On Shifting Ground

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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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: 12-07-09_Allison_Stanger.mp3
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From December 7-18, delegations from 192 countries will gather in Copenhagen for the highly anticipated negotiations that aim to establish a new global treaty on climate change. The meeting has the potential to create a unifying starting point in the fight to reduce emissions worldwide. But many taking part already anticipate failure: lack of political will and disagreements between developed and developing nations over emissions reduction and financing could halt progress toward a new, legally binding treaty. Experts Kammen and Levine join the Council to share their insights on the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations. What is likely to be achieved? What commitments can be expected from such superpowers as the US and China? new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.

Direct download: 12-02-09_Kammen_Levine.mp3
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Drawing on the results of the new World Energy Outlook 2009, Ambassador Jones joins the Council to provide a comprehensive update of energy demand and supply projections and their implications for energy security and the environment. This latest analysis from the International Energy Agency (IEA) takes into account the dramatic economic downturn that has now hit all parts of the world as well as revised expectations about energy prices, which have ridden a veritable roller-coaster over the past year. Ambassador Jones outlines the results of an in-depth assessment of the prospects for global gas markets, including the emergence of shale gas as a potentially low-cost source of supply in North America. He also presents a post-2012 scenario, which the IEA prepared as input to the UN climate negotiations, which details a pathway for the energy sector to achieve a transition to a low-carbon world. Ambassador Jones is joined by energy expert David Victor, Professor at UC San Diego School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and Director of the School’s new Laboratory on International Law and Regulation.

Direct download: 11-23-09_Richard_Jones.mp3
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As the US weighs a change of approach toward the Iranian government after thirty years of confrontation, Middle East expert John Limbert joins the Council to share his assessment of how to engage Iran. Drawing on four case studies highlighting past successes and failures, Limbert challenges both Americans and Iranians to end decades of mutually hostile mythmaking and create a platform for cultural and historical understanding. He argues that Iran will not change its behavior immediately and stop all of its misdeeds in the areas of Middle East peace, human rights and nuclear development. Yet by entering into serious negotiations, the US may discover areas of common interest that lurk behind walls of hostility and distrust. Limbert has served in numerous foreign service positions and holds the State Department highest award—the Distinguished Service Award—and the Award for Valor, which he received after fourteen months as a hostage during the Iran hostage crisis.

Direct download: 11-16-09_John_Limbert.mp3
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For the past two decades, author and award-winning journalist Mark Danner has reported from Latin America, Haiti, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Moving from mass murder on election day in Port-au-Prince, to massacre by mortar bomb on the streets of Sarajevo to suicide bombing in the suburban neighborhoods of Baghdad, his reporting has not only explored the real consequences of American engagement with the world, but also the relationship between political violence, war, and power. One of America’s leading foreign correspondents, Danner joins the Council to discuss the work behind his reportage, and to examine the considerations of a wide range of policymakers in Washington, Langley, and various world capitals, and the effects their decisions, and their mistakes, have made on people at home and abroad.

Direct download: 11-12-09_Mark_Danner.mp3
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Improving healthcare in Africa is a daunting task. Recent statistics issued by the World Health Organization show that Africa holds 11 percent of the world’s population but bears 90 percent of the burden for neglected tropical diseases, which include malaria and yellow fever. In addition, most of the world’s 33 million infected with HIV reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Many are aware of the problems facing Africa, but how deep is the understanding of possible solutions? Join leaders from four prestigious non-profit organizations that are working on the ground to improve healthcare in Africa for a discussion on what’s working and what isn’t from the standpoint of medicine, leadership, and sustainability. What has gotten better and what has gotten worse? How is success measured? Are non-profits better suited to provide healthcare in Africa than government or private for-profit organizations? Join the Council as we move beyond healthcare policy toward pragmatic implementation and finding solutions that work.

Direct download: 11-10-09_Africa_Healthcare.mp3
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Over the past decade, renowned environmentalist Lester Brown has called for a worldwide mobilization to stabilize climate change, including a strategy for cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. With a look at recent geopolitics, Brown believes that food may be the issue that finally convinces the world to take the steps necessary to achieve this goal. He argues that we are entering a new food era, one marked by higher food prices, growing numbers of hungry people, and an intensifying competition for land and water resources. The issue of food security has become highly complex with every major environmental trend making humanity more vulnerable to food shortages: from climate change and population pressure to eroding soils and water scarcity. Brown joins the Council to share the newest edition of his strategy to address food insecurity, stabilize climate change and avoid environmental collapse: Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

Direct download: 11-09-09_Lester_Brown.mp3
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People in the West generally share a common narrative of world history that runs from the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia, through Greece and Rome, to the rise of the secular state and the triumph of democracy. However, this story largely omits an entire civilization; one that until recently saw itself at the center of world history and whose citizens have shared an entirely different narrative of world history for a thousand years. Rich in science, poetry, politics, and religion, what can we learn from this parallel historic perspective which begins in Mesopotamia and the Persian highlands, moves through the Prophet Mohammed’s life and the struggles among his immediate successors, a succession of great Muslim empires, and into modern age dominated by Western powers and cultures? Tamim Ansary joins the Council to discuss why two great civilizations grew up almost totally oblivious to each other, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe had somehow rewritten history.

