Week in DC: Events

November 17, 2014

Debate on Law Enforcement vs. Smartphone Encryption: Is FBI “Going Dark” or in a Golden Age of Surveillance?
Date: November 17, 4:00pm
Location: New America Foundation, 1899 L street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC

The recent decision by Apple and Google to enable encryption by default on new iPhones and Android smartphones, so that only the user can unlock his or her phone, has led to strong complaints from law enforcement agencies arguing that the move will deprive them of critical evidence. The Attorney General and the FBI Director have gone so far as to suggest that Congress may need to step in and tell companies to redesign their products, to ensure that government investigators can access encrypted data or wiretap online communications when they have appropriate legal authority like a search warrant. However, technologists and privacy advocates say that such a move would undermine the overall security of our data and devices while also putting US companies at a serious disadvantage in the global technology marketplace, and point to the fact that law enforcement and intelligence agencies already have access to more data about us, our communications, and our movements than at any other time in human history—a veritable “Golden Age” of surveillance. Which side is right?

Join New America for a lively debate on this timely technology policy issue, followed by a question and answer session with the audience. On one side: former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann, arguing for law enforcement’s interests. On the other side: legal scholar and former White House technology policy czar Professor Peter Swire, arguing in favor of strong encryption without backdoors for the government. In between as moderator:Nancy Libin, former Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer at the Justice Department. Hosted by Kevin Bankston, Policy Director of New America’s Open Technology Institute.

Join the conversation online using #cryptodebate and following @OTI. RSVP here.

Israel: A Safe Haven for Christians in the Middle East
Date: November 17, 5:00pm
Location: EMET and The Israel Forever Foundation, Cannon House Office Building, Room 340, Washington DC

The Israel Forever Foundation and EMET are pleased to invite you to a discussion featuring Father Gabriel Naddaf from Israel, and Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO), on the plight of Christians in the Middle East and the freedoms they enjoy in Israel. Thousands of Christians throughout the Middle East are persecuted, slaughtered, and raped on a daily basis, because of their faith. Christians who refuse to convert to Islam are targets of radical Islamists and terrorists, and have been robbed of their basic liberties and freedom of worship. Christian communities that have lived in parts of the Middle East and Central Africa in peace for decades are rapidly decreasing. There is only one country in the Middle East where Christians are safe and have freedom of expression and worship – Israel.

Father Gabriel Naddaf is the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the town of Yafia, near Nazareth in the North of Israel. He also serves as the spiritual leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, a growing movement that empowers local Christians to volunteer for Israeli army service and fully integrate into mainstream Israeli society. Father Naddaf is a strong public voice of support for Israel and against the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Father Naddaf’s activities have made him a controversial figure, drawing criticism from Arab MKs as well as threats against his family and attacks on himself from extreme anti-Israel communities. Last month Father Naddaf appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to discuss the plight of Middle Eastern Christians.

RSVP here.

Project Sapphire 20 Years Later: Cooperative Threat Reduction and Lessons for the Future
Date: November 17, 5:30pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Center, Washington DC

Twenty years ago, in November 1994, the United States and Kazakhstan completed an unprecedented, highly secret, joint operation removing approximately 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from a former Soviet nuclear plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk to permanent storage in the United States. The operation, dubbed “Project Sapphire”, was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) Program. This program helped secure nuclear warheads and fissile materials in the former Soviet Union and ensured their relocation to Russia from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus. Kazakhstan’s early decision to become a nuclear weapon-free state made it a global leader in the non-proliferation movement.

To mark the 20th anniversary of these efforts, please join us for a discussion of the history and lessons of U.S.-Kazakhstan joint efforts.

Register here.

November 18, 2014

Subcommittee Hearing: Fighting Ebola: A Ground-Level View
Date: November 18, 10:00am
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

Chairman Smith on the hearing: “In our third hearing over the past four months on the Ebola virus in West Africa, the subcommittee will examine this fight from the vantage point of people on the ground who have been contracted to provide services, including patient treatment, local medical efforts and community disease education. It is imperative that in Congress’ efforts to work with the Administration we know how successful efforts have been to date and whether adjustments are needed to more effectively achieve disease mitigation goals.”

Scheduled witnesses include, Mr. Rabih Torbay, Senior Vice President for International Operations in the International Medical Corps, Mr. Brett Sedgewick, Technical Advisor for Food Security and Livelihoods for Global Communities, and Darius Mans, Ph.D., President of Africare.

The Global Response to Managing the Humanitarian Crisis: Lessons from Syria
Date: November 18, 10:00am
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, will be the keynote speaker and various speakers will discuss this topic on two panels during the conference.

Register here.

