselves in the same situation. How could the world’s strongest power fight two wars against the same opponent in just over a decade, win lighting victories both times, and yet still be woefully unprepared for the aftermath? Gideon Rose, the Editor of Foreign Affairs and author of How Wars End: Why We Always Fight the Last Battle, will explore how American leaders, throughout the 20th century, have repeatedly ignored the need for careful postwar planning. Time and again, American presidents and generals have focused more on beating up the enemy than on creating a stable postwar environment. Rose will illustrate how and why each war ended as it did, identifying the choices of key figures involved and showing how those choices were constrained by domestic politics and ideology. Despite efforts to learn from past errors, our leaders continue to miscalculate and prolong conflicts or invite unwelcome results. Can the next generation of leaders learn from the mistakes of past presidents, or is the US destined to another repeat of history?

Direct download: 10_27_10_Gideon_Rose.mp3
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The face of war has changed markedly over the past half century. Conflicts are typically within a single country rather than between different nation states. They may last decades rather than a handful of years. And casualties are disproportionately civilian rather than military. This new face of war is evident in Afghanistan, Sudan, and the Congo. The International Rescue Committee is often among the first humanitarian relief and development agencies to respond in the aftermath or even during such conflicts. George Rupp joins the Council and Global Philanthropy Forum to discuss the challenges of implementing programs to assist uprooted individuals and communities in such settings. As the IRC’s chief executive officer, Dr. Rupp oversees the agency’s relief and rehabilitation operations in 42 countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs throughout the United States. In addition, he leads the IRC’s advocacy efforts in Washington, Geneva, Brussels and other capital

Direct download: 10-26-10_George_Rupp.mp3
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Lawyers-turned-filmmakers Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete set out to exonerate a man sentenced in Mexico to 20 years in prison for homicide with no physical evidence. In the process of making the film, they put the Mexican criminal justice system on trial. Join us to view the film the Wall Street Journal called a nightmarish journey into Mexico legal system lifted from the pages of Franz Kafka. A 90-minute screening of Presumed Guilty was followed by a discussion with the filmmakers, who shared their experiences filming inside the Mexican prison and judicial systems, and their plans to release the film commercially in Mexico. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles.

Direct download: 10_26_10_Presumed_guilty.mp3
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As U.S. diplomats face an increasingly complex international environment, it is ever more important that the United States review its own negotiating skills with the goal of enhancing its capacities to deal with 21st century challenges. Ambassador Richard H. Solomon will discuss the constraints within which US diplomats operate, and the policy and practical changes necessary to increase the effectiveness of America diplomats. In his new book, American Negotiating Behavior: Wheeler-Dealers, Legal Eagles, Bullies and Preachers, Ambassador Solomon assesses the multiple influences—cultural, institutional, historical and political—that shape how American presidents and diplomats approach negotiations with foreign counterparts, and highlights the behavioral patterns that transcend the actions of individual negotiators and administrations.

Direct download: 10-25-10_Richard_Solomon.mp3
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As the November 2010 midterm elections draw closer, most political observers oscillate almost daily between a Republican revolt and a come from behind win for the Democrats. The big question is whether, in a replay of 1994, the Republicans will ride a wave of popular unease and resentment to take control of the House. David Corn, the Washington Bureau Chief at Mother Jones, will discuss the real issues beyond this dramatic horse race, offering insight into what impact the midterm election will have on the White House’s foreign and domestic policies, and if the GOP has what it takes to win the House. Is the White House ready for compromise? Can the GOP learn to work with the other side of the aisle?

Direct download: 10_22_10_DavidCorn.mp3
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Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, they remain a pivotal event in the formation of modern American foreign policy. Scott Malcomson served in two unique vantage points over this transition–first as the New York Times Foreign Affairs Op-Ed Editor in 2001-2002, when he contributed to the debate surrounding the initiation of the war in Iraq, and later as Senior Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in Iraq by Al-Qaeda in 2003. Malcomson shares his experiences in a new book titled Generation's End: A Personal Memoir of American Power after 9/11.Join him and Stanford professor Dr. Francis Fukuyama (The End of History, America at the Crossroads) for a discussion of how American power was shaped and misshaped in reaction to 9/11.