Direct download: 11-05-09_Tamim_Ansary.mp3
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Have you wondered what kind of organization you would get if you mixed the business savvy of a corporation with the passion and heart of a non-profit? Come spend an evening with John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children across the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. At age 35, John Wood left his high-paying job as Microsoft Director of Business Development in China to create Room to Read. What started as a personal goal of delivering 3,000 books by yak to a remote Nepali village in 1999 has become an award-winning NGO providing educational resources to over 3 million children and establishing over 7,000 libraries in impoverished regions of Asia and Africa. Described as an organization that combines the heart of Mother Theresa with the scalability of Starbucks, Wood joins the Council to share how he was able to develop Room to Read into one of the fastest-growing non-profits in history and how his unique business and non-profit approach guide his vision of educating some the world’s poorest children.

Direct download: 11-04-09_John_Wood.mp3
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Members of civil society do not have a seat at the upcoming climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, yet the issue of climate change affects us all. Looking at the causes and potential cures for global warming, Robert Musil sees hope in the role of the individual. He argues that it is efforts of a growing grassroots movement of engaged citizens that will ultimately decide the course of the climate challenge. Through personal choices and political engagement, he explores how we can cut carbon emissions and produce unprecedented change across sectors. Musil was the Executive Director and CEO of Nobel Peace Prize–winning organization Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and helped launch PSR’s environmental program in the early 1990s.

Direct download: 11-03-09_Robert_Musil.mp3
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With the Obama Administration in the White House, what are the new goals and objectives of US multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations? While President Obama has reaffirmed America’s commitment to the UN, how is the United States working multilaterally on “hot issues” such as food security, development, climate change, and humanitarian issues? Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer joins the Council to discuss the Obama administration’s approach to revitalizing multilateral diplomacy, and how it can achieve our foreign policy goals, as well as our priorities in international organizations. Dr. Esther Brimmer was nominated by President Obama to the position of Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations on March 2009. In her role as Assistant Secretary, she leads the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which strives to advance U.S. interests through international organizations in areas including human rights, peacekeeping, food security, humanitarian relief, and climate change.

Direct download: 10-29-09_Esther_Brimmer.mp3
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Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari’s arrest and subsequent incarceration in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison in 2007 became an international incident that sparked protests from some of the world’s most influential public figures—including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Madeleine Albright. What started as a regular visit to her elderly mother, ended with Dr. Esfandiari as the victim of the far-fetched belief on the part of Iran Intelligence Ministry that she was part of an American conspiracy for “regime change” in Iran. Through her ordeal, she came face-to-face with the state of affairs between Iran and the United States—and witnessed first-hand how fear and paranoia could create a government that would take her captive. Dr. Esfandiari joins the Council to share her personal story and extensive knowledge of Iran to paint a picture of this country today and how it came to be.

Direct download: 10-28-09_Haleh_Esfandiari.mp3
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His Excellency Maen Areikat, Chief Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mission to the United States, joins the Council to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East peace process and to take a look forward at the opportunities and challenges for a Palestinian state. President Obama has demonstrated a renewed commitment and urgency to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and much has been happening. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being pressured to stop settlement construction in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to negotiate until this commitment is realized. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad recently released an outline to create a Palestinian state by 2011 through internal institution building. Meanwhile, tensions between Hamas and Fatah still remain. Reconciliation talks have floundered and new elections are scheduled for 2010. Mr. Areikat previously took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun/Erez in Gaza and Taba, Egypt, in 1996, in Jerusalem in 1997, and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation at the Wye River negotiations in 1998. He recently returned from Bethlehem where Fatah held its first party conference in 20 years and elected a mostly new leadership committee.

Direct download: 10-27-09_Maen_Areikat.mp3
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is an expert of game theory—the idea that people compete and that they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory and its insights into human behavior to predict events and his forecasts have a 90 percent accuracy rate. He boldly predicts that President Obama is unlikely to quash the terrorist influence in Pakistan, that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons, and that global warming will prove immune to government prescriptions. In his new book, The Predictioneer’s Game, Bueno de Mesquita uses his mathematical model to predict outcomes in business, national security, and people’s day-to-day lives based on the self-interest of decision makers. He joins the Council to detail his system of calculation that allows him to predict the outcomes of North Korean disarmament talks, the Middle East peace process, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Iran-Iraq relations following American troop withdrawals, and many other vexing national security challenges. Since the early 1980s, CIA officials have hired Bueno de Mesquita to perform more than a thousand predictions and a study by the CIA, now declassified, found that his predictions “hit the bull’s-eye” twice as often as its own analysts did.

Direct download: 10-26-09_Bruce_Bueno_de_Mesquita.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:19am PDT

In the wake of the global financial crisis, the unique relationship between China and the US has become the fulcrum of the world economy. As our largest creditor, China’s lending to the US has buoyed American companies and even allowed them to reinvent themselves, selling to Chinese consumers. Author and economic trend analyst Zachary Karabell argues that our two economies have become so interconnected that they’ve become one system: Chimerica. Karabell traces the initial forging of Chimerica that began after the suppression of the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 to the present. With a look at current affairs and the changing global economy, he urges that we accept China as the predominant economic partner of the future, or find ourselves left behind.

