Week in DC: Events

April 6, 2015

The Fate of South Africa’s Nuclear Material
Date: April 6, 9:00am
Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

South Africa, the only nation ever to build a nuclear arsenal and voluntarily dismantle it, proudly regards itself as a champion of disarmament and nonproliferation. But for almost two decades, the United States and South Africa have struggled over the handling of highly enriched uranium (HEU) stockpiles that have remained after the closure of its bomb program. What is the dispute over South Africa’s stocks of HEU, and how is it playing out? What are its roots? And what are the consequences for global security?

The Center for Public Integrity’s Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith will explain how the two countries have interacted under presidents Obama and Zuma. Harvard University’s Matthew Bunn will discuss South Africa’s HEU in the context of efforts to improve nuclear security around the globe. Former ambassador Thomas Wheeler of South Africa will join by video from Johannesburg to offer his views on the subject. Carnegie’s Togzhan Kassenova will moderate.

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir with Author Amb. Christopher R. Hill
Date: April 6, 12:00pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

From Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon to U.S. Ambassador in Iraq, Christopher R. Hill has worked in some of the most dangerous hotspots of the past few decades. In his new book Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir, published by Simon & Schuster, he brings readers inside the rooms where modern history has been made. Hill’s story is a vivid, insightful account of 33 years with the Foreign Service, and a witty, often wry take on life in the Foreign Service – from his childhood in Belgrade and Haiti, where his father was a diplomat, to the Peace Corps, working with credit unions in Cambodia, and after that, to his life in the State Department. Hill’s perspective is crisp and no-nonsense, pulling no punches but not out to settle scores. Instead, it’s a tour of the people, places and events that have been so crucial to world events in recent history. Throughout the book, readers get a sense of what it was like to be in some of the world’s most dangerous areas, attempting to negotiate under the highest pressure.

RSVP here.

U.S. – Russia Relations: What Went Wrong and is There a Way Out of the Current Crisis?
Date: April 6, 6:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Relations, Lindner Commons 601, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

The current crisis in Ukraine, which many see as a geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the United States, underscores the urgent need for developing a new foreign policy agenda that will benefit both American and Russian long-term strategic interests. As the deterioration of conditions in Ukraine continues, the world may face not only the return of the Cold War, but also even more dangerous scenarios. However, the United States and Russia have fundamentally compatible interests on issues such as terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, piracy, illegal cyber activity, drug trafficking, and climate change. It may be worth recalling that even in the most dangerous periods of the Cold War the risks of military confrontation were defused by the administrations of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan.

RSVP here.

April 7, 2015

Tracking Arms In Conflict—Lessons from Syria and Iraq
Date: April 7, 11:00am
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

For countries in conflict, the unfettered transfer of weapons can pose a significant risk to armed forces and civilian populations, as well as to long-term security and stability. Better understanding of the complex global arms trade can help curb these risks and has the benefit of providing insight on the inner-workings of illicit networks around the world. Identifying and tracking weapons being used in armed conflicts is, therefore, a vital and often dangerous task. At times this is done by investigators on the ground, but often relies on footage and other evidence viewed from afar.

Join us April 7, when Jonah Leff, Director of Operations, Conflict Armament Research, will report on findings of field investigations and the new iTrace system of nearly 40,000 weapons and rounds of ammunition discovered in the Middle East. Leff will discuss the prevalence of U.S. weapons found among Islamic State fighters; findings of newly manufactured Russian, Iranian, and Sudanese ammunition; evidence of supply to Syrian rebels from Saudi Arabia; and large scale industrial production and use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Syria and Iraq. Matt Schroeder, Senior Researcher, Small Arms Survey, will share examples using YouTube and other footage to track the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated shoulder-fired missiles (MANPADS) by fighters in the Middle East.

This event is co-hosted by the Forum on the Arms Trade and the Stimson Center and is the third in a Stimson series on missing and illicit weapons. Previous events were held on missing weapons in Libya and the risk of unauthorized retransfers.

RSVP here.

