Public Affairs

Upcoming Events

America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder | 12/02/14
Bret Stephens
As Americans seek to withdraw from the world to tend to domestic problems, the country's adversaries and rivals spy opportunity, and its allies doubt the credibility of security guarantees. Is there a profound global crisis on the horizon? What can the United States do to reverse course and safeguard not only greater peace in the world but also greater prosperity at home? (Public Affairs Program)

Past Events

Strategies for Countering Violent Extremists | 11/24/14
Jean-Paul Laborde
The world remains focused on ISIS' brutal campaign in Iraq and Syria, but in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been imposing their terrifying form of Islam in much the same way. What is the role of the UN in countering terrorism? What can civil society, religious authorities, and other non-governmental actors do to prevent the spread of terrorism? (Public Affairs Program)

Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy | 11/20/14
Christopher Hill
What effect does bureaucratic warfare in Washington have on diplomacy? What did America get wrong in its wars of choice? From the wars in the Balkans to the brutality of North Korea to the endless war in Iraq, former American diplomat Christopher Hill gives an inside look at the life of an ambassador. (Public Affairs Program)

Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East | 11/12/14
Gerard Russell
Despite its reputation for religious intolerance, the Middle East has long sheltered many distinctive faiths. How are the Mandaeans and Yazidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, and the Copts of Egypt hanging on to their ancient traditions? What does the rise of militant Islamic sects and the lure of the West mean for these faiths' survival? (Public Affairs Program)

A Conversation with General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff | 11/06/14
Martin E. Dempsey
At a time when America thought it would be winding down its wars, the military is now fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, various militant groups in Yemen and Somalia, and Ebola in West Africa. At the center of it all is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. What role does ethics have within the world's largest military? (Public Affairs Program)

If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities | 10/22/14
Benjamin R. Barber
In the face of the most perilous challenges of our time, the nations of the world seem paralyzed. Is the nation-state, once democracy's best hope, now democratically dysfunctional? Obsolete? The answer is yes, says Benjamin R. Barber. Can cities and the mayors who run them do a better job? (Public Affairs Program)

The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--and Have Still to Learn--From the Financial Crisis | 10/20/14
Martin Wolf
Why did the 2008 financial crisis occur? What forces created our fragile economy? What did this recent crisis teach us about modern economies and economics? And in the end, what reforms are needed so that we do not repeat our past mistakes? (Public Affairs Program)

Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy | 10/10/14
Francis Fukuyama
Taking up the essential question of how societies develop strong, impersonal, and accountable political institutions, Francis Fukuyama follows the story from the French Revolution to the so-called Arab Spring and the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. Why have some regions developed more quickly than others? What is the future of democracy in the face of a rising global middle class and entrenched political paralysis in the West? (Public Affairs Program)

Foreign Fighters in Syria | 09/23/14
Richard Barrett
The conflict in Syria is now about much more than Bashar al-Assad. As the ISIS offensive in Northern Iraq and the refugee crises in Lebanon and Jordan have shown, it has spilled over Syria's porous borders. How should the West respond? And why does Islamic extremism attract so many? (Public Affairs Program)

Climate Change and the Future of Humanity | 09/16/14
Dale Jamieson, Darrel Moellendorf, Mary Robinson, Henry Shue
How will climate change affect humankind in the coming years? What can private citizens, governments, and NGOs do in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge? (Public Affairs Program)

In the Aftermath of Afghan and Indian Elections: View from Pakistan | 06/25/14
Jalil Abbas Jilani
For some time, Pakistan's relations with its neighbors have been difficult. Will new governments in India and in Afghanistan lead to more stability? (Public Affairs Program)

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East | 06/16/14
Scott Anderson
How did the Arab Revolt and Lawrence of Arabia shape the Middle East? How are his actions of a century ago still being felt today? Who were the other lesser-known adventurers of this world? (Public Affairs Program)

The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? | 06/04/14
Patrick Tucker
We are on the threshold of a historic transition in our ability to forecast aspects of the future with ever-increasing precision. The rise of big data will enable us to anticipate not only events like earthquakes or epidemics, but also individual behavior. Will we be able to predict guilt before a person commits a crime? (Public Affairs Program)

The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union | 06/02/14
Serhii Plokhy
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the popular narrative was that democracy had finally triumphed over communism. However, if you don't remember the role played by the former Soviet Republics, then you'll find it impossible to understand the politics of the region today. What did Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasus have to do with the disintegration of the Soviet Union? (Public Affairs Program)

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings | 05/28/14
Frederic M. Wehrey
From the invasion of Iraq to the Arab uprisings, the Shia-Sunni divide has dominated the Persian Gulf's political landscape. What are the roots of this divide? Focusing on Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, how have domestic political institutions, the media, and clerical establishments exacerbated sectarianism? (Public Affairs Program)

Age Of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China | 05/15/14
Evan Osnos
In today's China a great collision is taking place: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. Why does the Chinese government still restrain freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? (Public Affairs Program)

Moral Imagination | 05/13/14
David Bromwich
Moral imagination allows us to judge the right and wrong of actions apart from any benefit to ourselves. It has led to the nonviolent resistance of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and many more ethical developments. Is this ability an innate individual strength or a socially conditioned habit? (Public Affairs Program)