Direct download: 10-21-09_Zachar_Karabell.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:05am PDT

Despite widespread media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, global terrorism and events in the Middle East, little is truly known about what a majority of the world Muslims really think and feel. What do Muslims have to say about violence and terrorist attacks? What do they have to say about democracy, women, and relations with the West? What are their values, goals, and religious beliefs? To help put to rest misunderstandings and present the often-silenced voice of the Muslim world, Dalia Mogahed joins the Council to discuss Gallup largest study of Muslim populations. Based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study which challenges conventional wisdom and sheds greater light on what motivates Muslims worldwide. Mogahed has recently been appointed to President Obama Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Direct download: 10-21-09_Dalia_Mogahed.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:01am PDT

What is petroleum’s role in our economy, and what will be the benefits of further developing domestic resources? How have assessments of our country’s domestic petroleum resources been affected by public opinion and the debate in Congress? What role will alternative and renewable sources play in the future, and what will be the environmental impact of technological advancements in energy production? Rayola Dougher, American Petroleum Institute’s senior economic advisor joins the Council to discuss industry perspectives and the benefits that responsible policy in the energy sector can provide Northern California and the world

Direct download: 10-15-09_Rayola_Dougher.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:08am PDT

The International Museum of Women in partnership with the World Affairs Council presents a conversation with Nicholas Kristof on his latest work, Half the Sky. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Kristof has written widely on global health, poverty and gender issues in the developing world, with particular attention in recent years to issues in Darfur, Sudan. This discussion will focus on the imperative for global action on the empowerment of women, exploring the connections between economic progress and unleashing women potential. Half the Sky is described as a call to arms against our era most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women in the developing world.”

Direct download: 10-14-09_Nicholas_Kristof.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:07am PDT

From Iraq and Saudi Arabia to Equatorial Guinea and Ecuador, what has been the impact of oil on the countries that produce it? To what extent has petroleum production helped or hurt nations develop not just economically, but also politically and socially? And, how have campaigns like that of Hugo Chávez’s to redistribute oil wealth in Venezuela created new economic and political crises? With a focus on the rebels, royalty, environmentalists, indigenous activists, dictators and CEOs associated with the petroleum industry, Peter Maass examines the world that oil has created. A contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Maass has reported from the Balkans, Middle East, Asia, South America and Africa for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and Slate.

Direct download: 10-08-09_Peter_Maass.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:06am PDT

From the Berlin Airlift to the Iraq War, the UN Security Council has stood at the heart of post-war global politics. Sometimes seen as part public theater, part smoke-filled backroom, the Security Council has enjoyed notable successes and suffered ignominious failures, but it has always provided a space for the five permanent powers to sit down together. Despite its many failures and shortcomings, the Security Council has still served an invaluable purpose above all: to prevent conflict between the Great Powers. A former senior editor at Foreign Policy, Professor David Bosco joins the Council to examine the role of the Security Council, diverging interests of its five permanent members, and to discuss why this is the one place where we should be working to resolve the world major problems of peace and security.

Direct download: 10-07-09_David_Bosco.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:22pm PDT

After the coup in Honduras, the US and Colombian governments’ provisional defense cooperation agreement, and President Obama’s address at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, what is the current state of US-Venezuela relations? How has the region changed in recent years, and what will be the impact of new realities and dynamics on the relationship the Obama administration develops with Latin America? Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Bernardo Alvarez Herrera joins the Council to discuss bilateral relations between these two states, as well as to present a regional viewpoint of the role of the United States in Latin America. Before serving as Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington, Ambassador Alvarez held various public positions such as Vice Minister of Hydrocarbons at the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Deputy to the National Congress, Vice Chairman of the Armed Forces Committee and Chairman of the Energy and Mines Committee, and Chief of the Research and Development Division at the Venezuelan Institute of Foreign Trade. In the international arena he has held positions as Representative of Venezuela and Member of the Executive Committee to the U.S. Energy Council, Principal Coordinator for Venezuela in the Cooperation Agreement on Energy with the United States, and Head of the Venezuelan Delegation to the Ministerial Conferences of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Ambassador Alvarez has also taught at the Universidad Central de Venezuela and Superior School of the Venezuelan Air Force, as well as Academic Advisor at the Institute of Higher Studies on National Defense.

Direct download: 10-06-09_Ambassador_Alvarez.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:20pm PDT

What are the prospects for democratic reform in China? Some experts believe that thirty years of successful economic reforms, bringing unprecedented prosperity and giving rise to a new middle class, will inevitably lead to a political opening for democracy to gain traction. Others argue that this very success has made the ruling Communist Party’s hold on power stronger than ever. Still, there are others who claim that growing social and economic tensions and instability may lead to China’s fragmentation or even collapse. Join this distinguished panel of experts for a discussion of China’s remarkable transformation and political future.

