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OCTOBER 2018

"Exploring America: Perspectives from Other Lands"

This a repeat performance for one the Committee's most popular programs of the last two seasons: a panel discussion with fellows from this year's group of rising young foreign journalists brought to America by the World Press Institute in the Twin Cities for two months of briefings with U.S. journalists, political, business and community leaders and policy experts. This year's 10 fellows visited including New York, Washington, Chicago, Austin, Miami, San Francisco and the Twin Cities as well as rural Minnesota. Themes this time were journalism in the Trump era, the mid-term elections, nuclear threats and security and immigration.

Our panelists are Joana Azevedo, digital desk editor for Renascenca Multimedia Group in Lisbon; Jenny Jannari, head of staff for Kauppalehti Optio business magazine in Helsinki; Rafael Gregorio, political reporter and editor for Folha de S.Paulo newspaper in Sao Paulo; and Alexi Kovalev, managing editor for Coda Story Russian online digital media in Moscow. 

SEPTEMBER 2018

"Why America Misunderstands the World"

When U.S. leaders make foreign policy, where do they get their image of whatever situation overseas their policies are intended to address? The textbook answer is that they obtain it from intelligence agencies or other parts of the government bureaucracy. In fact, the biggest U.S. foreign policy decisions have been guided not by input from those agencies but instead by beliefs that policymakers bring with them into office. Those beliefs are profoundly shaped by the unique American experience. The roots of how Americans view the world can be found in America's own history, geography, culture and domestic politics and society. The uniqueness of the American experience underlies many misperceptions Americas have about other countries. Those misperceptions underlie policy failures ranging from over-optimistic attempts to implant democracy in other cultures to mistaken beliefs about what drives international terrorism.

Paul Pillar is the author of four books, including Why America Misunderstands the World. Pillar was a career officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, where he held a variety of senior analytical and managerial responsibilities. His positions included executive assistant to the director of central intelligence, deputy chief of the CIA's counter-terrorist center and national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia. Later, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University, where he is now a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for Security Studies. He writes regularly on foreign policy and international affairs at The National Interest and other publications. His degrees are from Dartmouth, Oxford and Princeton. He is a retired U.S. Army Reserve officer and served on active duty in Vietnam.

JUNE 2018

"Xi Jinping's Third Revolution and the Future of U.S.-China Relations"

Xi Jinping is transforming China at home and abroad. Over the past five years, he has taken unprecedented steps to consolidate his authority, has overseen the expansion of the Community Party's role in Chinese political, social and economic life and has constructed a virtual wall of regulations to control more closely the exchange of ideas and capital between China and the outside world. Beyond its borders, Beijing has recast itself as a great power, seeking to reclaim its past glory and to create a system of international norms that better serves its more ambitious geostrategic objectives. Will China realize these domestic and foreign policy goals under Xi? How should the United States and others respond in order to protect and advance their own interests?

Elizabeth Economy is the C.V. Starr senior fellow and director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is an acclaimed author and expert on Chinese foreign and domestic policy. Her latest book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping, analyzes the contradictory nature of reform under Xi. She is also author of By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest Is Changing the World (with Michael Levi) and The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future.

MAY2018 - Luncheon

"A Conversation With Sergei Mironenko"

In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, between 1992 and 2016, Sergei Mironenko was the director of the State Archive of the Russian Federation. His tenure there spans an earth-shattering era for Russia, and he remains at the Archive today. As head of Russia's major depository of historical documents, he oversaw a broad declassification of the country's classified archives. At the start of his career as director of the State Archive, approximately 40 percent of the files there were classified compared with a global norm of 4 to 5 percent. Mironenko spearheaded an "archival revolution," putting much previously inaccessible information into the public sphere. This process has opened up a treasure trove of new material for historians and other scholars around the world. Sergei Mironenko has railed against the falsification of history, and has used archival documents and research to debunk Soviet era "myths," sometimes drawing heavy criticism.

Sergei Mironenko was born in 1951 into a family of a history professor and a pediatrician. He earned his advanced degrees in Russian history from Lomonosov Moscow State University, has taught at several institutions of higher learning and, since 2006, has been the head of the Department of Russian History on the 19th and 20th Centuries at Lomononov Moscow State. Mironenko has edited and authored numerous publications and hosted television programs about history such as "Archival Secrets" and "Documents and Fates."

MAY 2018

"Saudi Arabia on the Cusp of Change: Traditions and Future Prospects"

Under a dynamic and forceful young crown prince, Saudi Arabia is embarked on radical new steps in domestic and foreign policy. The jury is still out on the ultimate impact of Mohammed Bin Salmon's ambitious plans for a demographically young yet tradition-bound society. And there is growing concern that the regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia in pragmatic cooperation with Israel may be building toward military confrontation. The Trump Administration's abrupt swing away from Iran and toward the Saudis, including support for their campaign in Yemen, adds further volatility to the mix. This program will be based in part on insights and a wide array of images from a visit to the kingdom in 2016. 

Tom Hanson, Diplomat in Residence at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is chair of Minnesota Committee on Foreign Relations. He had a long career in the U.S. Foreign Service. Hanson is also co-chair of the Minnesota-China Business Council and a member of the U.S. foreign policy working group of the British International Studies Association. 

MAY 2018- Luncheon

"The Marshall Plan: Lessons From the Dawn of the Cold War"

In the wake of World War II, with Britain's empire collapsing and Stalin's on the rise, U.S. officials, under new Secretary of State George Marshall, set out to reconstruct Western Europe as a bulwark against communist authoritarianism. Their massive, costly and ambitious undertaking would confront Europe and Americans alike with a vision at odds with their history and self-conceptions. In the process, they would drive the creation of NATO, the European Union and a western identity that continues to shape world events. Benn Steil describes the seminal episodes marking the collapse of postwar U.S.-Soviet relations -- the Prague coup, the Berlin blockade and the division of Germany. In each case, we see and understand Stalin's determination to crush the Marshall Plan and undermine American power in Europe. Given current echoes of the Cold War, as Putin's Russia rattles the world order, the tenuous balance of power and uncertain order of the late 1940s is as relevant as ever. Steil concludes that the Marshall Plan provides a fresh perspective that helps us to better understand today's international landscape.

Benn Steil is director of international relations at the Council of Foreign Relations. His latest book is The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War.In the Wall Street Journal, reviewer and historian Paul Kennedy called his book "brilliant." The Financial Times described it as "as elegant is style and impressive in insights." The Christian Science Monitor called it "a gripping, complex and critically important story that is told with clarity and precision." Steil spoke to us in 2016 about his earlier book, The Battle of Bretton Woods.    

March 2018

"Would the World Be Better Without the UN? The World Organization in the Age of Trump"

The inward-looking and populist movements in electoral politics worldwide make robust multilateralism more, not less, compelling. Donald Trump has regularly pilloried the world organization; his emphasis on "America First" and U.S. sovereignty are serious threats from the UN's most important member state and largest funder. Do we need the United Nations? Where would the world be without this essential intergovernmental organization? Where could it be, had the UN's member states and staff performed better?

Thomas Weiss, political science professor in international relations and global governance at the CUNY Graduate Center, is a leading expert on the United Nations and on humanitarian intervention. He has written 10 books, co-authored or edited 40 more and published more than 250 articles and book chapters. His latest book, published last month, is Would the World Be Better Without the UN? Weiss has written extensively about international organizations, conflict management, humanitarian action, the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, North-South relations and U.S. foreign policy. He was director of the Ralph Bunche Institute For International Studies (1999-2004), president of the International Studies Association (2009-10) and director of the UN Intellectual History Project (1999-2010). He has held leadership positions and professional posts at numerous research universities.

FEBRUARY 2018- Luncheon

"Who Lost Russia"

The question of who lost Russia stalks our politics. The Cold War's end was supposed to bring about a new era of East-West cooperation, integrating Russia for perhaps the first time as an equal player in European and Atlantic affairs. Democracy appeared ascendant, along with free markets. The end of old history appeared in sight, at least according to Washington's chattering class, but the promised land did not endure. Russia's free market collapsed. The West's triumph brought the average citizen in the former Soviet Union a shorter life span, a lower standard of living and a long list of grudges. Oligarchs rose and democracy fled, setting the stage for what some are terming a new Cold War, replete with hacking, election influence, annexation and new East-West tensions. All of which begs the question: who lost Russia?

Jeffrey Engel is the founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and the author or editor of 10 books on American foreign policy. His latest book -- When the World Seemed New: George Bush and the End of the Cold War, published last year --credits the first President Bush with a major role in the diplomacy that led to the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Soviet Union. The book drew high praise from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. This is a return engagement for Engel. He spoke to us in November of 2016, on "Why is Putin So Mad?"

FEBRUARY 2018

"Confronting North Korea: Engagement, Sanctions or Military Strikes?"

In June 2017, Sue Mi Terry participated in a delegation of representatives from the U.S., Japan, China and South Korea who met in Sweden with North Korean officials to explore grounds for resuming the six-party talks that collapsed in 2009. The delegation came away convinced that a combination of economic and diplomatic benefits or security reassurances would not induce Pyongyang to comply with its previously negotiated commitments and U.N. resolutions. North Korean officials were clear that they would not be deterred from augmenting their nuclear arsenal or completing an intercontinental ballistic missile program that could eventually threaten the U.S. homeland. There were no signs of flexibility or willingness to negotiate on these programs. Ramped-up rhetoric on both sides since summer has increased the risk of a U.S. preventive strike on North Korea and talk of a nuclear showdown. Terry will discuss her recommendations for addressing North Korea's threat and preventing war.

