WorldAffairs

As the Arab spring turns to summer, tensions are growing at home and abroad about the aims and viability of the NATO operations in Libya, particularly during a time of economic uncertainty. The Honorable Gene Cretz, US Ambassador to Libya, will discuss current and past US relations with Libya, the ongoing NATO operations and international diplomatic efforts and what we can expect in the coming months and years. Ambassador Cretz is a career Foreign Service Officer, having served since 1981 in Syria, Israel, China, and Egypt, among other locations. On January 9, 2009, he became the first US Ambassador to Libya since 1972, after serving for two years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Near East Affairs.

Direct download: 08-18-11_Gene_Getz.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Drawing upon three decades of immersion in Central America’s remote and dangerous landscapes, Mary Jo McConahay paints a picture of the people, politics, archaeology and species in the cradle of the Mayan civilization. Through cultural anecdotes and eye-opening tales from the people she has encountered, McConahay brings to life the allure of the jungle and the culture of the Lacandon people while recognizing the bittersweet changes brought by tourism and the unfortunate effects that drug-trafficking and violence have had on the region.

Direct download: 08_04_11_Mary_Jo_McConahay.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Lisa Anderson was appointed president of the American University in Cairo in January 2011, just one month before the popular protests began in Egypt. Prior to joining AUC, Anderson served as Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs and Director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. A specialist on politics in the Middle East and North Africa, she will offer analysis and commentary on the events from her perspective both as a university president with a campus in the heart of Tahrir Square, and as a political scientist with particular expertise in the government and politics of the region.

Direct download: 7-21-11_Lisa_Anderson.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The world’s second largest Muslim country, with 180 million people, Pakistan faces multiple challenges: a growing militancy, struggling economy, lack of effective governance, and an exploding population. Internal episodes, such as the Taliban attack on Karachi’s naval air base and the killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, coupled with external strains, like the killing of bin Laden, have brought Pakistan to a critical juncture. Anja Manuel, a Principal at the RiceHadley Group, will discuss what these events mean for the future of this South Asian power, and how US foreign policy in the region can adapt.

Direct download: 7_18_2011_Anja_Manuel.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

On March 11, 2011 a catastrophic earthquake struck off the coast of Japan triggering a massive tidal wave laying waste to the countryside of the northeast coast of Honshu. The true scale of the devastation won’t be known for some time, but the effects and consequences are under close examination by experts from many different fields. What is happening in Japan three months on? What are the effects this disaster will have on the region and the world? Dr. Steven Vogel, Dr. Barnett Baron and Dr. Tsuneo Akaha discuss the political, economic and humanitarian implications of the disaster in Japan and what we can expect looking forward.

Direct download: 06_29_11_Japan_Looking_Ahead.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

For years there has been a preference for having male offspring in many parts of the world. Consequently today there are over 160 million women and girls missing from Asia’s population and an unknown number missing from other continents thanks to selective sex abortion. This staggering gender gap is beginning to transform entire nations, leading to everything from a spike in bride-buying to an increase in crime. Join the Council in welcoming Mara Hvistendahl as she addresses the issues surrounding gender selection around the world and how the West bears responsibility for the world’s “missing women.”

Direct download: 6_23_11_Mara_Hvistendahl.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Senator Boxer will join the Council to discuss the need for a new course in Afghanistan in a speech entitled, “Ending America’s Longest War.” Senator Boxer is a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and author of a Senate bill that would require the Obama administration to give Congress a plan for the safe redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. She is the co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus and chairs the first Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee to focus on global women's issues.

Direct download: 6_17_11_Barbara_Boxer1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The 8.9 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 set in motion one of the largest nuclear disasters in almost three decades. It also renewed the debate over the future of nuclear energy in the US and abroad. With 104 nuclear power plants across the country, generating about 20 percent of America's energy, there is no doubt that we are currently dependent on nuclear energy, yet the debate over this highly contentious technology is far from resolved. The three panelists will discuss what this disaster means for the future of US energy. How will the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant shape future energy policies and public opinion, and are there existing renewable technologies capable of fulfilling the world’s energy needs? Will nuclear energy be the fuel of the 21st century, or a relic of the past?

Direct download: 6_14_11_Nuclear_Energy1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Since its beginnings in the 1970s with the founding of the Grameen Bank, microcredit has been praised as a powerful tool for reducing global poverty. By putting small loans into the hands of the poor, microcredit has allowed entrepreneurs world-wide to establish and expand their businesses, delivering sustainable income to those who need it most. The last decade brought an explosion in the number of micro-lenders and borrowers around the world. The number of customers served by microfinance institutions now surpasses 100 million, most of them women. This growth has helped scores of impoverished communities, but the recent commercialization of several large lenders, and the scarcity of quantitative analysis on the lasting impacts of microcredit has drawn scrutiny. Please join Dr. Dean Karlan, Yale University behavioral economist and co-author of the new book More Than Good Intentions (with Jacob Appel) for a review of what recent research has shown about the effectiveness of microcredit and other financial services for the poor. Dr. Karlan will be joined by Christopher Dunford and Sean Foote for a dialogue on the state of the microfinance world today and what it might mean for the future of poverty alleviation.

Direct download: 6_7_11_Microfinance.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Since President Obama’s assumption of office, he and Secretary Clinton have signaled their interest in strengthening economic and political relations throughout Asia. The US has important interests in Southeast Asia, and the Administration has expanded U.S. ties with multilateral organizations in the region, particularly the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN member states are important partners for U.S. diplomatic and security efforts in the region, America’s 4th largest export market. What role does the U.S. diplomatic corps have in expanding political and economic partnerships in this critical region? What policies can be advanced to strengthen US relations with individual countries and the relationship with the ASEAN community as a whole? Please join a panel of U.S. Ambassadors to the region as they address these questions.

Direct download: 06_06_11_Friendships_in_SE_Asia.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Approximately two million Cambodians were killed under the Khmer Rouge. The tyrannical leadership of Pol Pot and a decade of civil war took a severe toll on the nation’s population and wealth. In 1993, under the UN’s wing, Cambodia held successful democratic elections, with 90% of the electorate voting. Cambodia, it seemed, was ready to shed the past and move forward. Joel Brinkley won the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1979 fall of the Khmer Rouge regime at the New York Times. In 2008-2009, he returned to Cambodia to investigate the condition of this troubled nation. He found a political system crippled by corruption and dependence on aid, and a culture haunted by the genocide of the last generation. Mr. Brinkley will discuss his findings and what they mean for the future of Cambodia.