Attacks on the Press: Journalism on the Front Lines | 05/08/14
Joel Simon, Jacob Weisberg

Every day, journalists around the world face incredible risks--from imprisonment and assassination to simply just "disappearing"--all for the ethical practice of their profession. Caught between wars and uprisings, corrupt police and drug cartels, journalists find themselves in some of the most dangerous situations imaginable. Now, in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, an increasing number of oppressive censorship laws have been enacted in many countries that pose a unique threat to journalism in the digital age. What damaging effects to press freedom have been caused by U.S. mass surveillance programs ? What strategies are needed to safeguard the free flow of information around the world? (Public Affairs Program)

Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground | 04/29/14
Emily Parker
Authoritarian governments try to isolate individuals from one another, but in the age of social media this is impossible to do. Online, people discover that they are not alone. As one blogger put it, "Now I know who my comrades are." How has the Internet empowered these individuals? How have leaders and lesser-known bloggers used technology in China, Cuba, and Russia to fight injustice? (Public Affairs Programs)

Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East | 04/08/14
Shadi Hamid
In the wake of the Arab Spring, Islamist groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have gained power and prominence. But however pragmatic these groups may be, their ultimate goal remains the Islamization of society. And with a conservative electorate, they can push their own form of illiberal democracy while insisting they are carrying out the popular will. Where have the region's varied Islamist groups come from? Where might they be headed? (Public Affairs Program)

Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific | 04/07/14
Robert D. Kaplan
From the newly capitalistic Vietnam, to Malaysia's postmodern mix of authoritarian Islam and Western-style consumerism, to the benevolent autocracy of Singapore and the corruption of the Philippines, what are the goals and motivations of the nations that surround the South China Sea? What are the flashpoints for conflict? (Public Affairs Program)

The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words (1000 BCE–1492) | 04/03/14
Simon Schama
Jewish civilization has existed for centuries in different areas of the world, not a culture apart but immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they lived--from Egyptians to Greeks, from Arabs to Christians. How do their stories impact everyone's stories as well? (Public Affairs Program)

No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State | 03/26/14
Elisabeth Sifton, Fritz Stern
During the 12 years of Hitler's Third Reich, very few Germans took the risk of actively opposing his tyranny and terror. The pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his close friend and brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi were two of the few who took a stand against the seemingly all-powerful regime. How did these men help victims of the Holocaust? How close did their anti-Hitler plots come to fruition? (Public Affairs Program)

Driving Competitive Advantage through Values-based Leadership | 03/18/14
Antony Jenkins
Over a period of time, the business of banking has become too aggressive, resulting in scandals and abuses. However, according to Antony Jenkins, the behavior that made those headlines is in the past. No longer focusing on the short term, nor disconnected from the needs of customers, clients, and society, how is Barclays addressing these challenges? What are its guidelines for the future? (Public Affairs Program)

The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World | 03/11/14
Zachary Karabell
Gross national product, balance of trade, unemployment figures, inflation, and the consumer price index determine whether we feel optimistic or pessimistic about our future and dictate whether businesses hire or hunker down, governments spend trillions or try to reduce debt, and individuals buy a car, get a mortgage, or look for a job. Yet few of us know where these "leading indicators" come from, what they mean, or why they rule our world. What are the limitations of these numbers? How can we become less dependent on a few simple figures? (Public Affairs Program)

The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy | 03/04/14
Zaid al-Ali
Many Westerners have offered interpretations of Iraq's nation-building progress in the wake of the 2003 war and the eventual withdrawal of American troops from the country, but little has been written by Iraqis themselves. In the wake of ever increasing sectarianism, violence, and pervasive corruption, Iraqi lawyer Zaid al-Ali asks the salient question of whether Iraq can regain its viability as a nation. (Public Affairs Program)

The Global War for Internet Governance | 02/26/14
Laura DeNardis
Conflicts surrounding Internet governance are on the rise, leading to questions about free speech and cybersecurity. How should the Internet be governed? What is the role of sovereign nations and individual treaties? (Public Affairs Program)

The Fog of Peace: The Human Face of Conflict Resolution | 02/19/14
Giandomenico Picco
How should we talk to the enemy? The most important aspect of conflict resolution is for antagonists to understand their opponents as individuals--their ambitions, their pains, the resentments that condition their thinking, and the traumas they do not themselves fully grasp. (Public Affairs Program)

By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World | 02/12/14
Elizabeth Economy, Michael Levi
In the past 30 years, China has transformed from an impoverished country where peasants comprised the largest portion of the populace to an economic power with an expanding middle class and more megacities than anywhere else on earth. Where will the country find the resources to support this new reality? What are the economic, political, and environmental consequences to China's resource quest? (Public Affairs Program)

The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the 21st Century | 02/04/14
Angela Stent
Snowden, Syria, Sochi, and more--these are just some of the negative elements in the atmosphere of Russian-American relations today. Why has it been so difficult to develop a productive and more predictable post-Cold War U.S.-Russian partnership? What would it take to redesign this relationship and move it beyond what at best is a limited and selective partnership? These questions and their answers have far-reaching consequences. (Public Affairs Program)