Post-Conflict State-Building and Public Health Recovery: What Does the Ebola Pandemic in Liberia Teach?
Date: November 18, 12:00pm
Location: GMU School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution, Johnson Center, Room A, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax VA

A native of Liberia, Samuel Wai Johnson, Jr. is a Graduate Lecturer at George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution undergraduate program. Last semester, he served as a Visiting Scholar at Eastern Mennonite University Department of Applied Social Sciences and Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Before leaving Liberia in 2006 for studies in the US, Sam worked with UNICEF as a Policy Communications Officer and a development consultant for local NGOs on issues of poverty reduction and sustainable development. He is a visiting faculty at the University of Liberia Department of Economics. Sam holds MAs in International Development and Economics from Ohio University and an undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Liberia. He is a PHD candidate at George Mason University School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. His research focuses broadly on conflict-sensitive development and the economic dimensions of conflict and peace building, with a specific focus on the relationship between post-conflict development finance and peace building. He spent last summer in Liberia conducting field research for his dissertation where he saw firsthand the horrific impact of the Ebola pandemic on the country.

Subcommittee Hearing: Iranian Nuclear Talks: Negotiating a Bad Deal?
Date: November 18, 2:00pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2200 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

Chairman Poe on the hearing: “According to reports, not much progress has been made since the last extension of nuclear talks in July. If the Iranians are buying for time, they shouldn’t get additional sanctions relief simply to kick the can down the road another 4-5 months. It’s time for Congress to hold the line and ensure that this Administration and the P5+1 don’t make a dangerous deal. This hearing will examine concerns over the current negotiations and also outline what an acceptable deal might look like.”

Scheduled witnesses include, Ray Takeyh, Ph.D., Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. J. Matthew McInnis, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Mr. David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security.

National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear
Date: November 18, 5:30pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Kenney Auditorium, Nitze Building, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

A SAIS Foreign Policy Institute discussion of David Rothkopf’s new book, with Rothkopf and Shirin Tahir Kheli of SAIS. David Rothkopf is CEO and editor of the FP Group.

For information or to RSVP, go to http://ow.ly/DDfZO.

Germany’s Russia Policy: Commercial Realism and Geopolitics
Date: November 18, 6:00pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Rome 806, 1619 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

As the second largest exporter in the world and the pivotal power of Europe, Germany is one of the world’s leading geo-economic power. Like other geo-economic powers, Germany’s foreign policy can be characterized as one of commercial realism which defines the national interest in economic terms and elevates economic interests over more traditional strategic concerns, as we as over non-economic values such as human rights or democracy promotion. This strategic paradim is most evident in Germany’s relationship with Russia. This geo-economic approach toward Russia has been brought into question in the wake of Russian actions in Ukraine and now in northern Europe as well. How will Germany rebalance its economic and strategic concerns in its new relationship with Russia?

In his new book, Germany, Russia, and the Rise of Geo-Economics, Stephen F. Szabo provides a description and analysis of German policy towards Russia, revealing how unified Germany is finding a global role, in which interests do not always coincide with the United States or its European partners. He explores the role of German business and finance in the shaping of foreign policy and investigates how Germany’s Russia policy affects its broader foreign policy in the region and how it is perceived by key outside players such as the United States, Poland, and the European Union. Drawing on interviews with key opinion shapers, business and financial players, and policy makers, as well as a wide variety of public opinion surveys, media reports, and archival sources, this book is a key resource for all those wishing to understand the new geo-economic balance of Europe.

Stephen F. Szabo is a Professorial Lecturer at SAIS and executive director of the Transatlantic Academy, an independent research institute based at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC. He is the author of numerous books and articles focusing on transatlantic relations and German foreign policy including Parting Ways: The Crisis in German-American Relations(2004).

Commentary will be provided by Angela E. Stent, Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She is also a Senior Fellow (non-resident) at the Brookings Institution and co-chairs its Hewitt Forum on Post-Soviet Affairs. From 2004-2006 she served as National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. From 1999-2001, she served in the Office of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

Register here.

November 19, 2014

The Iran Nuclear Talks: Problems and Prospects
Date: November 19, 12:00pm
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

As the nuclear talks with Iran approach a November 24 deadline, what are the prospects for an agreement that would prevent an Iranian nuclear breakout or sneak-out? What problems need to be resolved in order to reach a successful outcome in the negotiations?

Join Heritage Foundation panelists as they discuss these and other issues related to Iran’s nuclear program.

Register here.

Understanding the Global Threat of Ebola
Date: November 19, 2:00pm
Location: Universal Peace Foundation, Washington DC

The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has, to date, affected more than 10,000 people, and the numbers continue to rise. In March 2014, the ebola virus was identified as a severe public health threat in three West African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. By September, Ebola emerged in Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.

While there are major efforts by the international health community to prevent and control the deadly disease, it is spreading rapidly across Africa and poses a significant threat to nearly all of the developing and industrialized world. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who traveled to Texas to visit his family, was confirmed as the first case (and fatality) in the United States. Since his tragic death, The Dallas Health Presbyterian Hospital has identified 114 persons who were also exposed to Mr. Duncan during his treatment.