Direct download: 5_26_11_Joel_Brinkley.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

In 2007 Tim Harford established himself as the Undercover Economist, with a book of the same name. Now he’s back with a new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure, suggesting that in a multi-polar and interconnected world, we cannot tackle challenges with ready-made solutions and expert opinions. Instead, we must adapt. Harford argues for the importance of adaptive trial and error in tackling issues such as climate change, poverty and financial crises, as well as in fostering innovation and creativity in our business and personal lives.

Direct download: 5_25_11_Tim_Harford.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

While the advanced countries are still reeling from a near economic crash and a challenging economic depression, developing nations are seeing unprecedented economic growth that is reshaping the world. These growth rates present new challenges in governance, international coordination and environmental sustainability that are little understood. Nobel Laureate Michael Spence will ask what implications these challenges hold for advanced countries, and will look ahead to the post crises period to how the global economy will develop over the next fifty years.

Direct download: 5_23_11_Michael_Spence.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

2011 has brought with it many challenges to the global community, namely weather extremes pushing up record food prices, and political instability spiking oil prices. Until now our economy has been based on consumption and waste, where we lived beyond our means and the resources of the planet’s ecosystems. According to Paul Gilding we have come to the end of economic growth as we know it and now it is time for Economic Growth 2.0. Gilding paints a picture of the coming decades as ones filled with loss, suffering, conflict, geopolitical instability, food shortages and massive economic change. However, he believes all of this will bring out humanity’s best qualities; compassion, innovation and adaptability will carry us through these coming crises and make us a stronger and more advanced civilization.

Direct download: 05_03_11_Paul_Gilding.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

After his controversial 2008 re-election campaign, Robert Mugabe began a brutal terror campaign against his people which would later become known simply as, “The Fear.” Peter Godwin will tell of his secret trip to Zimbabwe where foreign journalists had been banned, the battle waged by Mugabe to stay in power and the courage and resilience of the Zimbabwean people.

Direct download: 4_28_11_Peter_Godwin.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

From the glitz of Hollywood to the energy and innovation of Silicon Valley, from the weather to the wine, California is envied around the globe. Yet despite the state’s immense advantages, its finances are in deep trouble. Andreas Kluth will explain how it got into its current fiscal mess-—and also how, by introducing the right reforms, it can get out of it again.

Direct download: 4_27_11_Andreas_Kluth1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

With nearly 150 million people, close to 50 billion dollars in annual oil revenue and a central location on the continent, Nigeria has all the criteria to be a leader in Africa’s increasing economic growth. However, with a recent vacuum in government authority, escalating violence in the oil-producing delta and ethnic and religious tensions in the North, is the continent’s most populous country closer to failure than take-off? John Campbell, author of Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink, will explore Nigeria’s post-colonial history and offer an explanation of the events and conditions that have carried this complex, dynamic and troubled giant to the edge. Can Nigerians push back against corruption and use the nation’s oil wealth to stoke economic investment and growth, or will Nigeria continue to be a place of a wealthy minority and impoverished majority?

Direct download: 4_25_11_John_Campbell.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Author Daniel Alarcón joins the Council to discuss his novel Lost City Radio, which examines the effect that war and emigration have on families and communities. The title refers to a radio program that read the names of missing persons on the air in order to reunite families, which existed in Peru as well as other post-conflict states. Alarcón was recently listed on the "20 Under 40 Writers to Watch” list by The New Yorker, and is the associate editor of Etiqueta Negra, an award-winning monthly magazine published in his native Lima, Peru. Join the International Forum for this discussion, which is part of the Voices of the World author series.

Direct download: 4_21_11_Daniel_Alarcon.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Virtually all human societies were once tribal. Why have some gone on to create stable liberal democracies, while others have failed to form legitimate and accountable institutions? Francis Fukuyama traced the origins of political history back to primates in search of the answer for his new book, which has been described as a “magnum opus.” Join him for his insights on the development of political order, the nature of government, and what it might mean for modern man.

Direct download: 4_20_11_Francis_Fukuyama.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

As the recent uprisings across the Middle East have shown, information technology facilitates political change, but for that very reason, authoritarian regimes are intensifying their controls over the internet. Freedom House is now issuing its report in levels of freedom on the internet around the world, which rates internet access, censorship, and user rights in 37 countries and assesses key trends in freedom of digital media. The presentation of report findings will be followed by a panel discussion with internet freedom experts. Brought to you by the Yahoo! Series on Business and Human Rights.

Direct download: 4_18_11_Freedom_on_the_Net.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The nature of international power is evolving. From 16th century colonies to 20th century nuclear stockpiles, power has meant different things at different times in history. What constitutes power in the 21st century information age, and what will power look like in the future? With the rise of China and India, and the growing importance of non-state actors, how will the US continue to influence the global political and economic landscape? Joseph Nye will discuss how the US can utilize soft and smart power to resolve the most complex issues of today—and the future.

Direct download: 3_24_11_Joseph_Nye.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Germany and the United States face enormous challenges in 2011, including the aftermath of the global financial crisis, regional conflicts, climate change, terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation. Tackling such complex problems requires reliable and strong partnerships. Ambassador Scharioth will discuss the shared values and interests between the US and Germany, and how we can build on them to solve global problems.

Direct download: 3_8_11_Klaus_Scharioth.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The Obama administration has embraced a broad counterinsurgency policy, pairing combat operations with a strategy of winning hearts and minds of the local civilian population. Will it work in Afghanistan? Bing West, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Marine, will assess the prospects for success in Afghanistan and discuss his provocative plan for a way out: putting Afghans in charge of their own war.Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Northern California in partnership with the Marine's Memorial Association.

Direct download: 2_28_11_Bing_West.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

A 20-year veteran of the CIA and first chief of the Osama bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer has a depth of knowledge about Osama bin Laden that goes far beyond “9/11 mastermind.” Scheuer argues that the United States has underestimated bin Laden’s bravery, strategic thinking and patience, playing into his master plan. Please join Michael Scheuer for an in-depth portrait of Osama bin Laden and his continuing significance and power.

Direct download: 2_23_11_Michael_Scheuer.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:30am PST

As the financial crisis of 2008-2009 began to take shape, the business press took a beating from both sides of the political spectrum for leniency in their coverage of the financial giants. How could the press have missed the story of the century? Was the ideal of the fourth estate a failure? Veteran journalist Anya Schiffrin will discuss the role of the business press leading up to the crisis and how the press may have contributed to the crash itself.

