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Past Events

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Transatlantic Alliance and the Western Balkans: Regional Challenges and Options for a Common EU and US Response

Amid a growing number of foreign policy rifts between the United States and the European Union, the Western Balkans remains one region where the new US administration has identified an opportunity for close cooperation with Brussels.

Yet while the United States and European Union remain committed to a number of common policy objectives in the Western Balkans, they frequently disagree on how best to achieve them.

Especially in the most vulnerable states, such as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), an overarching EU-US approach has not yet been developed and agreed upon. Differences include whether to use political tools such as sanctions to deter challenges to BiH's sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is also a disagreement about the timing and sequencing of critical reforms needed to remove bottlenecks in the governance system and move BiH closer to EU and NATO membership.

Many Balkans watchers recall Lord Ashdown’s tenure as High Representative and EU Special Representative to BiH as a time when the Europeans and Americans worked well together in developing and executing a common strategy. As European political leaders convene in Sofia for the Western Balkan Summit, we will talk about the past and present challenges to transatlantic cooperation in the Western Balkans and how these might be overcome. The timing for such a discussion is critical, given the renewed secessionist threats in the region and the need for a joint US and EU response to grapple with this challenge.

Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon GCMG KBE PC was born in New Delhi on 27 February 1941, the eldest of 7 children. Ashdown served as a Royal Marines Officer from 1959 to 1972 before joining the British Foreign Service. He first ran for office as a Liberal candidate in 1976 and was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1988. He was made a Knight of the British Empire (KBE) in 2000 and a peer in 2001. Between 2002 and 2006 Ashdown served as High Representative and EU Special Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He continues to serve as a Member of the House of Lords.

The author of numerous articles on foreign affairs and politics, he has published nine books, including two volumes of Diaries, a book on peacekeeping, a best-selling memoir and three historical narratives based around the French resistance in World War II. He was recently commissioned by Collins to write his tenth book, A German Tragedy – the story of the German Resistance to Hitler during the Second World War. In 2016, he was made a Companion of Honour (CH) by her Majesty, reflecting his contribution both to politics and to the world of literature. He serves on the Board of and the Advisory Boards of Silverline and G3.

Ms. Marsaili Fraser worked with international missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2000 until 2016, most recently as head of the EU Special Representative's political department, seconded by the UK government's Stabilisation's Unit. She has worked in other countries in the region and was a political advisor to Paddy Ashdown when he was High Representative in Sarajevo. She is a member of the board of Remembering Srebrenica Scotland and has published work on postwar political relations between Croatia and the Bosnian Croats and Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs. She holds degrees from the University of Oxford, the Central European University and the European University Institute. She is currently working on a comparative study of power-sharing in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

Mr. James O’Brien is the Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG). He has served two US administrations as special presidential envoy, securing the release of Americans held hostage abroad and overseeing US policy planning toward the Balkans. He has been senior advisor to the US Secretary of State and served as the principal deputy director of policy planning at the State Department. He worked to end armed conflicts in Europe, helped develop non-proliferation initiatives after the Cold War, negotiated environmental agreements, and supported initiatives to investigate and prosecute persons responsible for war crimes.

Dr. Majda Ruge is a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Previously, she was a research fellow at the Gulf Research Centre based in Jeddah/Geneva/Cambridge. From 2012 to 2014, she was a lecturer at the Otto-Suhr-Institute at the Free University of Berlin in the field of international relations and nationalism. Dr. Ruge has worked in management and advisory capacities for the Delegation of the European Commission to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the OSCE Mission to BiH between 2001-2005. She holds degrees from the European University Institute (Ph.D., 2011 and M.A., 2006), Central European University in Budapest (M.A. in International Relations and European Studies, 2001) and Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, GA (B.A. in International Relations, Summa Cum Laude, 2000).

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reflections on a Life Lived Fully with Gloria Estefan

Johns Hopkins SAIS was honored to welcome Gloria Estefan as part of the Women Who Inspire lecture series. Estefan shared her experiences as a Cuban-American woman and generously dispensed advice for not just the students of the school but all members of the community. The discussion was moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute.

To understand the beginning, sometimes it’s necessary to start from the end: Estefan spoke about how she has the luxury of choice today–when starting out, we may have to do things that we may not necessarily want to and “ride on the momentum.” Today though, Estefan can choose where to focus her energies: on family, for example. She highlighted the role her husband, Emilio, has played throughout her life–balancing her out, being each other’s best cheerleader, and their combined desire to maintain who they were in the music industry and evaluating the value of their work in order to ultimately stick to that commitment. “[You] don’t want to succeed [while] not doing what you like. [If] you’re going to do that for the rest of your life, you better like it!” Estefan advised.

Estefan also talked about the power of example and how being around the women in her family who did everything showed her that there was no glass ceiling. In the same vein, she encourages cultural diplomacy in her music by broadening the scope of her songs to reach as many people as possible, while pushing open the doors for other artists such as Shakira, Ricky Martin, among others. On speaking about her accident, she pointed out that fame was never the goal and it can easily be taken away. Instead, she emphasized the power of connectivity–that everything we do can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Gloria Estefan, Singer-Songwriter and Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient

Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Political Risk in the 21st Century: A Book Discussion with Condoleeza Rice and Amy Zegart

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Professor Amy Zegart of Stanford University visited the school for a discussion on their new book, Political Risk: Facing the Threat of Global Insecurity in the Twenty-First Century.