Next Steps in Missile Defense
Date: April 7, 1:00pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Room, Washington DC

The Center for Strategic and International Studies welcomes experts to discuss both policy and programmatic aspects of the next steps in missile defense.

Register here.

Ambassador Lukman Faily on the Future of Iraq
Date: April 7, 3:00pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1619 Massachusetts Ave NW, Room 806, Washington DC

As Iraq tries to re-take territory from ISIS, what are the challenges it faces? How are efforts to re-integrate Sunni fighting forces proceeding, and what steps have been taken toward a more inclusive government? Baghdad’s relations with Iraqi Kurdistan are still fraught. Oil prices are dramatically lower than once expected. The country’s most important friends – the United States and Iran – are trying to reach a nuclear deal even as they support opposing forces in Syria and Yemen. How will lraq manage in this turbulent and challenging environment?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) and the Conflict Management Program at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) are pleased to host the Ambassador of Iraq, His Excellency Lukman Faily, and Abbas Kadhim (SAIS) in a discussion about Iraq and its future.

Register here.

Islam and the Dynamics of Ethno-Confessional Regimes in Russia, 1990-2012
Date: April 7, 4:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, Voesar Conference Room, 1957 E Street NW, Suite 412, Washington DC

Why would a secular state change its policies toward religion? Research on secularism and state policies toward religion suggests several models of interaction. However, these models are often better at describing static relationships than they are at explaining change. This study advances a framework for the conditions that presage the transformation of state-religion relations by examining significant differences between Russian state attitudes toward Islam in the early 1990s and the 2000s. In particular, it focuses on notable changes in the licensing of Imams, the building permissions granted for mosques, and registration requirements for religious organizations. The study largely explains the dynamics of Russian state attitudes toward the largest minority religion in the country during the first two decades after the collapse of the Soviet state and offers predictive insights on the dynamic nature of state-Islam relations in other secular states with considerable Muslim populations.

Bulat Akhmetkarimov is a Ph.D. candidate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His publications appeared in Religion, State & Society, SAISPHERE, Rivista, and Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations. His research interests include ethnic conflict, federalism, and secularism in Russia.

RSVP here.

WIIS-GWU Mentoring Roundtable featuring Tara Sonenshine
Date: April 7, 7:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, 805 21st Street NW, MPA 411, Washington DC

Tara D. Sonenshine is a former Shapiro Fellow and Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is the former Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs for the Department of State and previously served as the Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  Prior to joining USIP, she was a strategic communications adviser to many international organizations including USIP, the International Crisis Group, Internews, CARE, The American Academy of Diplomacy, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Ms. Sonenshine served in various capacities at the White House during the Clinton Administration, including Transition Director, Director of Foreign Policy Planning for the National Security Council, and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications.   Prior to serving in the Clinton Administration, Ms. Sonenshine was an Editorial Producer of ABC News’ Nightline, where she worked for more than a decade.  She was also an off-air reporter at the Pentagon for ABC’s World News Tonight and is the recipient of 10 News Emmy Awards for coverage of international affairs.  She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University.

RSVP here.

April 8, 2015

Morocco’s Contribution to Countering Violent Extremism in Africa and the Middle East
Date: April 8, 10:00am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

The recent terrorist attack on the Bardo National Museum in Tunis underscores the growing danger extremist ideologies and violence pose to the North African region and beyond. Countries still unsettled by the tumult of the Arab Spring are now confronting the radicalizing influence of ISIS and other extremist organizations as thousands of North Africans flock to join the militants.

The Kingdom of Morocco has not been spared the challenge of radicalization as more than one thousand of its citizens have joined terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria in recent years. However, Morocco’s innovative counter-radicalization program, launched after terrorist attacks in the early 2000s, continues to expand and offers hope to the entire region. Its comprehensive approach provides social services and economic opportunities specifically targeted at young people. It also focuses on combatting radical ideologies on the religious level by training students and imams in the moderate Maliki rite of Sunni Islam and Sufi traditions for service in Morocco as well as elsewhere in Africa and even in Europe.

