Getting Downtown: International Affairs Events in DC 01/28 – 02/01

Getting Downtown: International Affairs Events in DC 01/28 – 02/01

Monday, January 28th

Actors and Control: The Struggle for History and Memory in Russia

Time: 2:00pm – 3:00pm

Location: 5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center – 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Information: The past is an important resource that Russian politicians and businesspeople use to replace ideology, frame policies or earn money. The state attempts to control the use of history by outside actors but similarly instrumentalizes it for its own purposes. However, in the last five years, alternative social actors (the Yeltsin Center, the Immortal Regiment, various Orthodox groups, and others) have emerged within Russia to claim their right to control the past and challenge the state monopoly on memory. In this talk, Ivan Kurilla will discuss different such actors to illustrate how memory operates in contemporary Russia.  

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Grand Improvisation: America Confronts the British Superpower, 1945-1957

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location: 6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center – 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Information: The British Empire remained a superpower—certainly by the original definition of 1944—at least until 1957 when the reelected Eisenhower administration asserted what it called “a declaration of independence” from British authority. The years in between are freighted with myths: Britain’s “withdrawal from the eastern Mediterranean” in 1947; George Kennan’s competence; the making of America’s Vietnam; US policy to Israel-Palestine, etc.  Knowing what occurred is vital to understanding questions of US insularity, Middle East destabilization, policy-making delusions, and the rise and decline of superpowers. 

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Tech and the Future of National Security

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location: Lohrfink Auditorium, 2nd Floor, Rafik B. Hariri Building, Georgetown University, 3700 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20057

Information: Join the Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Center for Security Studies for a conversation with Palmer Luckey, Founder of Anduril and Oculus VR, Trae Stephens (SFS’06), Chairman of Anduril, and moderator Professor Toni Gidwani (SFS’04, SSP’08), Adjunct Assistant Professor for the Center for Security Studies, as they discuss the technologies that will define the battlespace of the future, why and how the U.S. tech industry and defense community need to renew their relationship, and what’s at stake.

In the era of great power competition, the race for supremacy in technologies like AI, immersive systems, drones, and sensor fusion is paramount. In past generations, America won the space race and created the internet by mobilizing the best talent – whether in the government or at a company – towards a shared mission. But today, partly as a result of diverging cultures and worldviews, the relationship between tech and defense is fraying.

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Ukraine between Russia, the West, and Itself

Time: 5:00pm – 6:00pm

Location: Alumni House, Washington, DC 20007, USA

Information: Please join CERES for a public lecture by James Sherr, the associate fellow at Chatham House. The lecture will be chaired by Angela Stent, CERES director, with a light reception to follow.

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Tuesday, January 29th

A discussion on the 2019 Missile Defense Review

Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm

Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium – 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Washington, DC 20036

Information: On January 17, the Department of Defense released its long-awaited Missile Defense Review (“MDR”), which outlines a roadmap for U.S. missile defense policy, strategy, and programs. Framed as a response to a “threat environment that is markedly more dangerous than in past years,” the MDR lays out a vision for “a concerted U.S. effort to improve existing capabilities for both homeland and regional missile defense.”

On January 29, James H. Anderson—assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities—will deliver a keynote at Brookings on the MDR and its significance for U.S. defense policy. Following his address, Michael O’Hanlon—senior fellow and director of research for the Foreign Policy program—will lead a panel discussion with a range of experts on its policy, strategic, and budgetary implicationsQuestions from the audience will follow the conversation.

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A Conversation with Venezuela’s New Permanent Representative to the OAS, Special Ambassador Gustavo Tarre

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm

Location: CSIS Headquarters – 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: Join the CSIS Americas Program for a public conversation with Dr. Gustavo Tarre, the designated Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the OAS, appointed by the Interim President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó.  Ambassador William Brownfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, will also join the discussion. The conversation will focus on the rapidly developing political situation in Venezuela, the opportunities and pitfalls for an interim Guaidó presidency, and how the international community should continue to respond and support democracy in Venezuela.