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Known as Drones: A Proponent's Perspective | 01/29/14
Charles J. Dunlap, Jr.
Few aspects of warfare have been more controversial than American use of drones. Professor Dunlap, a retired Air Force major general, will describe the operation of drones, debunk some common misconceptions about them, and explain their military utility. Are they a necessary tool in America's war arsenal? (Public Affairs Program)

The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters | 01/28/14
Gregory Zuckerman
In 2006, with oil and gas production stagnating, tensions in the Middle East boiling over, and China competing for resources, things looked grim for American energy. But, fracking has pointed the United States towards energy independence. How did this revolution begin? Who are the wildcatters leading the fracking revolution? And is this practice dangerous? (Public Affairs Program)

The Second Arab Awakening | 01/23/14
Marwan Muasher
Political change in the Arab world began with the first Arab Awakening in the 19th century and has extended to the present time. But why were all sides--the United States, Europe, Israel, and Arab governments alike--deeply misguided in their thinking about Arab politics and society when the turmoil of the Arab Spring began? What can be done to encourage positive state building? (Public Affairs Program)

Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know | 01/09/14
P. W. Singer
In just one generation, "cyberspace" has gone from a science fiction term to something we depend on for our entire way of life. And the cybersecurity issues that result challenge literally everyone: politicians wrestling with everything from cybercrime to online freedom; generals protecting the nation from new forms of attack, while planning new cyberwars; lawyers and ethicists building new frameworks for right and wrong. From the "Anonymous" hacker group and the Stuxnet computer virus to the new cyber units of the Chinese and U.S. militaries, how does cyberspace actually work? What does the average citizen need to know? (Public Affairs Program)

The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present | 12/12/13
David Runciman
Why do democracies keep lurching from success to failure? While good at recovering from emergencies, democracies have been bad at avoiding them. How did politicians and thinkers from Woodrow Wilson, Nehru, and Adenauer to Francis Fukuyama and Obama deal with crises? Can we learn from their successes and mistakes? (Public Affairs Program)

Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late | 12/10/13
Joseph Cirincione
In the 1960s, 23 states had nuclear weapons and research programs; today, only nine states have weapons. Yet that still leaves 17,000 nuclear weapons that someone could use, by accident or by design, triggering a nuclear catastrophe. Will the trend toward disarmament continue, or are we on the brink of a new arms race—or worse, nuclear war? (Public Affairs Program)

Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy | 12/05/13
Eri Hotta, Ian Buruma
Why did Japan recklessly attack the United States in 1941, launching a war that most of the nation's leaders knew they were almost certain to lose? Why did they go ahead, despite heated internal debates? And what were the motivations of Emperor Hirohito and General Hideki Tojo in the days leading up to Pearl Harbor? Get the inside story from a Japanese perspective. It may change your view of the war forever. (Public Affairs Program)

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel | 11/25/13
Ari Shavit
Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. But from the Zionists and European immigrants of the mid-20th century to today's dot-com entrepreneurs and influential politicians, the small nation continues to be a crucial part of today's global political landscape. How will Israel's complex past shape its still uncertain future? (Public Affairs Program)

The Constitution Project: Task Force Report on Detainee Treatment | 11/21/13
David Gushee, David R. Irvine
Brigadier General David Irvine (Ret.) and Dr. David Gushee from The Constitution Project's bipartisan, blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment will come together for an in-depth look at America's pre- and post-9/11 actions related to the capture, detention, and interrogation of suspected terrorists. (Public Affairs Program)

Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism | 11/20/13
Thomas E. Patterson
As journalist Walter Lippmann noted nearly a century ago, democracy falters "if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news." Today's journalists are not providing it. What needs to be done in order to provide the knowledge-based reporting necessary to maintain the health of our democratic political process? (Public Affairs Program)

Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them | 11/01/13
Joshua D. Greene
Our brains were designed for tribal life, for getting along with a select group of others (Us) and for fighting off everyone else (Them). But modern times have forced the world's tribes into a shared space, resulting in epic clashes of values. When should we trust our instincts? When should we use reason? And can the right kind of reasoning move us forward? (Public Affairs Program)

Mass Flourishing: How Grassroots Innovation Created Jobs, Challenge, and Change | 10/28/13
Edmund Phelps
Between the 1820s and the 1960s, some nations experienced a mass "flourishing"--meaningful work, self-expression, and personal growth were the norms for more people than ever before--fueled by modern values such as the desire to create, explore, and meet challenges. Why did prosperity explode in these nations in this way? Why are the sources of that prosperity under threat today? (Public Affairs Program)

The Men Who United the States | 10/21/13
Simon Winchester
From Lewis and Clark to the civil engineer who designed the Interstate Highway System, American history is marked by explorers, innovators, and thinkers who toiled fearlessly to discover, connect, and bond the citizenry and geography of the country. How did America become “one nation, indivisible”? What unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today? (Public Affairs Program)

Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War | 10/07/13
Max Hastings
The brutality of World War I--mustard gas attacks, massive death tolls, trench warfare--has been told in many forms. But the path to hostilities and the lesser-known battles of 1914 are just as important to the Great War's narrative. How did Europe come to be embroiled in this catastrophic war? Were Germany and Austria-Hungary primarily to blame? And was the war worth the cost? (Public Affairs Program)

The Road to War: Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed | 10/02/13
Marvin Kalb
Not since Pearl Harbor has an American president gone to Congress to request a declaration of war. Instead, presidents have justified their war-making powers by citing "commitments," private and public, made by former presidents. Why have presidents sidestepped declarations of war for the last 70 years? If Obama goes to Congress over the war in Syria, will he set a new precedent? (Public Affairs Program)

Strategy: A History | 09/30/13
Lawrence Freedman
Strategy pervades every aspect of our lives and can be seen in small social settings and at the state and business levels. But inherent in strategy is an unpredictability that provides it with challenges and drama and leads to many complicated questions. Does strategy really allow us to manipulate and shape our environments? (Public Affairs Program)

Year Zero: A History of 1945 | 09/27/13
Ian Buruma
In the pivotal year of 1945, great cities lay in ruins; regime change had come on a global scale; and social, cultural, and political "reeducation" was imposed on the vanquished by the victors in a way that also had no historical precedent. How did these developments give rise to the modern era? (Public Affairs Program)

Immigration Reform: Truths, Myths, and Politics | 09/23/13
Edward Schumacher-Matos
Even though the United States is a nation of immigrants, the topic of immigration remains one of the most controversial in both the political and social spheres. And with immigrants continuing to come to America from all corners of the globe, the issue is not going away. Can we understand this debate better by looking at it from an ethical perspective? (Public Affairs Program)

Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God | 09/17/13
Matthew Levitt
Hezbollah, Lebanon's Party of God, is a multi-faceted organization--from its presence in Lebanon to its involvement in criminal and terrorist activities worldwide. How far is its reach? And how big a threat is Hezbollah to the Middle East and the world? (Public Affairs Program)

Ten Billion | 09/10/13
Stephen Emmott
Sometime in this century, there will be 10 billion humans. What does this population explosion mean for the planet? How will it affect other species? And what will we do about food and water? Stephen Emmott argues that every aspect of the climate and environmental crisis flows from the pressure of our planet's rapidly expanding population. What is happening is a planetary emergency, he declares, and there are two ways of dealing with it: the first is technology; the second is radical behavior change. But in the end, the real problem is us. (Public Affairs Program)

The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business | 06/17/13
Jared Cohen
As the greatest information and technology revolution in human history continues to evolve, we have much to look forward to--and beware of. Who will be more powerful in the future, the citizen or the state? What is the relationship between privacy and security, and how much will we have to give up to be part of the new digital age? (Public Affairs Program)

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America | 06/12/13
George Packer
American democracy is in crisis: Seismic shifts in a single generation have left the country with its institutions no longer working and its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success. Do Washington insiders and Silicon Valley billionaires have the answers? Or should we look to the rural South and the Rust Belt for wisdom? (Public Affairs Program)

Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era | 06/06/13
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
During the 20th century, some American presidents tried to forge a new international order, while others sought to manage the country's status. How did transformational presidents, like Wilson and Reagan, change how the U.S. sees the world? Were transactional presidents, like Eisenhower and the elder Bush, more effective and ethical? (Public Affairs Program)

Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order | 06/04/13
Richard N. Haass
A rising China, climate change, terrorism, a nuclear Iran, a turbulent Middle East, and a reckless North Korea all present serious challenges. But U.S. national security depends even more on the United States addressing its burgeoning deficit and debt, crumbling infrastructure, second-rate schools, and outdated immigration system. What can the United States do to put its house in order? Is isolationism the answer or should America look for collective responses to global challenges? (Public Affairs Program)

Legal Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of National Security | 05/23/13
Jeh Johnson
Can drone strikes, both domestic and foreign, be legally justified? Will the war against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations ever really be over? As former general counsel of the Department of Defense and the Department of the Air Force, Jeh Johnson is uniquely equipped to give the legal perspective on all matters of national security. (Public Affairs Program)

When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God | 05/16/13
T. M. Luhrmann
Since 1996, according to Gallup polls, between 35 and 47 percent of Americans have described themselves as "evangelical" or "born again;" two-thirds mostly or wholly believe that angels and devils are at work in the world. How and why do rational people living in the 21st century believe that God speaks to them? Why should the rest of us take them seriously? This book was named as a "New York Times Book" for 2012 and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2012. (Public Affairs Program)

Human Trafficking Around the World: Hidden in Plain Sight | 05/13/13
Stephanie Hepburn
Sex trafficking, forced labor, organ trafficking, and sex tourism are problems in all corners of the globe, from the United States, to Niger, to China. What are the gaps in legislation and enforcement that allow human trafficking to thrive? What are the cultural norms and biases, societal assumptions, and conflicting policies that make these practices so pervasive and resilient? How can trafficking be curbed? (Public Affairs Program)

Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st Century | 05/08/13
George Weigel
As the curtain rises on a new chapter of the Catholic Church, will the new Pope be able to institute the reforms needed? Will a gospel-centered "mission" be able to offer a more humane alternative to the self-absorption of post modernity? What does this renewal promise to its followers? (Public Affairs Program)