Direct download: 2_22_11_Anya_Schiffrin.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Each year the world sees between 30 and 50 major natural disasters that take countless lives and cause billions of dollars in damage, and many of these natural disasters spiral into humanitarian crises. NGOs and aid agencies are often the most visible face of the international community’s response to such crises, but are they best suited to respond to emergencies of such magnitude? Charles MacCormack, the president of Save the Children, will address these questions and suggest that while NGOs can be simple in motive, it is their dedication to narrow goals that allows them to address issues often over looked by governments or larger organizations. Though “success” is a relative term during periods of disaster and can be hard to measure, MacCormack argues that significant improvements can be seen in the survival rates when there is good communication between organizations as well as long-term recovery goals. In the wake of such natural disasters as the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan, can NGOs help to mitigate the causes and consequences of future humanitarian crises?

Direct download: 2_15_11_Charles_MacCormack.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

After Twitter was used as an organizing tool in the protests following the disputed 2009 reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, the Internet was widely praised as a game-changer for democratic movements. But Evgeny Morozov argues that authoritarian regimes are as strong as ever, and use the Internet to their advantage by restricting speech, spying on dissidents, and publishing propaganda. Mr. Morozov will discuss how the spread of new media around the world should not necessarily be seen as a force for democracy, and how Western hopes for digital revolution could, in fact, backfire.

Direct download: 2_10_11_Evgeny_Morozov.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Climate change is well underway, and although we should continue to work to stop its momentum, we should also prepare to live with it. Mark Hertsgaard traveled the world to learn more about the efforts of other countries to adapt to the new, hot future, and came to some surprising conclusions. Join him to discuss what we can expect over the next fifty years on earth, and how we can face the collective challenges brought about by climate change.

Direct download: 2_9_11_Mark_Hertsgaard.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

In March 2010, Google shut down its China-based search engine, and moved all traffic to its uncensored Hong Kong website, further enflaming the battle of censorship between the world’s largest search engine and the world’s most populous country. New media in China takes a variety of forms, from websites and blogs, to forums and online bulletin boards; this new form of communication has become a vital and popular tool for the average Chinese internet user to distribute and collect information on political, social, religious and business issues. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government is striving to reach a delicate balance on the role of new media—encouraging internet growth to have a more networked economy while exercising controls over people's access to regulated information. Kevin Fong, a special advisor to GSR Ventures, and Duncan Clark, the Chairman of BDA China, will discuss the policies and practices of new media in China. In an increasingly connected world, can China sustain its robust economic growth, while stifling internet freedom at home? And how should business leaders and investors adapt to work in an environment of economic opportunities and state regulations?

Direct download: 2_8_11_China_New_Media.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The International Museum of Women in partnership with the World Affairs Council presents a conversation with author and journalist Aminatta Forna. From human rights in Africa, to the importance of education for girls and boys, Forna will discuss her newest novel, The Memory of Love. Set in post-colonial Sierra Leone a few years after the civil war, The Memory of Love offers a view of modern Africa through the eyes of both insiders and outsiders who struggle to cope with the aftermath of a war waged against and among civilians. Forna’s novel depicts a deeply hopeful and universal story about love and human resilience. Raised in Sierra Leone as the daughter of a former Sierra Leonean cabinet minister and dissident, Forna’s writing has been dominated by the tortuous events of her country’s history. She is the author of a previous novel, Ancestor Stones, and a memoir, The Devil that Danced on the Water. In 2003, Forna helped build a primary school in her family's village of Rogbonko, where she is also working to establish a cashew plantation named Kholifa Estates after the fictional plantation in Ancestor Stones.

Direct download: 1_26_11_Aminatta_Forna.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), set up as a temporary organization to help resolve displacement issues after World War II, has turned 60 years old. As global displacement continues, UNHCR Regional Representative Vincent Cochetel will examine the role his organization plays, along with the international community, in protecting and assisting over 43 million forcibly displaced refugees and others in similar situations worldwide. The event coincides with the opening of photographer Zalmaï Ahad's exhibit on urban refugees. What with nearly half of the world’s refugees now living in urban areas, the exhibit is a reflection of the changing nature and complexity of displacement.

Direct download: 1_23_11_UNHCR.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Has the world entered a new dark age? What are our chances for recovery? Parag Khanna joins us to discuss his unique view of the current state of global affairs and how a new, non-traditional coalition of business executives, philanthropists, technocrats and others can bring about a modern Renaissance. Mr. Khanna will discuss how this “mega-diplomacy” has the power to improve education, protect the environment, rebuild failed states, battle terrorism, and make the global economy more just.

Direct download: 1_19_11_Parag_Khanna.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

On January 12, 2010 one of the worst natural disasters in recent history struck the island nation of Haiti. With an estimated 220,000 people killed and many more left stranded and homeless, the 7.0 earthquake brought this long-troubled country to center stage in the global arena. As nations and NGOs scrambled to deliver aid and supplies in the weeks following the disaster, they also made plans to rebuild Haiti and create a government of peace and stability. Looking back on what unfolded in 2010, three panelists will discuss how the international community and Haitian people responded to the devastating natural disaster. They will highlight how Haiti’s health infrastructure reacted to the initial dire conditions and recent Cholera outbreaks, what role NGOs and the international community can play in fostering long-term peace and recovery and how Haitian culture and political history makes this effort challengingly unique. Thomas Tighe, president of Direct Relief International, Claudine Michel, Professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara and Rick Loomis, a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist for the LA Times, will offer their perspectives into how Haiti has fared in the 12 months since the earthquake.

Direct download: 1_18_11_Haiti_Panel.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

America’s former drug czar for five years, General Barry R. McCaffrey joins the Council to discuss the challenging international environment facing the United States and our allies – and the diplomatic, economic and military tools required to secure our future. General McCaffrey’s extensive experience integrates national security, business strategies, risk assessment and narco-terrorism with the troubled regions of the Middle East, Russia, Asia and Latin America. He continues to travel extensively to Iraq, Pakistan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan both testifying to Congress and briefing the White House National Security Council staff, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and senior leaders in the Department of Health and Human Services. At his retirement from active duty, McCaffrey was the most highly decorated four-star general in the U.S. Army, having served four combat tours and having received three Purple Heart medals for wounds suffered in battle. He current serves as a security analyst for NBC News, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and president of his own consulting firm.

Direct download: 1_13_11_Barry_McCaffrey.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Facing a new round of diplomatic negotiations in January and recent claims by Tehran that it can now mine its own uranium, the United States is weighing its options towards the Iranian government. Joe Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, will explore the status and prospects of Iran’s nuclear program as well as the debate in Washington about how to deal with it. Will political engagement and economic sanctions prove fruitful, or should the US consider the possibility of military intervention? While no option is without risk, American leaders face increasing pressure to make a decision within the next two years.