Register here.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Today
Date: April 8, 10:00am
Location: Brookings Institution, Saul Room/ Zilkha Lounge, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

With more than 60,000 employees, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), one of the world’s largest law enforcement organizations, is charged with keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the United States while facilitating lawful international travel and trade. And as the world’s first full-service border entity, CBP takes a comprehensive approach to border management and control, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection into one coordinated and supportive activity.

On April 8, the Governance Studies program at Brookings will host an event to discuss the agency’s mission, accomplishments, challenges, and future goals. CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske will discuss insights from his first year leading the agency. Commissioner Kerlikowske will also share highlights of his vision for the future for CBP, offering new details from his “Vision and Strategy 2020.” The CBP Vision and Strategy 2020 recommits the agency to countering terrorism and transnational crime; advancing comprehensive border security and management; and enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel.

After the program, there will be audience Q&A. Register here.

The Conservative Case for Surveillance Reform (Lunch Briefing)
Date: April 8, 12:00pm
Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room B354, Washington DC

Two years ago, major revelations about the NSA’s massive invasion into the lives of all Americans jumpstarted a heated national debate about the Fourth Amendment government intrusion into our personal lives.

With key sections of the Patriot Act set to expire on May 31st, Congress must address the constitutionality and effectiveness of the NSA’s mass surveillance programs.

Our panel will feature a dynamic discussion addressing concerns of gun owners, harm to the U.S. economy, and runaway executive power. Panelists will include: R Street’s Mike Godwin, Cato’s Patrick Eddington, Wayne Brough of FreedomWorks, Golden Frog’s Sunday Yokubaitis, and others.

RSVP here.

Cyber Risk Wednesday: The Future of Iranian Cyber Threat
Date: April 8, 4:00pm
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Few other events have so far dominated 2015 as the P5+1 negotiations to limit Iranian nuclear capabilities. Against the backdrop of the negotiations, it is likely that Iran, Israel, and the United States are gathering their strength for a renewal of cyber conflict of the past several years.

The confrontations include attacks both from Iran, such as disruption of the US banking sector and against Gulf energy companies, and against Iran, such as Stuxnet and the Wiper worm.

Should the talks fail, what are the chances of an escalating cyber conflict?

The moderated panel discussion will analyze the latest developments in Iranian cyber capabilities and discuss the chances of larger cyber conflict.

Register here.

Patronal Politics: Eurasian Regime Dynamics in Comparative Perspective
Date: April 8, 4:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

Professor Hale’s new book proposes an innovative way of understanding events throughout the world that are usually interpreted as democratization, rising authoritarianism, or revolution. Where the rule of law is weak and corruption pervasive, what may appear to be democratic or authoritarian breakthroughs are often just regular, predictable phases in longer-term cyclic dynamics – patronal politics. This is shown through in-depth narratives of the post-1991 political history of all post-Soviet polities that are not in the European Union. Professor Hale’s book also includes chapters on czarist and Soviet history and on global patterns.

Professor Timothy Colton is Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies and Chair of the Government Department at Harvard University. His main area of interest is Russian and post-Soviet government and politics. He is the author of Commissars, Commanders, and Civilian Authority: The Structure of Soviet Military Politics (1979), The Dilemma of Reform in the Soviet Union (1986); Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis (1995), Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia (2000); Popular Choice and Managed Democracy: The Russian Elections of 1999 and 2000 (with Michael McFaul, 2003), and Yeltsin: A Life (Basic Books, 2008).

RSVP here.

DPE Presents: The Role of New Technologies in Disaster Resilience and Response Panel
Date: April 8, 7:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street NW, Room 213, Washington DC

Nearly half of the world’s 7 billion people are exposed to at least one natural disaster. Disasters, in the face of climate change and rapid development, continue to pose an overarching threat to societies across the globe. In today’s modern era, technology is playing a vital role in reducing risk and enhancing policy-makers abilities to manage natural and man-made disasters.

Join Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority and experts from the World Bank, American Red Cross, USAID, and the George Washington University for a panel discussion on the salient role of new technology in building resilience, engaging local communities, and reducing risk from disasters, both natural and man-made.