Direct download: 10-05-09_The_Future_of_Democarcy_in_China.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:16pm PDT

Kjell Magne Bondevik is the former Prime Minister of Norway, a position he held twice from 1997-2000 and from 2001-2005. Following his life in politics, Mr. Bondevik became president of The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. In early 2006, then United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed him as the new Special Humanitarian Envoy for the Horn of Africa, an area that includes the troubled regions of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia. As an ordained minister and president of The Oslo Center, Mr. Bondevik is deeply involved in promoting international human rights and interfaith dialogue. He argues that instead of aggravating conflicts, religions—by focusing on common values—can join forces and make constructive contributions to conflict resolution. Mr. Bondevik joins the Council to discuss his organization’s work in bringing together influential politicians, religious leaders and academics into a much needed dialogue on religion, tolerance, diversity, women’s rights and democracy. He will discuss his recent partnership with the former President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, and how the two have been working together to increase understanding, reduce tensions, counter stereotypes, and promote peaceful dialogue between the Islamic world and the West.

Direct download: 09-30-09_Kjell_Mange_Bondevik.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

Abraham Verghese is Professor and Senior Associate Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Born to Indian parents in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa where he began his medical training. Today he is a practicing physician turned award-winning writer. His first book was named Best Book of the Year by Time magazine and was later made into a movie. His latest work, Cutting for Stone, is the story of Marion and Shiva Stone—twin brothers orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance. The twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution yet it is their passion for the same woman that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland. When the past catches up, Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. The story is as much about the coming of age of Marion as it is that of Ethiopia, a geography and tumultuous political landscape familiar to Verghese.

Direct download: 09-29-09_Abraham_Verghese.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

As the United States takes the lead on international efforts toward a world free of nuclear weapons, Charles Ferguson, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored Independent Task Force, and Task Force member Scott Sagan will discuss key recommendations on ways to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. The Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, states that while “the geopolitical conditions that would permit the global elimination of nuclear weapons do not currently exist,” steps can be taken now to diminish the danger of nuclear proliferation and nuclear use. The report also evaluates the best way to contain the threat of proliferation posed by Iran, North Korea and other potential nuclear threats.

Direct download: 09-28-09_Ferguson_Sagan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:51am PDT

Experience shows that physical reconstruction alone is not sufficient for the sustained, long-term politi cal and socio-economic development of societies emerging from conflict. Attention must be paid to the institutions that underlie function ing economic and political systems. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), joins the Council to offer new perspectives on the critical juncture between democratic governance, market institutions, and a functioning private sector. Traditionally, in dealing with post-conflict reform and peace-building issues, reformers have focused on security operations and humanitarian assistance as a key to moving countries out of conflict. Although important in their own right, such efforts must be complemented by institutional reforms, such as good governance, anti-corruption, the rule of law, and the strengthening of civil society. Citing examples of CIPE’s work in fragile states such as Pakistan and in post-conflict states such as Afghanistan and Iraq, Dr. Sullivan will address the role of private enterprise in promoting a strong, well-functioning society and the particular challenges faced in these vastly different environments.

Direct download: 09-24-09_John_Sullivan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:50am PDT

Opposition leader, pro-democracy campaigner, social worker, and women’s rights advocate Mu Sochua joins the Council to discuss her efforts to oppose sex trafficking, domestic violence, land grabs and corruption in Cambodia. A member of the opposition party in the Cambodian parliament, Ms. Sochua recently attempted to sue Prime Minister Hun Sen for defamation but the court dismissed her suit and instead upheld the prime minister’s counter-defamation lawsuit in August. Sochua was fined and had her parliamentary immunity stripped in a court case that attracted the attention of the UN High Commission on Human Rights. She and other human rights groups argue that the Cambodian government is using the courts to silence political opponents, journalists and human rights activists. Mu Sochua originally served as a member of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet but left the position after witnessing government corruption and is now a senior member of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. A former minister of women’s affairs, in 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to stop the trafficking of women in the Cambodian and Thai sex trade.

Direct download: 09-17-09_Mu_Sochua.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:57pm PDT

The World Affairs Council is pleased to co-sponsor a Marines’ Memorial event with journalist Nicholas Schmidle to discuss the most recent and turbulent period of Pakistan’s history. In February 2006 Schmidle traveled to Pakistan hoping to learn more about the place dubbed “the most dangerous country in the world.” After spending two years covering Pakistan and being deported twice by the Pakistani authorities for his reporting, his observations provide a contemporary history of this country at a time when President Pervez Musharraf’s power was waning and the Taliban’s was growing, and when Americans began to realize that Pakistan’s fate is inextricably linked with our own. A fellow at the New America Foundation, Schmidle writes for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Smithsonian, and received the Kurt Schork Award for freelance journalism in 2008.

Direct download: 09-15-09_Nicholas_Schmidle.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:55pm PDT

General Anthony Zinni is a retired four-star general in the United States Marine Corps who served from 1997 to 2000 as Commander of US Central Command. In 2002, he was selected as special envoy for the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. General Zinni joins the Marines’ Memorial Association and the World Affairs Council to examine the trends that have reshaped our world and the ways in which visionary leaders and organizations can effectively respond. In his new book, Leading the Charge,, General Zinni argues that the old systems, organizations, and ways of operating no longer work in our dynamic, complex and increasingly unstable new environment. Out of this chaos and confusion, a new and different leader must emerge. Tomorrow’s successful leaders—in all fields, including the military, academia, politics, and business—must know how to create, operate, and thrive in very fluid, flattened, and integrated structures that are remarkably different from the traditional organizations we are used to seeing.