Direct download: Joe_Cirincione_1_12_11.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

James D. Wolfensohn joins us to discuss his remarkable life story, reflect on his time at the World Bank and share his thoughts of the future of global poverty. During his ten years as President of the World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn traveled the globe, advancing the causes of education, basic health care, environment and stability. Born in Australia, Mr. Wolfensohn served as an officer in the Australian Air Force and was a member of the 1956 Australian Olympic Fencing Team before becoming a prominent investment banker. He served as President of the World Bank from 1995-2005, overseeing the Bank’s efforts to eradicate poverty with passion and personality. Mr. Wolfensohn is currently the head of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a private investment firm that provides strategic advice to governments and corporations doing business in emerging market economies. He also founded The Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution, which examines and evaluates development initiatives. He is the author of new autobiography titled A Global Life: My Journey among Rich and Poor, from Sydney to Wall Street to the World Bank.

Direct download: 1_11_11_Jim_Wolfensohn.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

As countries across the continent celebrate 50 years of independence, millions of Africans still face daily violence and human rights abuses. From Guinea to Kenya, Sudan to Zimbabwe, African nations continue to deal with despotic leaders’ attempts to stay in power. Although the American media occasionally provides a picture of violence in Africa, what does life on the ground really look like? Peter Orner and Annie Holmes, co-authors of Hope Deferred, and Patrick Vinck, the director of the Initiative for Vulnerable Populations Project at UC Berkeley's Human Rights Center, will describe two countries, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic, with strikingly different histories but who are both dealing with crippling poverty and ongoing human rights abuses. They will also offer their thoughts and insights as to what steps the continent must take to move forward. Is it more important to a national psyche to try and convict a former warlord, or should more effort be put into recreating a peaceful society? Can economic growth seriously take hold in a place where corruption and violence is such a large disincentive? Is Africa ready for takeoff, or stalled at the gate?

Direct download: 12-06-10_Human_Rights_Africa.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Parlez-vous français? Join us for an evening to hear the Deputy Consul General, Corinne Pereira, and meet and share your appreciation and love of France with others while sampling appetizers from a local French restaurant and sipping wine. Our reception is a terrific opportunity to engage in lively conversation with others interested in international affairs, learn more about the International Forum’s long-running French Dinner Group, as well as acquaint yourself with the IF, the Council, and opportunities to become involved. In addition, the event will be hosted in French – all levels of French speakers, and non-speakers are welcome. Tous ceux qui parlent le français sont bienvenus!

Direct download: 12-01-10_IF_French_Reception.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

From the waters off the Horn of Africa to the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, there has been a surge in the activity of pirates in recent years. Causing alarm and forcing action by governments, how are diplomats and militaries cooperating and concentrating forces to counter this growing threat? Also, how are navies contending with the ever-changing tactics of pirates? And, what are the legal challenges in prosecuting pirates? Jeffrey Kline joins the Council to examine the issue of piracy and the maritime commons. Kline is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Operations Research department and Program Director for the National Security Institute’s Maritime Defense and Security Research Programs. He teaches Joint Campaign Analysis, Simulation and Analysis, Statistics and coordinates Maritime Security Education programs offered at NPS. In addition, he is an Adjunct Professor at the Naval War College teaching an analytical series titled Joint Analysis for the Warfare Commander.

Direct download: 11-30-10_Jeffrey_Kline.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to an end, political and economic analysts attempt to dissect the last ten years in hopes of predicting the next twenty. But what does the recent rise of China and the East really mean for the aging democracies of the West? Taking a much longer view of history Ian Morris, Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University, looks back more than 12,000 years to the beginning of agriculture and the birth of large-scale organized societies in order to predict what the future holds. Drawing on the millennial ebb and flow of the East and West, Morris suggests that the West’s dominance is both recent and temporary. According to the social development patterns of the last few millennia, the West’s “rule” is scheduled to end early in the next century, but Morris proposes that in an increasingly global world, propelled by quantum leaps in computing power and bioscience, the old distinctions between East and West may seem outdated and unfit to answer our new questions. In a world where the dichotomy between “us and them” is becoming increasingly insufficient, what does the future hold for the West, and the rest?

Direct download: 11_22_10_Ian_Morris.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

Haifa is a unique model for co-existence, with Jewish, Arab and Christian communities intermingling and residing side by side, in Israel's third largest city of over 250,000 people. The Council pleased to welcome the city’s mayor, Yona Yahav to discuss Haifa as a stronghold of coexistence in the Middle East. Yona Yahav, visiting San Francisco in honor of the San Francisco-Haifa sister city relationship, has served as Mayor of Haifa since 2003, and brings extensive experience in culture and government to the Haifa municipality. Previously a Member of the 14th Knesset, Mayor Yahav was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Parliament in 2008 for his contribution in strengthening relations with France and its institutes, and for his devoted leadership of Haifa’s diverse population during the Second War in Lebanon.

Direct download: 11-19-10_Yona_Yahav.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

In the post-Cold War world, American policymakers are increasingly turning to “discrete military operations (DMOs)” to resolve problems abroad. Such operations—assassination attempts on dictators, or drone strikes inside Pakistan, for example—are meant to minimize soldier and civilian deaths and limit collateral damage. How successful has the application of limited military force been in achieving American objectives? Micah Zenko will discuss the shortcomings of US military tactics, such as drone attacks and special operations raids, in addressing the challenges posed by today’s global conflicts, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Direct download: 11_17_10_Simon_Allin.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

In the post-Cold War world, American policymakers are increasingly turning to “discrete military operations (DMOs)” to resolve problems abroad. Such operations—assassination attempts on dictators, or drone strikes inside Pakistan, for example—are meant to minimize soldier and civilian deaths and limit collateral damage. How successful has the application of limited military force been in achieving American objectives? Micah Zenko will discuss the shortcomings of US military tactics, such as drone attacks and special operations raids, in addressing the challenges posed by today’s global conflicts, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Direct download: 11_16_10_Micah_Zenko.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The world’s fourth-most populous nation spread across a chain of thousands of islands, Indonesia is a highly diverse collection of cultures, ethnicities and religions. In terms of faith, six of the world’s religions are formally recognized in Indonesia: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism. But with approximately 85 percent of the population adherent to Islam, what is the relationship between the Muslim majority and significant Catholic minority? And, how are other religions and traditions tolerated in Indonesia? The World Affairs Council and Indonesian Consulate General of San Francisco are pleased to host a group of Indonesian religious experts, one Catholic and two Muslim scholars, to discuss Indonesia’s promotion of moderate Islam and tolerant interfaith coexistence.