Register here.

April 9, 2015

The Search for International Consensus on Syria and Beyond
Date: April 9, 10:00am
Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

In 2013, the international community came together to protect the Syrian population by committing to the elimination of Syria’s declared stockpile of chemical weapons, a feat achieved the following year. Together, the United Nations and the Nobel-Prize winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are credited with achieving one of the few breakthroughs in containing the ongoing crisis in Syria. What lessons can be learned for application in other conflict areas, especially as OPCW continues its work destroying chemical weapons facilities in Syria this year?

On April 9, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and The Hague Institute for Global Justice will host OPCW Director General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü for a discussion about the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and implications for peace, security, and accountability. This event marks the second annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture, which addresses critical issues of international law and policy. Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk will introduce Ambassador Üzümcü. Deputy Mayor of The Hague Ingrid van Engelshoven will provide brief opening remarks, and Abiodun Williams, president of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, will moderate the discussion. Senior fellow at the Middle East Institute Robert S. Ford (U.S. Ambassador to Syria, 2010-2014) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mallory Stewart will join the discussion with Ambassador Üzümcü, following his keynote address. After the program, the speakers will take audience questions.

Register here.

Grave New World: Global Challenges in the 21st Century
Date: April 9, 6:00pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Commons, Room 602, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

Join the Elliott School for it’s Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned series, featuring Dean Michael Brown. This session is moderated by Diana Henriques, Contributing Writer for The New York Times.

Michael E. Brown is the Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. He has held these positions since August 2005. Before coming to GW, he held senior positions at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. He was Co-Editor of International Security, the leading academic journal in the security studies field, for twelve years.

Dean Brown is the author of Flying Blind: The Politics of the U.S. Strategic Bomber Program, which won the Edgar Furniss National Security Book Award. He is the editor or co-editor of 22 books, including: Grave New World: Security Challenges in the 21st CenturyEthnic Conflict and International Security; and Going Nuclear: Nuclear Proliferation and International Security in the 21st Century. Dean Brown received his Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. He has traveled to more than 70 countries.

The goal of the Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned series is to draw on the insights and experiences of prominent individuals who have participated in major international developments, to learn more about key events as well as the broader leadership lessons that individuals, organizations, and countries should derive for the future.

Register here.

April 10, 2015

U.S. Cyber and Space Security—Challenges and Opportunities
Date: April 10, 9:00am
Location: TechAmerica Offices, 1525 Wilson Boulevard, 2nd Floor Conference Center, Arlington, VA

The issues surrounding both cyber and space security are becoming increasingly intertwined. As such, the U.S. national security community has been hard at work, examining the challenges and opportunities that are impacting both sectors.

The evolution and increased complexity of information technology capabilities, which are a key component of space systems architectures, have made the systems more vulnerable to cyber attacks. The growing concern over cyber threats has made us focus more intently on mission resilience.

The George C. Marshall Institute and the TechAmerica Space Enterprise Council have brought together a panel of top national security experts to discuss the latest on how industry and government are addressing emerging cyber threats that threaten information assurance and mission resilience.

Register here.

Germany in Europe: The Cautious Leader
Date: April 10, 12:00pm
Location: The Wilderness Society, 1615 M Street NW, Washington DC

Dr. Karen Donfried assumed the leadership of the German Marshall Fund as president in April 2014. Donfried most recently was the special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council at the White House. In this capacity, she was the president’s principal advisor on Europe and led the interagency process on the development and implementation of the president’s European policies.

Prior to the White House, Donfried served as the national intelligence officer (NIO) for Europe on the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community’s center for strategic thinking. As NIO, she directed and drafted strategic analysis to advance senior policymakers’ understanding of Europe. Donfried first joined GMF in 2001 after having served for ten years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service. From 2003 to 2005, she was responsible for the Europe portfolio on the Department of State’s Policy Planning Staff. Her second term of service at GMF was 2005 to 2010, first as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.

