“The Game Changer” – Madeleine Albright on Russia and Crimea, Syria and the Future of US Foreign Policy

By Bryan Thomson

On April 8th, 2014, Secretary of State for the Clinton administration Madeleine Albright met Director of the Dickey Center Ambassador Daniel Benjamin to discuss her experiences in Spaulding Auditorium. After giving a glowing introduction for Secretary of State Albright, the first woman to ever hold the office, Ambassador Benjamin jumped into perhaps the most pressing issue in current global affairs – Crimea.

Secretary Albright described the situation in the Crimean peninsula as a “game changer.”  Despite efforts to cooperate with Putin and Russia after the collapse of the USSR, Russia has become consistently more hostile to America and Europe since the turn of the century. Hostilities recently culminated in the well-publicized seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. Secretary Albright, speaking as a Soviet expert, asserted that post-superpower Russia has “psychologically lost its identity” and now disappointingly sees a free Europe as inherently anti-Russian. Accordingly, Secretary Albright contends that the West must be prepared to develop multilateral sanctions to show Putin that use of force over diplomacy isn’t tolerated in the present international system.

When asked about her own involvement in the region, Secretary Albright defended the Clinton administration’s NATO expansion, which many are now calling into question. She cited Article 5 of the NATO treaty – an attack on one member is an attack on all – as a critical deterrent to Russian aggression.  Dismissing claims that NATO acted like a charitable organization, Secretary Albright claimed the organization’s strategic mission has changed since the end of the Cold War. Now, NATO has found allies in many nations previously swallowed unwillingly into the Warsaw pact. Poland, Latvia and others, who have chosen to join NATO have not seen similar violations of their borders as has Ukraine (whose request to join was denied in 2008).

Secretary Albright also made some very straightforward comments regarding Syria. Drawing a parallel to Bosnia, Secretary Albright reminded the audience of the responsibility to protect Syrians.  When asked by an audience member about concrete actions she wished to see the US currently taking, Secretary Albright stated that the US should increase humanitarian and medical assistance to Syrian civilians, especially given the horrific reemerging cases of polio in the region.  She warned that “We are going to be asked why we didn’t do something about Syria. Not 20 years from now, but one year from now.” Unlike the confusing reports and breakneck speed of atrocities in Rwanda, Syria presents an ongoing rights violation that Secretary Albright believes the US should act on immediately.

Secretary Albright, who escaped both fascism and communism in her home country of Czechoslovakia to become one of the most influential and groundbreaking stateswomen in America, elicited a laugh from the audience when she claimed she is “an optimist who worries a lot.” True to her statement, the 90-minute conversation between Secretary Albright and Ambassador Benjamin ultimately proved the former Secretary of State to be cautiously optimistic about America’s future. Drawing on her own work across the aisle with Senator Helms (R-NC), she hopes that current Republicans and Democrats in the center will come together and make progress (or, in her own assured quip, “regain some civility and get some things done!”).  Despite recent inauspicious news, she maintains that a brokered two-state solution is possible in Israel, and that progress with Russia as a partner is still obtainable.  Though Madeleine Albright warned that the challenges of today make those in the ‘90s pale in comparison, her cautious endorsement of both America’s and the world’s capability to progress invites confidence and hope in the future.

Democracy, the Jewish State, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Conversation with Gershom Gorenberg

By Alexandra Woodruff

On April 3, 2014, Gershom Gorenberg, expert on Middle Eastern politics, discussed the peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians currently mediated by the US Secretary of State John Kerry. The discussion, co-hosted by Dartmouth’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences and the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, highlighted issues of occupation and Israel’s identity as concurrently Jewish and democratic.

Gorenberg, a historian as well as a journalist, began the discussion by contextualizing the current peace negotiations by tracing the history of Israel’s development as a nation. After dividing Israel’s history into three eras, beginning with its pre-state history, followed by “the first republic,” and the period of “the accidental empire,” Gorenberg suggested Israel might be on the verge of a fourth era: “a second republic.”