Sue Mi Terry joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2017 as senior fellow for Korea. She focuses on Asian and Oceanic topics, particularly Korean issues. She served as a senior analyst at the CIA (2001-08); a director at the National Security Council (2008-09); a deputy national intelligence officer at the National Intelligence Council (2009-10); and the national intelligence fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (2010-11). She is a frequent broadcast commentator and contributes regularly to prominent publications. Terry has received numerous awards for her leadership and expertise. She was born in Seoul and raised in Hawaii and Northern Virginia.

JANUARY 2018

"The Panama/Paradise Papers: An Investigative Journalism Co-op Goes Global"

In 2016, more than 300 journalists from six continents, working under the umbrella of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, together examined millions of documents leaked to a German newspaper. The documents, known as the Panama Papers, exposed a hidden world of wealth held offshore by investors seeking, among other things, to evade taxes or hide illicit fortunes. They found offshore companies linked to more than 140 politicians in more than 50 countries, including 14 current or former heads of state. Last year, the consortium scrutinized a second deluge of such documents -- the Paradise Papers -- leaked to the same German newspaper. In both instances, the stories produced by the consortium appeared in scores of media outlets around the world. Increasingly, major news organizations have been teaming up to handle smaller, deep-dive investigations in a time of smaller news staffs and shrinking budgets. The consortium's efforts represent easily the most ambitious of these efforts.

Kevin Hallwas a member of the global team of journalists who won a Pulitzer Prize for their work on the Panama Papers. Hall, who was president of the Society of American Business Editor and Writers in 2012,  began his career in radio and later joined UPI in Baltimore. Then he served as a foreign correspondent in Mexico and Brazil for Knight Ridder and as chief economics correspondent McClatchy. In 2004, he received the Society of Professional Journalists award for best foreign reporting and in 2010, he and former Star Tribune reporter Greg Gordon won the Loeb Award for their coverage of the financial crisis.    

DECEMBER 2017

"The Future of Cities: Addressing the Challenge of Rapid Urbanization"

The United Nations reports that the share of humanity living in cities will rise from just over one third in 1980 to almost two-thirds by 2050. This explosive growth will shape one of the key challenges of the 21st century. At the University of Minnesota,  Professor Thomas Fisher is working on sustainable development projects with partners in India, Uganda and Nicaragua. He will describe this work, the role of American universities in advocating for sustainable development and the ways countries can better deal with rapid urbanization.

Thomas Fisher is director the Minnesota Design Center and holder of the Dayton Hudson Chair in Urban Design at the University of Minnesota. Previously, he was executive director of Progressive Architecture magazine. In 2005, he was recognized as fifth most popular writer about architecture in the United States, with over 50 book chapters or introductions and more than 400 articles. His latest book is "Designing our Way to a Better World."

NOVEMBER 2017

 "Diplomacy on the Rocks: Can State Be Saved?"

Diplomacy is the ability to shape events abroad in defense of a country's core interests and needs -- its security and the economic and social well-being of its people. Smart diplomacy demands smart, professional diplomats who have the mandate and capacity to do their work on behalf of their fellow citizens. Chronically underfunded and understaffed, American diplomacy now faces efforts by the White House and Secretary of State to drastically downsize the Department of State -- its funding, its programs and its people -- in an approach that will cripple America's first line of defense. Can America afford to strip itself of its diplomats, forego its role in the world and become, not the indispensable nation, but the irrelevant one? Is this the road to greatness?

Retired Ambassador Barbara Bodine is Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and concurrent director at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Her more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service were spent largely on the Arabian Peninsula and focused on greater Persian Gulf issues, primarily U.S. bilateral and regional policy, strategic security issues, counterterrorism and governance and reform. She also served in Baghdad as deputy principal officer during the Iran-Iraq War, in Kuwait as deputy chief of mission during the Iraqi invasion and in 2003 as the first coalition coordinator for reconstruction in Baghdad. 

NOVEMBER 2017 - Luncheon

"German Surprise: Merkel Did Not Actually 'Win' and German Democracy Took a Serious Hit"

Angela Merkel was given a fourth term as chancellor in the September 24 German election. However, Germany's mainstream parties, including Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, turned in their worst showing in decades, and the right-wing anti-immigrant Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) entered into the Bundestag as Germany's third largest party. This program will take an in-depth look at the implications of the 2017 election and the state of politics in Germany today, and well as Germany's role in Europe and globally.

E. Wayne Merry is a widely published and frequent speaker on topics related to Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Balkans, European security and trans-Atlantic relations. He spent 26 years in the US. Foreign Service as a diplomat and political analyst specializing in Soviet and post-Soviet political issues, including six years at the American Embassy in Moscow. He also served at embassies in Tunis, East Berlin and Athens, and at the U.S. mission to the UN in New York. After leaving the Foreign Service, he was program director for Atlantic Council of the USA. Currently, he is a senior fellow for Europe and Eurasia at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.

OCTOBER 2017

"Exploring America: Perspectives From Other Lands"

One of the Committee's most popular programs last season was our evening with the World Press Institute fellows -- rising young journalists from around the world. Now we're doing it again. Since 1961, the St. Paul-based Institute has brought nearly 600 journalists from almost 100 countries to America for briefings with U.S. journalists, political, business and community leaders and policy experts. This year's fellows -- from Afghanistan, Brazil, Bulgaria, England, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Kenya, Poland and Russia -- will visit New York, Washington D.C., Miami, Chicago, Austin, Denver-Boulder and San Francisco before returning to the Twin Cities on Oct. 13 to wind up their two-month journey. The themes of their briefings include nuclear security, the American presidency and journalism in the era of "fake news."

We'll hear from four panelists -- Eltaf Najafizada, political and business reporter for Bloomberg News in Kabul; Vanessa Barford, senior journalist and editor at BBC News mobile and online in London; Maciej Czarnecki, foreign desk journalist for the Gazeta Wyboreza newspaper in Warsaw; and Ekaterina Ivashenko, political and economic journalist for the Ferghana Ru online international news agency in Moscow.        

SEPTEMBER 2017

"Does the Trump Administration Have a Grand Strategy?"

During his first months in office, President Donald Trump has launched a series of sometimes-controversial initiatives in foreign policy. Has a coherent Trump administration approach to the world taken shape? Is there an emerging "Trump Doctrine?" Our speaker will review the signal developments over the administration's first nine months, place the Trump administration in a broader historical context and argue provocatively that grand strategy is largely an illusion -- and sometimes a dangerous one.  

Ronald Krebs is a professor of liberal arts and political science at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Narrative and the Making of U.S. Security Policy, co-editor of Rhetoric and Grand Strategy and co-editor of In War's Wake: International Conflict and the Fate of Liberal Democracy. Krebs has published numerous articles in scholarly and general interest journals and magazines and on websites, including Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, Lawfare and The Washington Post. He serves on the editorial boards of Security Studies and The Journal of Global Security Studies.

June 2017 - Luncheon

"Covering Islam in Hostile Times"

A look at the pros and cons of reporting on Islam in the United States at a moment when anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise, Islamophobes have President Trump's ear and Muslim allies overseas are still figuring out the new American order.

Hannah Allam covers Muslim life in America for Buzzfeed, a rapidly growing global online news organization based in New York City. She recently moved to Buzzfeed from McClatchy's Washington bureau, where she had covered foreign affairs since 2012. Earlier, she was McClatchy's bureau chief in Baghdad and in Cairo. She was a 2009 Nieman Fellow at Harvard.

MAY 2017

"The Gig Economy"

New technologies have enabled a new global online labor market, available 24/7 and willing to accept short-term, free-lance assignments, often at low pay. Touted as offering firms and workers flexibility, critics question whether this type of work is eroding labor standards and rights for workers worldwide and fueling anti-globalization populism.

Wilma Liebman,the third longest-serving member of the National Labor Relations Board, was designated in 2009 by President Obama to be his first chair of the board. She was first nominated to the board by President Clinton, then reappointed twice by President George W. Bush. Earlier, she was labor counsel for the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen and legal counsel for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

MAY 2017

"The Trump Administration and Foreign Policy:  Revolutionary Change or More of the Same?

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump described U.S. foreign policy as a "complete and total disaster." He was openly opposed by most members of the foreign policy establishment, including dozens of prominent Republicans, yet he swept the GOP primaries and then won the White House. At his inauguration, he declared his foreign policy would be "America First," and he openly questioned many of the core principles that have guided U.S. relations with the outside world for decades. He has also been slow to fill numerous diplomatic positions, given his untrained son-in-law a daunting portfolio of responsibilities and proposed a 38% cut in the State Department budget. Will there be a "Trump revolution" in foreign policy? Our speaker will examine why Trump's critique of U.S. foreign policy won him popular support during the campaign, and sketch what an alternative "Grand Strategy" for the U.S. might be. He will consider whether Trump will be able to turn the ship of state in a new direction, or eventually be co-opted and contained by the Establishment he once disparaged. 

Stephen Walt served as academic dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government from 2002 to 2006. He previously taught at Princeton and the University of Chicago. He is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, co-chair of International Security and co-editor of the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs book series. His most recent book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007, co-authored with John Mearsheimer) was a New York Times best-seller. His weekly column can be found at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/voices/walt 

april 2017

"Obama's Foreign Policy Legacy"

With an insider’s perspective of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy, our speaker will take on the prevailing consensus to argue that Obama profoundly altered the course of American foreign policy for the better, and positioned the United States to global leadership in the future. Combined with a deep sense of history, the talk will provide new details and personal insights into how the Obama Administration approached the most difficult global challenges of the past eight years. With a unique viewpoint afforded by serving at the three national-security power centers during the Obama years — White House, State Department, and Pentagon — our speaker will provide a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of the intense struggles that took place over numerous consequential issues. Also to be discussed will be an assessment of Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. 