Donfried has written extensively on German foreign and defense policy, European integration, and transatlantic relations. She received the Cross of the Order of Merit from the German Government in 2011, became an officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium in 2010, and received a Superior Honor Award from the Department of State in 2005 for her contribution to revitalizing the transatlantic partnership. She has a PhD and MALD from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, a Magister from the University of Munich, and a bachelor’s from Wesleyan University. Donfried is fluent in German.

Register here, $25 for members, $40 for non-members.

Israel and the EU: Perceptions in a Complex Relationship
Date: April 10, 12:00pm
Location: Middle East Institute, 1761 N Street NW, Washington DC

The Middle East Institute is pleased to host Professor Sharon Pardo for a presentation on Israel’s vital relationship with the European Union (EU). With over half a billion people in its 28 member states, the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner. EU countries and Israel enjoy rich cultural exchanges as well as close security cooperation treating the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, the EU is a significant donor to the Palestinian Authority, and public sentiment in Europe regarding Israel’s settlement and occupation policies is broadly negative.

Pardo and co-author Neve Gordon recently examined the complexities of the relationship in an article published by MEI in The Middle East Journal. He will discuss Israeli perceptions of the EU and paths the relationship may take in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s new term.

Register here.

Japan’s Foreign Policy Debates and China-Japan Relations
Date: April 10, 4:30pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, The Rome Building, Room 806, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

This lecture examines significant shift of Japanese foreign policy focusing on its China policy. It first reviews the two major previous crossroads and related decisions which Japanese foreign policy faced in recent history. In conducting a case study on Japan’s China policy, it puts the debates on Japan’s policy choices in the context of ongoing dynamic of Asia Pacific international relations, including the Tokyo-Washington-Beijing triangle. Note: This event is off the record.

RSVP here.

April 11, 2015

Rising Tides: A Simulation of Geopolitical Conflict and Competition in the South China Sea
Date: April 11, 11:00am
Location: George Washington University Crisis Simulations, Washington DC

The South China Sea has been one of the most sought after regions in the world since the turn of the 21st century. A relatively small body of water that comprises barely 1% of the world’s oceans, the South China Sea is hotly contested by several regional actors including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei. Though the exact territorial claims vary from state to state, all of the actors have held firm in their demands, and none are eager to lose even an inch of their claim. This tension is fueled by the tremendous strategic and economic value of the waterway; the South China Sea is home to an abundance of marine life and rich fishing grounds, in addition to a number of vast oil and gas fields suspected to be hidden beneath the waves. If natural resources did not raise tensions enough, nearly half of the world’s oil tanker and merchant fleet traffic sail through the South China Sea every year, making it one of the busiest and oceanic regions in the world.

This simulation will examine the complex maze that actors must negotiate when dealing with the tense social, political, and military dilemmas currently occurring in the South China Sea. Participants will assume the roles of policymakers and must work with both state and non-state regional actors to execute comprehensive and multilateral government responses to issues ranging from great power politics, piracy, and natural resource conflicts, to state bargaining dilemmas, humanitarian assistance, and collective action problems. Participants will have the unique opportunity to grapple with serious questions of national interest through the eyes of either the government of the United States of America or the People’s Republic of China. Participants will need to develop policies in line with their team’s objectives in order to manage a variety of crises and react to actions from the opposing team.

Whether through the Politburo or the National Security Council, the Pentagon or the Central Military Commission, the Ministry of State Security or the Central Intelligence Agency, participants will be challenged to work together to develop policy solutions for the complex myriad of issues that will determine the fate of the South China Sea.

Register here.

Demystifying Syria
Date: April 11, 7:00pm
Location: Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Drive, Rockville, MD

Come learn more about the bitter and largely misunderstood situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria, including the U.S. military and political responses and alternative solutions to the crisis, as we hear from some of the most well-informed analysts in the U.S. You will have an opportunity to ask questions following their presentations and discuss options we can take to curtail the violence.

Following the speaker presentations and Q&A, refreshments will be served providing you an opportunity to talk informally with the speakers and the other members of the audience. Don’t miss this exciting forum!

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