The character of this era, still to come, depends on the success or failure of the current peace negotiations. Gorenberg emphasized that if the current talks were to break down any future negotiations would find both sides worse off. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of the talks and of compromise in continuing Israeli democracy.

Gorenberg also emphasized the importance of narratives in the peace talks, and the significance of the conflict between Israeli narrative and Palestinian narrative. But he also suggested that a “reconciliation of narratives” is not the goal of the current peace negotiations. Instead, it is more important that these narratives do not prevent a successful compromise.

Gorenberg also raised thought-provoking lessons applicable beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When discussing the conflict between Israel as a democratic nation and Israel as a Jewish nation (can it be both at once? Does true commitment to one prevent the other?), he pointed to two important considerations: first, when thinking about global issues and peoples, we have a habit of imposing Western conceptions upon non-western peoples. Specifically, the concept of “Jewish” as distinctly a religion or a race is a Western concept, and thus not particularly meaningful in discussions of identity and democracy in Israel. Second, Gorenberg emphasized that adopting a pessimistic “change can’t happen” perspective is not only politically damaging, but also historically inaccurate.

Gorenberg’s remarks were introduced by the Dartmouth chapter of J-Street U, “a pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-Palestinian group that promotes American diplomatic leadership in achieving a two-state solution as an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Gershom Gorenberg is a senior correspondent for The American Prospect and contributor to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.


“Imihigo” and Reasons for Successful HIV Management in Rwanda

By Liz Lin

On April 2nd, 2014, Dr. Jean Luc Nkurikiyimfura presented his experience as the Director of the HIV Clinic at Kigali University Teaching Hospital or CHUK (Centre Hospitalier et Universitaire de Kigali), explaining the strong positive trends the country was experiencing with regards to HIV/AIDs management. Specifically, he explains the success with committed leadership, a network of community health workers, and partnerships with international groups.

Rwanda is a small country in central Africa, about the size of New Hampshire with ten times the population. It is also a poor country with a GDP ranked 203 out of 227 countries. Dr. Nkurikiyimfura points out that for a population 11 million, health professionals are scarce: there are only 625 MDs, 8273 RNs, and 240 midwives. Yet, Rwanda has come a long way in providing for its people.

The devastating effects of civil war and genocide in the 1990s, with rates reaching 1 million Tutsi and sympathetic Hutu people slaughtered by Hutu majority in 3 months, can be further quantified by a life expectancy of 28 years in 1994. Dr. Nkurikiyimfura, going back to his home at the end of the decade, recalls the country smelling of death, with corpses still strewn about the land. Since then, the life expectancy has steadily improved to 53 years alongside a 86% reduction of malaria related death. More strikingly, 5-year mortality after birth has decreased from 186 to less than 50 per 100,000 births, not only reaching pre-genocide levels, but also reaching rates lower than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Nkurikiyimfura’s HIV clinic has also had remarkable success in providing access and treatment for HIV/AIDs patients in all aspects from diagnosis, treatment, to follow-through. Prophylactic measures reduced the incidence of HIV vertical transmission, and in 2012 less than 2% of newborns had the virus compared to 11.6% in 2005. With a target demographic of children and adolescents, the clinic also educates for community change from within. Dr. Nkurikiyimfura attributes the success due to the committed leadership, citing the government to be the “least corrupt” compared to surrounding countries and effective in allocation of resources. The community-based focus, with community health workers placing an emphasis on maternal care and child health, and a triage-like system in treatment, builds a strong foundation for public health. Furthermore, community health workers create a network of personal contact to help with treatment adherence through organization of group support and home visits. Finally, the international support, especially from NGOs, is critical.

