Week in DC: Events

April 27, 2015

Insurgency in the Middle East and Its Threat to the United States
Date: April 27, 9:00 am
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, Lindner Family Commons, Room 602, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

Event Schedule:
9:00-9:15: Welcome
9:15-10:30: “Understanding Civil War, Insurgency and Terrorism in Today’s Middle East”

  • Jon B. Alterman, Senior Vice President, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
  • Dafna H. Rand, Deputy Director of Studies, Center for a New American Security
  • Joseph K. Young, Associate Professor, American University

10:45-12:00: “Understanding the Threat to the United States and Europe from Returning Jihadists”

  • Tricia Bacon, Professorial Lecturer, American University
  • Dorle Hellmuth, Assistant Professor, Catholic University
  • Christopher A. Kojm, Visiting Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, GWU
  • Thomas M. Sanderson, Codirector, Transnational Threats Project, CSIS (invited)

RSVP here.

The Future Postponed
Date: April 27, 9:00 am
Location: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, AAAS Auditorium, 1200 New York Ave NW, Washington DC

MIT, led by VP for Research Maria Zuber and former Science Dean Marc Kastner and four faculty, will come to Washington for an event hosted by AAAS (and cohosted by AAU, APLU, The Science Coalition and ITIF) to present a major new MIT report called “The Future Postponed” on April 27th.

Register here.

Ebola Outbreak and Response: Assessment of Initial U.S. Actions
Date: April 27, 12:00 pm
Location: Heritage Foundation, Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington DC

The 2013-2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa ravaged the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, shocked the international community and claimed over 10,000 lives. As an aggressive and extremely lethal disease, Ebola spread quickly and demonstrated that there is no such thing as “just in time preparedness,” once again reminding the international community vulnerable regions remain highly susceptible to pandemics and other various public health crises.

The United States is not immune. We were reminded of this reality once cases of Ebola were detected domestically. In the aftermath of the West African outbreak and international spread, The Heritage Foundation established a task force to identify observations and findings and offer recommendations for how the U.S. can better respond to future crises. This report examines the U.S. response to Ebola in West Africa as well as domestically and offers recommendations aimed at improving the quality, speed and efficiency of future American-led responses to natural disasters, pandemics and acts of bioterrorism.

Join our panelists for a discussion on the report’s findings and specifically how to improve the United States’ ability to respond to future public health crises.

Click here to attend in person or watch live online.

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon
Date: April 27, 6:00 pm
Location: Elliott School of International Affairs, Room 602, 1957 E Street NW, Washington DC

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs invite you to an event titled “Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon,” with Kim Zetter, an award-winning journalist for Wired, who has been covering cybersecurity for more than a decade.

In January 2010, inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency noticed that centrifuges at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant were failing at an unprecedented rate. The cause was a complete mystery. Six months later, a computer security firm in Belarus stumbled upon a virus infecting computers in Iran. It took four months of analysis, but eventually researchers realized they had discovered the world’s first digital weapon. Stuxnet, the weapon, was unlike any other virus or worm built before. Rather than simply hijacking targeted computers or stealing information from them, it escaped the digital realm to wreak physical destruction on equipment controlled by computers — in this case, centrifuges at a nuclear facility in Iran that were being used to enrich uranium.

At this event, Zetter will tell the story behind the cyber virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and explain how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare.

RSVP here.

April 28, 2015

U.S. Civil Drone Policy
Date: April 28, 10:00 am
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington DC

The development of new technologies for unmanned flight and microelectronics in the last two decades has led to an explosion in civil unmanned aerial systems (UAS, commonly known as drones) activity in the U.S. From a few hobbyists flying small, technically limited model aircraft in the 1990s, the field has grown to thousands of individuals and corporations looking to employ a variety of UAS models for security awareness, disaster response, logistics and delivery, agriculture, communications, spectral and thermal analysis, and aerial photography, among many other functions.

CSIS will hold a public event focusing on practical policy strategies to manage commercial, public and private UAS in U.S. airspace, while supporting innovation, and protecting privacy and personal freedom.