Scientists believe that the United Kingdom may be the next country to report infected persons followed by France. The World Health Organization
has estimated that ultimately Ebola will affect 1.4 million lives. But the impact of the disease is not just measured in human lives. The Ebola outbreak has grim economic consequences which will be felt beyond the affected countries in West Africa. The World Bank has estimated that the costs associated with the containment of the disease and economic impact in tourism, agriculture, global development could be as high as 3.5 billion dollars by the end of 2015.

A powerful defense strategy is needed against this modern plague. The panel will discuss the medical, social and economic impact of Ebola, the facts about transmission, and best containment practices.

November 20, 2014

The Struggle for Pakistan
Date: November 20, 12:00pm
Location: Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC

Pakistan’s precarious situation has made its government periodically susceptible to military control and its population vulnerable to extremist ideologies. After the events of 9/11, the terrorists entrenched within Pakistan’s borders became a subject of global concern. Thirteen years later, military missions and foreign aid to Pakistan have been of little lasting benefit to the state itself. As the United States has drawn down its military presence in South Asia, the struggle in, and for, Pakistan rages on.

In The Struggle for Pakistan, Dr. Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University, traces the international actors and domestic factors that have contributed to the continued militarization and radicalization of Pakistan. Jalal demonstrates how contested borders with India and Afghanistan as well as an inconsistent relationship with the United States have led Pakistan to place a premium on security above all else. The Pakistani military has successfully capitalized on this mentality. Domestically, ethnic and sectarian clashes have fostered extremist tendencies. Jalal illustrates how these factors continue to threaten the development of strong institutions and democratic ideals—and how the dangers for and within Pakistan are from over.

On Thursday, November 20th, Hudson Institute will host a conversation with Dr. Ayesha Jalal about her new book The Struggle for Pakistan: Muslim Homeland and Global Politics. The discussion will be moderated by Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute Director for South and Central Asia and former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States.

Register here.

November 21, 2014

Dialogue on the Crisis with Russia
Date: November 21, 12:00pm
Location: Aspen Institute, 1 Dupont Circle NW #700, Washington DC

A discussion featuring: Stephen J. Hadley, Principal, RiceHadleyGates LLC and Former National Security Advisor; Strobe Talbott, President, The Brookings Institution and Former Deputy Secretary of State; and Angela Stent, Director, Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies, Georgetown University.

Moderated by Nicholas Burns, Director, Aspen Strategy Group; Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School

The Washington Ideas Roundtable Series is made possible with the generous support of Michelle Smith and the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan
Date: November 21, 12:15pm
Location: New America Foundation, 1899 L Street NW, Suite 400, Washington DC

In its earliest days, the American-led war in Afghanistan appeared to be a triumph—a “good war”—in comparison to the debacle in Iraq. It has since turned into one of the longest and most costly wars in U.S. history and now, many wonder if Afghanistan will fall to Taliban control after the United States and NATO forces withdraw. The story of how this good war went so bad may well turn out to be a defining tragedy of the 21st century—yet as acclaimed war correspondent Jack Fairweather explains, it should also give us reason to hope for an outcome grounded in Afghan reality, rather than our own.

Please join New America as we welcome Jack Fairweather, a former foreign correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and the Washington Post, who won the British Press Award for his reporting on the Iraq invasion, to discuss his book with Peter Bergen, the Director of the International Security Program at New America.

RSVP here or watch the live webcast.

Preparing for the Future: Assessing the Conditions and Capacity for American Engagement with Russia
Date: November 21, 2:30pm
Location: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, 6th Floor, Washington DC

The continuing diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia have had a significant impact on programs that promote civic and individual contacts between Americans and Russians. Exchange programs serve as capacity-building initiatives influencing economic growth and jobs and how enterprises and individuals interact with their peers on the other side. A panel of experts and practitioners will discuss how organizations and individuals dedicated to the mission of engagement between Russian and the United States are pursuing their work in the current atmosphere.

RSVP here.

Reimagining ‘Post-Soviet’ Central Asia
Date: November 21, 3:30pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street NW, Suite 412, Voesar Conference Center, Washington DC

In the newly independent states of Central Asia, geopolitical practices and affinities cannot be understood in isolation from their Soviet heritage. However, after nearly 25 years since the collapse of the USSR, this near-automatic explanation of contemporary politics in terms of Soviet legacies is no longer sufficient for understanding Central Asia’s shifting geopolitics. In this paper, I analyze how geopolitical identities are narrated through urban development schemes in Astana, Baku, and Ashgabat – and in particular how they are increasingly connected to new flows of actors, ideas, and finance from the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Adopting a critical geopolitics approach, I compare and contrast elements of these capital city development schemes in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan with those in Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Through this comparative analysis, I demonstrate how region-making and geopolitical orientations unfold not just at the level of rhetorical positioning, but can also develop through the material practices of cross- regional networks around highly specific political tactics, like capital city development. Also considering divergences, I note that although the urban landscapes these tactics materialize are very similar, there are important differences in the underlying political geographic and political economic factors that make them possible, as well as the political relations they sustain and produce.

RSVP here.

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