Direct download: 11-11-10_Qubad_Talabani.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

The world’s fourth-most populous nation spread across a chain of thousands of islands, Indonesia is a highly diverse collection of cultures, ethnicities and religions. In terms of faith, six of the world’s religions are formally recognized in Indonesia: Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Confucianism, Hinduism and Buddhism. But with approximately 85 percent of the population adherent to Islam, what is the relationship between the Muslim majority and significant Catholic minority? And, how are other religions and traditions tolerated in Indonesia? The World Affairs Council and Indonesian Consulate General of San Francisco are pleased to host a group of Indonesian religious experts, one Catholic and two Muslim scholars, to discuss Indonesia’s promotion of moderate Islam and tolerant interfaith coexistence.

Direct download: 11-09-10_Indonesia_Interfaith.mp3
Category: -- posted at: 7:00pm PST

A rise in radicalism? Sectarian violence? Civil war? What are the local impacts of American military efforts in the Middle East? Taking us from Iraq to Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and finally to Afghanistan, journalist Nir Rosen has visited the alleys, deserts, refugee camps, mosques and battlefields in predominantly Muslim nations to show how the US military has influenced the region and how it has been influenced by its new theater of operations.

Direct download: NirRosen.mp3
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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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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
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The Department of the Navy, led by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, has in the past year made bold moves to change the way energy is used in its operational Navy and Marine forces, maintaining that our country dependency on fossil fuels constitutes a clear strategic and tactical vulnerability. Since announcing in October 2009 new energy targets that will dramatically increase the amount of alternative energy used in the Department by 2020, the Navy has flown a fighter jet, the Green Hornet, on a grain-based biofuel, awarded significant solar energy contracts throughout the Southwest, and signed agreements with the Department of Agriculture to pool their collective knowledge of renewable energy. These measures promise to be only the beginning of a decade-long campaign to reform the Navy energy infrastructure.Ray Mabus is the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy. As Secretary, he leads America Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for conducting all the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, and mobilizing. Prior to becoming Secretary of the Navy, Mabus served as Governor of Mississippi and Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He was a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Northern California in partnership with the Marine Memorial Association.

Direct download: 08-17-10_Ray_Mabus.mp3
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With nearly 380,000 soldiers in over 700 bases currently deployed around the world, and a national defense manufacturing sector employing thousands of Americans at home, has the US become dependent on a never ending war? Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, will discuss the origins of the American military complex and question whether the nation should continue to maintain a permanent armed presence around the world. Bacevich is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and has been a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He authored The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, among other books, and his op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Direct download: 08_12_10_Andrew_Bacevich.mp3
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Admiral Roughead is a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and is the first naval officer to command both classes of Aegis ships, Destroyer and Cruiser, and is one of only two officers in history to command both US Naval fleets in the Pacific and Atlantic, where he was responsible for ensuring Navy forces were trained, ready, equipped and prepared to operate around the world, where and when needed. He also commanded Cruiser Destroyer Group 2, the George Washington Battle Group; and US 2nd Fleet/NATO Striking Fleet Atlantic and Naval Forces North Fleet East. Ashore, he has served as Commandant, United States Naval Academy, the Department of the Navy Chief of Legislative Affairs, and as Deputy Commander of the US Pacific Command. Among the Admiral many awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and various unit and service awards. Now serving as one of the US Navy highest ranking officials, Admiral Roughead joins the Council to discuss the US Navy global influence and the emerging security environment.

Direct download: 08-05-10_Admiral_Gary_Roughead.mp3
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According to UNAIDS, 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide, and approximately 2.7 million new infections occurred in 2008. For every two people who start treatment, five more are infected. Undoubtedly, this global epidemic requires a comprehensive, multisectoral approach that expands access to prevention, care, and treatment.America is leading the fight against global HIV/AIDS through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) – the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally in history. The human impact of America’s investments in partner nations’ efforts is profound. Through PEPFAR, the United States has directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 2.4 million people, and care for more than 11 million people with care and support programs, including more than 4 million orphans and vulnerable children. PEPFAR’s efforts around prevention of mother-to-child transmission programs have allowed nearly 340,000 babies of HIV-positive mothers to be born HIV-free. PEPFAR is the cornerstone and largest component of the President’s Global Health Initiative, which supports partner countries in improving health outcomes through strengthened health systems. Responsible for overseeing US-sponsored programs to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide, Ambassador Eric Goosby joins the Council to discuss the Obama Administration’s commitment to the fight against global AIDS. Ambassador Goosby has over 25 years of experience with HIV/AIDS, ranging from his early years treating patients at San Francisco General Hospital when AIDS first emerged, to engagement at the highest level of policy leadership.

Direct download: 07_28_10_Eric_Gossby.mp3
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The grandson of refugees in Mexico, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan is a career diplomat. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs and was posted in 1993 to the Mexican Embassy in the United States where he first served as Chief of Staff to the Ambassador, and then as head of the counternarcotics office. In 2000 he became Chief of Policy Planning at the Foreign Ministry and was appointed by the President as Mexican Consul General to New York City in 2003. He took a leave of absence from the Foreign Service in 2006 to join the presidential campaign of Felipe Calderón as Foreign Policy Advisor and International Spokesperson, and became Coordinator for Foreign Affairs in the transition team. In November 2006 he received the rank of Ambassador, and in February 2007 was appointed Mexican Ambassador to the United States.

Direct download: 07-22-10_Arturo_Sarukhan.mp3
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What can the United States do to help realize its dream of a peaceful, democratic Middle East? Would a re-shaping of traditional alliances in the region offer the solution? In his new book, Stephen Kinzer argues that two up-and-coming Middle Eastern powers, Iran and Turkey, will be America’s logical partners in the twenty-first century. He also recommends the United States reshape its relations with two traditional Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, if it stands any chance in breaking the Middle-East stalemate. Labeled by The Washington Post “among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling,” Kinzer offers the Council his alternative ideas on America’s role in the Middle East and attempts to move this vital policy issue beyond the alternatives of the last fifty years.

Direct download: 06-18-10_Stephen_Kinzer.mp3
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In The End of the Free Market, Ian Bremmer details the growing phenomenon of state capitalism, a system in which governments drive local economies through ownership of market-dominant companies and large pools of excess capital, using them for political gain. This trend threatens America’s competitive edge and the conduct of free markets everywhere. Bremmer follows the rise of state-owned firms in China, Russia, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Iran, Venezuela and elsewhere. He demonstrates the growing challenge that state capitalism will pose for the entire global economy. Are we on the brink of a new kind of Cold War, one that pits competing economic systems in a battle for dominance? Can free market countries compete with state capitalist powerhouses over relations with countries that have elements of both systems—like Brazil, India and Mexico? Does state capitalism have staying power?

