Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Before the program last night, journalist and author Jere Van Dyk met with the fifteen students taking part in the Council’s Summer Institute on International Affairs. In 2008 Van Dyk was captured by the Taliban and held for 45 days, an experience he chronicles in Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban. The students debated the US policy in Afghanistan and then were able to ask Van Dyk about the advice he would like to give the Obama administration about handling the Taliban. They also inquired about the conversations he had with his captors, wondering what they thought of US policy in their country.

To listen to Van Dyk’s full address to the Council, visit our audio archive here. Additionally, the local CBS affiliate recorded Van Dyk’s conversation with the students and broadcast a piece about him on their evening news. Watch it here.

Read Full Post »

Last Thursday’s guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jere Van Dyk,  will be at the Council on Wednesday, July 14. He is a journalist and author who is currently a consultant on Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda for CBS News. In 2008, Van Dyk was captured and imprisoned by the Taliban along the boarder between Afghanistan and Pakistan. His new book, Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban, chronicles this experience.

To register for the event, visit the Council website. Watch Van Dyk’s Daily Show appearance below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Jere Van Dyk, posted with vodpod
Van Dyk was also featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation last week. Listen to the story here.

Read Full Post »

Americans have been donating in record numbers through new means—from phone texting to social media links—to provide relief to the victims of Haiti’s earthquake. The outpouring has been impressive, as revealed by the combination of on-line giving, the response to George Clooney’s global telethon (including iTunes sales) and the Council on Foundations’ list of its members’ grants.

Ultimately, Haiti’s recovery will be enabled by a similar mobilization of dollars and talent on behalf of Haiti’s long-term needs, for this is a country that has suffered from generations of mismanagement, endemic poverty, political instability, a weak civil society and autocratic governance. Its citizens deserve a better future. Perhaps new donors, inspired by this tragedy, will not only represent the “long tail” of philanthropy’s graph, but will have long memories as well and will be there ten years hence.

Our own country’s stance toward the small nation, which in 1804 produced the world’s first successful slave rebellion, has been wary and ineffectual, according to Mark Danner in a January 21 op-ed in The New York Times. A very different future for Haiti requires not only strategic philanthropy, but also sound U.S. policy, including the opening of our markets to Haitian agricultural produce and manufactured goods, and aid that translates into jobs for the Haitian people rather than patronage for its government.

Private philanthropy can complement good policy if the initial outpouring of support for relief efforts is matched by a longer-term commitment to sustainable development, a need most recently identified by Haiti’s Prime Minister. But re-imagining Haiti is more easily said than done. The U.S. is engaged in state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each offers its own opportunities for public-private partnerships. And each offers is own best practices, and discouraging lessons. Philanthropists point to remarkable and courageous social entrepreneurs, especially among women, such as Afghanistan’s Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who secretly taught girls throughout the Taliban’s rule. But the enterprise of poppy growing continues to outpace that of schooling young girls. Corruption not only precedes crises. It often follows as well.

How to pivot from immediate disaster relief to a long-term plan for what Secretary of State Clinton refers to as a Haiti that has come back “stronger and better” than before will be on the minds of “new philanthropists” as they gather for their ninth annual Global Philanthropy Forum from April 19-21 in Silicon Valley. This year’s focus on global health, food security and access to safe drinking water and sanitation seems especially apt in the wake of the earthquake’s shocks. Each represents a particularly crying need in Haiti. The philanthropists’ focus on results will likely make them sympathetic in the near-term to the argument made in a post to the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy blog, which called for support of organizations offering impact, rather than low overhead, as their metric for success. As for the medium-term, the recommendations in Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors’ Haiti Emergency Update, stressing the importance of the later stages of disaster recovery may resonate. And the Inter-American Development Bank’s President, Luis Alberto Moreno, will surely make the case for investing in Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure, education system, housing and building stock, access to healthcare and other needs identified by the Bank over the years. Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour of the Crisis Group, will speak to the linkages between civil conflict on the one hand, and state failure on the other. Peter Gleick will shed light on the role that water management or mismanagement can play. Actor Jim Carrey will speak to breakthroughs in sustainable agriculture. David Aylward of mHealth Alliance will speak to new ways to deliver heath care in stressful conditions where infrastructure is lacking. And former Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, will speak to the responsibility of neighbors and regional organizations to strengthen societies before crises occur, so that those societies are able to prepare for or rebound from inevitable shocks.

As they consider the opportunities available to them, the gathering’s new philanthropists and political office holders will consider ways to partner with more recent entrants into the world of giving—the on-line donors, cell phone texters, twitter followers, iTunes purchasers—who are now part of the world of philanthropy. If those who represent the long tail of the giving graph also have long memories, then the tragic past of Haiti, and countries that are similarly weak, need not be their future for generations to come. Instead they can be among those societies that have the resilience to absorb and overcome the shocks that nature has to offer.

—Jane Wales

Read Full Post »

Tuesday evening, journalist and author of the new book To Live or to Perish Forever, Nicholas Schmidle joined the Council and Marines’ Memorial Association to discuss his experience in Pakistan. During a period when President Pervez Musharraf’s power was waning, and the Taliban’s was growing, Schmidle lived and reported in the country for nearly two years, covering this very turbulent period of Pakistan’s recent history. The son of a high-ranking US military officer, the experience provided him the opportunity to speak with countless government officials and regular Pakistanis, including very uncomfortable meetings with high-ranking members of militant groups and the Taliban. Find the full program recordings at our online archive.

Read Full Post »

With a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former ambassador under President George W. Bush to the United Nations, Iraq and Afghanistan, joined the Council this past week for an in-depth discussion on the Middle East. At the outset, he humbly noted that during his time in public office, he “had the privilege of having to work in times of great change and challenge.” On Afghanistan, he discussed the challenges of setting up a government following the overthrow of the Taliban in a country that for the past 30 years had very few functioning institutions and very little existing infrastructure. On Iraq, he highlighted some of the early mistakes that took place following the invasion, including the dissolving of the Iraqi army, deep de-Baathification, and the way the new Iraqi security forces incorporated armed and violent militias. As a Muslim of Afghan descent, Ambassador Khalilzad emphasized that to succeed in the Middle East, one has to have a feel for the region, a feel for the culture, a feel for the customs. He noted that following 9/11 when there was a great demand for Arabic speakers and Middle East experts, too many people in the government had a background in Soviet and Russian affairs. More specifically, “during the post-9/11 world of policy, a lot of people around the president advising him were very smart people, most of them were my friends and are still my friends, but they were not trained [and] did not have significant experience in dealing with the broader Middle East, with the challenges of the Islamic world.”

Watch a highlight clip of the event:

Read Full Post »

As violence and tension rises among Islamic militant groups and the Taliban, award-winning author, scholar of religions, and columnist for The Daily Beast, Reza Aslan, joined the World Affairs Council for a discussion on his new book How to Win a Cosmic War.  Examining the worldview of Muslim militant groups and the previous administration’s approach to the War on Terror, Aslan offered evidence that we are currently in the midst of an ideologically-charged religious war.  You can watch or listen to the full program with his insights and recommendations for the Obama administration here.

Read Full Post »