Direct download: 10_21_10_Malcomson_Fukuyama.mp3
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It is one of the most widely recognizable weapons in the world, carried by more than 50 national armies and an array of police, intelligence and security agencies. The Kalashnikov, branded the AK-47, is durable, cheap to make, easy to conceal and deadly. But where did it get its start, and how did it make its way across the globe? Author and New York Times correspondent CJ Chivers will discuss the history of the world’s most infamous firearm. Pulling from interviews with and the personal accounts of insurgents, terrorists and child soldiers, Chivers will explore the history of the Kalashnikov and its role in the evolution of modern warfare. Along the way he will document the experience and folly of war, and challenge both the enduring Soviet propaganda surrounding the AK-47 and many of its myths.

Direct download: 10_19_10_CJ_Chivers.mp3
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The rise of China and India have captured headline after headline, now Brazil is well on its way to take its place on the global stage. Today, the South American nation is not only the world’s eighth largest economy with a vibrant democracy, it is also on the road to achieving energy independence and will host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. However, recent prosperity and opportunities have not always been part of the country’s long and complex history. What led to this transformation and how has the recent economic boom changed politics, society and culture in Brazil? As Brazil goes to the polls this month to elect a new president, Larry Rohter, longtime bureau chief of The New York Times and Newsweek in Rio de Janeiro, will examine what contributed to this enormous change and to explore the future of this country—and what it will mean for the United States.

Direct download: 10-13-10_Larry_Rohter.mp3
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After decades of conflict, the Afghan people crave peace and stability. Several approaches for achieving stability are under consideration, including reconciliation and de facto ethnic partition. Ambassador Gharekhan, former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations, will discuss his hopes to implement a diplomatic surge, with the aim of creating a strong, neutral and secure Afghanistan.

Direct download: 10_12_10_Chinmaya_Gharekhan.mp3
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Tariq Ramadan is very much a public figure, named one of Time magazine most important innovators of the twenty-first century. He is among the leading Islamic thinkers in the West, with a large following around the world. But he has also been a lightning rod for controversy. Indeed, in 2004, Ramadan was prevented from entering the U.S. by the Bush administration and despite two appeals, supported by organizations like the American Academy of Religion and the ACLU, he was barred from the country until spring of 2010, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton finally lifted the ban. Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Islamic Studies on the Faculty of Theology at Oxford University, Senior Research Fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and the President of the European Muslim Network (EMN) think tank in Brussels. He is the author of Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation, In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons From the Life of Muhammad, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, and Islam, the West, and Challenges of Modernity.

Direct download: 10-07-10_Terek_Ramadan.mp3
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Next year, Amnesty International—the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization—will recognize a 50-year legacy of advocating for the release of tens of thousands of “prisoners of conscience,” ending torture and execution, exposing human rights crises and generating public pressure to stop government and corporate abuse. Since 1961, the organization has evolved to meet the most pressing human rights violations of our time. The World Affairs Council will host the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, Larry Cox, to discuss the next chapter for this global force of 2.8 million worldwide members: addressing poverty as a human rights issue.

Direct download: 10_05_10_Larry_Cox.mp3
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From Egypt to South Africa, Kenya to Senegal, Africa’s economies are on the move. With a population that will double in the next five years and a range of untapped markets, is Africa the next China? The continent’s increased economic momentum is widely recognized, but less is known about its sources and staying power; and while the rate of return on foreign investment is higher than in any other developing region, so are the number of potential pitfalls. The San Francisco Based Director of McKinsey Global Institute, James Manyika, will present the results of a new report, Lions on the Move: The Progress and Potential of African Economies, and discuss the causes of Africa’s recent growth acceleration, the economic outlook for the years ahead and the emerging opportunities for business. Will the short term hurdles of corruption and violence deter future investors, or is this a place that global executives and shareholders cannot afford to ignore?

Direct download: 09-30-10_James_Manyika.mp3
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