Rice and Zegart explained that their book's purpose was to describe how technology has forever changed who counts as a 'political actor.' The field of political risk has traditionally centered on governments, central banks, and politicians as risk factors. Today, however, major disruptions can be caused by Twitter users, terrorists, activists, hackers, and insurgents.  

Technology has enabled virtually anyone to publish and promote their views at will, which has changed the landscape of political risk and made it a factor that every business, no matter their size or location, needs to prepare for, Rice and Zegart said.

For the audience of students and alumni—many of whom are current or aspiring practitioners of political risk consulting—the discussion was an excellent extension of the material and cases they have studied in the classroom.  

Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State and Senior Fellow in Public Policy, Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Amy Zegart, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Co-Director, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University
Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute

Friday, April 27, 2018

Diversity in the U.S. Military and the Contributions of the Sikh-American Community

Johns Hopkins SAIS was honored to host members of the Sikh-American community for a dialogue on diversity in the U.S. military, and the intersection of core values in Sikhism and military service.

To kick off the event, a documentary short film was shown detailing the struggles of Bhagat Singh Thind as one of the first Sikhs to serve in the U.S. Army. This was followed by a panel discussion on religious accommodation and the challenges to and opportunity for broader diversity in the U.S. Army.

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla spoke of his experiences with the British Air Force and how discipline takes a different, though no less effective, form for Sikhs in military service. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A. highlighted that the pragmatism of uniformity in the military is balanced by diversity and the strength of the individual, wherein these individuals become “valuable pieces [for] forming a more perfect union.” Dr. Tammy Schultz notes that the U.S. is slower to address diversity in its military compared to developing nations. 


LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R. thanked the panelists for their insights and introduced a musical performance in celebration of Vaisakhi, the South Asian harvest festival and the birthday of the Sikh faith. Following the presentation, guests enjoyed a reception and an art exhibit.

The Honorable Ravi Bhalla, Mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, U.S.A., Retired, Former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe
Dr. Tammy S. Schultz, Director of National Security and Joint Warfare, and Professor of Strategic Studies at U.S. Marine Corps War College
LTC Kamal S. Kalsi, D.O., FACEP, U.S.A.R., President of the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA)
Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Senior South Asia Fellow at New America, Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, and Senior Advisor to Dean Vali Nasr at Johns Hopkins SAIS

Monday, April 16, 2018

Kaleidoscope Pakistan

The Foreign Policy Institute, Asia Programs, Muse District, & Indus hosted Kaleidoscope Pakistan, an exhibition of works by Naureen Bokhari, curated by Muse District.

The photography exhibit and reception were hosted in association with Pakistan Beyond Seventy: The Long View, a conference hosted by Johns Hopkins SAIS Asia Programs & Lahore University of Management Sciences. The event was on the record and open to the media.

Decades of war on terror and militancy in Pakistan have dominated headlines about a complex culture and country that has shown tremendous resilience against rising militancy and fundamentalist narratives. Under the headlines that scar the image, there also lies a Pakistan that is remarkably rich in culture and heritage, ranging from soulful and eclectic music, poignant Sufi poetry, creative cinema dominated by young filmmakers, and a thriving visual arts scene.

Kaleidoscope Pakistan is an exhibit of works by photographer Naureen Bohkhari which seeks to dismantle stereotypes of Pakistan by celebrating its architectural heritage through photography. It compels viewers to rethink the rich heritage, arts, and craftsmanship that has thrived for centuries. The photographs capture stunning visuals of the inner city of Lahore, which, today, is a bustling city of 11 million people and a thriving center for the arts.

About the Photographer

Naureen Bokhari is a professional portrait photographer based out of Virginia. She has been shooting weddings, events and portraits since 2004. She also ran one of the first online weekly web magazines called "The Saturday Post," which was the first Pakistani web magazine based out of the United States with a global audience of 100,000 month. She bid farewell to the magazine in 2011 and focused full time on her passion: photography. Naureen has a flair for depicting humor through her poems, which are mostly about everyday life and frustrations that come from a clash of American and Pakistani cultures and traditions. She also loves to travel and document her travels through pictures of cities and landscapes. This collection is from a series of her travels to Pakistan.

Muse District is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. and a space for creative expression and intellectual collaboration across the South Asian diaspora in the United States. Built along the premise that the language of arts and culture is an integral tool for communicating with the global community, Muse District showcases the work of artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians from South Asia and beyond.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Governance and Accountability in India

The SAIS Foreign Policy Institute and the SAIS Master of Arts in Global Policy Program jointly presented the launch event of "Governance and Accountability in India,"an FPI Study in Policy.


Attendees joined for breakfast and a conversation featuring four of the paper's co-authors and India experts Dr. Bilal Baloch and Dr. Irfan Nooruddin.


