Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

Evgeny Morozov, a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, believes that the Internet may not be the friend of the oppressed that many think it is. He argues that while social media and the Internet have worked to the advantage of protesters and revolutionaries, they can also be used by authoritarian governments to crack down on personal privacy and spread propaganda. On February 10, the Council will host Morozov for a discussion of this view, one that he has written about extensively in his new book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.

To learn more and register for the program, please visit the event listing here. To listen to a short interview with Morozov from Tuesday’s episode of Talk of the Nation, click here.

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“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” This famous quote from Albert Einstein is the best way of describing US foreign policy in the Middle East, according to author and journalist Stephen Kinzer. He believes that our approach to the Middle East is stuck in a Cold-War mentality and that the US must find a new set of partners in the region. Kinzer feels that when Americans can put aside their emotions, and look for countries that have similar long-term goals and societies, “we see that [Turkey and Iran] are the two countries that are our logical partners going forwards.”

To listen to the entirety of Stephen Kinzer’s June 18 program at the World Affairs Council—‘Reset: Turkey, Iran and America’s Future’—please visit our online audio archive.

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According to a Foreign Policy magazine article by Robert Fogel in the January/February issue, China’s economy will reach $123 trillion dollars in 2040. That’s almost three times the economic output of the entire world in 2000.

To continue the discussion about China and its relationship to the rest of the world, join the World Affairs Council on Tuesday, January 19 for “US-China Relations: Present and Future” with the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong. He will discuss the significance of strong US-China bilateral relations, as well as offer the Chinese perspective on its growing role in the world.

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Last week, the Council was joined by Allison Stanger, author of the newly published One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy. Stanger believes that the United States is addicted to contractors which has dangerous implications for the country and the world. Calling outsourcing a “non-partisan issue,” Stanger focused on how outsourcing effects government, especially foreign policy.  What can be done to reverse these effects? She provided four suggestions: “Smart-source” by recruiting, training, and retaining a large body of “21st century network managers”; demilitarize United States foreign policy; ban the use of armed contractors in conflict zones; and embrace full transparency. Stanger cited the website USASpending.gov, on which citizens can see where their money really goes, as one way the government is attempting to make its actions more public.  She encouraged the audience to check it out. As for what citizens can do on their own to make government actions more transparent, Stanger said the internet should be exploited, using websites like the multi-national WikiLeaks project that allows citizens to post leaked documents for examination. Given the openness and immediacy of global communication, it is no longer possible for anyone to control the information environment; a new template for interaction between governments and people will soon be implemented, according to Stanger.

To hear the entire program with Allison Stanger, please visit our online audio archive.

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Among the 100 Top Global Thinkers of 2009 in Foreign Policy Magazine’s Special End of the Year Issue are several guests of the World Affairs Council this past year, including Hillary Rodham Clinton (6) who addressed the Global Philanthropy Forum in the Spring, General David Petraeus (8) who spoke to the Council in July, Martin Wolf (15) who was one of the 2009 Guggenhime Speakers in February, and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (60) a guest this Fall.  Many of the other notable thinkers in the top 100 have addressed the Council in previous years, such as Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart, Thomas Friedman, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, John Holdren, Steven Chu, and Ahmed Rashid, to name only a few whose talks can be found in our online archive.

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“Game theory is a transparent form of logic that, with data, can predict the future,” according to Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, the Council’s speaker on October 26 and author of the recent book The Predictioneer’s Game. Bueno de Mesquita said his models, which have a 90 percent accuracy rate, require four basic pieces of information to make a prediction about a given group or person’s likely actions: What does it say it wants? How important is that issue? How resolved is it in its opinion? How much clout does it bring to the table?

Responding to an audience member’s question, Bueno de Mesquita spoke about the ways policies can be shaped by a prediction as well as the ways the model itself can use different variables to simulate more positive outcomes. While his computer model may not be 100 percent accurate, Bueno de Mesquita was quick to point out that it performs much better than a team of analysts because of its greatly increased capacity to crunch a large set of numbers.

You can hear the full program at our online archive. If you would like to try Bueno de Mesquita’s model, you can use a trial version on his website at www.PredictioneersGame.com. To learn more about Bueno de Mesquita’s predictions, including those about the upcoming Copenhagen summit, check out his article in the current issue of Foreign Policy. Remember that becoming a member of the Council entitles you to a free subscription to Foreign Policy magazine.

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With the news media’s increased focus on US relations in the Middle East and South Asia, little is heard about Latin America beyond the coup in Honduras, the drug war, and President Hugo Chavez’s anti-American comments. Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6, the World Affairs Council will go beyond those topics to delve into the United States’ relationship with Latin America when it hosts His Excellency Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States.

To read about Venezuela’s foreign policy in advance of tomorrow’s program, check out this article from The Economist.

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