Derek Chollet is author of the recent book, The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World. He served the Obama Administration for six years in senior positions at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, most recently as the US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Currently executive vice president and senior adviser at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Derek’s previous books include America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, coauthored with James Goldgeier, and The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World, coedited with Samantha Power. He lives in Washington, DC, with his family. 

april 2017- luncheon

"A conversation with Eric Schwartz"

This special CFR luncheon meeting will be in honor of Eric Schwartz, and will provide members with an opportunity to pay tribute to his many contributions to education and the wider community while in Minnesota. General themes to be discussed by Eric include:

  • New programs and initiatives created during his tenure as Dean

  • The global refugee crisis, as he takes on his important new role as President of Refugees International

  • The current state of a U.S. foreign policy in transition.

Eric Schwartz has served as the U of M’s Humphrey School dean since 2011, and has had a 30-year career in senior public service positions in government, at the UN, in the philanthropic and non-governmental communities, and in academia. In 2013, Eric was appointed by President Obama to the U. S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and currently serves as a Commission vice chair. Before 2011, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009. He worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the State Dept’s principal humanitarian official, managing policy and programs for U.S. refugee admissions and international assistance worldwide. Previously, Eric directed the Connect U.S. Fund, a multi-foundation – NGO collaborative seeking to promote responsible U.S. engagement overseas, and also as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. Eric holds a law degree from NY University School of Law, a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a BA in Political Science from the State University of New York at Binghamton.

march 2017

"Europe in the Era of Trump" - In Cooperation with the American Council on Germany

The election of Donald Trump threatens to radically change the parameters within which European countries have operated for 70 years. In particular, the U.S. security guarantee – the basis of European security and historically the precondition for European integration – has been thrown into doubt by the election of Trump, who has refused to commit to the U.S. alliance system. This will be a particular challenge for Germany, which since the beginning of the euro crisis seven years ago has emerged as Europe’s de facto leader but is particularly limited in terms of military power. Since the election, many have declared Chancellor Angela Merkel to be the “leader of the free world.” But tempting as it may be to think that the woman the Germans call “Mommy” can simply replace the President of the United States as the “leader of the free world,” it is an illusion.

Hans Kundnani is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. Europe program, based in Berlin, and previously worked as Research Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for German Studies at Birmingham University. His research focuses on German power within Europe, German foreign policy, European integration and dis-integration, and European foreign policy. He is the author of two books, Utopia or Auschwitz. Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust (2009) and The Paradox of German Power (2014), and has published in Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, Internationale Politik, the Financial Times, Le Monde, and Die Zeit. Hans studied German and Philosophy at Oxford University and Journalism at Columbia University, NY, where he was a Fulbright Scholar.

February 2017

"Preventing War Crimes and Genocide in a Contentious World"

War crimes continue to be a fixture in global conflicts despite dramatic institutional developments to document and prosecute those crimes. In the face of mass atrocities carried out by a world power in Syria, and ongoing brutality in places like Burundi, S. Sudan and Ukraine, it is fair to question the efficacy of these policies. What are the successes and failures of genocide prevention in recent decades and what is feasible moving ahead? Will the institutions put in place to address these criminals continue to receive support in the current global political environment? Will the powerful states opt out? 

In addition to his position at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Stephen Rapp is a Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. He was appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, where he coordinated U.S. Government support to international criminal tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, serving until 2015. Previously, he was Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2007/9), where he led the prosecution of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, and was Senior Trial Attorney and Chief of Prosecutions at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (2001/7). Stephen was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa (1993-2001), where his office won historic convictions under the firearms provision of the Violence Against Women Act. Prior to this, he was in private practice, and served as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency and as a member of the Iowa Legislature. Stephen received his BA degree from Harvard (1971) and his JD degree from Drake (1974). 

February 2017

"The Term America First" 

What is the connection between the original ‘America First’ movement that opposed U.S. involvement in World War II and the Trump Administration's vision of America's role in the world? And how does this compare to the vision of Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and other world leaders? Our speaker will explore these and other issues, such as the backlash to globalization and migration that is gathering strength, particularly in Europe. In addition, he will discuss the rapidly changing media landscape and how this is playing into such trends.

Andrew Nagorski is an award-winning journalist, and author of six books, who spent more than three decades as a foreign correspondent and editor for Newsweek. He served as the magazine’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Berlin and Warsaw. His most recent book, The Nazi Hunters, has received rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and other publications. From 2008 until 2014, Andrew was vice president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute in New York.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, of Polish parents (who shortly after his birth emigrated to the United States), Andrew grew up in the USA and abroad after his father joined the U.S. Foreign Service. He earned a B.A. magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Amherst College in 1969 and studied at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. He taught social studies for three years at Wayland High School in Massachusetts before joining Newsweek. For more information, see www.andrewnagorski.com.

January 2017

"The U.S. and China in the Era of Donald Trump"

China has long tried to work out how much of America it really wants. The same holds true for the United States in figuring out how much it wants to engage with China. Both sides have spent generations demonizing and celebrating each other. In the age of Donald Trump and China's leader, Xi Jinping, what can history tell us about the ties between these two global giants? 

John Pomfret is the author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present, published on Nov. 30. The New Yorker's Washington correspondent, Evan Osnos, whose 2014 book about China won the National Book Award for nonfiction, described Pomfret's book as "a triumph of writing, research and, above all, judgment." The Economist called it a "lively tale, peppered with a cast of adventurers, spies, preachers, communists and McCarthyites who have boosted and sabotaged" U.S.- China relations over the years. The Financial Times said Pomfret's book, by showing how the waxing and waning of the ties between the U.S. and China have often been linked to developments elsewhere, suggests that the "Xi and Trump will not be the only actors shaping this crucial bilateral relationship."   

Pomfret was born in Milwaukee and raised in New York City. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees in East Asian Studies at Stanford University. In 1980, he was among the first American students to study in China after the country opened up to the world under Deng Xiaoping and normalized relations with the U.S.  He joined the Associated Press in 1986, went to China for the AP two years later and was expelled from the country in 1989 after his coverage of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. He began a 20-year career at the Washington Post in 1994, returning to China in 1996 to serve as the newspaper's bureau chief in Beijing until 2003. Pomfret's 2006 book, Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China, was widely acclaimed. He has covered conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bosnia, Congo, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Iran, and won numerous awards for his foreign affairs reporting. He lives with his wife, Zhang Mei, and their three children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

December 2016

"Taking the High Road with Russia (and Perhaps a Low Road with Ukraine)?"

The election of Donald Trump opens the potential for an entirely new approach to U.S. relations with Russia. The President Elect clearly does not share the adversarial views toward Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, of the outgoing administration or of Hillary Clinton. Indeed, as president, Donald Trump may face considerable criticism and pressures from within his own party in forging a new relationship with Moscow, because Russophobia has been one of the few bipartisan topics on Capitol Hill since the onset of the Ukraine crisis. After playing a leading role in the American presidential campaign, Moscow may have high expectations, but also be unsure what the new U.S. leader will demand for a deal. So, what are the likely directions of the new U.S. policy, its constraints, its impact on Russia's neighbors (especially Ukraine) and on the Trans-Atlantic Alliance?

Our speaker is Wayne Merry, a widely published and a frequent speaker on topics relating to Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Balkans, European security and trans-Atlantic relations. In 26 years in the U. S. Foreign Service, he worked as a diplomat and political analyst specializing in Soviet and post-Soviet political issues, including six years at the American Embassy in Moscow. He also served at the embassies in Tunis, East Berlin, and Athens, and at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York. In Washington he served in the Treasury, State, and Defense Departments. In the Pentagon he was Regional Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia during the mid-1990s. He also served at the HQ of the U.S. Marine Corps and on Capitol Hill with the staff of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and was later program director at the Atlantic Council of the USA. Wayne studied economics and political science at the University of Wisconsin (Madison), has an MPA from Princeton University’s Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and studied at the U.S. Army Russian Institute. A native Oklahoman, he lives in Virginia.

November 2016

"Why is Putin so Mad?  The End of the Cold War and the Roots of Today's Russian-American Antagonism"

With the collapse of the USSR, the George H.W. Bush Administration pushed for thereunification of Germany. Bush encountered opposition from the British and French, who had concerns based on 150 years of German aggressiveness. After the reunification, the Clinton Administration pushed for the entry of Poland into NATO, which put a potential adversary on the western border of an untrusting, unstable Russia. With the rise to power of Putin, the mentality of the Russian government was to re-establish its previous World Power status, both militarily and politically. After the completion of the Olympics in Russia, the occupation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine occurred. Now we have to deal with tensions resulting from unresolved strategy and uncertain actions in the East-West struggle.

Our speaker is Jeffrey Engel, the founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. A Senior Fellow of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, and graduate of Cornell University, he also studied at St. Catherine's College, Oxford University. Engel received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and then served as a John M. Olin Postdoctoral Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. Having taught American history, international relations, and grand strategy at the University of Wisconsin, Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Haverford College, Engel served until 2012 at Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government & Public Service as the Howard and Verlin Kruse ’52 Professor and Director of Programming for the Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, receiving several awards for teaching excellence.

October 2016

"Saudi Arabia and Yemen"

Our discussion will focus on the current political and economic situation in the Arabian Peninsula, with the perspective of Norway’s Ambassador in Riyadh. Topics to be covered include:

  • The economic effects of low oil prices

  • Fledgling attempts to open up the Saudi Arabian economy

  • Issuing bonds, listing Saudi Aramco on either the New York or London stock

  • exchange (by 2018), lay-offs affecting foreign workers, etc.