Dr. Daniel S. Markey, Johns Hopkins SAIS



Devynn Birx-Raybuch, SAIS MAGP '16
Wang Guan, SAIS MAGP '16

Shauna Marvel, SAIS MAGP '16

Rebecca Zylberman, SAIS MAGP '16



Bilal Baloch, Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), University of Pennsylvania

Irfan Nooruddin, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Friday, December 8, 2017

The INF Treaty at 30: Origins, Impact, and Challenges

The negotiation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was a turning point in the Cold War. It did not come easily, and only after extended high-stakes diplomacy and politically fractious deployment of new US nuclear missiles in Europe. But after the “global zero” breakthrough, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate their entire class of intermediate-range missiles, globally and permanently. Today, this cornerstone arms control treaty is being challenged by Russia's deployment of a treaty-violating cruise missile, and US military commanders in the Pacific have raised concerns that large numbers of intermediate-range missiles deployed by China are not constrained by the treaty.

On the 30th anniversary of the INF Treaty’s signing, a distinguished panel will discuss its negotiation and international security impact, current challenges to the Treaty, and possible responses. 


Dr. Susan Koch, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Threat Reduction Policy, Former Director for Proliferation Strategy, National Security Council

Hon. Walter B. Slocombe, Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy

Amb. Alexander R. Vershbow, Former Ambassador to Russia & Deputy Secretary-General of NATO


Moderator: Jeffrey Pryce, FPI Fellow & SAIS Prof'l Lecturer

On the 30th anniversary of the INF Treaty’s signing, a distinguished panel will discuss its negotiation and international security impact, current challenges to the Treaty, and possible responses. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Trump Effect

Experts in US politics held a panel discussion to examine the Trump administration's impact on diplomacy and public sector job prospects. Speakers reassured students that government careers will continue to be available to graduates, despite morale challenges and budget cuts. In fact, the current administration would have very little to do with the work of someone in the early stages of their career – at this level, government jobs are all about accomplishing day-to-day tasks, speakers explained.  

Panelists agreed that public service is such an important part of the heritage of the school that students should not give up on public jobs or postpone their careers for a later administration. While budget cuts will likely have a negative effect on employee morale, they will not eliminate the need for a steady stream of recent graduates to staff the federal agencies.

Eliot Cohen, Director of Strategic Studies and Director of The Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies
Mara Karlin, Associate Director of the Strategic Studies Program and Executive Director of The Merrill Center for Strategic Studies
Vali Nasr, Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Shamila Chaudhary, Foreign Policy Institute Fellow

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Opening Reception: "From the Land of Peacocks"

Muse District & the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute jointly hosted the Opening Reception for: "From the Land of Peacocks," a mixed media art exhibition of works by Sadia Hussain. The exhibition was accompanied by live traditional music.

Over 1 million Indian soldiers volunteered and fought in World War I. They fought alongside the British and French in some of the bloodiest battles on mainland Europe. Many never made it back home. Their stories are rarely featured in the popular narrative of the Great War. The work of Sadia Hussain, an artist trained at Pakistan’s prestigious National College of Arts, is inspired by the stories of these unsung heroes, whose memory still resonates in the mustard fields of Kallar Kahar, a village in Pakistani Punjab.

With layers of printing, photography, acrylic, and graphite, Hussain memorializes the forgotten soldiers from India who had an indelible impact on the Great War. Legend has it that many of the men of the village who left were never to return. The town center of Kallar Kahar today is marked by a large canon to commemorate the sacrifices of these soldiers.

About Muse District:

A non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., Muse District is an exciting space for creative expression and intellectual collaboration across the South Asian diaspora in the United States. Built along the premise that the language of arts and culture is an integral tool for communicating with the global community, Muse District showcases the work of artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians from South Asia and beyond. Muse District also aims to foster greater interaction and an inclusive dialogue among South Asian artists that challenges political and cultural boundaries and pre-conceived notions. It will especially highlight the interaction of South Asia with the contemporary Western world, and ultimately build bridges across continents, ideas and cultures.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Art of Diplomacy Lecture Series: A Discussion with Ambassador Eric Edelman

Ambassador Eric S. Edelman retired as a career minister from the US Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House, where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services, and congressional relations. As undersecretary of defense for policy (August 2005-January 2009), he was DoD's senior policy official, overseeing strategy development with global responsibility for bilateral defense relations, war plans, special operations forces, homeland defense, missile defense, nuclear weapons and arms control policies, counterproliferation, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, arms sales, and defense trade controls. He served as US ambassador to Finland in the Clinton administration and Turkey in the Bush administration and was Vice President Cheney's principal deputy assistant for national security affairs.


He is a distinguished fellow at the Center of Strategic and Budgetary Assessment and a senior associate of the international security program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He also serves on the National Defense Panel, and on the bipartisan board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace.

Discussion is off-the-record and open only to current SAIS students, faculty, and staff.

Ambassador Eric S. Edelman, Roger Hertog Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Dr. Eliot Cohen, Director, Strategic Studies Program, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Iraq's Political Compact and Regional Priorities

The Conflict Management program and the Middle East Institute hosted a discussion with political experts on Iraq’s future prospects amid the decline of ISIS.