Direct download: 06-30-10_Ian_Bremmer.mp3
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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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Drawing on the studies of religion and politics, Ron Hassner will offer insight into the often-violent dynamics that come into play at the places where religion and politics collide. He contends that sacred sites are particularly prone to conflict because they provide valuable resources for both religious and political actors yet cannot be divided. And due to their spiritual and cultural importance, holy places can therefore create the potential for military, theological, or political clashes, not only between competing religious groups but also between religious groups and secular actors. In his new book, War on Sacred Grounds, Ron Hassner investigates the causes and properties of conflicts over sites that are both venerated and contested, and proposes potential means for managing these disputes. He will discuss the failures to reach a settlement at Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif that led to the clashes of 2000, and the competing claims of Hindus and Muslims at Ayodhya, which resulted in the destruction of the mosque there in 1992. He will also address more successful compromises in Jerusalem in 1967 and Mecca in 1979.

Direct download: 05-27-10_Ron_Hassner.mp3
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Across the Middle East, a grassroots reform movement is stirring as women increasingly demand their rights. Isobel Coleman will discuss how, in a time of rising religiosity, many of these activists today are working within an Islamic framework to bring about sustainable change, rather than trying to fight against the pervasive influence of Islam. In her new book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet, she highlights the lives of courageous women in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq who are fighting for economic and social change. Coleman argues that their success is crucial for progress and stability in the Islamic world, and that a growing movement of Islamic feminism could be one of the strongest forces for moderating extremism.

Direct download: 05-18-10_Isobel_Coleman.mp3
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Simon Johnson argues that the fundamental causes of our financial crisis are still with us and that a second financial shock is inevitable. He makes the case that until recently President Obama has been more aligned with bankers than consumers and that there has been a complete breakdown of consumer protection regarding mortgages and other financial products. He joins the Council to argue that the six largest banks comprise a powerful and dangerous oligarchy, and that the regulatory agencies in charge of policing financial institutions have been co-opted by the banks and now act in their interests. Breaking up the big banks, he asserts, is essential for any meaningful financial reform. Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the IMF and now co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, is one of the most authoritative voices on world economics.

Direct download: 05-13-10_Simon_Johnson.mp3
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Every year, nearly three million international students study outside of their home countries, a 40 percent increase since 1999. Newly created or expanded universities in China, India and Saudi Arabia are now competing with European and North American academic institutions for faculty, students, and research preeminence. Meanwhile, satellite campuses of Western universities are springing up from Abu Dhabi and Singapore to South Africa. How is international competition for the brightest minds transforming the world of higher education? While some university and government officials see the rise of worldwide academic competition as a threat, Ben Wildavsky argues that the increased international mobility of students and cross-border expansion of higher education is creating a new global meritocracy, one in which the spread of knowledge benefits everyone--both educationally and economically.

Direct download: 05-11-2010_Ben_Wildavsky.mp3
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For decades, the balance of power between strong nations was the dominant issue in international security. But today, it is fragile nations that are seen by many as posing a potentially greater threat. Weak infrastructure, internal conflict, and lack of economic development provide fertile ground for trafficking, piracy, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, disease pandemics, regional tensions, and even genocide. As a result there is a growing movement in the international community to find comprehensive ways to promote stronger nations, and, more effective ways to deal with those that are already on the brink of failure. Award-winning journalists Kira Kay and Jason Maloney, co-founders of the Bureau for International Reporting, recently explored the successes and failures of international interventions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Bosnia, and Haiti. In collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, their series of reports aired on PBS NewsHour in 2009. Jon Sawyer, the Pulitzer Center founding director, will offer introductory remarks about its continuing print and broadcast coverage of fragile states from around the world. discuss how the power of ideas is shaping the future of Iran.

Direct download: 05-03-10_Crisis_Reporting.mp3
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The power of ideas is the power to question and to change. Knowing this, repressive regimes, ideologues and fanatics worldwide use every means at their disposal—including intimidation, imprisonment and death—to silence ideas and control what people know and think. Join us for a close-up look at how one organization—Scholars at Risk—is working to defend the power of ideas on one of most prominent contemporary intellectual battlegrounds: the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations and once the center of global science and learning, Iran today is marked by internal tensions and external confrontations. What Iran’s future will look like is hotly contested, with the regime’s supporters battling Iranian academics, writers, artists, activists and dissident politicians and clerics for the hearts and minds of the Iranian people. Three distinguished Iranian intellectuals, each of whom has suffered threats for questioning the regime, will discuss how the power of ideas is shaping the future of Iran.

Direct download: 04-28-10_Iran_Scholars.mp3
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China presents a major challenge to the United States. China is not just a strategic partner, or a holder of US debt, or a potential military threat. It is all these and more, according to Stefan Halper, a leading expert in international relations. In his new book, The Beijing Consensus, Halper presents the many sides of the China-US relationship and proposes a framework for how the US can effectively counter China’s authoritarian model. He argues that instead of playing by America’s rules, as did the Soviet Union, China has redefined the rules of the game on its own terms. China doles out money to dictators—with no strings attached. China buys resources from Africa and South America—without forcing transparency or reform. In short, China is showing the world how to achieve economic growth while maintaining an illiberal government, presenting the world’s despots with a viable alternative to the so-called Washington Consensus. Halper joins the Council to discuss China’s foreign policy in all its complexity and how the United States and its allies might counter it.

Direct download: 04-27-10_Stefan_Halper.mp3
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As many have expressed disappointment with the main output, what were the strengths and weaknesses of the process leading to the Copenhagen Accord? Also, what is the likelihood for international action on climate change following this latest round of negotiations? Trevor Houser has served as Senior Advisor to US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern through the climate change negotiations in the Danish capital last December. Now a partner at RHG, a New York-based economic research firm, and visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC, Houser will discuss the outcome of the Copenhagen summit and the prospect for international cooperation on climate change in the years ahead.

