Scowcroft Institute Hosts Noted Experts

January 16, 2009

Again this fall, the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) brought a range of internationally known experts to the Bush School. Students, faculty, and staff of the School and the wider University community were invited to hear these outstanding speakers, several of whom addressed issues arising from the Iraq war.

Steven Pifer, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institution, led off the fall International Affairs Seminar Series on September 11 with a presentation entitled “What Does Russia Want? How do we Respond?” A retired foreign service officer, Pifer has spent more than 25 years with the State Department, primarily focusing on U.S. relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe, as well as on arms control and security issues.

Colonel Herbert R. McMaster of the United States Army spoke on September 26 on the issue of counterinsurgency.  McMaster was formerly special assistant to commander, Multinational Force Iraq, where he advised General David Petraeus on counterinsurgency strategy.  He is currently director of concepts development and experimentation at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

On October 10, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Paul A. Brinkley offered an assessment of the current status, opportunities, and challenges facing Iraq in terms of its stability and future economic development. An industrial engineering graduate of Texas A&M, Brinkley was one of the first experts hired by DoD in a program designed to attract individuals with state-of-the-art knowledge in fields that are of increasing importance to the department.

An experienced diplomat who has served in posts around the world, Ambassador John Herbst discussed the Civilian Response Corps and its role in post-conflict situations on October 15. Herbst is currently the coordinator for the State Department’s Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), whose mission is to enhance the nation’s institutional capacity to respond to crises involving failing, failed, and post-conflict states as well as complex emergencies.

The final speaker in the series was Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, who delivered the Lenore and Francis Humphreys Lecture on November 11. Djerejian discussed the theme of his new book, Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey through the Middle East. He is a leading expert on political, security, economic, religious, and ethnic issues of the Middle East, having served in the administrations of President George H. W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, and President Reagan in a series of key diplomatic posts.

The International Affairs Seminar Series is the successor to the National Security Seminar Series.  Now in its fourth year, it is administered by the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs.  Previous speakers have included General David Petraeus, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Washington Post military correspondent, Tom Ricks. 

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