The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences | 04/25/13
David Cannadine
The six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation are religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization. But how determinative are these distinctions? Why is our public discourse still so polarized around these simplistic divisions? (Public Affairs Program)

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War | 04/15/13
Andrew J. Bacevich
A dangerous dual obsession has taken hold of American conservatives and liberals alike: unprecedented military might wed to a blind faith in the universality of American values. How has this militarism emerged? (Public Affairs Program)

To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism | 04/12/13
Evgeny Morozov
In the very near future, "smart" technologies will allow us to solve problems in highly original ways. Even so, this "Brave New World" of the future may be less desirable than we think. How will such "solutionism" affect our society's morals, ethics, and civil behavior?

Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles | 04/10/13
Ruchir Sharma
After a decade of easy growth for emerging markets, which "breakout nations" will rise? And what are the rules on how to spot economic success stories? (Public Affairs Program)

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder | 03/18/13
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
What Professor Taleb has identified and calls "antifragile" is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish. How is this possible? (Public Affairs Program)

The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations | 03/15/13
Ian Morris
The West may be the most powerful region on the planet today, but from 550 to 1750, East Asia had the most advanced civilizations. When and why did the West come to dominate the world? (Public Affairs Program)

Everybody Matters: My Life Giving Voice | 03/11/13
Mary Robinson
What are some of the challenges that Ms. Robinson has faced in her storied career? What lies behind the vision, strength, and determination that made her path to prominence so compelling? (Public Affairs Program)

Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State | 03/05/13
William H. Janeway
The innovation economy begins with discovery and culminates in speculation. What role do the state, financiers, and entrepreneurs play in the innovation economy? The "Financial Times" and "Foreign Affairs" both named Janeway's book one of the Best Books of 2012. (Public Affairs Program)

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food | 02/28/13
Lester R. Brown
The world food situation is deteriorating. The ranks of the hungry are expanding, political unrest is spreading. At the same time, water shortages and heat waves are making it more difficult for farmers to keep up with the demand. What can we do? (Public Affairs Program)

Behind the Headlines--After the Israeli Elections: A New Chapter or More of the Same? | 02/21/13
Yoram Peri
As expected, Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected. But will he have a broad enough coalition to continue his policies? Will Israel continue in the same direction or will it look for ways to adapt to the new political landscape in the region? (Public Affairs Program)

China's Search for Security | 02/14/13
Andrew J. Nathan
How does China's past help to shape its geostrategic policy today? What, exactly, are its interests in problematic countries, such as Iran, Sudan, and North Korea? And how can China work with the United States to produce mutually beneficial outcomes for both Asia and the world? (Public Affairs Program)

The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World | 02/06/13
Kishore Mahbubani
With the rise of the middle class in China, India, and Africa, the twenty-first century has seen an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures, and values. How can the developing world be integrated with Europe and the U.S.? (Public Affairs Program)

After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead | 01/31/13
Alan S. Blinder
"If you want to understand every aspect of our economic crisis--how we got into it, how we escaped a depression, why we haven't fully recovered and what we have to do now--read this book. It's a masterpiece--simple, straightforward and wise."--President William J. Clinton (Public Affairs Program)

The Revenge of Geography: What the Map Tells Us About Coming Conflicts and the Battle Against Fate | 01/24/13
Robert D. Kaplan
Can geography alone be used as a way to analyze the past? Can it be used as a crystal ball to predict the future? Robert D. Kaplan offers a geographical prism through which to view global upheavals and to understand what lies ahead for continents and countries around the world. (Public Affairs Program)

Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons | 01/16/13
Ward Wilson
Are nuclear weapons that indiscriminately kill civilians useful?  Have they really "kept us safe" for the last 60 years? What if everything we believe about them is wrong? For more info, see Wilson's op-ed in today's "New York Times:" "The Myth of Nuclear Necessity." (Public Affairs Programs)

A Fragile New Burma | 01/10/13
Barbara Crossette
With Aung San Suu Kyi now a member of Parliament and the Burmese government beginning the process of reform, will the military allow democracy to truly flourish? Barbara Crossette, having just returned from a fact-finding mission to Burma, takes us behind the headlines. (Public Affairs Programs)

The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics | 12/11/12
Paul Bracken
It is two decades since the end of the Cold War, but with a whole new set of actors, the threat of nuclear weapons cannot be ignored. How have 21st century power politics and the emergence of Iran and North Korea changed the nuclear equation? How can the United States prepare for the second nuclear age? (Public Affairs Program)

Why Tolerate Religion? | 12/06/12
Brian Leiter
Why do Western democracies single out religion for preferential treatment? For example, why can a religious soup kitchen get an exemption from zoning laws while a secular one cannot? Is this morally justifiable? (Public Affairs Program)

Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion | 12/04/12
Peter Bergen, Anand Gopal
The longest war the United States has ever fought is the ongoing war in Afghanistan. But when we speak of "Afghanistan," we really mean a conflict that straddles the border with Pakistan--and the reality of Islamic militancy on that border is enormously complicated. (Public Affairs Program)

