• Al Jilali Fort, 1587 Muscat photo by Linda Pappas Funsch

Sultanate of Oman: Beacon of Hope in the Middle East

 August 17, 2018

 Linda Pappas Funsch

Few Americans know much about Oman, a small sultanate located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Yet Oman hosts American military forces on three Omani bases through a Facilities Access Agreement and its unbroken alliance with the US dates from 1790.

The majority of Omanis are Ibadhi, an early offshoot of Islam and a third tradition within the Islamic mosaic.   This small but strategic country at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is ruled by Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said – who has been in power since 1970 after engineering a bloodless palace coup against his father.

Although Omani society is historically tribal, Sultan Qaboos has been able to construct an effective national consensus, in which Omani loyalty transcends tribe. Oman is also now highly urbanized and since 2014, foreign migrants represent over 43% of the population working primarily in the oil industry.  Yet in addition to encouraging the growth of the petroleum sector, the Sultan has also initiated a program of “Omanization,” aimed at reducing the country’s reliance on hydrocarbon production, increasing private investment, and replacing expatriate labor with trained Omanis.

Linda Pappas Funsch, author of Oman Reborn: Balancing Tradition and Modernization (2015, Palgrave Macmillan), will discuss the history and modern transformation of the Sultanate of Oman, a little known, but vitally important, country of the Arab Middle East. The story of Oman is compelling – a maritime power that prospered as the global hub for the frankincense trade in antiquity. Its unique world view and international relations of today are a reflection of its lengthy interaction with diverse cultures. Oman’s foreign policy today is a product of its history, values, and realistic appraisal of 21st century dynamics.

Ms. Funsch is a career specialist in Islamic and modern Middle Eastern history and cultures with experience in academia, publishing, consulting, tourism and travel writing.  Following undergraduate study at Marymount College, Tarrytown (NY) and the American University in Cairo, she was awarded an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature at New York University.  She has served as editor of The Arab World magazine in New York, consultant for the League of Arab States’ office to the United Nations, project specialist for the Ford Foundation, both in Beirut and New York, and US Director of the American Research in Egypt consortium in Princeton, NJ.

She has taught at several colleges in New York and Maryland, including Iona College, Mount Saint Mary’s University, Hood College and — for  15 years and currently   —  at Frederick (MD) Community College’s Institute for Learning in Retirement. She has guest lectured at Georgetown University, the World Affairs Council, the World Bank, the National Defense University, Mary Washington University, and Baylor University, among others. She has also been interviewed on the Voice of America. In addition, she is engaged in a number of ecumenical outreach activities, aimed at fostering an understanding and appreciation of the shared values among the Abrahamic faith traditions.

Location TBD

Past Programs

The View From Washington: Foreign Policy Opportunities and Challenges

September 26, 2017

Kristie Kenney

Ambassador Kenney will review the key foreign policy challenges facing the Trump Administration and discuss policy approaches under consideration. She will also highlight the interagency dynamics in Washington and how they affect policy formulation. Ambassador Kristie Kenney holds the State Department’s highest diplomatic rank of Career Ambassador. Over her 30 year career, she has represented the United States abroad as Ambassador three times and served in senior positions at the State Department and the White House. Ambassador Kenney served as the 32nd Counselor of the State Department, the Departments fifth ranking official position and on behalf of Secretary Kerry, led delegations to Latin America and Asia. As Ambassador to Thailand from 2011-2014, Ambassador Kenney was the first female to head U.S. Embassy Bangkok, one of the United States largest diplomatic missions with over 3,000 staff. She was the Ambassador to the Philippines from 2006-2010, the first woman to hold that post. She coordinated U.S. military and development assistance over multiple natural disasters. During this and subsequent assignments, she pioneered use of social media by U.S. Ambassadors to connect with diverse and dynamic foreign audiences. Earlier, she served as Ambassador to Ecuador where she advanced U.S. business and security interests in Latin America. Ambassador Kenney holds a Bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and a Master’s degree from Tulane University. She also attended the National War College in Washington, D.C. She speaks Spanish and French, as well as some Thai and Tagalog. She is married to Ambassador William Brownfield. When not rooting for Washington area sports teams, Ambassador Kenney enjoys travel, skiing, and connecting with social media friends around the world. Please note: Ambassador Kenney will also be addressing the World Affairs Council of Albuquerque (formerly ACFR) dinner Tuesday, September 26. SFWAF members may attend at AFCR member prices.  For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire (remcg@comcast.net) or 505-281-1108. This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