Direct download: 8-18-09_gen_anthony_zinni.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:04pm PDT

The global financial crisis has put those living in poverty in an even more precarious position and left many of the institutions that would normally come to their aid unable to help. What is the best way for each of us to reach out to those most in need? Many point to small acts of philanthropy, such as micro-lending and grant-making. Innovative organizations that facilitate such person-to-person giving are thriving in the current economic climate, demonstrating that small, seemingly insignificant actions can lead to meaningful change. Flannery and Taylor—pioneers of online giving markets—will discuss their two models and how we can help individuals pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty both at home and world-wide.

Direct download: 08-13-09_Taylor__Flannery.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:22pm PDT

With its roots in the early 20th century, how has rational market theory survived as its very foundation is challenged by the financial crisis now gripping the global markets? What role did the belief that the stock market is both random and perfectly rational play in the current crisis and how did it influence new ideas about corporate governance? How did it help to spawn new financial instruments such as index funds, credit default swaps, and collateralized debt obligations? TIME magazine’s Justin Fox joins the Council to tell the story behind the premise that financial markets are rational, reliable and capable of regulating themselves. He also introduces the economists who have challenged the new rational market orthodoxy, among them Robert Shiller, Joseph Stiglitz, and the current top economic adviser in the Obama White House, Lawrence Summers.

Direct download: 08-12-09_Justin_Fox.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:22pm PDT

For more than thirty years, humankind has known how to grow enough food to end chronic hunger worldwide. Yet more than 9 million people die each year of hunger, malnutrition, and related diseases—most of them in Africa and most of them children. Roger Thurow joins the Council for a look at the geopolitics that allow some countries to prosper while others starve. Looking at Africa, he examines how subsidies and food aid are going awry, and how many well-intentioned strategies contribute to keeping the poor hungry and unable to feed themselves. Thurow has been a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal for twenty years and has reported from more than sixty countries.

Direct download: 08-11-09_Roger_Thurow.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:22pm PDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following President Obama’s historic speech in Cairo and as events are unfolding in Iran and throughout the Middle East, the Council is pleased and honored to host His Excellency Sameh Shoukry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States. A career diplomat, Ambassador Shoukry has previously served as Egypt Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, as well as in Egyptian embassies in London, Buenos Aires and the Permanent Mission of Egypt in New York. A specialist in disarmament and non-proliferation issues, he has formally held senior posts in the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has served as Secretary for Information and Follow-Up for President Hosni Mubarak. Ambassador Shoukry joins the Council to discuss US-Egyptian relations and recent developments in the Middle East.

Direct download: 06-24-09_Ambassador_Sameh_Shoukry.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:11am PDT

Bank bailouts, fiscal stimulus and bankruptcy counseling. Amidst the solutions proposed to fix the current global economic crisis, why do so few of the pundits and policymakers discuss the role of women? Join the World Affairs Council in conversation with Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, and Monica Morse, Board Member of Astia, as they discuss the global impact of women on economic development—from microfinance to leaders of multimillion dollar companies. The speakers will explore the work of their organizations, which respectively recruit, train and support women running both small ventures as well as high growth, high capital outfits. They will discuss how investing in women as a business strategy creates a sound social and financial approach to alleviating the current crisis and preventing others.

Direct download: 06-18-09_Women_Entrepreneurs.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:50am PDT

Michael Pollan believes that “real food”—the kind of food your great-grandmother would recognize as food—is being undermined across the globe by science on one side and the food industry on the other. As the modern Western or “American” diet has been linked to an epidemic of chronic diseases, from obesity and type 2 diabetes, what can governments and their citizens do to put the focus back on the health of the soil, plants, and animals that make up the food chain? Pollan joins the Council to explore what the industrialization of food and agriculture has meant for the world’s health and happiness, how it has shaped cultures, and looks at the growing movement to renovate the food system.

Direct download: 6-16-2009_Michael_Pollan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:55pm PDT

The Obama administration has been in office for roughly 20 weeks and has inherited myriad problems. In foreign affairs, how have they done so far? Have there been any serious errors? What is the Obama doctrine? What are the most critical international challenges that await the new president? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Sanger joins the Council for an analysis of the most sensitive national security issues facing President Obama and will provide an assessment of how well the new administration has fared. Sanger is the author of the most recent book, The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power, in which he argues that the huge costs of distraction and lost opportunities in the last years of the Bush presidency have put the United States in a vulnerable position and that as a result the new Obama administration has an unusually large number of critical foreign policy issues to deal with.

Direct download: 06-11-09_David_Sanger.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:27am PDT

Jeff Rubin forecasts that despite the current recessionary dip, oil prices will once again soar once the economy recovers. With the disappearance of the world’s oil reserves, the amount of food and other goods we get from abroad will be curtailed and long distance travel will be rare. Globalization as we know it will reverse. Alongside these predictions, Rubin prescribes priorities for the Obama administration and other leaders: from imposing carbon tariffs and investing in mass transit to forging green alliances between labor and management that will be good for both business and the climate. Rubin is a Canadian economist and energy expert, and among the first to predict the dramatic oil price increases back in 2000.