Direct download: 04-26-10_Trevor_Houser.mp3
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Peace and security are international public goods, but have traditionally been the preserve of state actors. This is changing. An increasingly vocal global civil society is emerging, as new challenges and conflicts test conventional, state-based approaches to preventing and resolving war. Civil society actors now play multiple roles in maintaining peace and security – early warning, identifying neglected conflicts, formulating policy responses, mobilizing public opinion, even directly assisting peace talks. Philanthropy has proven indispensable to civil society’s influence and its ability to pursue a global public good. Louise Arbour will examine public interest diplomacy, and the crucial roles of civil society and philanthropy in maintaining peace and security. Before being named President CEO of the International Crisis Group, she served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.

Direct download: 04-15-10_Louise_Arbour.mp3
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Natural resources have the potential either to transform the poorest countries or to tear them apart, while the carbon emissions and agricultural follies of the wealthier world could further impoverish them. The impact of unchecked profiteering and the exploitation of natural resources by various actors has only helped to exacerbate a range of problems--including global warming, food shortages, and violent conflict. Building upon his renowned work on developing countries and teaching the poorest populations to confront the global mismanagement of nature, Paul Collier offers realistic and sustainable solutions to help poor countries rich in natural assets to better manage those resources, proposes policy changes that would raise the world food supply, and offers a clear-headed approach to climate change. The former director of research for the World Bank and current Director of Oxford’s Center for the Study of African Economies, Collier is perhaps best known as the award-winning author of The Bottom Billion, a highly-acclaimed work that The Economist wrote was set to become a classic, and the Financial Times praised it as rich in both analysis and recommendations.

Direct download: 04-04-10_Paul_Collier.mp3
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What is the compatibility of liberal democracy and organized religion? From Western Europe’s varied responses to a growing Muslim population to evangelical Christianity’s influence on American politics, Ian Buruma examines the tensions between religion and politics, while looking at what is needed to hold democratic societies together. Comparing the United States and Europe, he investigates why so many Americans see religion as a help to democracy. Turning to China and Japan, Buruma disputes the notion that only monotheistic religions pose problems for secular politics. And, he explains why the separation of religion and politics for European Islam is not only possible, but necessary.

Direct download: 03-25_10_Ian_Buruma.mp3
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For thousands of years, the Arctic has remained at the margins of global affairs. But the region has now found its way to the center of the issues that will challenge and define our world in the twenty-first century: energy security and the struggle for natural resources, climate change and its consequences, the return of great power competition, and the remaking of global trade patterns. Geopolitics expert Charles Emmerson discusses the forces which have shaped the Arctic history and introduces the players in politics, business, science and society who are struggling to mold its future. Emmerson has been a Global Leadership Fellow and Associate Director of the World Economic Forum, heading the Forum’s Global Risk Network.

Direct download: 03-23-10_Charles_Emmerson.mp3
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Tom Campbell is a Republican candidate for the US Senate. Mr. Campbell served as a US Congressman for five terms representing districts in the Silicon Valley. He was also a California State Senator, and the Director of Finance for the State of California. In Congress, Mr. Campbell served on the Judiciary Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, the Banking and Housing Committee, and the International Relations Committee. He has also served since 2004 on the Council of Economic Advisors to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mr. Campbell joins the Council to outline his vision of US foreign policy priorities and what international issues he would focus on if elected to the US Senate.

Direct download: 03-18-10_Tom_Campbel.mp3
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Many Americans, including those who are not Irish Americans, enjoy the culture, food and beer of the Irish. In addition, St. Patrick is the country’s most popular historical figure. However, many have heard of St. Patrick, but what did he actually do? Few know what St. Patrick is famous for and how he influenced Irish history and culture. Our special guest speakers—author and professor Daniel Melia of UC Berkeley, and local artists Melanie O’Reilly and Sean O’Nuallain—join us to discuss Irish-American culture and heritage. The event will feature a discussion of the historical Irish immigration to the US and the cultural legacy it left behind in the United States.

Direct download: 03-16-10_Irish_Reception.mp3
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His Excellency Sergey I. Kislyak became ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States in September 2008, having previously served as Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs since 2003. Prior to serving in this senior foreign policy position in Moscow, Ambassador Kislyak served as ambassador to Belgium and simultaneously as Russia’s permanent representative to NATO in Brussels. He has also held various postings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament, director and deputy director of the Department of International Scientific and Technical Cooperation, and deputy director of the Department of International Organizations. In addition, he served in the United States before as first secretary and counselor at the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Washington and second secretary at the USSR’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Direct download: 02-25-10_Ambassador_Sergey_Kislyak.mp3
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Beginning with the transfer of power from Fidel to Raúl Castro in 2006, there are signs that Cuba has found new footing on the world stage. The last few years have seen an expansion of Cuba’s financial and political ties with the European Union and Latin America. And with changes in both the Cuban and US leaderships, anticipation for a breakthrough in dialogue between the two nations is growing. Julia Sweig, a leading expert on Cuba and Latin America and author of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, will discuss the small island nation’s unique position in world affairs over the past fifty years and what may be in store for the looming post-Fidel era.

Direct download: 02-23-10_Julia_Sweig.mp3
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A quiet revolution has been occurring in post-World War II Europe. A world power has emerged across the Atlantic that is re-crafting the rules for how a modern society should provide economic security, environmental sustainability, and global stability. During this time of economic crisis and global warming, how do the United States and members of the European Union really compare in terms of sustainable economic growth and trade, political engagement, social policy, and the deployment of renewable energy technologies? With a similar standard of living, universal health care and comprehensive social systems, and smaller ecological “footprint”, what lessons can the US learn from the European model? In his new book Europe Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, Steven Hill explains Europe new vision, shatters myths, and shows how Europe leadership manifests in several major areas: economic strength, with Europe now the world wealthiest trading bloc, producing nearly a third of the world’s economy, almost as large as the U.S. and China combined; arguably the best health care and other social supports for families and individuals; widespread use of renewable energy technologies and conservation; and regional networks of trade, foreign aid, and investment that link one-third of the world to the European Union’s 27 member states and nearly a half billion citizens.

Direct download: 02-18-10_Steven_Hill.mp3
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While considerable attention has been focused on following the actions of DPRK officials in Pyongyang, how well do we understand the mindset and culture of North Korea’s ordinary citizens? B.R. Myers argues that we know more of North Korea’s clandestine nuclear program than of the motivation behind it. We know more about Kim Jong Il’s potential successors than about the unique worldview that North Korean citizens share. Drawing from decades of research on the country’s ideology and propaganda, Myers offers a new understanding of North Korean culture; using multimedia to tell the story of modern-day life in this closed society through its art, unique historic perspective, literature, film, and iconography. A specialist on North Korea, he is a contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly and a frequent contributor to both NPR and The New York Times, as well as author of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves - And Why It Matters.