The Baltics, NATO and Why They Matter to the US

June 21, 2017

Daniel Kochis

The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are more than NATO allies. They are also western democratic nations with innovative economies. They regained their independence from Moscow after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and became members of NATO and the EU in 2004. The U.S. has historically championed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of these three small Baltic nations; but they are once again under threat from a resurgent Kremlin. The ability of the U.S. and NATO to overcome the unique geographic, military, and political difficulties in defending the region has far reaching implications for long term transatlantic security and support for western values. Daniel Kochis is a Policy Analyst in European Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. He specializes in trans-Atlantic security issues regularly publishing on US policy in Europe, NATO, US-Russian relations, and Arctic issues. Kochis is also a resident author for the Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of US Military Strength and Policy Analyst in European Affairs, the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. His writings have been featured in Forbes, Foxnews, RealClearWorld, the National Interest, and the Washington Times. A frequent media contributor, Daniel has provided expert analysis in hundreds of interviews for foreign and domestic outlets including Al-Jezeera English, FoxNews, National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and Voice of America. Daniel has presented at the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference in Brussels, Belgium as well as the US Southern Command, and has provided parliamentary evidence to the UK House of Lords Select Committee on the Arctic. Please note: Mr Kochis will also be addressing the Albuquerque Committee on Foreign Relations (ACFR) dinner Tuesday, June 20. SFWAF members may attend at AFCR member prices. For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire (remcg@comcast.net) or 505-281-1108. This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

The European Union: From Refugee Crisis To Migration Management

February 28, 2017

Renate Hahlen

Today, 65 million people are forcibly displaced as refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced persons worldwide. This figure, the highest number since the end of World War II, results from an increasing number of complex, large and protracted crises worldwide. In addition, many more people are on the move to escape poverty and seek a better life elsewhere.  The largest movements of migrants take place within and between developing countries, and most of the forcibly displaced end up in camps in developing countries. Such movements of the displaced, traditionally, have garnered little international attention. However, that perception rapidly changed in 2014 when desperate Syrian and other refugees and migrants began to move towards the European Union (EU) in large and unprecedented numbers, by land and sea, and in unsafe conditions. Europe, the destination of choice, a continent of permeable borders, desperately struggled to handle the unparalleled situation. Dr. Renate Hahlen is minister counselor for development of the European Union Delegation in Washington, DC. The EU has moved rapidly to put order into uncontrolled inflows of people. Innovating practices, regulations and instruments in record time, the EU is addressing the internal and external dimensions of its new, desperate people on the move. Minister Counselor Hahlen’s presentation is funded in part by the European Union and the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence (CEUCE) at Denver University and the EU Mission to the US.  She will also speak at the University of New Mexico’s International Studies Institute on February 27 and will address the Albuquerque Committee on Foreign Relations (ACFR) dinner, February 28. SFWAF members may attend at AFCR member prices. For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire or 505-281-1108. This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

US Trade in the Trump Administration

January 18, 2017

Stephen Creskoff

Stephen Creskoff, author and leading expert on international trade transactions, trade facilitation and the legal foundation for international trade, has worked as a trade lawyer and senior trade consultant for international businesses, trade associations, the World Bank, the U.S. Government and other organizations in more than 50 countries. In his presentation to the World Affairs Forum, he will highlight actions that the Trump Administration may take to promote US manufacturing and discuss the rapid growth of complex global supply chains and cross-border e-commerce as developments critical to more inclusive trade in the future. Steve is a lawyer and leading expert on international trade transactions, trade facilitation and the legal foundation for international trade. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds graduate degrees from the University of Maryland (J.D., with honors) and Georgetown University (LL.M, international law). He lives in Ashburn, Virginia. His recent book What You Need to Know to Go Global: A Guide to International Trade Transactions is a practical guide to businesses conducting international trade in goods and services. Mr. Creskoff will also be addressing the Albuquerque Committee on Foreign Relations (ACFR) dinner Tuesday, January 17. SFWAF members may attend at AFCR member prices. For more information please contact ACFR program chair Bob McGuire (remcg@comcast.net) or 505-281-1108. This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