  • New initiatives to seek and encourage American investment

  • U.S. Congress passage of the ‘Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act’, over

  • Obama's veto, allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government

  • Fueling of tensions throughout the region by Saudi-Iran rivalry

Our speaker is Ambassador Rolf Willy Hansen who has had a distinguished career as a diplomat, and is currently Norway’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Yemen (2014/17). From 2008 to 2014 he was Ambassador to Syria, in which role he served as the principal western interlocutor with the political leadership of Hamas. Previously, he served as Consul General in Hong Kong, the Embassy in Paris, Second Secretary at the Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, numerous diplomatic positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Regional Advisor on Middle East Affairs. In addition, Ambassador Hansen represented Norway in Namibia during that country's transition to independence and established the Norwegian Embassy in Windhoek. From 2005 to 2008, Hansen served as Norwegian Consul General to the Upper Midwest, based in Minneapolis, and was an active member of the CFR.

October 2016

"Foreign Journalists: Impressions of America"

We'll hear how these journalists see America, as they wrap up nine weeks of briefings from leaders in Minnesota, Washington, New York, etc. The St. Paul-based World Press Institute brought them to the country to study the presidential election, the changing face of journalism, police-community relations and nuclear security.

  • Nino Bucci has covered crime and justice-related topics including political policy, the corrections system, drug and weapons importation, family violence and Islamic extremism for The Age for the last five years and has been a finalist for several national awards. Bucci graduated from La Trobe University in 2007.

  • Yasmine Ryan is a New Zealand journalist who has covered Tunisia, Libya and Algeria, mostly for The Independent. She has more than 9 years of experience contributing to CNN, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy. Ryan was part of the Al Jazeera team that won a DuPont Award from Columbia University School of Journalism in 2011, when she covered the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, the Tunisian uprising and other high-profile stories.

  • Aurelio Tomas has been at Diario Perfil since 2014, specializing in Argentine foreign and defense policy, and labor union politics. Earlier, he worked at La Nacion daily in Buenos Aires and at Diario Inedito, a small news website. A member of Argentina's Council for International Relations, he has a graduate journalism degree from Torcuato Di Tella Univ.

  • Lynda McDonnell will be the moderator. A longtime journalist at both Twin Cities dailies, she later was executive director for ThreeSixty Journalism, which serves area teenagers

September 2016

"The Roots of Extremism in Muslim Communities"

The origins of extremism in Muslim communities will be discussed from historical and sociopolitical perspectives, and objective, and hopefully more effective, methods of dealing with this phenomenon will be identified. Our speaker will explain that while ISIS is the story of the day, its demise will not bring the end of extremism – rather, it is its ideological roots that must be challenged, in case we deal only with symptoms and neglect ultimate causes. As a devout Muslim, our speaker will offer insight into the ideological disparity between mainstream Islam and extremist historical doctrines that have gripped some Muslim communities until this day.

Our speaker is Dr. Muhawesh who has taught Business Law, History of the Modern Middle East, and Islam at the University of St. Thomas since 2008. Before that (2001-2009) he was on the senior teaching staff of the Imam Hussein Islamic Center in Minneapolis. Odeh is the author of numerous books and essays on world religions and the history of religious development, and is a regular speaker at churches, synagogues, and universities around the nation. Currently, he is Chairman and CEO of TruScribe, Inc., and serves on several boards including those of UST’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Norris Institute, the Muslim/Christian Dialogue Center, and he is a special advisor to the Jay Philips Center for Jewish/Christian interfaith dialogue. Dr. Muhawesh is a graduate of the Global Institute for Islamic Studies in Qom, Iran, where he earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Theology.

MAY 2016

"The Future of U.S. - Cuba Relations"

President Obama’s historic visit to Havana posed more concretely than ever the question, Whither U.S.-Cuba Relations? What was the purpose of the visit and what did it achieve? This discussion will focus on different points of view on this and other questions, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • U.S. embargo and restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba

  • Compensation issues - expropriation of U.S.-owned property vis à vis damages caused by the embargo

  • Unilateral U.S. democracy promotion programs for Cubans

  • Future of U.S.-occupied Guantanamo Bay

  • Promotion of democracy, human rights and civil liberties in Cuba and the U.S.

August Nimtz joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1971, and has been co-coordinator of the Minnesota Cuba Committee since its founding in 1991. He is co-editor, with Gary Prevost, of Race in Cuba (2013), and speaks and writes extensively on Cuba. His most recent book is the 2-volume, Lenin’s Electoral Strategy—The Ballot, the Streets—or Both (2014). He holds a B.A. in International Relations from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Indiana University.

Duane Krohnke practiced corporate litigation in New York (Cravath, Swaine & Moore) and Minneapolis (Faegre & Benson) from 1966 to 2001. An Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church, he is also a leader for its partnerships with the Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Cuba in Matanzas, Cuba. He holds degrees from Grinnell College (B.A. & D. Hum. Ltrs.), Oxford University (B.A. &M.A.), where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Chicago Law School (J.D.)

APRIl 2016

"Refugee Crisis"  - Daniel Wordsworth

The Syrian civil war has become the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. It has led more than 4 million refugees to flee the country and internally displaced another 7 million -- half of the country's pre-war population. A third of the refugees have gone to two small neighboring lands, Lebanon and Jordan. More than a million fled to Europe in 2015 alone. More than half of the refugees are under the age of 18. The United Nations has issued its largest-ever appeals for financial assistance in a single crisis to help the victims, but so far its pleas for aid have fallen far short of the needs. Our speaker will discuss how the events in Syria are having ripple effects felt by the global refugee population, and ARC’s focus and response.

Daniel Wordsworth is President and CEO of the ARC, an international humanitarian aid agency that works with refugees around the world to help them take back control of their lives. During Daniel’s tenure the ARC has expanded its programs into Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Syria. In 2012 the ARC received the Peter F. Drucker award for Non-Profit Innovation in recognition of its work with the Somali Diaspora globally.

Daniel joined the ARC in 2009, after 12 years with the Christian Children’s Fund (CCF), where he served as VP of the Asia Region, based in Thailand. While at the CCF, he built the foundation of its emergency response programs in East Timor, Sierra Leone, India, Afghanistan, and Northern Uganda. Previously, he led a team engaged in for-profit business start-ups in China, and he also lived and worked with the urban poor in Australia and Hong Kong. Over the last 15 years, Daniel has lived in China, India, Vietnam, and Thailand. He has written numerous publications on children and poverty. He started his career in the Royal Australian Navy.

MARCH 2016

"Turkey, the United States, and the Middle East"

Turmoil driven by the dissolution of Syria, dysfunction in Iraq, and the rise of the so-called Islamic State threatens to upend the post-World War I Middle Eastern order. Russia’s intervention and the rise of the Kurds complicate matters further. Turkey, and America’s sixty-year alliance with it, find themselves gravely challenged by this maelstrom, as well as by authoritarianism and inconsistency in Ankara and by anger and wishful thinking in Washington. What are the key trends, where do US interests lie, can the United States shape an acceptable future for Turkey and the region, and if so, how?

Ambassador Ross Wilson is a Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a visiting lecturer at George Washington University. During a 30-year career in the Foreign Service, he served as American ambassador to Turkey (2005-08) and to Azerbaijan (2000-03). Other postings included Moscow, Prague, and Melbourne, Australia. In Washington, he was principal deputy to the ambassador-at-large and special advisor to the Secretary of State for the newly independent states of the former USSR in 1997-2000. He also served as the State Dept’s deputy executive secretary for Secretaries Baker, Eagleburger, and Christopher; chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick; chief US negotiator for the Free Trade Area of the Americas; and in the State Department dealing with the USSR and Egypt.

After leaving government, Ross Wilson directed the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center in 2010-2014. He serves as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Turkish Studies, on the Minnesota International Center Board of Directors and Eurasia Foundation Advisory Council, as a member of the Academy of American Diplomacy, the American Foreign Service Association, and the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs. A Minneapolis native, he received a BA degree from the University of Minnesota and MA degrees from Columbia University and the US National War College.

FEBRUARY 2016

"Bretton Woods - Then and Now" - Benn Steil

When turmoil strikes world monetary and financial markets, leaders invariably call for ‘a new Bretton Woods’ to prevent catastrophic economic disorder and defuse political conflict. The name of the remote New Hampshire town where representatives of 44 nations gathered in July 1944, in the midst of the century’s second great war, has become current shorthand for enlightened globalization. The actual story surrounding the historic Bretton Woods accords, however, is full of startling drama, intrigue, deception, and rivalry, which is vividly brought to life in Benn Steil’s epic account.

Dr. Benn Steil is senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and is also founding editor of International Finance, and lead writer of the Council’s Geo-Graphics economics blog. Prior to joining the Council in 1999, he was director of the International Economics Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

Dr. Steil has contributed widely on international finance, monetary policy, financial markets, and economic history. He has testified before the U.S. House, Senate, and CFTC on financial market and monetary issues. He is a regular op-ed contributor at the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. His book, The Battle of Bretton Woods, won the 2013 Spear’s Book Award in Financial History, took third prize in CFR’s 2014 Arthur Ross Book Award competition, was shortlisted for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize, and was the book-of-the-year choice in Bloomberg’s 2013 poll of global policymakers and CEOs.