On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines--and Future | 11/29/12
Karen Elliott House
Although Saudi Arabian citizens pay no taxes, receive free health care and education, and have subsidized utilities, the Saudi royal family is finding it harder and harder to influence and control the population. Why are Saudis restless? What impact has the Internet had on Saudi youth? (Public Affairs Program)

Of Africa | 11/26/12
Wole Soyinka
A member of the unique generation of African writers and intellectuals who came of age in the last days of colonialism, Nigerian poet and playwright Wole Soyinka witnessed firsthand the promise of independence and postcolonial failure. Decades after independence, what does the past mean in Africa? What does African identity mean, both to those living there and to members of the diaspora? (Public Affairs Program)

America in the 21st Century: A View from America | 11/14/12
Gillian Tett
What role can and should the U.S. play in this emerging multipolar world? What are the toughest foreign policy decisions facing the next administration? And how can the U.S. economy be improved? (Public Affairs Program)

Exit the Colonel: The Hidden History of the Libyan Revolution | 10/23/12
Ethan Chorin
The Libyan Revolution has been framed as one of the many uprisings that began with the Arab Spring. But the real story starts a few years earlier when anti-Qaddafi sanctions were lifted and a flawed reform process ensued. What were the strategies and machinations that brought Qaddafi in from the cold and encouraged Libyans to "break the barrier of fear"? What role did regional disparities play? And what did the West get wrong? (Public Affairs Program)

Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad | 10/15/12
David W. Lesch
When Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000, many in the West thought the new president would bring long-awaited reform to Syria. Unfortunately, as the Arab Spring has swept through the region, the repression of the Assad regime has turned to violence and, ultimately, to a wide-ranging conflict that is threatening the whole region. Why has Assad failed to lead Syria to a new era? How did he transform from a bearer of hope to a reactionary tyrant? (Public Affairs Program)

America in the 21st Century: A View from Asia | 10/10/12
Kishore Mahbubani
With China soon to be the world's largest economy, India growing in terms of global economic and political significance, and Japan and Korea continuing to be key U.S. allies, the United States has, perhaps, never been as closely linked to Asia. How will Asian-American relations evolve? What are some key issues the West may be forgetting? (Public Affairs Program)

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined | 10/01/12
Steven Pinker
With an endless stream of news about wars, terrorism, and crime, it seems that the times are as violent as ever. However, violence has actually been diminishing for millennia and this could be the most peaceful time in our existence. What are the "better angels" that have steered us away from violence? And what are the circumstances that have allowed this to prevail? (Public Affairs Program)

From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia | 09/24/12
Pankaj Mishra
In the early part of the 20th century, thinkers like India's Mahatma Gandhi and China's Liang Qichao worked to forge a distinctly Asian intellectual tradition. What were the roots of this misunderstood generation of scholars? Though it did not come to pass, how did they hope to inspire Asia's anticipated rise to dominance? (Public Affairs Program)

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion | 09/20/12
Jonathan Haidt
Why can't our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? Our moral intuition and fundamental "groupishness," which leads to our greatest joys, religious divisions, and political affiliations, could be to blame. (Public Affairs Program)

Balancing Security and Civil Liberties in the Post-9/11 Era | 09/19/12
Raymond Kelly
What are some of the biggest challenges that Commissioner Kelly and the New York Police Department have faced in the post-9/11 era? How do you keep tens of millions of people safe while preserving their right to privacy? (Public Affairs Program)

Restless Empire: China and the World Since 1750 | 09/14/12
Odd Arne Westad
From the Qing Dynasty to the People's Republic, Chinese attitudes have been determined by both receptiveness and resistance to outside influence. With China soon to be the world's largest economy, will it attempt to recreate a Sino-centric international order in Eastern Asia, or pursue a more harmonious diplomatic route? (Public Affairs Program)

America in the 21st Century: A View from the Arab World | 09/12/12
Marwan Muasher
Almost two years after the start of Arab uprisings, is the Arab world finally moving towards pluralism and democracy? What role can the United States play to promote peace and reform in the region? With the rise of political Islam, what can one expect in terms of personal and minority rights? (Public Affairs Program)

The Arab Spring: Unfinished Business | 06/27/12
Robert Malley
Eighteen months after the beginning of the Arab Spring, many things have changed in the Middle East and North Africa, but many things also remain the same. What does the future hold? Should the United States be playing a more active role in the region? (Public Affairs Program)

The Leaderless Revolution: How Ordinary People Will Take Power and Change Politics in the 21st Century | 06/13/12
Carne Ross
Many of our government institutions are short on money, ideas, and efficiency. What can we do, ourselves, to create lasting and workable solutions? How can we also find senses of meaning and community, both so elusive in the current circumstances? (Public Affairs Program)

The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future | 06/07/12
Victor D. Cha
With the obsessive personality cult surrounding the Kim family dynasty, repressive economic and cultural policies, and an appalling human rights record, North Korea is the world's most isolated and controversial state. How has this nation been able to survive as it has for over 60 years? (Public Affairs Program)

Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World | 06/05/12
Ian Bremmer
If the worst threatened, where would the world look for leadership? The United States, with its paralyzed politics and battered balance sheet? A European Union reeling from self-inflicted wounds? China's "people's democracy"? Perhaps Brazil, Turkey, or India? How about none of the above? (Public Affairs Program)

Exit Interview | 05/23/12
David Westin

In his 13 years as head of ABC News, David Westin saw the 2000 election, 9/11, and many more earth-shaking stories pass through his newsroom. Is it possible for journalists to be both good at their jobs and people of good moral character? (Public Affairs Program)

Pax Ethnica: Where and How Diversity Succeeds | 05/15/12
Karl E. Meyer, Shareen Blair Brysac
In a world filled with sectarian strife, where can different ethnicities, and especially Muslim minorities, live in peace? Marseille and Queens are examples of places with minimal violence, high literacy, and great diversity. What can we learn from these oases of civility? (Public Affairs Program)

America in the 21st Century: A View from Europe | 05/10/12
Martin Wolf
The United States was the world's biggest, most innovative, and most influential economy in the 20th century. But it will soon cease to be the biggest. How easy will it be for the U.S. to remain the most innovative and influential in the 21st century? (Public Affairs Program)

Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power | 05/03/12
Steve Coll
With annual revenues equal to Norway's GDP, ExxonMobil might be the world's most powerful company; yet it is also one of the most secretive. How did ExxonMobil grow to be more influential in some countries than the U.S. embassy? (Public Affairs Program)

Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan and Afghanistan | 04/24/12
Ahmed Rashid
As American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, what are the possibilities and hazards the U.S. is facing in regards to Pakistan? What is the state of the Taliban? And what tough choices does President Obama have to make as he faces a complicated relationship with Pakistan and a reelection campaign? (Public Affairs Program)

Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World | 04/17/12
Sadakat Kadri
In the wake of the terror attacks and wars of the last decade, "shari'a" has become both a loaded word and an all-encompassing explanation. But do Westerners really have an understanding of what shari'a law actually means? (Public Affairs Program)

World Report 2012 | 04/10/12
Kenneth Roth
While investigating conditions on the ground in Syria, Libya, and other dangerous locales, what has Human Rights Watch learned from the earthshaking events of 2011? How can the global community help the world’s most suppressed people seize control of their destiny? (Public Affairs Program)

No One's World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn | 04/04/12
Charles A. Kupchan
With the rise of China, India, Brazil, and other emerging powers, the West’s preeminence is slipping for the first time in over 600 years. Can Europe and the United States strike a bargain with the rising rest and find consensus on the issues of sovereignty, legitimacy, and governance? (Public Affairs Program)

Finance and the Good Society | 03/26/12
Robert J. Shiller
Despite the bad reputation of the financial industry in the aftermath of the financial crisis, finance could be one of the most powerful tools we have for solving our common problems. How can we harness the power of finance for the greater good? (Public Affairs Program)

The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources | 03/20/12
Michael T. Klare
The world is facing an unprecedented crisis of resource depletion and the political and environmental risks are becoming increasingly severe. Can we change our consumption patterns and find a way out? (Public Affairs Program)

The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the Development of Nations | 03/01/12
Michael L. Ross
Why do oil-producing countries have less democracy, fewer opportunities for women, more frequent civil wars, and more volatile economic growth than the rest of the world? Is oil a curse? (Public Affairs Program)

The Emergency State: America's Pursuit of Absolute National Security at All Costs | 02/24/12
David C. Unger
In the decades since World War II, presidents from both parties have assumed broad war-making powers never intended by the Constitution and have pumped trillions of tax dollars into the Pentagon. Has this pursuit made the U.S. safer or has it only done irreparable damage to the ideals of American democracy? (Public Affairs Program)

Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America | 02/23/12
Enrique Krauze
What are the major ideas, influences, and people who have formed the modern Latin America political mind during the late 19th and 20th centuries? (Public Affairs Program)

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China | 02/08/12
Ezra F. Vogel
Perhaps no one in the 20th century had a greater long-term impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. How did one of the original leaders of China's Communist Party come to reform the economic and social policies that he had helped create? (Public Affairs Program)

All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals | 01/31/12
David J. Scheffer
David Scheffer was at the forefront of the efforts that led to criminal tribunals for the Balkans, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia. What new insights does he provide in the continuing struggle for international justice? (Public Affairs Program)

Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis ("New York Times" Best-Seller) | 01/26/12
James G. Rickards
Currency wars have happened before--twice in the last century alone--and they always end badly. Is the United States now facing the very real danger of the collapse of the American dollar? (Public Affairs Program)

Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live | 01/18/12
Jeff Jarvis
Well-meaning advocates for privacy worry that the Internet and how we share is making us dumber, crasser, distracted, and vulnerable to threats of all kinds. But Jeff Jarvis argues that the Internet and our new sense of publicness are, in fact, doing the opposite. Based on exclusive interviews with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Google's Eric Schmidt, and Twitter's Evan Williams, Professor Jarvis introduces us to the new world of sharing. (Public Affairs Program)

A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran | 01/10/12
Trita Parsi
Have the diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration toward Iran failed? Was the Bush administration's emphasis on military intervention, refusal to negotiate, and pursuit of regime change a better approach? How can the United States best address the ongoing turmoil in Tehran? (Public Affairs Program)