The Nuclear Road Ahead: Challenges for President Donald J Trump

December 05, 2016 

James Doyle, Jesse Guillen, Cheryl Rofer and Arvid Lundy

We’ve heard more than usual about nuclear weapons, both in the campaign and from Russia. The UN has decided to consider a ban on nuclear weapons, like the bans on chemical and biological weapons. Who’s got nuclear weapons and where? We’ll look at the issues and where things may go. Our panelists welcome your questions. Dr. James Doyle – Nuclear Nonproliferation Specialist: From 1997 to July 2014 Dr. Doyle was a specialist in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His professional focus is on systems analysis, strategic planning and policy development. Dr. Doyle holds a PhD in International Security Studies from the University of Virginia. At Los Alamos he managed projects with Russia’s nuclear weapons institutes on the joint development of technologies and procedures for verifying the dismantlement and storage of nuclear warheads and fissile materials. In 2015 Dr. Doyle was awarded the first Paul Olum fellowship from the Ploughshares Fund and was a non-resident fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Security at Harvard. His recent works focus on nuclear forces modernization, innovation in the field of nuclear threats and strategic planning for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Cheryl Rofer – Former President of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security: Cheryl Rofer retired more than a decade ago, after 35 years as a chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her work included environmental projects in Estonia and Kazakhstan, managing cleanups at Los Alamos, and projects in fossil fuels, laser development, and the nuclear fuel cycle. She now blogs at Nuclear Diner and contributes posts and op-eds to other web newspapers and magazines, including the Globe and Mail, War On The Rocks, and Physics Today. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of Ripon College (Ripon, Wisconsin), past president of the Los Alamos Committee on Arms Control and International Security, and a founding member of SFWAF. She has published in scientific and political science journals and edited a book. She holds an A.B. from Ripon College and an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has been following the progress of the negotiations with Iran closely and has tweeted extensive commentary (@CherylRofer). Jesse Guillen – Founder of Global Zero – Santa Fe Chapter: As the Global Zero representative in northern New Mexico, Jesse has lobbied at the UN and on Capitol Hill in support of the Iran Deal and for reductions in nuclear weapons spending. He earned a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of Kent – Brussels School of International Studies, and spent six months in Beijing, China at the China Foreign Affairs University. His Bachelors degree is in Political Science and he has worked for Senator Jeff Bingaman and Governor Bill Richardson. Jesse is currently the Legislative Liaison for the city of Santa Fe where he is responsible for drafting legislation for the Mayor and City Councillors. Arvid Lundy – Moderator, Nuclear Export Controls Specialist, and SFWAF Vice President: Arvid has extensive experience in nuclear export controls, nuclear proliferation intelligence, electronic instrumentation design, and clinical medical physics. Arvid spent thirty one years at Los Alamos National Laboratory as project engineer, group leader, and program manager. His career included over 100 foreign trips for the US government on nuclear issues, especially international nuclear export control. This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

The European Union: Past, Present, Future

October 27, 2016 

 Dr. Joe Jupille

In his talk, Dr. Jupille takes us on a tour of the EU’s inauspicious beginnings, its bold present and conceivable future. At root, the June 24, 2016 British referendum to exit the EU reflects the Union’s fundamental dilemma: an “ever closer union.” An “ever closer union” makes substantial policy sense in a wide range of areas, but domestic politics no longer supports increasing European integration. Jupille will discuss the logic of those three little words–“ever closer union” enshrined in the Union’s 1957 Rome Treaty, use current events to illustrate the strong countervailing forces occurring in European national politics and reflect upon the future of the EU. Dr. Joe Jupille is Associate Professor of Political Science and Faculty Research Associate of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His teaching and research center on the reciprocal impacts of rules and politics in Europe and internationally. His is currently working on a book called Theories of Institutions and a paper about the spread of EU-style arrangements called “Regional Integration in the World Polity.” Dr. Jupille’s presentation is funded in part by the European Union and the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence (CEUCE) at Denver University and the EU Mission to the US. Dr. Jupille will also be speaking at the University of New Mexico’s International Studies Institute on October 28.

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