Direct download: 02-11-10_B.R.Myers.mp3
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Access to clean drinking water is vital to every society and a major factor in furthering public health, economic development and social stability, however, climate change, industrialization and urbanization threaten its supply and safety. In many areas of the world, diminishing access to safe water is creating a public health crisis and escalating tensions between countries and amongst ethnic groups. Join the Council for a discussion with Dr. Peter Gleick on how international water resource management and the lack of access to clean water and sanitation impact social, financial and environmental stability. How is water’s ability to meet public health and humanity’s most fundamental needs being challenged? Where are climate change and urbanization most dramatically impacting water resources? Can an international water policy that effectively addresses these issues be developed? What solutions could be implemented now or in the near future? How likely are wars over water in the future? Dr. Gleick will address these questions and explain how current changes in water supply are impacting development and the future sustainability of many societies.

Direct download: 02-03-10_Peter_Gleick.mp3
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Since January 12th, our televisions and computers have been flooded with pictures of horrific destruction and human suffering wrought by the earthquake in Haiti. What makes the images all the more heart-wrenching is the knowledge that most of the devastation could have been prevented by modern building codes and disaster preparedness techniques. The World Affairs Council of Northern California in cooperation with The Pacific Council’s Equitable Globalization Member Committee welcome Dr. Brian Tucker, President and Founder of GeoHazards International. With decades of work in the field, Dr. Tucker is an expert on incorporating better building practices into disaster risk management programs and international development efforts. He describes how his organization is attempting to prevent earthquakes and tsunamis from having disastrous effects in developing countries, and will outline some of the possible steps needed in Haiti to ensure that the next earthquake that strikes does not cause the havoc we are witnessing now. The discussion offers insights into the challenge of instituting disaster preparedness programs in the developing world – how political, social, technical and economic barriers can be overcome to protect people in the world’s most vulnerable regions from the devastating effects of natural disasters.

Direct download: 02-02-10_Brian_Tucker.mp3
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The World Affairs Council in cooperation with Hostelling International USA, Golden Gate Council, is pleased to present an evening with Don George: Three decades as a professional world-wanderer have taught me that the planet is a glorious and fragile picture-puzzle of precious, unique and irreplaceable pieces. It has also led me to believe fervently that all of us who love to travel -- who, in a profound sense, live to travel -- are the guardians of that puzzle, for it is we who hold its pieces in our hands, and who celebrate and sanctify its existence in our lives. A new year, with a new administration in Washington, presents extraordinary opportunities and challenges for the American traveler. As 2010 unfolds, I’d like to share ten lessons I’ve learned in 30 years of travel to 70-plus countries: tips that can help us realize our potential as citizen stewards and everyday ambassadors to build bridges of understanding and connection around the globe.

Direct download: 01-27-10_Don_George.mp3
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In order to solve the current economic crisis, what aspects of our economic model do we need to rethink? Echoing Oscar Wilde’s observation that “people know the price of everything and the value of nothing,” Raj Patel argues that our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. Patel looks at the hidden ecological and social costs of common items that we currently take for granted, such as the hamburger which can be priced as high as $200. While we need to rethink our economic model, the larger failure behind the food, climate, and economic crises is the result of our political system. Dr. Patel has previously worked for the World Bank and the WTO, and currently serves as a Fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.

Direct download: 01-26-10_Raj_Patel.mp3
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With war continuing in the west and a fragile peace in the south, decades of fighting have left Sudan to cope with the effects of conflict, displacement, and insecurity. Respect for human rights remains a complex and challenging issue throughout the country. It has also led its longtime leader, President Omar al-Bashir, to become the first sitting head of state to be charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, resulting in the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for his arrest. A panel of Sudan experts joins the Council to examine the alleged human rights abuses committed by al-Bashir’s regime and the challenges in improving Sudan’s human rights situation. Also, what is the US policy toward Sudan and what new initiatives have the Obama administration implemented? The program will also explore the growing tensions ahead of the April 2010 national elections and the Southern Sudan referendum scheduled for January 2011.

Direct download: 01-25-10_Sudan.mp3
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With China’s growing role in the global arena, a new phase of China-US relations has taken center stage. During his recent visit, President Obama declared a success in establishing better diplomatic ties and pledged to treat China as a trusted global partner in future endeavors. Meanwhile, people in China have shown great interest in not just the President’s rise to the White House, but also in how furthering dialogue with the US will be an asset to both nations. Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong joins the Council to discuss the significance of strong US-China bilateral relations, as well as to offer the Chinese perspective on its growing role in the world.

Direct download: 01-19-10_Zhou_Wenzhong.mp3
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The world’s youngest country, the Republic of Kosovo, declared its independence in February 2008. Currently sixty-four countries have recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state, while it has also been admitted to both the IMF and World Bank. Kosovo’s independence has resulted in significant development for the country in all spheres and has proven to be a factor of stability for the region. Many of its international allies and partners, including the US, NATO, and EU remain committed to ensuring the stability of Kosovo. After almost two years of self-rule, the World Affairs Council and Commonwealth Club are honored to host the independent Republic first President to discuss the present and future for this new nation.

Direct download: 01-12-10_H.E._Dr._Fatmir_Sejdiu.mp3
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South Korea is recovering from the global financial crisis and ensuing recession much more quickly than most other countries. Byongwon Bahk, former senior economic advisor to Korean President Lee Myung-bak, will detail how Korea has been relatively successful in dealing with these acute problems, but he will argue that South Korea must implement major structural reforms if it is to sustain long-term growth. He will also explain why South Korea must draw lessons from the successes of its globally competitive manufacturing sector and apply them to weaker sectors such as financial services and agriculture. During the past decade, Mr. Bahk was in charge of the management of Korean macro-economic policy at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, reaching the level of vice minister, as well as served as a presidential advisor in Korea’s Blue House. Currently, Mr. Bahk is the Korean Studies Program Koret Fellow at Stanford University.

Direct download: 01-11-10_Byongwon_Bahk.mp3
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While the use of private contractors predates the Bush Administration, the privatization of American foreign policy has risen to unprecedented levels in recent years, becoming one of the most important trends in government and global politics. From the international activities involving homeland security to USAID and the State Department, what is the true extent of outsourcing of US government’s activities, and what has been its impact on American foreign policy? Are public-private partnerships here to stay? And if done right, can these partnerships significantly extend the reach and effectiveness of U.S. efforts abroad? International relations scholar Allison Stanger tells the story of how contractors became an integral part of American foreign policy, and why a new approach using private actors may be essential.

Direct download: 12-08-09_Luis_Moreno-Ocampo.mp3
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