Steil went to the Royal Institute in 1992 following completion of a Lloyd’s of London Tercentenary Research Fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he received his MPhil and DPhil (PhD) in economics. He also holds a BSc in economics summa cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

JANUARY 2016

"Reflections on 'Women's Rights are Human Rights': 20 Years after the Beijing World Conference"

In September 1995, the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women brought together 189 governments in Beijing, China, to negotiate a political agreement intended to advance women’s human rights and to ensure that a gender perspective would be reflected in policies and programs at every level of governance. An NGO forum preceding the Beijing Conference drew over 30,000 attendees who demanded state action on a full spectrum of issues facing women and girls, including violence against women, women and poverty, women and decision-making, the girl-child, reproductive rights and other areas of concern.
Our panel includes three human rights leaders who attended the Beijing Conference in various capacities. They will discuss the significance and impacts of the Beijing event in improving the lives of women in the world, assess the human rights challenges that continue to face women, and identify advocacy strategies addressing those challenges.

Barbara A. Frey, J.D., directs the Human Rights Program in the Institute for Global Studies at the U of M. She is recognized for her leadership in building Minnesota’s global reputation as a center for human rights education and advocacy. Frey co-founded several important human rights institutions, including the Advocates for Human Rights (formerly “Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights”), where she also served as the first full-time Executive Director (1985-97), the Center for Victims of Torture, and the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights.

Cheryl Thomas, J.D., is founding Director of Global Rights for Women, and former Director of the Women’s Human Rights Program at The Advocates for Human Rights in Minnesota, a program she founded as a volunteer in 1993. She has published numerous articles and reports on violence against women as a human rights abuse. In March, 2011, she was recognized by Newsweek as one of 150 “Women Who Shake the World.” Thomas and Frey led the NGO delegation from Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights at the Beijing Conference.

Dr. Mary T. Curtin, a Minnesota native, joined the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the U of M as Diplomat-in-Residence in 2013 after a twenty-five year career as a State Dept. Foreign Service Officer. During her career, she served at the U.S. Mission to the EU in Brussels; as Political Counselor in Warsaw, Poland; and at missions in Tunisia, Mali, and Chile, as well as in Washington, D.C. Curtin was a member of the U.S. Government delegation at the Beijing Conference.

DECEMBER 9, 2015

"International Trade & Food Security" 

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, and our current food production systems need to become even more efficient and productive to feed everyone. International trade will be a key part of the solution, allowing us to grow the most food on the least land, in the most affordable and most environmentally sensitive way possible. Our speaker will discuss:

  • Trade-offs and geopolitical consequences countries face when they choose self- sufficiency over reliance on international trade.

  • The important role Africa and smallholder farmers will play in feeding the world.

  • Risks to the food system posed by climate change.

  • Cargill’s outlook and lessons learned from a recent food security crisis simulation in Washington, DC.

Greg Page is Cargill Inc.’s executive director and former CEO of the global agriculture and food company from 2007 to 2013, and executive chairman from 2013 to 2015. Page joined Cargill in 1974 as a trainee assigned to the feed division, and over the years held a number of positions in the United States, Singapore and Thailand. In recent years, Page has given numerous talks on the subject of global food security, and the challenge of efficiently feeding a growing world population. Page also led Cargill’s involvement in the Risky Business program, which seeks to measure climate change’s risk to the U.S. economy, including its agricultural productivity.

NOVEMBER 19, 2015

"America's Role on the World Stage" - In Cooperation w/ Westminster Town Forum

This is a program hosted by the Westminster Town Hall Forum (WTHF) on Thursday, November 19, at noon, featuring Andrew Bacevich speaking on America's role on the world stage.  Bacevich is a political science professor at Boston University, prior to which he spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a Colonel in the early 1990s. His son, an Army lieutenant, as killed in the Iraq War. Bacevich was a prominent critic of that war, has written at least seven books, and is a familiar figure on the national op-ed and TV talk show circuit.

The WTHF has very kindly agreed that CFR members can attend this lunch program on November 19, and has arranged that following the presentation we can meet privately with Bacevich for our usual 45-minute discussion session. 

OCTOBER 2015

"U.S. Policy Toward Israel and Egypt:  Successes and Failures"

The situation in the Middle East is fairly fluid these days, so discussion will focus on the following areas of interest and concern:

  • Iran: The nuclear agreement, its prospects, and its impact on Israel, our Gulf State allies and the likely repercussion on other Middle East allies like Jordan, with an emphasis on our security interest in Israel as well as our partnership.

  • Palestine: Prospects for an agreement, a continuing stalemate, or deterioration into another war? An examination of the impediments the Palestinians face, which currently seem to be insurmountable, in seeking to establish an independent state.

  • The Syrian problem, if time permits.

Edward (Ned) Walker is currently professor of government at Hamilton College, concentrating on foreign policy and the Middle East, and also Adjunct Scholar, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C. Until the summer of 2006, Ambassador Walker was President and CEO of the Middle East Institute, a non-governmental organization based in Washington, DC. Previously, he worked for five months in the first George W. Bush administration as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, a position he also held during the second Clinton Administration. His diplomatic career includes Chief of the Political Section in Damascus, Syria, then Deputy Chief of Mission in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador to the UAE, Deputy Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the UN, Ambassador to Egypt, and finally Ambassador to Israel. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Hamilton College and an MA in International Relations from Boston University. He is the recipient of distinguished honors awards from the Pentagon and the State Department. 

NOVEMBER 2015

"Climate Change and Foreign Policy" - John Abraham & Paul Douglas

Any discussion of climate change can cover a lot of ground, from the genesis of the migrations out of Syria that are impacting so many countries, to the question of what to do about island nations in the Indian and Pacific oceans faced with the loss of their entire land surface to rising ocean waters, increased erosion and massive die-offs of coral reefs that sustain them. In Bangladesh, millions of people depend on the Ganges Delta for subsistence farming, mere feet above sea level, and hundreds of millions in Asia and elsewhere depend on the fresh water run-off from glaciers that are rapidly disappearing. Our speakers will endeavor to distill the essence of these problems with emphases on the scientific realities behind climate change, while paying attention to the campaign by some legacy industries to obstruct meaningful responses by our political system.

John Abraham is a thermal scientist with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, teaching in the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering. He does climate research and is currently a volunteer science expert on climate change for various clients. Paul Douglas is a Twin Cities based meteorologist and entrepreneur who has worked for WCCO, KARE-11 and other TV and radio firms for over 30 years. He still writes for the Star Tribune, appears often on PBS’s Almanac, and runs several successful businesses providing long and short-range forecasts for various customers. Paul also serves on a Climate Science Rapid Response Team of over 130 climate scientists that was created by John Abraham to provide science-based information to media and government representatives.

SEPTEMBER 2015- SPECIAL LUNCHEON

"From the Inside Out:  Perspectives of a Syrian NGO on the Syrian Crisis"

In the current protracted crisis of the Syrian civil/regional conflict, international humanitarian support for >4 million refugees is being exhausted and humanitarian aid for 8- 9 million internally displaced Syrians has limited scope. However, there are strengths within the Syrian populace that provide specific solutions by local stakeholders (i.e., Syrian citizens themselves). Recognizing these solutions and understanding conditions that foster their effectiveness are translatable into policies for providing innovative outcomes of human centered development and contributing new prototypes for effective ways to bring humanitarian aid and development assistance together. 

Curt Rhodes is founder and international director of Questscope, a Minneapolis based non-profit, NGO working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East. In 2011, Dr. Rhodes was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the Middle East by the Schwab Foundation/World Economic Forum. In 2014, he was awarded the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award by Tufts University. 

Roy Moussalli - Syrian national and graduate of the American University of Beirut (1979). He is the founder (2009) and executive director of the Syrian Society for Social Development (SSSD) - the outcome of 30 years of extensive volunteer work in Syria with at-risk youth, ranging from mentally-challenged young adults to incarcerated/post-incarceration juveniles. Since 2013, he has directed humanitarian relief projects for internally displaced persons in Syria with Questscope, a partner/associate of the American Refugee Committee in Minneapolis. Mr. Moussalli is a member of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce. 

JUNE 2015 - LUNCHEON

"The Greening of Asia"

While the rapid economic development of much of Asia has resulted in many millions of people being lifted out of poverty, these societal gains have come at an enormous cost – large-scale deforestation, widespread environmental pollution, and major contributions to global climate change. Our speaker will argue that three conditions need to be met in order for Asia to solve these problems while maintaining its economic growth: public engagement, regulation, and government partnerships with the private sector. Asian companies are already learning sustainable, ‘green’ practices from each other and from Western firms. A strong case can be made that businesses must be key players in helping to solve an environmental crisis that they, in concert with governments, helped to create.   

Mark L. Clifford is the executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asia Business Council and author of The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency. Previously he was editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Standard, and Asia regional editor for BusinessWeek.  He co-authored the Asia Business Council’s books Through the Eyes of Tiger Cubs: Views of Asia’s Next Generation and Building Energy Efficiency: Why Green Buildings Are Key to Asia’s Future. Mark’s other books on Asia examined China’s entry into the WTO (co-authored with Supachai Panitchpakdi, former director-general of the WTO), the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, and South Korea’s economic development.   Mark graduated from the University of California – Berkeley, and was a Walter Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University. He worked in Seoul as a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review from 1987-92 and has lived in Hong Kong since 1992. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.   

JUNE 2015 - LUNCHEON

"Regional Challenges in the Middle East:  A Perspective from Saudi Arabia"

Currently, Saudi Arabia–U.S. relations are strained, primarily because of differences over the Syrian civil war and over diplomatic relations with Iran, but also because of being at odds over Egypt and no longer seeing a reason to cooperate in Iraq or Afghanistan, not to mention oil. While there are shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. sees the problem as one of nuclear proliferation and a threat to Israel, the Saudis fear Iran as a subversive Shi’ite regional rival challenging their Sunni creed. The Houthi in Yemen, backed by Iran, have ‘upped the stakes’ in this power struggle. Hence, an objective, diplomatic view of the current situation from Riyadh’s perspective is most timely.  