Direct download: 06-09-09_Jeff_Rubin.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:04am PDT

Are our current international institutions effectively equipped to address today’s most pressing global security challenges, ranging from climate change and nuclear proliferation to civil strife and terrorism? How can President Obama and key allies revitalize international cooperation and rejuvenate international institutions not only to protect their own citizens, but also to cooperate across borders to safeguard common resources and tackle common threats? Stephen Stedman joins the Council to present ideas for the new US administration and other global powers to promote what they cannot produce apart—peace and stability. A leading expert on civil wars and conflict management, Stedman was formerly the research director of the United Nations High- Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change from 2003-2004, and Assistant Secretary General and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, in 2005.

Direct download: 05-29-09_Stephen_Stedman.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:00am PDT

Charles Duelfer was one of the most senior intelligence officers with on-the-ground experience to have worked in Iraq before, during, and after the Gulf War. While serving as the leader of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group, his 2004 report is widely renowned as the most authoritative account on the relationship of the Saddam regime to weapons of mass destruction, as well as how the world was led to believe that Iraq possessed WMDs. But until now, Duelfer has never publicly shared his expertise on just how the US-Iraq relationship spiraled into a second war, and the lessons that can be applied to the challenges ahead in Iran and North Korea.

Direct download: 06-02-09_Charles_Duelfer.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 10:03am PDT

When should the United States go to war? It is arguably the most important foreign policy question facing any president. The Council is pleased to welcome Richard Haass for an examination of the US policy decisions that led to the two Iraq wars. Haass, who served as senior Middle East advisor on the National Security Council staff for the first President Bush and director of policy planning in the State Department for the second, is in a unique position to discuss the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. At first glance, these conflicts appear similar. Both involved a President George Bush and the United States in conflicts with Saddam Hussein and Kuwait. But there, Haass argues, the resemblance ends. The first Iraq war, following Saddam’s invasion of neighboring Kuwait, was a war of necessity. By contrast, the second Iraq war, launched in 2003, was a war of choice, one that Haass asserts was unwarranted. Join Richard Haass for an inside account of both wars and a discussion of lessons for today’s foreign policy challenges.

Direct download: 05-20-09_Richard_Haass.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:57am PDT

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s record in one of the most turbulent periods in US foreign policy has earned him broad respect throughout the world. Serving as the 26th United States Ambassador to the United Nations, he dealt with global issues during one of the most challenging periods in our history, including the recent Russia-Georgia conflict and the Mumbai terror attacks. The highest-ranking Muslim to serve in the US government, he has been the US Ambassador to both Afghanistan and Iraq, where he played a significant role in facilitating both countries’ constitutions, elections and formation of government. With first-hand knowledge and experience from these diplomatic positions, Ambassador Khalilzad provides an insider perspective on Afghanistan and Pakistan as the United States becomes more engaged in this region, as well as what must be done to reach peace in the entire Middle East.

Direct download: 5-12-2009-Ambassador_Zalmay_Khalilzad.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:53am PDT

Reza Aslan joins the Council for an in-depth discussion on the ideology that fuels al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and like-minded militants throughout the Muslim world. With a look at the United States’ approach to the War on Terror, he examines the polarizing rhetoric that has further entangled politics with religion. From Israel to Iraq and from the Netherlands to New York, Aslan argues that religion is a stronger force today than it has been in a century. He asserts that the only way to win an ideological war is to refuse to fight one: we must strip away the current ideological conflict of its religious connotations and address the actual grievances that fuel the Jihadist movement. Reza Aslan is the award-winning author of lt;igt;No god but Godlt;/igt; and lt;igt;How to Win a Cosmic Warlt;/igt;, and a Middle East Analyst for CBS News.

Direct download: 05-11-09_Reza_Aslan.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:49am PDT

Valentino Achak Deng fled his native Sudan in the late 1980’s during civil war, when his village was destroyed by the murahaleen— the same type of militia which currently terrorize Darfur. After nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator, he resettled in Atlanta. Since then, Deng has toured the country speaking about Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on lt;igt;What Is the Whatlt;/igt;, the novelized version of Deng’s life story. A leader in the Sudanese Diaspora, he has also worked relentlessly to expose the realities of what is happening in Sudan, its effect on the people, and how we can rebuild Sudanese communities.

Direct download: 04-27-09_Valentino_Achak_Deng.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:45am PDT

From the killing fields of Cambodia to the ongoing nightmare in Darfur, why has the world traditionally stood by as governments fail to protect their own people from genocide, ethnic cleansing, or other crimes against humanity? Gareth Evans explains why mass atrocities continue to go unchecked and how the emergence of new international norms, such as the Responsibility to Protect, can guard citizens from falling victim to mass crimes. A former Australian Foreign Minister and leading international advocate in conflict prevention and resolution, Evans co-chaired the international commission that initiated the Responsibility to Protect idea in 2001.