Joseph Pennington of the US Department of State opened the floor by offering remarks on the current and expected challenges facing Iraq. After a brief account of Iraq since ISIS claimed its caliphate, Pennington shared thoughts on Iraq’s progress in fighting the militant group, such as the successful Iraqi-led battle of Mosul, and highlighted ways the US military remains committed to the war effort. To ensure a stable and secure Iraq, the US government is funding more than 350 stabilization and reconstruction projects in war-torn areas, he said. The US military is also de-mining inhabited zones, recovering so far up to 10,000 landmines.

Pennington also discussed the financing of infrastructure and the necessity for economic opportunities in Iraq. A successful Iraqi state-building effort relies on developing shared interests with regional partners, Pennington said, adding that efforts to bolster economic relations with Jordan would have beneficial economic ramifications in Sunni regions. With the looming potential of further sectarian divide, Pennington urged the Iraqi government to implement its constitution, while ensuring that ethnic and religious diversity is respected. However, he argued it was not in US interests at this time0 for Kurdish independence and forewarned against influence campaigns in Iraq being conducted by Iranian groups.

Joseph Pennington, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq Policy, US Department of State
Randa Slim, Foreign Policy Institute Fellow and Director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at The Middle East Institute

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Risks and Consequences of Foreign Interventions

Foreign policy experts visited the Johns Hopkins SAIS community for a panel discussion about foreign interventions hosted by the Middle East Studies program and the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA). 

The discussion analyzed conflicts and interventions in Syria, Afghanistan, and other regions of the world experiencing unrest. During the discussion, emphasis was placed on the role and timing of the United States interventions in these areas at a time of mounting global instability and shifting geopolitics.

Shamila Chaudhary of the Foreign Policy Institute (FPI) raised concerns about the United States' wavering commitment to leading global security and its role in ongoing interventions. Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute discussed the US need for a strategic approach in managing multiple conflicts.

Hashim Wahdatyar of the UNODC observed that western troops and diplomats have a trust problem with the citizens of Afghanistan which cannot be overcome without defining the goals of the US-led mission to restore security in the country. 

ICWA's Gregory Feifer stated that Vladimir Putin is fulfilling his promise of restoring Russia as a global power, although he emphasized that Putin's actions are serving his own personal interests and are damaging Russia's long-term future. The panelists noted that Russia makes an interesting case study in exercising global influence as it strengthens its hand in the Middle East while US leadership in the region is increasingly challenged.


Shamila Chaudhary, Foreign Policy Institute Fellow
Gregory Feifer, Interim Executive Director of the Institute of Current World Affairs
Andrew J. Tabler, Martin J. Gross Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Hashim Wahdatyar, Program Officer, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

US-China Relations in the Era of Trump and Xi Jinping

As China prepares to hold its 19th Party Congress, an event with momentous policy implications, SAIS China hosted a discussion by David Lampton to highlight trends in the US-China relationship. He spoke about the friction in the economic and military ties between the two nations prior to the Xi Jinping administration and the uncertainties and risks that have developed since the inauguration of US President Trump.

Lampton spoke about how the United States has in recent decades fostered the emergence of new power centers, including China. He stressed that the US must win cooperation rather than compel it and will increasingly have to negotiate with China. He argued that the US needs to get its domestic house in order to remain an effective competitor.

While China and the US strive for cooperation on North Korean denuclearization, frictions have accumulated as a result of the US doing business with Taiwan and the economic sanctions on specific Chinese trading and financial entities. He mentioned that the US administration has been all over the lot and has left stakeholders in the region confused on its China policy.

In concluding, Lampton noted the United States' relative economic strength has declined while China's has risen. He stated that the shortening economic leg of US power in Asia weakens its capacity to maintain a balance of influence. The US and China must manage these challenges and prioritize their objectives, Lampton said.

Following Lampton's remarks, SAIS China Associate Director Carla Freeman moderated questions from the audience which covered issues including the era of post-American leadership, increasingly stringent social and political controls employed by the Xi administration, and the government's campaign to fight corruption.  

Carla Freeman, Director of the Foreign Policy Institute and Associate Director of SAIS China
David M. Lampton, Director of SAIS China and George and Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Art of Diplomacy with Antony Blinken

The Foreign Policy Institute hosted a discussion betwen Vali Nasr and Antony Blinken on pressing diplomatic issues facing the United States and the world, marking the beginning of a new academic year and the continuation of its series, The Art of Diplomacy. 

Nasr began by examining conflict with North Korea and the interpretation of threats from Pyongyang. Blinken noted that the US is in a difficult position as a result of Pyongyang’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. He mentioned that the Obama administration pushed back on a number of fronts—including China—a similar approach now employed by the Trump administration. Blinken dismissed the idea of launching a preemptive military operation, as Pyongyang has the capacity to launch a reprisal attack which would cause severe civilian casualties. 

Next, Nasr spoke about the success of severing North Korea's diplomatic relationships with other countries. Blinken agreed with the approach and further stressed that China, which represents 90% of North Korea trade relations, remains a unique option. The US should build on its missile defense, military defense, and also create additional incentives for China to sever its trade relationship with Pyongyang, Blinken said. He added that individuals and companies trading with Pyongyang must be sanctioned. 