Register here.

Defeating the Jihadists in Syria: Competition before Confrontation
Date: April 28, 11:00 am
Location: Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower, Washington DC

Since August 2014, the US-led coalition air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has successfully inflicted casualties on ISIS and weakened its oil revenues. In a new Atlantic Council report, “Defeating the Jihadists in Syria: Competition before Confrontation,” Faysal Itani acknowledges these positive yet limited results, but also presents the unintended consequences of this air campaign and US policy options given local Syrian realities.

Itani details how coalition efforts accelerated the rise of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the near-collapse of nationalist rebel forces. He proposes a US strategy to assist nationalist insurgents to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front–by enabling them to compete with and contain jihadist groups, and ultimately confront them. Please join us for a conversation about the author’s findings with expert commentators.

Register here to attend in person or here to watch live online.

Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace
Date: April 28, 2:00 pm
Location: United States Institute of Peace, 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington DC

From Iraq to Burma, from Peru to Yemen, from Nicaragua to Nepal, the personal stories of widows, children, workers, and soldiers often are lost in the cacophony of war.  Please join the U.S. Institute of Peace on Tuesday, April 28, for a discussion and launch of “Speaking Their Peace: Personal Stories from the Frontlines of War and Peace,” a book that tells the extraordinary stories of “ordinary” people from eleven conflict zones. NPR’s Michel Martin moderates a discussion with the book’s author, Colette Rausch, and two members of the team that captured these memorable interviews.

With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, the book collects interviews with 80 ordinary citizens – a taxi driver, a nun, a machinery worker, a mother — from conflict zones all over the world. Their accounts illuminate the intensely personal experience of war, the uncertain transition to peace, and the aspirations that survive despite it all.

National Public Radio’s Michel Martin will moderate a discussion with Rausch, the acting vice president for Governance, Law and Society at USIP, and Najla Elmangoush and Khitam Al-Khaghani, who have lived and worked in conflict zones and were a part of the team that conducted interviews. A photo exhibit will feature images taken during Rausch’s travels and her meetings with interviewees.

Audience members also will have an opportunity to record their own 30-second messages of what peace means to them for a “Speak Your Peace” video. The event will be followed by a reception and book-signing session. Learn more about “Speaking Their Peace” and read excerpts from the book. Join the conversation on Twitter with #SpeakPeace.

Register here to attend this event.

Govern Like Us: U.S. Expectations of Poor Governments
Date: April 28, 4:30 pm
Location: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Rome Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

Thirteen years after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the project to transform the way Afghanistan is governed has largely failed. Some think the U.S. and its partners did not try hard enough. Some blame Afghan elites for their corruption and lack of political will. Some continue to press for reforms to build a government that provides public goods and services to everyone, under the rule of law, and subject to democratic accountability. But is this a possibility for the poorest governments? Dr. Thomas will discuss her new book.

For more information or to RSVP email here.

April 29, 2015

Deterrence Instability and Nuclear Weapons in South Asia
Date: April 29, 12:30 pm
Location: The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Floor, Washington DC

Deterrence in South Asia is becoming less stable with the passage of time and an increase in nuclear weapon capabilities. India and Pakistan have not addressed basic issues in dispute, nor have they agreed to set them aside. In 2015, the two countries are no closer to resolving their differences than they were seven years ago, after members of Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out attacks against Mumbai landmarks.

The Stimson Center is publishing a collection of essays, “Deterrence Instability and Nuclear Weapons in South Asia,” edited by Michael Krepon, Joshua T. White, Julia Thompson, and Shane Mason. These essays by Manoj Joshi, Shashank Joshi, Michael Krepon, Jeffrey D. McCausland, Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Sarang Shidore, and Joshua T. White and Kyle Deming clarify how doctrinal, strategic, and technological developments contribute to growing deterrence instability in South Asia. Taken together, these chapters point to serious challenges associated with increased nuclear dangers unless leaders in India and Pakistan work to resolve their grievances, or consider measures to mitigate their costly and risky strategic competition.