Direct download: 04-13-09_Gareth_Evans.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 9:33am PDT

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

Direct download: Breakout-IV-Sate_Failures-2009_Annual_Conference.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:21am PDT

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

Direct download: Breakout-III-Addressing_Global_Povery-2009_Annual_Conference.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 3:20am PDT

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

The economic, military and political challenges for the new administration and for each of us as citizens are enormous. Explore the discussions and debates from the 2009 Annual Conference that reveal the key global issues to be addressed at this historical moment.

While much of American foreign policy is focused on fighting extremists in the Middle East and South Asia, many American leaders have lost sight of a growing threat closer to home: the growing ambivalence of Europe’s Muslims. Until the United States and Europe adopt new strategies to attract the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims living in the West, Shore argues, Europe will increasingly become the incubation ground for breeding new Bin Ladens. Shore asserts that “No one is born a terrorist; terrorists are bred” and that therefore it is imperative to understand the thoughts and feelings of Europe’s younger Muslims, most of whom would never commit violence, but some of whom could be tempted to sympathize with terrorist acts. He gives voice to people of deep faith who speak of the conflict between their desire to integrate into their adopted societies and the repulsion they feel toward some of what the West represents.

Direct download: 03-19-09_Zachary_Shore.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:08pm PDT

Civil wars, acts of terror, large scale economic failure, seizures of private industries—the world can be a very dangerous place for investors. And because of the growing importance of emerging and frontier markets in recent years, too many companies and financiers have learned the hard truth that in the international economy and these tough financial times, politics often matters as much as economic fundamentals. From the impact of great power rivalries, terrorist groups, government takeover of private property, and weak leaders, how can global firms, money managers and economic policy makers effectively analyze and manage political instability in a volatile global marketplace? A leading figure in political risk management, Ian Bremmer joins the Council to discuss the wide range of potential political risks that global firms face and will shed light on how investors can effectively analyze, evaluate, and predict them.

Direct download: 03-13-09_Ian_Bremmer.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:06pm PDT

As China and India continue their ascent as emerging powers, how does the Tibet issue affect the relationship between these two economic giants? On the 50th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, join Tenzin Tethong for a look at what Tibet means for China-India relations. Tibetan Uprising Day commemorates the 1959 Tibetan demonstrations against the People’s Republic of China presence in Tibet. This uprising was followed by a crackdown on Tibetan independence movements, and the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans into exile in India. The Dalai Lama and Tibetan government-in-exile continue to reside in India today; however, their presence has been a source of friction and distrust between China and India. Tethong will discuss the complex geo-political relationship between China and India and how the recent resurgence of protests surrounding the Tibet issue has affected these emerging powers. The program will be followed by a wine reception.

Direct download: 03-10-09_Tenzin_Tethong.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:01pm PDT

From the accomplishments of the French Presidency of the European Union in responding to the recent turmoil in financial markets and the Georgian crisis to France’s leadership in attempting to resolve the current crisis in the Middle East, the Council is honored to host Ambassador Pierre Vimont to discuss the active and influential role that the French Republic is playing on the European continent and across the globe. Ambassador Vimont has had a distinguished career in France’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Prior to his present appointment as Ambassador by President Nicolas Sarkozy, he has also served as the chief of staff to the minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Ambassador and permanent representative of France to the European Union. Advanced registration

Direct download: 2-23-09_Amb_Pierre_Vimont.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:49am PDT

According to Peter Singer, the ordinary American has an obligation to the world’s poor. He suggests that for the first time in history we, as individuals, are in a position to end extreme poverty. Yet with the death of more than 10 million children each year from avoidable, poverty-related causes, Singer argues that our current minimal response is ethically indefensible. Through thought experiments and examples, Singer examines our concept of giving and personal responsibility to the poor. He offers practical ways to tackle global poverty through philanthropy, local activism and political awareness. A philosopher and ethicist, Singer was named one of “The Most Influential People in the World” by TIME magazine and is the author and editor of over forty books.

Direct download: 03-04-09_Peter_Singer.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:57am PDT

The three leading schools of American foreign policy today: the left-of-center liberal institutionalist, the Bush-era neocon, and the realist, are likened to the major characters of the infamous film, The Godfather. Hulsman and Mitchell offer a cogent analysis of foreign policy using the themes of the film as parable. Given the present changes in the world’s power structure, the movie is a startling and useful metaphor for the strategic problems of our times, and an assessment of cold-war American power in decline.

Direct download: 3_5_09__Hulsman_Mitchell.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:53pm PDT

Described by former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers as the world preeminent financial journalist, Martin Wolf joins the World Affairs Council to explain what has happened to the global financial order and what can be done to avoid the shocks of global finance. Martin Wolf was one of the first to warn and write about the problems in the financial markets, in large part predicting the current financial turmoil. Offering a prescription for fixing global finance, Martin Wolf will discuss the links between the microeconomics of finance and the macroeconomics of the balance of payments, demonstrating how the subprime lending crisis in the United States fits into a pattern that includes the economic shocks of 1997, 1998, and early 1999 in Latin America, Russia, and Asia. Martin Wolf is the associate editor and chief economics commentator for the Financial Times and a professor of economics at the University of Nottingham, England. He is the author of several books, most recently Fixing Global Finance, and was named to Foreign Policy and Prospect magazinesapos; Top 100 Public Intellectuals list.