Our speaker is Ambassador Rolf Willy Hansen, who has been Norway’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman since August, 2014.  From 2008 to 2012 he was Norwegian Ambassador to Syria and the principal western interlocutor with Hamas.  Following the 2012 closure of the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, Ambassador Hansen returned to the Foreign Ministry in Oslo and continued as Norway’s envoy to international meetings on the Syria crisis.  He also became Norway’s representative for Palestinian issues and the Middle East peace process.  Ambassador Hansen has had a distinguished career as a diplomat, with assignments including Consul General in Hong Kong, three years with the Norwegian Embassy in Paris, two years as Second Secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and numerous positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including press and cultural assignments, advisor on security and military issues, and Regional Advisor on Middle East Affairs. From 2005 to 2008, Ambassador Hansen served as Norwegian Consul General to the Upper Midwest, based in Minneapolis, and was an active member of the St. Paul-Minneapolis CFR.

MAY 2015 - 75TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT

"Terrorism, Technology, and Democracy"

The 21st century has seen ever accelerating advances in digital technology, rendering borders far more porous, and empowering individuals and governments alike to engage in conduct that was unthinkable 20 years ago. These advances have allowed small groups of individuals to inflict harm on large numbers of civilians, while multiplying the propaganda value of doing so. Concurrently, they have empowered states to engage in    mass surveillance and targeted killing in ways that were also unthinkable 20 years ago.  These developments raise issues for the regulation of the security state that demand democratic deliberation. But at the same time, technology has increased government’s ability to conduct security measures in secret or deniable ways, thereby short-circuiting the democratic debate that is so necessary to the legitimacy of such endeavors.    

Our speaker David Cole teaches constitutional law, national security, and criminal justice at Georgetown. He is legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and has written often for other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (2007), co-authored with Jules Lobel, which won the Palmer Civil Liberties Prize for best book on national security and civil liberties, and  The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable (2009). David received his BA and JD degrees from Yale University. He worked as a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights from 1985-90, and he continues to litigate First Amendment and other constitutional issues, and has argued several Supreme Court cases.  He is also co-chairman of the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee.

APRIL 2015 - LUNCHEON

"Frictions Between Policymakers and The Intelligence Community"

Effective interaction between policymakers and the Intelligence Community (IC) is vitally important to the security of the USA.  While this interaction has often been good, and the IC has helped stop a number of attacks on Americans in the US and overseas, there have been serious frictions between the players during recent administrations.  These frictions, and the policy disconnects and ambiguities they have created, contribute to major problems in the development and implementation of national security strategies.  Bureaucratic and structural problems, issues with information sharing, rationalities and epistemological positions, and the increasing complexity of the globalized world and our adversaries, exacerbate these problems.  Despite major intelligence reforms after 9/11, frictions between policy makers and the IC remain.  Corrective actions are essential.

Our speaker, Dr. Rob Ehlers, is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, former Professor of Airpower History at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and former Associate Professor of History at the Air Force Academy.  From 2010-2013, he served as the Director of the Center for Security Studies and Chair of the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice, leading a team developing B.A. and M.A. degrees across key national-security disciplines: culture and regional studies, homeland security, intelligence, and criminal justice.  He is author of Targeting the Third Reich: Air Intelligence and the Allied Bombing Campaigns  (2009) and Mediterranean Air War:  Airpower and Allied Victory in World War II (March 2015).  Dr. Ehlers earned his B.A. in International Studies from Ohio State University, an M.A. in History from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D in History from Ohio State.

APRIL 2015

"For the Sake of the Nation - Women's Education in the UAE"

The lack of educational opportunities faced by women in so many Middle Eastern countries is well known; less well known are the efforts being made to rectify this situation. This talk will review women's education in the UAE, addressing the following issues:

  • Social, Political, Economic power: which comes first?

  • What kinds of alliances are most useful in struggles for equality?

  • In what ways can dictators make beneficial differences?

  • National wealth, power and influence: how is access managed?

  • Young children: can they make a difference in growth towards social equality?

  • Guaranteed employment, professional networking, competition and co-operation: are there any significant differences between men and women?

  • US-style education: commendable to women in religiously fundamental societies?

  • Why are American educators tolerated and defended by Emirati men?

Dr. Margaret Preska served as President of Minnesota State University Mankato from 1979 to 1992.  Recently, she was the first CEO of the Abu Dhabi Campus of Zayed University for Women, and now serves as the Advisor to Al Sorouh American School in the UAE. In her business career, she served for over 30 years on the Xcel Energy Board of Directors, during half of which was a member of the Advisory Board of Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo) of South Central Minnesota. Margaret earned a BS at SUNY – Brockport, an MA at Penn State University, and a PhD at Claremont Graduate University. In addition, she studied at Manchester College, Oxford University, and was honored in 2009 with a Doctor of Humane Letters from the State University of New York Board of Regents.

MARCH 2015

"Trade Policy as Foreign Policy - and Vice Versa"

The interrelationship between U.S. trade policy and foreign policy is complex and highly political, with business and labor interests often at loggerheads, as well as the White House and Congress. With the Trans-Pacific Strategic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP) and The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in contentious negotiations, international trade policy decisions will be critical to the national economic interest. Panelists will discuss a wide variety of trade issues, among them.  Partisan divisions in Congress make successful trade agreements even more difficult than in the past, and even if reached, Congress must grant Obama Trade Promotion Authority, which is unlikely. Our negotiating opposites in other capitals will wait for the outcome of the next presidential election, and so will not make major concessions to U.S. negotiators.  Fears about trade agreements seem to be greater than actual economic effects. The role of labor standards in trade agreements serving political ends. Pros and cons of the national and local economic impact of international trade agreements not well understood by the public or by politicians

Our panel includes three distinguished speakers, including Raymond Robertson, Professor of Economics at Macalester Collage, Marianne Rowden, President and CEO of AAEI, and C. Ford Runge, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Applied Economics and Law at the University of Minnesota. 

FEBRUARY 2015

"The United States' Difficult Path in the Middle East Today"                     

The United States only became involved in the Middle East in a serious way after World War II. It inherited a long and difficult legacy from Great Britain and France, whose colonial empires after World War I crumbled in the 1950s, leaving the United States as the sole external power with interests in the region. Today the United States finds itself grappling with the inherent contradictions of the past. Discovering the most effective path to bringing peace and security to the region is a major challenge that we are still striving to meet.

Our speaker William O. Beeman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota, President of the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association, and Former Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. Author of more than 100 scholarly articles and 600 opinion pieces, and regularly appearing internationally, Dr. Beeman has also served as consultant to the U.S. State Department, The Department of Defense, the United Nations, and the European Union, as well as having testified before the US Congress. His books include, Language, Status and Power in Iran, and The “Great Satan” vs. the “Mad Mullahs”: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other (University of Chicago Press, 2008). His latest book is Iranian Performance Traditions.

JANUARY 2015

"How America's National Intelligence University Thinks About Strategic Threats"

Educating future Intelligence Community leaders is broader and more challenging than ever, as advancements in technology, communications, and data management make the warning window smaller and, in many cases, even difficult to see.  The formerly dominant challenges of understanding adversarial capabilities and intentions have been joined by a far broader spectrum of intelligence challenges: cultural and religious conflicts, failed and failing nation-states, non-state actors, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber, and the omnipresent threat of terrorism at home and abroad. Our speaker will discuss how, using teaching, research, and outreach, NIU enhances the knowledge and awareness of its students to better equip them for managing intelligence functions in an ever more complex world.

Cathryn Quantic Thurston is Acting Vice President, Office of Research, at the NIU, located at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. The Office of Research houses the John T. Hughes Library, the Center for Strategic Intelligence Research, and the National Intelligence Press. Before coming to NIU, Dr. Thurston was a researcher at the RAND Corporation in Washington, D.C., where she worked primarily on projects for the US Army and the intelligence community. From 1995-2000, she was a West Europe/NATO analyst for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence on the Army Staff. 

Dr. Thurston holds a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University (2005), an MA in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University (1995), and a BA in International Studies from the University of Denver (1992).

DECEMBER 2014

"True or False?  The World is Going to Hell in a Hand-basket."

The world seems quite a mess these days, what with Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Levant on fire, Iran on the verge of a nuclear-weapons breakout, the South China Sea roiled, North Korea about to marry a nuclear warhead to an intercontinental-range ballistic missile . .  . and now, of all things, Ebola. Are things really that bad, or are they just misleadingly telegenic? Could they get a lot worse, or have we reached a kind of plateau—or rather found the bottom of a sinkhole? What has been the role of the USA, specifically of the Obama Administration, in all this? Has it made things worse, or kept a troubled time from becoming even more dangerous?

Dr. Adam Garfinkle is founding editor, in 2005, of The American Interest. He served in 2003-05 as principal speechwriter to Secretaries of State (S/P, Policy Planning) Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. He has also been editor of The National Interest and has taught at the School for Advanced International Studies, the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College and other institutions of higher learning. Dr. Garfinkle served as a member of the National Security Study Group of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission), and as an aide to Senator Henry M. Jackson.

A widely published scholar, he has received awards and grants from the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Fellowship Program, the American Academy in Berlin, the German Marshall Fund, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Moshe Dayan Center for the Study of Middle Eastern and African Affairs (Tel Aviv University).  Dr. Garfinkle’s most recent substantive books include Broken: American Political Dysfunction and What To Do About It (2013) and Jewcentricity: How the Jews Get Praised, Blamed and Used to Explain Nearly Everything (2009).  Dr. Garfinkle received his Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania (l979).