Finally, Blinken spoke about the decline in the US-Russia relationship over the years and how Russia’s disruption of Ukrainian sovereignty contributed to the rift. Blinken concluded by emphasizing the importance of the US role in the international system and encouraged students to continue to pursue careers in foreign policy.

Antony Blinken, Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar at the Foreign Policy Institute and Managing Director, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement
Vali Nasr, Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Presentation on Northern European Security, with His Excellency Peter Hultqvist

His Excellency Peter Hultqvist joined the Johns Hopkins SAIS community for a discussion on European security and transatlantic relations. Hultqvist gave an overview of longstanding ties between the US and Sweden, noting that the nations share a commitment to respect for human rights, democracy, and the international order established after World War II.

Sweden has undertaken many responsibilities for the global good, Hultqvist said. The nation is currently working to deepen its international relationships and upgrade its military capabilities in order to protect stability in the region. European cooperation on security was dealt a setback when Russia annexed Crimea and began stirring conflict in Ukraine, he said. Russia's increased military activity in the Arctic is also putting pressure on its neighbors.

Hal Brands of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs asked if Russian incursions would convince Sweden to formally join NATO, to which Hultqvist argued that growing NATO would upset the balance of power and provoke Russia into more aggression. Vali Nasr asked for the Swedish perspective on the fight against ISIS and the challenge of integrating refugees in Europe. Hultqvist explained Sweden's contributions to the campaign against ISIS in Iraq and highlighted Sweden's leadership in the resettlement of refugees from Syria. Additional questions touched on cybersecurity and the Arctic Council. 

His Excellency Peter Hultqvist, Minister for Defense of Sweden
Hal Brands, Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, SAIS
Vali Nasr, Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS

Friday, May 12, 2017

Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, with Condoleeza Rice

Author and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited the Johns Hopkins SAIS community to discuss international affairs and share insights from her new book, "Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom."

Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli moderated the off-the-record discussion, which touched on the efforts and specific challenges for advancing democracy in nations at vastly different stages of development. The main theme of the book explains that the perfect conditions for creating democracy never exist in the real world. The transition process will be different in each country because each starts from a different place.

Questions from the audience explored the current conditions in Ukraine, Cuba, Colombia, Russia, and China. Rice shared her insights on the paths forward for these nations and the potential barriers to overcome.

Condoleezza Rice, Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy, Stanford University, former US Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor
Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute       

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Future of Liberalism in Europe: Taking Stock After the French Election

Foreign policy experts suggested that French voters made a statement by rejecting nationalism and electing centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron to the presidency May 8. The result represented a strong French endorsement for the EU and globalization at a time when voters in Britain, the US, and throughout Europe have admonished their own political elites in a populist uprising. Panelists at Johns Hopkins SAIS discussed Macron's victory and what it means for the future of liberalism in Europe.

Antony Blinken explained the political divide as a matter of protectionism versus openness. Catherine Fieschi noted the Macron victory is an important signal to the rest of Europe, but is by no means decisive and the struggle for liberalism will continue. Constanze Stelzenmüller contrasted the Macron victory to the recent Dutch election in which the liberal candidate also won but used a hefty dose of populist rhetoric. The most important lesson, Stelzenmüller said, is that even when populists lose elections or fail to fix the problems they campaigned against, they have succeeded in permanently changing the debate.

Ambassador Daniel Fried said Macron's victory gives liberal parties a chance to come back, but only if they seize the opportunity. The rise of populism should be expected considering the economic struggles that have persisted, he said. James Traub stated that it is too easy for those in a place of privilege to judge others and we must keep in mind that many of these people have a profound sense of dislocation and anxiety about their place in the world. In Europe especially, Traub said, the problem of integration is a huge issue and that even if nations succeed economically, these identity problems will still be difficult to resolve.


Catherine Fieschi, Senior Contributor, Macro Advisory Partners
Ambassador Daniel Fried, former Senior Career Diplomat, US Department of State
Constanze Stelzenmüller, Robert Bosch Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institute
James Traub, Senior Fellow, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
Moderated by Antony Blinken, Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar, Johns Hopkins SAIS, and and Managing Director of
Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement      

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Conversation with Anne Hillerman, Best-Selling Author of Song of the Lion

Anne Hillerman has been honored and delighted to continue the mystery series created in 1970 by her father, Tony Hillerman. She debuted with Spider Woman’s Daughter, which follows the further adventures of the characters her father made famous, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. She has just released her third book in the series, Song of the Lion, which became a New York Times bestseller. One of the inspirations for this work was her enthusiasm for creating a leading female character in the mystery genre. Hillerman also said that rescuing one of the characters, police officer Bernadette Manuelito, from relative obscurity and placing her into the leading role helped to make the series her own.

She shared key influences that developed her writing and imagination including her childhood – she grew up in a big family, in which reading and story writing was always encouraged and nurtured by her parents. Her research and visits to the places she writes about also inspire her books, which are located in around New Mexico and take the readers to various Native American reservations surrounding it. She also listed her mother and writer friends as important sources of artistic appraisal and encouragement, thanking them for their wise and gentle critique.

