Ambassador Chas Freeman
Monday, May 15, 2017
Topic: America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East
Ambassador Chas Freeman chairs Projects International, Inc. For more than three decades, Projects International has helped its partner enterprises and clients to create business ventures across borders. It facilitates their establishment of new businesses through the design, negotiation, capitalization, and implementation of greenfield investments, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, franchises, one-off transactions, sales and agencies in other countries. The firm operates on five continents.
Ambassador Freeman is a career diplomat (retired) who was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-94, earning the highest public service awards of the Department of Defense for his roles in designing a NATO-centered post-Cold War European security system and in reestablishing defense and military relations with China. He served as U. S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). He was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the historic U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa and Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola.
Ambassador Freeman worked as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies at both Bangkok (1984-1986) and Beijing (1981-1984). He was Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. He was the principal American interpreter during the late President Nixon’s path-breaking visit to China in 1972. In addition to his Middle Eastern, African, East Asian and European diplomatic experience, he had a tour of duty in India.
Monday June 12, 2017
Topic: Iran again
Trita Parsi is an award winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is the founder and president of theNational Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author ofTreacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Treacherous Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Parsi’s book A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press) was released early 2012 and was selected by Foreign Affairs journal as the Best Book of 2012 on the Middle East. He interviewed 70 high-ranking officials from the U.S., Iran, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil—including the top American and Iranian negotiators—for this book. Parsi uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama’s early years as president, the calculations behind the two nations’ dealings, and the real reasons for their current stalemate.
Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D.
He founded NIAC to provide a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-Americans could participate in American civic life. NIAC is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.
Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.
Parsi studied for his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to his PhD, he holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master’s Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.
He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi’s articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane’s Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Topic: Putin Country: The Real Russia
Anne Garrels, a long-time foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, covered Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s regime and through the U.S. invasion and its aftermath, and earned international recognition in 2003 by being one of 16 U.S. journalists to remain in Baghdad during the U.S. bombing. Her vivid, around-the-clock reports from the city under siege gave listeners remarkable insight into the impact of the war and the challenges to come.
As U.S.-led forces advanced on the city, Garrels remained at her post, describing the scene on the streets and reactions from those she encountered. Her experiences in Baghdad are chronicled in her book Naked in Baghdad(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 2003).
Garrels, who first arrived in Iraq in 2002 under Saddam Hussein, led NPR’s coverage there until 2008. Her reports anticipated and documented the sectarian violence; she traveled the country working independently as well as embedding with U.S. forces.
Since Sept. 11, Garrels has also reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Before covering the Middle East, she concentrated on the former Soviet Union and its successor states for many years, earning an Alfred I. Dupont Award for her Russia coverage of diverse topics ranging from social and economic challenges to military and cultural developments. From Tiananmen Square to the battlegrounds of Chechnya, from Bosnia to Kosovo, Israel to Iraq, Garrels has put a human face on conflict, combining experience in the field with a sharp understanding of the policy debates in Washington.
Garrels’ work in Iraq has been recognized with the George Polk Award, the 2004 CPB Edward R. Murrow Award, the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia University Award, the University of Missouri Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism, and awards from Interaction and the World Affairs Council. For her contribution to NPR’s coverage of the Gulf War in 1990, Garrels shared an Alfred I. Dupont Award. In 1999, the Overseas Press Club honored Garrels with the Whitman Bassow Award for a series she did on global water issues.
Before joining NPR in 1988, a move she says allowed her to “spread her wings,” Garrels was the State Department correspondent for NBC News. Prior to that, Garrels worked at ABC in a variety of positions over the course of ten years, serving as Moscow bureau chief and correspondent until she was expelled in 1982. From 1984-85 she was the network’s Central American bureau chief.
In 1996-97, Garrels spent a year as an Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a member of the board of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Garrels graduated from Harvard University in 1972 In March 2016, she published Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia [Farrar, Straus, and Giroux].
Monday, August 7, 2017
Jennifer Cooke is director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she leads research and analysis on political, economic, and security dynamics in Africa. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S.-Africa policy and provides briefings, testimony, and policy recommendations to U.S. policymakers, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. military. Recent projects include an examination of militancy and extremism in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin, religious authority and the state in Africa, energy trends in sub-Saharan Africa, and the launch of the “Spotlight on Africa” conference series, which provides an in-depth look at political and economic developments in Africa’s largest and most dynamic economies.
Cooke is a frequent commentator in print, on radio, and on television, and she has testified before Congress on Boko Haram in Nigeria, the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and the African Union. She travels widely in Africa and has been an election observer in Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria, and Ghana. Growing up, she lived in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic, as well as Belgium, Italy, and Canada. Prior to CSIS, she worked at the National Academy of Sciences in the Office of Human Rights and the Office of News and Public Information and in the U.S. Congress on the House Subcommittee on Africa. She holds an M.A. in African studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in government, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Topic: The Middle East
Ambassador Mike McFaul
Tentative Date: Monday October 23. Alternate: Monday, October 30