Some reasons for success may prove to be challenges in the future, speaking to the multi-faceted nature of global health. International support is the least sustainable in the long run, though critical for now. Understandably, with the poverty of the country,Dr. Nkurikiyimfura estimates 80% of the allocated money to fight HIV comes from outside sources. Right now, Rwanda has been justifying the investment, for example, from the Global Fund, with numbers. However, the long term success of combating HIV in Rwanda depends on change from within. Taking communities into context for the treatment of disease is essential: the health care structure must come from the community and not be imposed based on what outsiders might think may work. “Imihigo,” a term defining a pledge to achieve for communal good, is a concept with traditional roots. Dr. Nkurikiyimfura states traditional concepts, including “imihigo,” are key for sustainable development and continued momentum from the Rwandan people

By showing relevance and results through numbers, fighting HIV in Rwanda is a success story. A government committed to forming a strong health care system proves to NGOs and funding sources that it is committed to succeed and builds a partnership of trust in receiving the financial resources needed to effect change. The Rwandan people, pledging “imihigo,” have a strong stake to help themselves and is creating a sustainable network of community health workers and educated citizens.

Shrier, Dartmouth ’85, Speaks on Coordinated Efforts to Solve World Hunger and Malnutrition

By Tara Basu

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, Jonathan Shrier, a Dartmouth ’85, Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security at the U.S. Department of State, and Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy for Feed the Future, spoke to the Dartmouth College community about U.S. and global initiatives in addressing food security. He passionately and lucidly outlined the problem of food security, the forces that threaten it, and the cooperative efforts that are being undertaken to remediate food security issues.

Mr. Shrier began his lecture by informing his audience of statistics regarding poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. According to Mr. Shrier, 842 million people, one out of every eight people, suffer from chronic hunger. 75% of the world’s poor live in developing countries that depend on agriculture for food and economic security. One in four children under the age of five is stunted. Yet 1.3 billion tons of food is lost or wasted. By the year 2050, the world’s population will be greater than nine billion people, which will require an increase of 60% in food production.

However, simply producing more food is not enough, said Mr. Shrier. We face the double burden of malnutrition and a rise in obesity. Nutritious food must be made available to the world population even as global climate change is threatening our food sources. Tropical and sub-tropical regions, such as the Mekong River delta, our primary sources of food, are the most threatened, with sea level increases 20-50% higher than in other regions. As a result, these regions experience acidity and drought.

Mr. Shrier asserted there is a need for cooperation between multilateral organizations, partner countries, civil society, and the private sector. Science and innovation can help address food security issues by transforming production systems and making inputs more effective. The U.S. is a leader in food security issues, playing a primary role in the UN Committee on World Food Security, and it has the research and technology to tackle global hunger. President Obama is a strong advocate for an increase in investments in food and nutrition. At the 2009 G-8 summit in Italy, President Obama announced that the U.S. would increase investments in food. Countries partnered up to invest $22 billion over a three-year period in nineteen focus countries.

Feed the Future has been helping communities become more resilient by equipping them with the technological, research, and scientific tools to approach agriculture more effectively. In the fiscal year 2012, more than 9 million households benefited directly from Feed the Future, and more than 7 million farmers applied new technology through Feed the Future. Focus has been placed on increasing the production of cereals and nutritious legumes. Feed the Future is developing new animal vaccines and pest-resistant crops. One of Feed the Future’s overarching goals is to address nutrition. The World Health Assembly’s goal is to reduce child stunting by 20% by the year 2025. In the 2012 fiscal year, Feed the Future reached more than 12 million children. One Feed the Future project in Zambia focuses on producing orange maize, a source of Vitamin A. Other Vitamin A food products are often too expensive in Zambia, and the orange maize can provide half of the average daily requirement of Vitamin A.

The private sector is helping address food security issues through an increase in resources, innovation, markets, and sustainability. Loan programs in Kenya have been very effective. A loan that costs $125/acre yields $120/acre in profits per year.

In 2012, President Obama revealed the New Alliance, a partnership between African government donors and public and private organizations. Through the New Alliance, more than seventy global organizations have agreed to invest more than $3.7 billion in food security.

U.S. diplomacy is a critical part of the effort to improve food security, said Mr. Shrier. The U.S. is working with countries like Brazil, India, and South Africa. Together with Brazil, the U.S. is addressing food security in Haiti and the Honduras. Promoting open markets is one of the key components of addressing food security.