NOVEMBER 2014

"The Washington Media:  The People Who Report the News"

Washington, D.C., is not only a government town, it’s also the nation’s most important media city with tens of thousands of people either working in the news or feeding and caring for news people. The Washington media are a vast industry responsible for informing the public and shaping public opinion not only in this country but also for the entire world.  Our speaker, Douglas Waller, a veteran Washington journalist, will talk about the men and women who cover four Washington institutions: the White House, Pentagon, CIA, and State Department.

Douglas Waller is a veteran correspondent, author and lecturer. In almost two decades as a Washington journalist, he covered the Pentagon, Congress, the State Department, the White House and the CIA. From 1994 to 2007, he served in TIME Magazine’s Washington Bureau, covering foreign affairs as a diplomatic correspondent, traveling throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He came to TIME in 1994 from Newsweek, where he reported on military conflicts from the Gulf War to Somalia to Haiti. Before joining Newsweek in 1988, he was a legislative assistant on the staffs of Sen. William Proxmire and Rep. Edward J. Markey. Waller’s biography of Wild Bill Donovan (Free Press, 2011), his 8th book, became a New York Times best seller, a Washington Post ‘Best Book,’ and a Wall Street Journal ‘Notable Book.’

A 1971 graduate of Wake Forest University, Waller lives and works in Raleigh, N.C.

October 2014

"Degrading and Destroying the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria"

Our topic deals with the U.S.-led multinational coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State terrorist organization operating in Iraq and Syria.  The question must be asked: "How do we know when we've won?"  In just a handful of years, the Islamic State has managed to eclipse the global influence that took Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaida terror group two decades to build. This talk examined the meteoric military and media rise of the Islamic State and identified metrics for measuring success in any attempt to excise this scourge. 

Our speaker is Jarret Brachman, an internationally recognized specialist on violent extremist movements including Al-Qaida and the Islamic State.  He currently manages the Global Threat Intelligence program at Wells Fargo. From 2008-2013, Brachman launched and directed a law enforcement training program at North Dakota State University.  Before that, he served as the founding Director of Research at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center from 2004-2008.  Brachman has been called a "Laptop James Bond" by Esquire magazine and an "Information Warrior" by the Associated Press. He published his first book, Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice in 2008.  In 2010, Brachman traveled to Libya to interview imprisoned senior members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.  He continues advising federal, state and local government professionals across law enforcement, military and intelligence communities as an Intelligence Community Associate. He has testified before multiple Congressional subcommittees, the British House of Lords, and has been cited in most major global media outlets. Jarret holds a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Delaware and served as a Fellow with the CIA's Counterterrorist Center in 2003. 

September 2014

"Is the International System Breaking Down?  Or Just Experiencing Growing Pains?"

Our speaker is Brian Atwood, who became Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in October 2002, where he is widely credited for raising the school's profile and national ranking. In January 2011, he took a leave from the University to serve as chair of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

Atwood served for six years as Administrator of the USAID during the Clinton Administration, where he also led the transition team at the State Department and was Under Secretary of State for Management prior to his appointment as head of USAID. During the Carter Administration, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations. He was Dean of Professional Studies and Academic Affairs at the Foreign Service Institute (1981 to 1982) and the first president of the National Democratic Institute for international Affairs (1986 to 1993). In 2001, Atwood served on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Panel on Peace Operations. 

Atwood writes and speaks frequently on international development, post-conflict reconstruction, foreign policy, the role of the UN and other multilateral organizations in international affairs, and the US’s' role in the world order. He holds a BA in government and history from Boston University and received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from American University. He joined the Foreign Service in 1966, serving in the U.S. Embassies in Cote d'Ivoire and Spain.

July 2014 - Special Luncheon

"Upheaval in the Middle East"

Our speaker is Former Norwegian Consul General in Minneapolis and CFR member, Ambassador Rolf Willy Hansen, who is about to take up his new duties as Norway’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.   From 2008 to 2012 Ambassador Hansen served as Norway's Ambassador to Syria and was the principal western interlocutor with the political leadership of Hamas.  Following the March 2012 closure of the Norwegian embassy in Damascus due to safety concerns, Ambassador Hansen returned to the Foreign Ministry in Oslo and continued as Norway’s envoy to international meetings on the Syria crisis.  He also became Norway’s representative for Palestinian issues and the Middle East peace process.

Ambassador Hansen has had a distinguished career as a Norwegian diplomat. His assignments include service as Consul General in Hong Kong, three years with the Norwegian Embassy in Paris, two years as Second Secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and numerous diplomatic positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including press and cultural assignments, advisor on security and military issues, and Regional Advisor on Middle East Affairs. In addition, Ambassador Hansen represented Norway in Namibia during that country's transition to independence in 1989-1990 and established the Norwegian Embassy in Windhoek. From 2005 to 2008, Ambassador Hansen served as Norwegian Consul General to the Upper Midwest, based in Minneapolis, and was an active member of the St. Paul-Minneapolis CFR. In August 2014, he will move back to the Middle East as the Norwegian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman.

June 2014

"Transforming the United Nations Systems:  Designs for a Workable World"

Our speaker, Joe Schwartzberg, is a life-long peace and justice activist, with a particular interest in the UN system, and has published numerous books and articles relating to global governance. Among his publications are Revitalizing the United Nations: Reform through Weighted Voting, New York and The Hague: Institute for Global Policy - World Federalist Movement, 2004; and Creating a World Parliamentary Assembly: An Evolutionary Journey, Berlin: Committee for a Democratic UN, 2012.

Schwartzberg received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1960. He has since taught at the University of Pennsylvania (1960-64 and summer, 1965), the University of Minnesota (1964-2000) and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi (1979-80). Schwartzberg served as Chair of the University of Minnesota’s Department of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as a Trustee and member of the Executive Council of the American Institute of Indian Studies, and as an elected member and Secretary of the US National Committee of the International Geographical Union. He participated in various Peace Corps training programs and, for three years, directed Minnesota Studies in International Development, an overseas internship program. He is currently a member of the International Council of the World Federalist Movement as well as the Steering Committee of the World Federalist Institute.

May 2014 - Special Luncheon

"India Today:  After the Elections"

Our topic deals with the reasons behind the outcome of the elections in India this month, and the possible reshaping of government priorities including foreign policy in the aftermath of the election. Voters in the world's largest democracy delivered what has been widely described as the country's most definitive electoral verdict in three decades, with the ruling, left-of-center Congress Party suffering its worst defeat since India gained its independence 67 years ago. The election results immediately led to the resignation of Manmohan Singh, who had been India's prime minister since 2004. His successor is Narendra Modi, who led the right-of-center Bharatiya Janata Party to a decisive majority of the 543 seats in Parliament even as the long-dominant Congress Party won only 44 -- less than a fourth of its previous number.

Our speaker is General Shankar Roychowdbury (Ret'd), who was born in Calcutta, India. He entered the National Defense Academy in 1953, and was commissioned in 1957 as a 2nd lieutenant in the Armored Corps in 20 Lancers. Gen. Roychowdbury held various command and staff appointments in the Indian Army, and saw active service in Kashmir and Bangladesh. He was promoted to General and named as Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1994. He retired in 1997, and moved back to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Gen. Roychowdbury was a syndicated columnist at Kargil during the India-Pakistani border war in 1999. He is also the author two books: Officially at Peace and Kargil 1999. His political career began in 1999 when he was elected unopposed as a consensus candidate from West Bengal to the Rajya Sabha (The Council of States, or Senate, of the Parliament), where he represented his district until 2005.

May 2014

"International Rule of Law Projects"

Our topic concerns developments in the international rule of law, which has been a critical feature of our guest speaker, Judge John R. Tunheim’s, work over the last several years. Our program will have a slightly different form than usual, since Judge Tunheim would prefer to engage in a vigorous discussion of international rule of law issues with members following a brief presentation of his recent activities.
 
Our speaker has over 19 years of judicial experience in both domestic and international contexts. Tunheim was appointed as a federal district judge by President Clinton and assumed office in 1995. From 1994 to 1998 he served as the Chair of the U.S. Assassination Records Review Board, an independent federal agency that declassified the government records of the John F. Kennedy assassination. He will become Chief Judge in the District of Minnesota in 2015.

Since 2000, Judge Tunheim has worked on rule of law development projects in fifteen countries, from Bulgaria to Uzbekistan. His early work in Kosovo helped the UN to re-establish and improve the legal system, and in 2007-2008 he worked as a principal advisor in the development of the Kosovo Constitution. Tunheim has also worked extensively on legal and judicial reform issues over the past decade in Uzbekistan and on the training of criminal court judges in Georgia.  
 
Judge Tunheim is currently involved in a project with the UN Executive Directorate on Counter Terrorism, working with police, prosecutors and judges in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, and Singapore, to become fully prepared to handle terrorism cases fairly and effectively.  In March 2013, Tunheim was in Katmandu, Nepal, and in October 2013 Islamabad, Pakistan working with judges from the eight countries, and in April 2014 he traveled to Bhutan and Thailand.

Tunheim graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead and worked for three years in the U.S. Senate as a staff assistant to Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.  In 1980, he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he served as President of the Minnesota Law Review.