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Stalin and the Black Book of Soviet Jewry

Time: 3:00pm – 5:30pm

Location: 6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center – 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Information: In 1944, Soviet writers Ilya Ehrenburg and Vasily Grossman together with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee prepared a 500-page book of testimonials about the mass murder and resistance of the Soviet Jews during the Holocaust. Shortly before publication, Stalin reversed his decision to publish the book, members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were executed, and silence descended upon the memory of the Holocaust. The Black Book would not be published in Russia until 2014. In this event, we will screen excerpts from Israeli filmmaker Boris Maftsir’s upcoming documentary exploring the fate of the Black Book and consider Stalin’s views and policies vis-à-vis Soviet Jewry.

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Wednesday, January 30th

A Realistic Path for Progress on Iran

Time: 9:30am – 11:00am

Location: Center for a New American Security – 1152 15th St NW Suite 950, Washington, DC 20005

Information: The Trump administration has adopted an aggressive Iran strategy. The United States seeks to achieve – via the application of maximum pressure – nothing short of a fundamental change to policies that have defined the Islamic Republic for decades. If the administration is serious about making progress on the biggest challenges facing U.S. Iran policy, it must be more than simply aggressive. It also will need a smart, pragmatic, and patient policy. To that end, this event will coincide with the launch of a new CNAS report, “A Realistic Path for Progress on Iran: 12 Guiding Principles to Achieve U.S. Policy Goals,” by Eric Brewer, Elisa Catalano Ewers, Ilan Goldenberg, Peter Harrell, Nicholas A. Heras, Elizabeth Rosenberg, and Ariane Tabatabai. The report aims to provide guiding principles and concrete policy suggestions for how to make realistic progress in preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon, countering its destabilizing behavior, and engaging constructively under the assumption that the United States does not return to the JCPOA and that it continues its current pressure campaign.

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Future of the Rule of Law, CICIG, and Justice Reform in Guatemala

Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2200 – 45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20515

Information: Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales recently ordered the expulsion of CICIG, a UN-sponsored independent investigative commission responsible for working with Guatemalan institutions to curb corruption and organized crime in Guatemala. His order gave CICIG international investigators and prosecutors 24 hours to leave the country. Since 2006, the combined efforts of CICIG and a strengthened Guatemalan attorney general’s office and judiciary have resulted in the national homicide rate declining by more than a third and convictions of cartels, organized crime, and official corruption increasing four-fold. Please join us for a Capitol Hill public briefing on the threats to the rule of law and to the future of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

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Geopolitical Implications of a New Era on the Korean Peninsula

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Location: 5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center – 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Information: The Trump administration has gone through a remarkable shift in its approach to North Korea, culminating in an initial embrace of summit diplomacy. That shift, however, may have opened a Pandora’s box that will have profound implications not just for the future of the Korean Peninsula, but for Japan, China, and Russia as well. What is certain is that engagement with Pyongyang has already impacted East Asia’s geopolitics and will continue to do so moving forward. This conference will address the broader geopolitical consequences of diplomatic success and failure of diplomacy with Pyongyang, and their impact on alliance relationships and the future of U.S. power in the region.

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The Arab Uprising 8 Years Later: Reflecting on Lessons Learned for U.S. Policy in the Middle East

Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Location: Center for American Progress – 1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor Washington, DC 20005

Information: In 2011, popular protests across the Middle East and North Africa set into motion a series of events across the region that led to historical leadership transitions in key countries, including Tunisia and Egypt. The United States worked to shift its policy approach in response to fast-moving events on the ground, and it took steps on the diplomatic and economic assistance fronts to offer support to countries in transition.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a panel discussion with three distinguished diplomats who served in key roles during this period of change in the Middle East. The discussion will reflect on the lessons learned from that period, with the aim of offering suggestions for U.S. policy in the Middle East in the coming years.

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Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Insecurity, Economic Adversity, and Political Competition

Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Location: CSIS Headquarters – 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: Join the CSIS Africa Program for a conversation with Carl Levan (American University), Zainab Usman, and Judd Devermont on what the 2015 Nigerian elections may tell us about the upcoming polls. The discussion will center around Carl Levan’s new book, Contemporary Nigerian Politics: Competition in a Time of Transition and Terror, which untangles the web of factors that facilitated President Buhari’s rise to power. Fusing expert analysis and interviews with influential Nigerians, his retrospective analysis is a valuable resource as the country—and the international community—look ahead to next month’s election. 