Mr. Shrier outlined a comprehensive view of the efforts being taken worldwide to address global hunger and malnutrition. He declared food security to be a multidimensional issue requiring a coordinated approach. Currently, the U.S. Government is leading a thorough effort to address global food security. Tackling world hunger and malnutrition generates economic growth and promotes global stability, which is beneficial to all the world’s citizens. The urgent nature of the issue demands a swift response, and Mr. Shrier affirmed that because we can solve the issues of world hunger and malnutrition, we must.

A World Beyond Race

By Spencer Blair

In his lecture on January 27, acclaimed author and historian Roger Echo-Hawk outlined his vision of “a new kind of discourse about the nature of race in the world.” A citizen of both the United States and the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Echo-Hawk argued that “we had a non-racial past, so we can have a non-racial future.” Echo-Hawk was joined by a panel of four Dartmouth professors: Allan Covey and Deborah Nichols of the Anthropology Department, and Colin Calloway and Angela Parker of the Native American Studies Department.

Echo-Hawk noted that within the anthropological world, it is generally agreed that race is a social construct with little grounding in biological evidence. In looking to the history of racial constructs as a mechanism for understanding present discourse surrounding race, Echo-Hawk suggested that Europe is the source of the racial identity system. He contended that by characterizing the Irish as sub-human, the British had already established a model of racial superiority before coming to the Americas. This paved the way for the oppression of native populations and Africans that began institutionalized racism in the United States.

According to Echo-Hawk, despite a history rooted in racial superiority, Americans are disinvesting in race so much that the social systems of white supremacy and privilege cannot continue. Like other of Echo-Hawk’s proclamations, this evoked a strong response from Professor Parker. In a response more compelling than those of the other panel members and Echo-Hawk’s own theories, Parker argued that “race is a story that we tell about ourselves” and that “white bonding” is still strong enough to preserve powerful and oppressive racial structures throughout the world. Using Dartmouth as a case study, Parker contended that all members of society are implicated in the “project” of maintaining privilege that rewards those who already have access to the resources needed to succeed.

In accordance with Parker’s model, I disagree with Echo-Hawk that there is much to suggest the imminence of a “non-racial future,” despite the supposed “non-racial past” that Echo-Hawk perceives. Race is too strongly rooted in the events of our past and the identity of our present to disappear from our future. Those in the position of power are heavily invested, no matter how unwittingly, in maintaining the system of privilege. Thus, it is the unfortunate reality that the system of racial superiority will not soon disappear.

The Pursuit of Happiness

By Ashley Manning

On January 22, the Dickey Center for International Understanding hosted Carol Graham, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who spoke about her recent book The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being. Born in Lima, Peru, Graham attended Princeton University (A.B.), the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (M.A.), and finished her Ph.D. at Oxford University before beginning work with the Brookings Institute in 1988. For the last decade, Graham’s research has focused on “happiness economics.” The Pursuit of Happiness reflects the fruits of this research, as she analyzes “happiness” in econometrics and tentative implications for policymaking.

Graham opened her talk with a pivotal issue: the difficulty of defining happiness and its many different meanings. Eventually, she breaks down the situation by focusing on two types of happiness, contrasting Bentham’s ideas of welfare and hedonic happiness with Aristotle’s idea of happiness as the “opportunity to live a fulfilling life.” Graham first began with a keen focus in Latin America, where she carried out some of the first “happiness” investigations in the continent. However, as her field continued to expand, she became involved in happiness investigations at a global level and encountered a certain consistency in results. Not only did Graham discern certain predominate factors that determine an individual’s or a society’s happiness worldwide, such as health, security, and stable relationships, but that there are correlations between happiness levels and work productivity.

Throughout the presentation Graham noted the limitations of her research, such as cultural barriers and a personality of innate happiness. Similarly, her results also reveal what she describes as the “frustrated achievers” paradox: a tendency for the poorest of society to present higher and more optimist results than the richest. Her overall results indicate that it is seen at a domestic as well as global level, with those living a comfortable economic life presenting higher levels of happiness than those in poverty.

Graham also explained the interdisciplinary nature and growing respectability of this field, which requires the combined efforts of economists and psychologists to understand the phenomena of “happiness.” The field has also resulted in Nobel-prize winning work.