April 2014

"The CIA's National Clandestine Service"

Our speaker is Joe Wippl, Director of Graduate Studies; Professor of the Practice of International Relations, Boston University. He will present highlights of his long career, but leave plenty of time for questions about current events which are arguably more important. In addition to the posts mentioned above, he was Deputy Chief of Human Resources for the CIA, and Director of Congressional Affairs. Thus he has considerable experience in “liaison relationships” both with foreign countries and the U.S. Congress. Relations between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee have been severely strained recently, so one might ask him how those should best be managed and what institutions do when they are mangled. Most of his career was spent in Europe facing a Soviet adversary which was very well schooled in espionage, so his perspectives on the resurgent Russia led by a former KGB Colonel Putin could be interesting as well. 

Joseph has a BA from Marquette University, and an MA in European History from the University of Minnesota, where he is also a PhD Candidate in European History.

March 2014 - Special Luncheon

"Crisis in Ukraine:  Some Geographic and Historical Perspectives"

Our topic has quickly become one of the most significant international developments since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Our speakers will give meaningful context and perspective to the geographic and historical imperatives that have set the stage for the current crisis. They will also offer an assessment of the impact the events unfolding in Ukraine could have on that country and on the international community. Ukraine, which is three times the size of Minnesota and has a population of 45 million, is the second largest country in Europe. It is home to one of Europe's most important capitals in Kiev and to one of the world's most fertile breadbaskets. The country was one of the founding states of the USSR in 1922.

Our speakers are CFR members John Adams and Theofanis Stavrou, longtime members of a team of University of Minnesota professors who have studied and visited the USSR/Russia and the former Soviet republics. Adams, who has a Ph.D. in economic geography from the university, is an urban geographer with research and teaching specialties on the evolution, structure and operation of cities in the U.S., Eastern Europe and the former USSR. He has taught at the university since 1970 and, in 1992, co-authored a book, Urban Geography in the Soviet Union and the United States. Stavrou received his doctorate in Russian and East European Studies from Indiana University in 1961. Since then, he has taught modern Russian history at the University of Minnesota and, in 1983, at Jilin University in Changchun, China.  He has been to the Soviet Union many times and written three books on Russia. His teaching and research interests focus on the intersection between politics and culture, especially religion in Russian culture.

March 2014

"Current Threats to U.S. National Security"

Our speaker is James Jay Carafano, VP, Foreign & Defense Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation.  He is an E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation, which he joined in 2003. He is recognized as a leading expert in national security, defense affairs and homeland security. Before assuming responsibility for Heritage’s defense and foreign policy team in 2012, he served as deputy director of the Davis Institute and as director of its Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. An accomplished historian and teacher, Carafano was Assistant Professor at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and served as director of military studies at the Army's Center of Military History. He also taught at Mount Saint Mary College in New York and served as a fleet professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He is visiting professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown University, a member of several U.S. Army and Homeland Security committees, and Senior Fellow at the George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute. 

Carafano is the author of many books and studies, and co-authored Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom, in which it is argued that a successful strategy requires a balance of prudent military and security measures, continued economic growth, the zealous protection of civil liberties and winning the ‘war of ideas’ against terrorist ideologies. Before becoming a policy expert, he served 25 years in the U.S. Army. A graduate of West Point, he has a master's degree and a doctorate from Georgetown University and a master's degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College.

January 2014

"Decoding the Vatican"

Our speaker is John Thavis, author and journalist.  He will give us an inside look at the spiritual and political dynamics of the church, and analyze the shifts now occurring under Pope Francis. John Thavis grew up in Mankato, attending Catholic schools and graduating from St. John's University in 1973. He went to Italy in 1977 to study archaeology, joined the Rome Daily American as a headline writer and later became news editor there before returning to Minnesota to become a reporter for and editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 1982, after he persuaded his wife to move to Italy, the couple arrived in Rome with minimal savings and a suitcase. In 1983, he joined the CNS, eventually traveling with Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict to more than 60 countries. Thavis was named as CNS's Rome bureau chief in 1996 and served three years as president of the Association of International Journalists Accredited to the Vatican -- the only American ever elected to that position. He has won numerous journalism awards. Thavis retired in 2012, but speaks and lectures frequently about the Vatican. He and his wife, Lauren, now live in the Twin Cities. 

December 2013

"The NSA:  From No Such Agency to Not Secret Anymore"

Our speaker is V. James Bamford, who is consulted by entities all around the world because he is simply the best open-source expert there is on the NSA, which has been attracting unprecedented attention recently. Bamford is an American bestselling author and journalist noted for his writing about United States intelligence agencies, especially the National Security Agency (NSA). Bamford has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, and many other publications. In 2006, he won the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his piece "The Man Who Sold The War," published in Rolling Stone. His 2008 book, The Shadow Factory, became a New York Times best-seller and was named by The Washington Post as one of "The Best Books of 2008." It was the third book in his NSA trilogy and focused on NSA involvement in the 9/11 investigations and intelligence failures. NOVA's The Spy Factory was based on this book. Bamford spent nearly a decade as Washington investigative producer for ABC's World News Tonight, and now lectures nationally in the United States. He is currently one of National Journal’s “100 National Security Insiders”. 

November 2013

“Midwestern Jews in the Land of Middle East Diplomacy.” 

Our speakers are Sam and Sylvia Kaplan, who returned to Minnesota in May after 3½ years in Morocco - Sam as Ambassador, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, and Sylvia as his partner in all things as far as State Department protocol would allow.

Sam, a St. Paul native, is a businessman and attorney and is president of the Kaplan, Strangis and Kaplan law firm, which he co-founded. He is a well-known and respected community leader and political activist. He and Sylvia were early supporters of Paul Wellstone, Keith Ellison, and RT Rybak, that were considered long shots by the political pundits. Sam has been credited with providing credibility to such candidates by chairing finance committees that were successful in raising the necessary funds for success, experiences which proved crucial to his own success as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco.

October 2013

"Violence Against Women:  A Global Pandemic” 

Our topic is that it is becoming clearer every day that the abuse of women in many forms is holding back development in poor countries around the world. But experts say that reports of sexual assault and brutal repression are only symptoms - there are many more profound and debilitating ways of keeping women down, though they represent half the world's population and large majorities of the food producing farmers of Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, making them a vital component of development where it is needed most. Women are not protected by legal systems; indeed, in some societies there is no law against violence against them, even in their homes.
 
The abuse and deprivation of women starts when they are girls. Demand for sons in numerous cultures lies behind the aborting of female fetuses, killing of girl babies and forced marriages of child brides. Death in pregnancy is the leading killer of teenage girls in many developing countries, particularly in Africa. Those who grow into womanhood, often socially crippled by a lack of education and unable to fend for themselves, face lives devoid of even basic medical care, enough food to fend off malnutrition or starvation and the opportunities for productive work. Social and religious attitudes are at the root of this corrosive situation almost everywhere, but we have been afraid to discuss and campaign against them, fearing that we will appear insensitive to other cultures. That is now changing as bolder voices are being heard in the UN and other international institutions. A new mindset is being demanded of society's leaders: political, religious, community and tribal. This issue will be aired throughout 2014 as the world marks 20 years since a breakthrough international conference on women held in Cairo demanded an end to persistent abuses and neglect of women. What happened to all those promises made then?
 
Our speaker is Barbara Crossette, a former correspondent for the New York Times and now United Nations correspondent of The Nation and a contributor to PassBlue, an online international news site, is the author of several books on Asia and the winner of several prizes for her work there. In 2010, she wrote the UN’s Population Fund’s flagship State of the World Population Report on women in conflict situations, and in 2011 the Fund’s report on The World at 7 Billion. Most recently, she is the author of the Burma/Myanmar chapter in the book Great Decisions 2013, published by the Foreign Policy Association.

October 2013 - Special Luncheon

"Britain and the EU:  In, Out, Shake It All About” 

Our topic concerns the problems Prime Minister Cameron has with Coalition Government and with a small but difficult group of Conservative MPs, dramatically illustrated by the refusal of the British Parliament to agree to the UK supporting any military intervention in Syria.  This talk will look at another area of British foreign policy, that of the UK's relationship with the European Union, in which the same group of MPs have caused political problems for David Cameron, with potentially significant and damaging consequences.
 
Our speaker is Dr. Willie Henderson, a former Director of the Alworth Institute for International Studies, University of Minnesota Duluth and holds the honorary title of International Associate of the Alworth Institute. During an active academic career he worked at the University of Birmingham (UK) where he is now an Emeritus Professor. He has a number of monographs and other publications and has lived in Botswana, Ghana and Zimbabwe. In retirement, he has monitored the progress of Coalition Politics in the UK.  He also spends time between the UK, Poland, Italy and, when the opportunity arises, the United States.

September 2013

"How immigration is reshaping the culture and economy of Minnesota.” 

Sandra Vargas, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Foundation since 2007. Vargas oversees the management of $600 million in assets; the administration of more than 1,000 charitable funds and the distribution of more than $30 million a year in grants. Many of the grants have gone to immigration-related initiatives. Vargas is one of five Minnesotans who serve on a 12-state task force organized by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that produced a comprehensive report on immigration in the Midwest, published earlier this year, which advocates for a "pathway to citizenship" for the nation's millions of unauthorized residents. A native Minnesotan, she traces her roots to immigrants who came to the state from Mexico in the 1920s. She previously served as Hennepin County's administrator, the highest position in the county's government. Earlier, she held management posts at the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and was a small business consultant for the state's economic development department.

Vargas holds an undergraduate business degree from St. Catherine's University and a master's degree in public affairs from Harvard's Kennedy School. She received WomenVenture's Pioneer Award in 2009, the Medal of Honor from St. Catherine's in 2010 and the Caux Roundtable's Outstanding Citizenship Award in 2012.

 

Past Programs

Below are links to program summaries from prior seasons:

2012   /   2011   /   2010   /   2009   /   Additional History