RSVP here.

Subcommittee Hearing: ISIS: Defining the Enemy
Date: April 29, 2:00 pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade will host two panels to discuss ISIS. Panel I will include the Honorable Robert Ford, Senior Fellow at The Middle East Institute and Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria; and Walid Phares, Ph.D., Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counterterrorism.

Panel II will include Ms. Maryam Rajavi, President-Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (Appearing via teleconference).

Subcommittee Hearing: Progress and Challenges in the Western Balkans
Date: April 29, 2:00 pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2200 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats will hear two panels of testimony related to the Western Balkans. Panel I will include Mr. Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and Ms. Susan Fritz, Acting Assistant Administrator in the Europe and Eurasia Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Panel II will include Mr. Ivan Vejvoda, Senior Vice President of Programs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and The Honorable Joseph J. DioGuardi, President of the Albanian American Civic League
(Former Member of Congress).

The U.S.-China Relationship in an Evolving Global Economic Order
Date: April 29, 3:00 pm
Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, 2nd Floor Conference Room, Washington DC

Recent developments such as the establishment of new institutions like the AIIB have raised broader questions about the U.S. and China’s roles in global economic governance. What are the problems in the global economy that the U.S. and China agree and disagree on? To what extent are existing institutions addressing those problems and where is there a need for new approaches? Can the U.S. and China find a way to work cooperatively on these issues, which will have a major impact on the prosperity of both countries and the rest of the world? Please join us for a stimulating discussion of these issues with top experts from China and the U.S. The event will finish with a keynote address by Under Secretary Nathan Sheets, the senior official at the U.S. Treasury responsible for the S&ED.

RSVP here.

April 30, 2015

In Search of a Syria Strategy
Date: April 30, 12:00 pm
Location: Cato Institute, Hayek Auditorium, 1000 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC

The rise of ISIS and the spread of the Syrian civil war to Iraq have led to renewed discussions of U.S. intervention. Though Washington is regularly bombing ISIS targets, there is little in the way of viable on-the-ground support, and a much-vaunted U.S. training campaign for moderates has had difficulty finding acceptable trainees. Many of America’s allies are complicit in funding extremist groups within Syria, even if they oppose ISIS itself, while the White House continues to equivocate on whether it will negotiate with the Assad regime. America’s goals in Syria are unclear, and there is a broad consensus that the current U.S. approach — loosely defined as ‘degrading and destroying’ ISIS — is murky at best.

What is the United States trying to accomplish in Syria? Are its goals achievable with current strategies? Join our panelists as they discuss how we reached this point, and the extent to which the U.S. should or should not be involved in the ongoing conflict.

Register here.

Subcommittee Hearing: Regional Impact of U.S. Policy Towards Iraq and Syria
Date: April 30, 2:00 pm
Location: U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC

The Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa will hear testimony from Seth G. Jones, Ph.D., Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, General Jack Keane, USA, Retired, Chairman of the Board at the Institute for the Study of War, and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings.

May 1, 2015

Strengthening Fragile States: Causes and Solutions
Date: May 1, 2:00 pm
Location: Center for International Private Enterprise, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 700, Washington DC

Fragile states drive a disproportionate share of the world’s instability, violence and poverty. People living in these countries suffer from weak or dysfunctional institutions, social divisions, corruption, poor governance, a lack of protection of rights, and large informal sectors. These problems not only cause instability within a country, but create tensions regionally and sometimes globally.

Join us May 1, 2-4pm, as the Center for International Private Enterprise hosts a discussion on Strengthening Fragile States: Causes and Solutions. Our panel will discuss the roots of fragile states and how to strengthen them. Specifically, they will discuss:

  • Lessons learned from the Arab Spring.
  • Root causes of fragile states.
  • How to foster institutions and improve governance through transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors.
  • Comparing fragile states with functional ones.
  • The importance of building democratic institutions.
  • Spillover effects regionally from fragile states.
  • Private sector participation in the democratic process to strengthen states.
  • Corruption and fragile states.

Register here.

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