Finally, Graham explored the implication of these discoveries for public policy, since such work has begun to affect policies in the UK. She personally believed in an Aristotelian definition of happiness, due to its greater potential impact in improving the quality of life and opportunities for people in both in developed and developing nations.

Constitutional Law You Won’t Hear in the Classroom

By Tyler Stoff

James E. Fleming’s lecture on October 31 entitled, “The Myth of Strict Scrutiny for Fundamental Rights,” both explained constitutional law as it relates to fundamental rights and rebutted Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s legal philosophy – therefore correcting assumptions about rights and their legal categorizations.

Drawing from his recent book entitled Ordered Liberty, Fleming challenged the notion that some rights as fundamental or absolute, suggesting instead that they be balanced with individual responsibilities and virtues under the law.

Professor Fleming argued that the deep case history concerning rights not enumerated in amendments to the Constitution shows that laws do not fall neatly into demanding the passage of “strict scrutiny” or needing to only express a legitimate state interest to have a “rational basis” to be upheld. This contradicts what many scholars, including those at Dartmouth, have taught regarding the use of the Constitution’s due process clause to establish three levels of rights guaranteed to Americans.

Fleming mainly used the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision of 2003, which struck down a ban of various forms of sexual intimacy, as an example of where the court found that the law did not prohibit a fundamental right. Thus, it did not trigger the “strict scrutiny” assessment, nor did it hold that only a legitimate state interest was necessary to preserve the law. Justice Scalia’s subsequent dissent, attacking the majority opinion for failing to adhere to its supposed prior framework of fundamental rights, superficially supported this liberal view. Fleming claimed this was a deceptive, however, as liberals never suggested this limiting framework themselves. Indeed, the strict, intermediate, and rational scrutiny framework favored in academia is only ever discussed in dissents from major historical cases. The one exception that Fleming did note, however, was the Roe v. Wade decision. This momentous case suspiciously did implicate the failure of abortion restrictions to pass the strict scrutiny of the law required for their constitutionality.

While James Fleming does not endorse a rigid interpretation of rights under the due process clause, he still recognizes them as continuum in line with other aspects of American liberties. “Rights are not absolute trumps,” he stated, arguing that cases like Lawrence v. Texas fit his proposed model rather than the rigid framework Scalia would suggest.

After the Arab Spring

By Spencer Blair

Professor Marc Lynch, a professor in the departments of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, regrets coining the term “Arab Spring.” Professor Lynch, who gave a talk in Haldeman on Monday, October 28 called “After the Arab Spring,” was the first to use the term to describe a trend toward democracy in the Arab world in an article on his blog for Foreign Policy.

Lynch renounces the term simply because, while he has an optimistic vision for the Middle East’s long-term future, the 2011 uprisings have not contributed to democratization in the Middle East, and the short-term political future looks bleak in several of these countries, especially Egypt and Syria.

Despite the title “After the Arab Spring,” Lynch acknowledged that much of his talk was devoted to the cause of the Arab Spring, something Lynch attributed largely to the rise of social media. Lynch described the world before the rise of the Internet, in which acceptance of oppressive government was the only feasible political stance, because citizens of Middle Eastern countries under oppressive regimes had no way to educate or organize. Any sort of dissent was quashed immediately and never publicized, and television and radio contained nothing more than positive political coverage of a state’s oppressive leaders.

Expanded technology and the rise of social media, however, revolutionized the relationship between government and citizen, and instances of dissent went viral thanks to a brief Youtube clip or Facebook post. While the 2011 uprisings resulted from a series of complex political, historical, and social factors, the uprisings occurred when they did due to the concurrence of the regime oppression with the peak of social media’s prevalence and relevance in the region.

After the uprisings, Lynch argued, is where everything went wrong, resulting in the highly unfavorable political and social climate that plagues the region today. The changes that occurred following the uprisings were so substantial that returning to the former regime would have been impossible in nearly every country affected, but the upheaval resulted in a rise of Islamist governments rather than the intended democratization. In fact, Lynch and many others now use the term “Islamist winter” to describe the rise of Islamist governments following the initial upheaval, a far cry from the intended democratization of the movement.