Anne Hillerman, New York Times best-selling author of Song of the Lion
Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Conversation on Building Europe's Future, with His Excellency Wolfgang Schäuble

With euroscepticism and anti-globalism on the rise, His Excellency Wolfgang Schäuble met with students, faculty, alumni, and guests to discuss the way forward to a stronger future for the European project.

Schäuble began with context on the European political developments and argued that the challenges of globalization make unilateral regulations obsolete—cooperation is critical. He contended that despite its complexity, the EU is by far the most advanced model for global governance and it deserves further enhancement.

He acknowledged the role that social media has played in contributing to people's defensive reactions to the changing demographics around them and their increased demand for national identity. However, he emphasized the need for nations to work together to solve complex issues of migration, security, economics, and monetary policy, noting the current refugee situation is merely a harbinger of the problems to come, unless stability can be brought to the Middle East region. For the security of Europe, a uniformed regime for external borders is crucial, he said.

Schäuble concluded with the necessity of reforms to enhance productivity and global competitiveness for European nations, noting that implementing such reforms may not be pleasant in the short-term. He was optimistic that tighter cooperation within Europe and with America can be achieved.

Wolfgang Schäuble, Federal Minister of Finance, Germany
Moderated by John Lipsky, Peterson Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The 4th Industrial Revolution: Opportunities and Challenges

By now the disruptive power of the internet has been harnessed by today's businesses, however, the wide application and diffusion of technology are the new driving forces behind the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" according to BBVA's José González-Páramo. The distinctive features of this revolution include the pace of new technological advancements, changes in consumption patterns, and new business models, González-Páramo said.

Hyper-connectivity and mobile technology are especially important to this trend. The "internet of things" has allowed massive amounts of data to be collected and analyzed. Increasing automation and artificial intelligence will redefine the connections between humans and machines, González-Páramo explained. Meanwhile, consumer demand for non-stop, multi-channel access to services have led them to expect a personalized experience and to value quality over loyalty.

González-Páramo acknowledged that new opportunities come with new challenges, including the associated costs of data protection and cyber crime, and the potential job loss if human employees are replaced by artificial intelligence. Despite the challenges, he assured the audience that never has he known a society to be better off by stopping technological progress.

José M. González-Páramo, Executive Board Member of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A. (BBVA)
Moderated by John Lipsky, Peterson Distinguished Scholar at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Future of the Religious Party: SAIS Review of International Affairs

The relationship between religion and politics has captured the attention of esteemed scholars; to explore this relationship in greater detail, the SAIS Review of International Affairs has released a special issue on The Future of the Religious Party.


At the issue release event, SAIS Faculty discuss the future of religious political parties around the world.


Featured Panelists:

  • Walter Andersen, Ph.D. - Administrative Director of the South Asia Studies Program

  • Allison Berland, Ph.D. - Lecturer in the Global Policy Program

  • Charles Doran, Ph.D. - Director of the Global History and Theory Program

  • Camille Pecastaing, Ph.D. - Senior Associate Professor of Middle East Studies


    Further issue information is available on the SAIS Review website, and the full issue can read in full on Project MUSE.

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Pakistan Today: The Case for US-Pakistan Relations

    The Foreign Policy Institute hosted a conference to launch its latest white paper and to discuss U.S.-Pakistan relations with leading scholars and policy experts.

    Co-author of the white paper and former World Bank vice president Shahid Javed Burki, gave an optimistic outlook on the future of Pakistan’s economy. He analyzed its impressive historical growth, which shows that on average Pakistan’s GDP grew at 4.6% per year, resulting in today’s GDP that is 17 times greater than it was in 1947. Looking at Pakistan’s future prospects, Burki emphasized the need for strategic thinking in the government. Instead of dealing with crises as they occur, national political leaders should plan for the future, he said. Most importantly, they should cleverly utilize Pakistan’s unique endowments, especially its location, agricultural capacity, human resources, diaspora, and the IT sector.

    Shamila Chaudhary and Josh White analyzed the relationship between Pakistan and the United States. They discussed diverse factors, risks, and opportunities that could enhance or preclude the two states’ cooperation and emphasized the strategic value of Pakistan in the region. The panelists welcomed Pakistan’s attempts to diversify its economic base, noting its structural reforms and Pakistan’s growing ability to raise funds on international capital markets. Positive development on the economic front and the states’ willingness to pursue mutual interests and manage their differences could lessen the feelings of dependence and resentment present in their relationship.

    These and other panel discussions resulted in a fascinating and comprehensive narrative, which covered an array of issues including the U.S.-Pakistan relationship in a new world order, China’s role in the region, Pakistan’s economy, its army and strategic issues in the region, energy and natural resources, and future developments.


    Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources for the Government of Pakistan; and Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
    Maleeka Bokhari, Barrister for the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf
    Shahid Javed Burki, Former Vice President of The World Bank
    Shamila Chaudhary, Senior Advisor to the Dean, Johns Hopkins SAIS, and Senior South Asia Fellow, International Security Program, New America
    General Mahmud A. Durrani, Former Pakistan National Security Advisor
    Carla Freeman, Director of the Foreign Policy Institute and Associate Director of China Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS
    Daniel Markey, Senior Research Professor in International Relations and Academic Director, Global Policy Program
    Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and former Foreign Minister
    Salman Sufi, Senior Member of the Punjab Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit, Law and Order
    Joshua White, Associate Professor of the Practice of South Asia Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Fellow, Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies
    Moderated by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins SAIS

    Friday, March 31, 2017

    US-Asia Relations: Past and Future

    “Nowhere in the world are the economics and strategic interest and the opportunities of the US clearer or more compelling than in the Asia-Pacific [region],“ said keynote speaker Antony Blinken at the 2017 Johns Hopkins SAIS Asia Conference. Blinken shared his view on the "rebalancing" to Asia by the United States. Expecting Asia to help define the next century, Blinken stated that by what rules, by which means, and to what ends Asia acts are the vital questions for US foreign policy. The US should ensure the energy, focus, and resources devoted to the region are commensurate with its importance, Blinken argued. 

    Examples of rebalancing actions include deeper cooperation with China, increasing engagement with institutions of the region like Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and vigorous promotion of trade and investment to unlock shared prosperity. 

    North Korea's nuclear weapons and rapidly developing missile systems are threats that belong among the Trump administration's top priorities, Blinken said. He urged international cooperation to pressure the North Korean regime to accept a monitored freeze and rollback of its nuclear weapons program. 

    Lastly, Blinken reminded the audience of what constantly attracts people of other countries to the US: the culture of innovation, the unwavering belief in freedom, rights, and dignity of all human beings, the rich tradition of scholarship and research, and the acknowledging of the common set of ideals to form a strong union. The US cannot afford to compromise these values in the future, Blinken said. 

    Antony Blinken, Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar, former United States Deputy Secretary of State and former Deputy National Security Advisor 

    Friday, March 24, 2017

    The Unraveling of the Global Order: Asia Adjusts

    The Johns Hopkins SAIS community of alumni and friends in Hong Kong gathered for a special forum featuring Kishore Mahbubani, who spoke about the return of Asia as a leader on the global stage. Mahbubani touched upon the need for populations of countries in the West to recognize the growing influence of populations in the East and to embrace globalization rather than reject it. A resurgent Asia, he said, is good for the United States and the West. He pointed to the success of ASEAN in brokering peace in Southeast Asia, a region historically fraught with wars and cultural tensions, as a beacon of hope and example of the potential of international cooperation. Finally, he cited the inevitable disruptiveness of technological innovation, particularly as mobile phones become more popular in developing regions like India and connect market actors in new ways.


    Following the keynote address, a panel of elite members of the Johns Hopkins SAIS community discussed changes in the global system on the horizon, including the political undertones of China’s international policies, the importance of multilateral institutions and the corrosion of the consensus upon which they were founded, and how multilateral actions can be implemented with the force of internationally respected customs and laws. Alumnus David Frey ’95 moderated the discussion. Questions from the audience of over 130 alumni and friends explored subjects like security in the South China Sea and the recent US border tax proposal.

    Keynote address
    Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and former President of the UN Security Council

    Laura Cha, Chairman of the Financial Services Development Council of Hong Kong SAR and non-official member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong SAR
    Moderator, David Frey ’95, Partner in Markets Strategy and National Head of U.S.-China Strategic Corridor for KPMG China
    David M. Lampton, SAIS China Director and George & Sadie Hyman Professor of China Studies
    John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Professor of International Economics at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and Foreign Policy Institute Senior Fellow

    Monday, February 13, 2017

    A Conversation on Asia's Economic Challenges

    Frederic Neumann took on the imposing task of analyzing challenges facing Asia today and deliberating over its future prospects. Neumann described the present situation as a balancing act involving delicate and difficult choices in the midst of miscellaneous pressures.

    The discussion started with a brief history of how the West and the East have gotten where they are today; the former stagnating and the latter soaring. He attributed the troubles in the West as the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, and said Asia's strong growth is due to the region’s ability to push up leverage and offset slow demand from the West. Neumann argued that the problem with debt-driven growth is that it is not sustainable and the region must pursue export-led growth to restore the balance. Yet the demographic trends, growing labor costs, surging protectionism and changing consumption patterns all slow trade and suggest a new reality for Asia, he contended. Most of the factors that drive these bleak prospects are structural and there is no quick medicine for solving them. Neumann argued that the answer to regional problems lies in raising productivity growth, which means that hard domestic choices await. 


    Questions from the audience covered a broad range of topics, including China’s dwindling forex reserves, demonetization in India, deflation in Japan, and innovation in China.

    Frederic Neumann '00, PhD '05, Co-Head Of Asian Economic Research and Managing Director, Global Research, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC)

    Moderated by John Lipsky, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute and Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs

    Tuesday, February 7, 2017

    New Challenges for the Refugee Regime

    Experts gathered at the Washington, DC campus for a discussion on the consequences of President Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order suspends the US refugee admission program, severely restricts entry from seven majority-Muslim countries, and bars all Syrian refugees from entering the country indefinitely.