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Rape as a Weapon of War: A Conversation with Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga

Time: 5:30pm – 6:30pm

Location: CSIS Headquarters – 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: Please join the Center for Strategic and International Studies for a Smart Women, Smart Power conversation with Her Excellency Atifete Jahjaga, former President of Kosovo. She will discuss gendered perspectives in decision-making and how rape was used as a tool of war in Kosovo.

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Thursday, January 31st

Post-ISIS Iraq: Collective Punishment of the Sunni People

Time: 11:45am – 1:30pm

Location: Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters – 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004

Information: Hudson Institute will host a discussion on the collective punishment practices of the Iraqi government on citizens with alleged ties to the Islamic State. In the wake of the country’s efforts to heal following an expensive war and ISIS occupation, the government of Iraq has begun convicting thousands of Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis living in ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. These efforts, which have captured the attention of human rights activists and the media, have citizens being convicted and penalized with lengthy prison terms and death sentences while forfeiting their ability to proper legal defense.

Panelists will include Advocacy and Communications Officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council Basma Alloush and Robert A. Fox Fellow at Foreign Policy Research Institute Rasha Al Aqeedi. The conversation will be moderated by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Michael Pregent.

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The Role of Think Tanks in Shaping Middle East Policy

Time: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

Location: Middle East Institute – 1319 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: In a time of increasing unpredictability in U.S. foreign policy as well as in relationships in the Middle East, the role of think tanks in the policy space has come into question. In light of an apparent U.S. withdrawal from the region, how can think tanks remain relevant and effective in their policy work? Conversely, how can think tanks in the region continue to promote objective analysis and dialogue in light of increasingly tense diplomatic relationships?

 On January 31, The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a panel of think tank leaders to discuss how think tanks can anticipate the long-term trends impacting the region’s future.

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Masterpiece or Misfire? What to Expect in the FY 2020 Defense Budget Request

Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Location: CSIS Headquarters – 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: Please join the CSIS International Security Program on Thursday, January 31, for a panel previewing the release of the Trump administration’s FY 2020 defense budget request. CSIS experts Todd Harrison, Kathleen H. Hicks, Andrew Hunter, and Mark Cancian will provide their expectations for the FY 2020 request and address the budget’s implications on defense strategy, acquisition, and U.S. military forces.

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A Discussion with EU Ambassador David O’Sullivan

Time: 3:00pm – 4:00pm

Location: American University, SIS Building, Abramson Family Founders Room, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

Information: Join us for a discussion and Q&A with His Excellency David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States. SIS professor Garret Martin will moderate the discussion, and Dean Christine BN Chin will provide an opening introduction. The Ambassador will take your questions about the state of EU-US relations and the future of Europe.

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Friday, February 1st

Surviving the Defense Industry: New Entrants and Small Business Graduation

Time: 10:00am – 11:30am

Location: CSIS Headquarters – 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: Join us as we present the results and recommendations from a recent report that tracks businesses new to the federal contracting arena from 2001-2016, otherwise known as new entrants, using publicly available contracting data from the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). A panel discussion will follow to discuss the government’s recent efforts and results in attracting and retaining new vendors in federal contracting. The panel will include relevant perspectives from both government and industry. The report analyzes firm-level information and evaluates entrances, exits, and status changes among newly entered federal vendors with the purpose of comparing the challenges faced by small businesses with those of larger ones.

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Assessing the recent elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Time: 10:00am – 11:30am

Location: Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium – 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

Information: On January 9, the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced the results of the country’s long-awaited December 30 national election. To the surprise of virtually all observers, opposition figure Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner with 36.6 percent of the votes, with Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary—the candidate of long-time President Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC)—coming in third place with 23.8 percent. (In second place was Martin Fayulu, with 34.8 percent.) However, despite losing the presidency, the FCC won a supermajority in both the parliament and the Senate, leading many to speculate that the surprising election results were the product of a deal between Kabila and the opposition. With so many questions about the legitimacy of the DRC’s elections—including strong pushback from the African Union—the DRC’s future remains more uncertain than ever.

On February 1, Michael O’Hanlon—senior fellow and director of the Africa Security Initiative at Brookings—will lead a panel discussion with experts on the results of the DRC’s elections, and the country’s uncertain future ahead.

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