The Iran Nuclear Deal: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and Its Potential Ramifications

November 20, 2015

Cheryl Rofer, Former President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security

On July 14, Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the P5+1 (or E3+3) – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany. The agreement imposes strict controls on Iran’s nuclear program in return for relief from sanctions imposed on Iran.

Implementation of the agreement is proceeding; Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency are working through the question of what work related to nuclear weapon development Iran may have done, to be capped by a United Nations Security Council resolution on December 15. Both Iran and the United States have completed their internal legislative processes related to the agreement, and October 18 was Adoption Day, when the agreement goes into effect. The next steps are for the P5+1 to develop conditional waivers to the sanctions and for Iran to meet a list of requirements for those waivers to go into effect. This is likely to be completed by spring or summer 2016.

The talk will cover the basics of the agreement and major objections to it.


History, Identity, Democracy: A Framework for Understanding Israeli Politics

October 30, 2015

 Eytan Gilboa, Chair and Academic Director, The Israel Public Diplomacy Forum

What are the key characteristics of Israeli society that have affected the formation of the Israeli political system and political culture?  Professor Gilboa will offer insights into the Israeli political arena exploring such elements as political parties, elections, coalition government and representation for religious and ethnic minorities.  He will also address relations between the Israeli government, society, the Supreme Court and the mass media and explore the difficult issues that come from the delicate balance of power between them. (more…)

The Migration Crisis in the Mediterranean: Reasons and Repercussions

September 17, 2015

 Panayotis J. Tsakonas, Professor of International Relations, Security Studies and Foreign Policy Analysis at the Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece.

What are the repercussions of migration for the EU and in particular South European states? How has illegal migration unfolded in the broader Mediterranean region during the last decade and why has it reached crisis proportions?  How is the huge influx of migrants from war torn areas in the Middle East and Africa being perceived and dealt with by the European Union and its members, particularly those hardest hit—Greece, Italy, and Hungary—as well as their neighbors.  What is driving the huge increase, how is Europe coping, how are these unprecedented waves of human migration affecting European security and what can be done to deal with the influx?


A Recent Visit to Palestine

February 10, 2015

Arvid and Mary Jo Lundy, prior to this visit to the Palestinian territories, they worked on a Habitat for Humanity Orphanage rehabilitation project in Romania and earlier on drinking water projects in Ethiopia and Chiapas, Mexico

Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has been almost continuous in our lifetimes – or so it seems. 2014 saw its renewed eruption with the Hamas kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank resulting in the summer’s horrific Gaza War. This was followed by numerous small but chilling incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem last fall. Simultaneously the Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully pursued the recognition of statehood by the UN Security Council, signed a number of UN agreements and will officially become a member of the International Criminal Court in April.


The Geopolitics of Oil

February 9, 2013

Molly Williamson, former Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Career Minister, is an expert on energy, economic and demographic factors affecting foreign policy formulation, US-Middle East relations, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, Iran and nuclear challenges, and the inter-agency process

How do energy, economic and demographic factors affect US foreign policy decision-making as they relate to America’s relations in the Middle East and especially the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Iran and its nuclear challenges as well as their roles within the US government’s inter-agency policy making process?


Rebuilding Iraq: What worked? What Didn’t? What Next?

November 17, 2011

Richard S.D. Hawkins, led an embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team of 40 subject matter experts in the rural and conflict laden eastern and southern zones of Baghdad Province from February 2008-April 2009

Central to the U.S. effort to help Iraq rebuild were the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, civilian-led groups of experts in governance, economic development, urban planning, basic services, agriculture, elections, women’s and family issues, and other specialties, some of which were embedded with US military units.  With the U.S. Government scheduled to withdraw all troops from Iraq by December 2011, the Iraq reconstruction effort has come under intense scrutiny. What was it like to live in rural Iraq trying to create jobs, help widows, rebuild water and sewer systems, and foster reconciliation among tribal enemies? Do the results justify the many millions spent? Can or should the U.S. seek continuing benefit from its investment of money, time and talent? What have we learned about trying to provide development assistance in the midst of conflict? (more…)

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