    Michel Gabaudan said that the order risks conflating victims with perpetrators by associating refugees with terrorists. He also reminded the audience that the situation in the United States is completely different from that in Europe. Refugees who were able to enter the US were all vetted before arrival, while those in Europe are evaluated once they are already on European soil.

    Anne Richard talked about the previous administration’s efforts to show leadership on the issue of refugees. She also noted that while many have called for “extreme vetting,” it is unclear what this means. Maureen White pointed out that vetting for refugees is already very thorough. It currently involves eight federal agencies, six security databases, five background checks, four biometrics security checks, three separate in-person interviews and two inter-agency security checks.

    Ruth Wedgwood argued against the flawed notion that 'if the US does not welcome refugees someone else will.' In the case of refugees, the United States' identity as the indispensable nation holds true, Wedgwood said.


    Anne C. Richard, Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
    Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International
    Ruth Wedgwood, Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy
    Moderated by Maureen White, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute

    Friday, February 3, 2017

    A Conversation with TIAA CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr

    The outlook for the American economy continues to be bright and improving in the near term, according to Roger Ferguson of financial services giant, TIAA. The consensus view among economists is for sustained growth globally, although at a slower rate than recent expansions, Ferguson reported.    

    Asked by moderator John Lipsky to comment on the most pressing economic challenges for the new US administration, Ferguson said these issues include boosting growth, managing tax cuts and reforms, infrastructure building, and controlling inflation. Regarding the effectiveness of post-2008 financial sector reforms, including Dodd-Frank regulations, Ferguson acknowledged that capital in the banking sector has increased and that a drive has emerged toward stronger management culture. However, he added that the slow progress of rebuilding public trust in financial markets is still troublesome.

    On the challenge of ensuring financial security in retirement, Ferguson said the major roadblocks include the issues of poor enrollment rates in retirement programs, low savings among Americans, and the changing expectations for retirement age. Ferguson concluded by offering lessons learned through his leadership in boardroom diversity efforts, tying the event into the school's celebration of Black History Month 2017.

    Roger W. Ferguson, Jr, President and CEO of TIAA
    Moderated by John Lipsky, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute and Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

    Islam inherently promotes peace and mutual understanding, argued the scholar Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah at a special roundtable conversation hosted by the Foreign Policy Institute. Bin Bayyah, listed by the Muslim 500 as the 9th most influential Muslim in the world, discussed how his organization, the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, uses Islamic traditions to challenge the view that religion is often used to justify rather than solve problems of violence.

    Bin Bayyah's forum uses a methodology based on Islamic texts and traditions and refutes the argument that Islam promotes violence by showing that it encourages peace.  Forum scholars also challenge other thinkers, who claim that Islam does not encourage peace, by teasing out the lack of logic in their claims. The forum is notably in favor of protecting minority rights and supports equality and notions of modern citizenship. The works of Bin Bayyah and other forum scholars aim to explain how Islamic thought largely supports modern, progressive goals. 

    Wednesday, October 12, 2016

    Women Leaders Making a Difference on the Global Stage

    Award-winning magazine editor and Daily Beast co-founder Tina Brown was the speaker for the latest installment of the Johns Hopkins SAIS series, Women Who Inspire. Brown spoke with ambassador and moderator Shirin Tahir-Kheli about her efforts to create, through her Women In the World Summits, a platform for local women leaders to tell their stories to make a difference in their communities.

    For Brown, one of the keys to driving positive change on seemingly intractable problems is to emphasize the story before the issue: people do not respond to an issue without a story they can identify with, she said. With her summits, Brown is finding stories with the power to address global challenges specifically because they are told through the voices of women.

    Brown shared striking stories from past summits, and explained that women's leadership is not only an end unto itself, but a tool to realize many global benefits including better health outcomes, rising household earnings, and improved organizational decision making.    

    Tuesday, October 11, 2016, 4:30 - 6:00pm

    The Current State of US-Russian Relations with Ambassador Kislyak

    Russian-American relations are tense but not unsalvageable, said Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The ambassador discussed his country’s positions on various global issues and explained, in Russia’s view, why relations between the two countries are deteriorating.

    Speaking to a crowded room full of students and alumni, Kislyak cited NATO’s expansion, differing views of Ukraine and Syria, and economic sanctions as sources of conflict that have pitted Russia and the US against each other. However, Russians and Americans have been able to work together in tense moments before, and Kislyak believes that our cooperation can be extended and strengthened in areas where it already exists, such as the global fight against terrorism.

    Questions from the audience focused on current Russian involvement in Ukraine, Russia’s position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the protection of minority rights in Russia and Crimea, and Russia’s involvement in the US presidential election.

    Ambassador Kislyak currently serves as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States, and previously as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2008. Prior to that, he served simultaneously as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Belgium and as the Permanent Representative of Russia to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, from 1998-2003.Ambassador Kislyak has worked in the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation since 1997, including a variety of high-level positions. He graduated from Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1973, as well as from the USSR Academy of Foreign Trade in 1977.


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