The long-term political future that faces these nations is not overwhelmingly bleak, Lynch argues, because eventually these Islamist governments will face similar backlash to that faced by the authoritarian regimes that preceded them, and eventually the environment will be favorable enough for the unfinished business of democratization to occur. For now, however, political strife and anti-democratic behavior is destined to plague the nations that faced political uprisings in 2011 due to the failure of post-upheaval democratization – the lack of a true “Arab Spring.”

Marc Lynch on the Arab Uprising

By Max Lu

The lecture delivered by Mark Lynch on the Arab uprising was absolutely fascinating because he provided an entirely different perspective from the mainstream media.

He talked at length about the historical context surrounding the Arab uprising, specifically how the underlying conditions for protest have existed for several decade. Based on this, he argued that the term “Arab Spring” that has been in common usage is actually inaccurate. Furthermore, he says that more protests will erupt in the future because none of the underlying problems have actually been addressed.

He also talked at length about the role of technology in protests. He analyzed the role that Al Jazeera originally had on the Arab public, and the role it continues to play today. He explained how the proliferation of mobile phones, the Internet, and social media expanded on that trend and substantially government control over the flow of information and the public discourse in the Arab world.

After defining the foundation of the protest, he analyzed individual countries and compared the paths that they took. He first pointed out the extreme similarity between the path taken by Tunisia and Egypt, then explained how no other country took a similar path. He talked about the ongoing situation in Syria and how that is affecting its neighbors, the region, and the operational capability of terrorists.

The final part of his lecture focused on the limited influence of US foreign policy on the situation in the Middle East. He argued that American military intervention in Syria would really have limited influence because the US cannot change many of the fundamental forces interacting on the ground.

He also showed that he was very knowledgeable during the question and answer session, drawing from his firsthand knowledge in the region to analyze questions ranging from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to US relations with Saudi Arabia. Overall, it was an excellent lecture that provided a fresh perspective to an important issue.

A Conversation with Steve Coll

By Bryan Thomson

“Even Snowden didn’t understand most of what was on his flash drive.”

In an era when hotly contested NSA leaks have sparked debates over surveillance and the effectiveness and morality of antiterrorism campaigns, journalism has a critical role. On Thursday in Filene Auditorium, Director of the Dickey Center Daniel Benjamin interviewed Steve Coll about journalism in the modern world. Coll, a contributing columnist to the New Yorker and the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, argued that journalism is going through an extreme transformation in the face of new technology, changes in policy, and massive data drops from self-proclaimed martyrs, whistleblowers and exiles like Assange and Snowden. Coll himself in researching for his books Ghost Wars, Private Empire: Exxon Mobile and American Power, and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century, has experience working with ‘closed organizations,’ where data can only be obtained by “chipping away” from the outside. In researching the Bin Laden family, Coll found that the secrecy of the family and Saudi Arabian governments meant that foreign court documents were the only available windows into the family’s past. Coll’s methods of research and compilation – his firsthand experience observing the lives of Saudi Arabia’s new superrich and creation of a multigenerational tale of the Bin Ladens – exemplifies traditional journalism.

The modern world of media looks to be filled increasingly less with journalists like Coll, and more with those like Julian Assange. Organizations like Wikileaks opt to post all information, regardless of consequences. Instead of searching for patterns and investigating one item at a time, more people are prioritizing transparency over exploring questions of public interest.

Not only has the face of journalism changed, but the conditions under which the media operate have as well. Coll contends that until recently, journalism had followed a relatively static set of rules and procedures that favor anonymity and eliminate prior restraint, as were legalized by the Supreme Court in their decisions in NYT v. Sullivan (1964) and NYT v. United States (1971). Coll contends that the Obama administration and Attorney General Holder have ‘eviscerated’ freedom of the press by refusing to allow outlets to protect their sources. The largest change to the previously stable system, though, is that journalists are being asked to determine if their work contains sensitive materials. What does this responsibility mean for the future of journalism?