Realeconomik: The Hidden Cause of the Great Recession (And How to Avert the Next One) | 12/14/11
Grigory Yavlinsky
If economists and other scholars, politicians, and business professionals understand the causes of economic crises, as they claim, then why do such damaging crises continue to occur? (Public Affairs Program)

Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View | 12/12/11
Stephen Breyer
The Supreme Court has the awesome power to strike down laws enacted by our elected representatives. How can it help make our democracy work? (Public Affairs Program)

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics | 12/08/11
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith
What is the difference between tyrants and elected leaders? How do politics and leadership actually work? (Public Affairs Program)

Justice for Hedgehogs | 12/06/11
Ronald Dworkin
In his book, "Justice for Hedgehogs," his most comprehensive work, Ronald Dworkin argues that value in all its forms is one big thing. (Public Affairs Program)

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science | 12/01/11
Michael Nielsen
How is the Internet transforming the nature of our collective intelligence? Will the Internet help us to better understand our world? Can it expand our problem solving ability? (Public Affairs Program)

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius | 11/21/11
Sylvia Nasar
How did the insights of thinkers that extend from Victorian England to modern-day India transform the world by rescuing humankind from squalor and deprivation to a world of modern economics? (Public Affairs Program)

The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade | 11/18/11
Andrew Feinstein
Andrew Feinstein exposes in forensic detail both the formal government-to-government trade in arms and the shadow world of illicit weapons dealing, and lays bare the shockingly frequent links between the two. Is our security compromised and our democracy undermined in the process? (Public Affairs Program)

George F. Kennan: An American Life | 11/15/11
John Lewis Gaddis
Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis began this history almost 30 years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining complete access to his voluminous diaries and other personal papers. What is revealed in this landmark work? (Public Affairs Program)

UN Population Fund Report | 11/03/11
Barbara Crossette
Just this week, the world population reached 7 billion. By the end of this century, the UN predicts that there could be more than 10 billion. Barbara Crossette, author of the UN population Fund Report, discusses the situation. (Public Affairs Program)

The Darwin Economy: Liberty, Competition, and the Common Good | 11/02/11
Robert H. Frank
Should our understanding of economics be informed more by Charles Darwin, a naturalist, than by the views of economist Adam Smith? Does Darwin's understanding of competition describe economic reality far more accurately than Smith's? (Public Affairs Program)

But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World | 10/25/11
Gernot Wagner
You recycle? You turn down plastic and paper? Good. But none of that will save the tuna or stop global warming. If you want to make the planet notice, follow the economics, says Gernot Wagner.

Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order | 10/12/11
G. John Ikenberry
Should the United States renegotiate its relationship with the rest of the world and pursue a more enlightened strategy--that of the liberal leviathan? (Public Affairs Program)

America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare | 10/11/11
Joel F. Brenner
The structure and culture of the internet favor spies over government and corporations, and hackers over privacy. How can we right this imbalance and bring to cyberspace the freedom, accountability, and security we expect elsewhere in our lives? (Public Affairs Program)

Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street | 10/05/11
Tomas Sedlacek
If we learn to think of economics as a cultural phenomenon rather than as mathematical models, can we then go on to calculate economic value differently? (Public Affairs Program)

The Unraveling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad | 09/22/11
John R. Schmidt
How did a nation founded as a homeland for South Asian Muslims become a haven for al-Qaeda and a rogue's gallery of domestic jihadist and sectarian groups? (Public Affairs Program)

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World | 09/21/11
Daniel Yergin
How will the drama of oil--the struggle for access to it, the battle for control, the insecurity of supply, the consequences of its use, its impact on the global economy, and the geopolitics that dominate it--continue to shape our world? (Public Affairs Program)

Does the Elephant Dance?: Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy | 09/13/11
David M. Malone
What are the key features of contemporary Indian foreign policy and India's policy within its South Asian neighborhood? (Public Affairs Program)

That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back | 09/07/11
Thomas L. Friedman, Michael Mandelbaum
What can America do as it faces four major challenges--globalization, the revolution in information technology, chronic deficits, and its energy consumption? (Public Affairs Program)

The Arab Spring: Implications for U.S. Defense Policy | 06/30/11
Colin Kahl
The world has witnessed the beginning of a dramatic revolution in the Middle East. What are the prospects for democratization in the region? What should America's role be moving forward?

Civility in the Financial Sector | 06/20/11
Henry Kaufman
Is it possible for civility to transcend money and economic issues? (Civility in America Series)

What is Happening to News: The Information Explosion and the Crisis in Journalism | 06/09/11
Jack Fuller
Drawing on neuroscience, Jack Fuller explains why the information overload of contemporary life makes us dramatically more receptive to sensational news, while rendering the objective voice of standard journalism ineffective. (Public Affairs Program)

Negotiating with Evil: When to Talk to Terrorists (with live webcast) | 12/07/10
Mitchell B. Reiss
When, how, and under what conditions should our government talk to terrorists? Can opening a dialogue bring conflicts to a faster resolution? (Public Affairs Program)

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