Direct download: 2-18-09_Martin_Wolf.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 4:19am PDT

Join Jane Wales, President CEO of the World Affairs Council and Global Philanthropy Forum, for a powerful conversation with two dynamic agents of change: Denis Mukwege, founder of the Panzi Hospital in Eastern Congo and winner of the 2008 UN Human Rights Prize, and Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls. Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Ensler will discuss Dr. Mukwege’s work with survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a country rich in natural resources but weighed down by years of war and its attendant abuses. Since 1996, sexual violence against women and girls in Eastern DRC has been used as a weapon of war to torture, humiliate and destroy not only women and girls, but entire families and communities. Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped due to conflict in the region. The V-Day movement and UNICEF (in partnership with UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict) are engaged in a global campaign to bring much needed attention to the needs of Congolese women and girls. The campaign is called “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to the Women and Girls of DRC.” On the ground, women survivors are coming together and breaking the silence. Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Ensler will speak about violence against women, the efforts underway to end it, and their work toward supporting a new wave of women leaders in the region. Please join us as we learn what it takes to economically and socially empower women and girls so that they can become leaders in rebuilding their country.

Direct download: 2_18_09_Denis_Mukwege.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:46pm PDT

Having denounced the Guantánamo Bay detention camp as a “sad chapter in American history,” President Obama has vowed to restore our nation’s moral stature by closing the controversial facility. As the world awaits definitive action, the Council welcomes Laurel Fletcher and Eric Stover, co-authors of Guantánamo and its Aftermath, an in-depth study of former detainees. In a conversation led by Elizabeth Farnsworth, Fletcher and Stover discuss the implications of their study’s findings, explore what measures are currently being taken by the US government and human rights organizations on Guantánamo, and propose recommendations for the Obama administration.

Direct download: 02-11-09_Facing_up_to_Guantanamo.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:12pm PDT

We honor former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her daughters, Alice, Anne and Katie, in conversation with Jane Wales, President and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Northern California and the Global Philanthropy Forum. All four Albright women devote their lives to bettering our world. Together, we will explore how the ideals of community and service are shared across generations.

Direct download: 2-7-09_Madaline_Albright.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 1:45pm PDT

After the startling attacks on Mumbai the world is focused with even greater apprehension on the relationship between India and Pakistan. Rafiq Dossani, Neil Joeck and Daniel Sneider join the Council to examine India and Pakistan’s responses to the November terrorist strikes. Will the two nations continue to confront each other through diplomacy or will mutual distrust escalate to armed conflict? What potential does the US have as peacemaker? What are the implications of what is predicted to be an increasing number of terrorist attacks on India as an emerging power?

Direct download: 02-03-09_Aftermath_of_Mumbai.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:43pm PDT

With a new administration in the White House, what will political change in Washington mean for transatlantic relations between Europe and the United States? From the turmoil in closely-linked financial markets to greater engagement with international institutions to combating terrorism and climate change, how can governments on both sides of the Atlantic turn a series of separate problems into a chain of interlinked opportunities? The Honorable John Bruton, former Irish Prime Minister and current EU Ambassador to the United States, joins the Council to discuss the future of EU-US relations and the prospect for a more outward-looking and engaged transatlantic partnership.

Direct download: 01-30-09Amb_John_Bruton.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:17am PDT

For many, the effects of climate change can appear far off—either geographically distant or isolated to the future. Stephan Faris joins the Council to reveal how climate change is at the root of many of the world’s current and impending crises. Reporting from Darfur to Napa Valley, Faris’ work linking the warming of our planet to local and global conflicts has been widely published and recently cited by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Direct download: 01-27-09_Stephan_Faris.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 8:14am PDT

The 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq sprang in no small part from massive intelligence failures, that much is well understood. How the CIA got to a point where it could fail so catastrophically is not. John Diamond begins by looking at US intelligence during the dozen years from the end of the Cold War to the invasion of Iraq in early 2003 as a defining period in CIA history. Diamond argues that while the CIA had a role in the successful outcome of the Cold War, it also became a source of ridicule for missing the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so with its main mission at an end, the Agency faced staff and budget reductions and a decline in morale as it struggled to prove its relevance and redefine its role. It was during this period, when the CIA was at its weakest, that the Agency made critical misjudgments about Iraq and missed the emergence of its gravest challenge: al Qaeda. Join the Council for an analysis of the CIA past activities and to take a look at where the CIA will be heading under Barack Obama new CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta.

Direct download: 01-12-09_John_Diamond.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 12:01pm PDT

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office, how will turmoil in the international financial markets impact the formulation of his economic and foreign policy agendas? Adam Posen joins the Council to shed light on the economic challenges and international implications facing the new Obama presidency. A widely cited expert on monetary policy from the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., Posen has been a consultant to the Departments of State and Treasury, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund on a variety of economic and foreign policy issues.

Direct download: 01-07-09_Adam_Posen.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT