The Middle East and US Foreign Policy Under Trump: What Has Changed?

October 30, 2017

Emile Nakhleh and Evelyn A. Early

President Trump’s first stop on his first overseas trip was to Saudi Arabia before proceeding on to Israel and Europe last May. During his meetings in Riyadh, he heaped praise on Saudi leadership and seemingly offered unqualified support for the Saudi led coalition in its war against Shia Islam in contrast to his predecessor’s more nuanced policies. Yet Trump quietly extended support for the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran thereafter. Middle East experts Emile Nakhleh and Evelyn Early will explore and discuss ramifications of these and other policy changes and challenges for the US in this crucial region in the short and long term.

Emile Nakhleh is a retired Senior Intelligence Service Officer, a Research Professor and Director of the newly launched Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico, a National Intelligence Council/IC Associate, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since retiring from the US Government in 2006, he has consulted on national security issues, particularly Islamic radicalization, terrorism, and the Arab states of the Middle East. He has published frequently on the “Arab Spring” in the Financial Times and the LobeLog blog. At the CIA, he was a senior analyst and director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program and of Regional Analysis in the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. from the American University, Washington, D.C., in International Relations, an M.A. from Georgetown University in Political Science, and a B.A. from Saint John’s University, Minnesota, in Political Science. He is the author of numerous academic books and scholarly articles. He and his wife, Ilonka Lessnau Nakhleh, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Evelyn A. Early,diplomat and anthropologist, served in the Senior Foreign Service and taught at the universities of Notre Dame, New Mexico, and Houston. Dr. Early’s postings were Khartoum, Rabat, Damascus and Prague. Stateside she was seconded as policy adviser and subject matter expert on popular Islam and pan-Arab media, to be Deputy Commandant of the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. She has conducted research in Lebanon on Shi’a voluntary associations; in Egypt on traditional urban women; and in Syria on political culture.

Her publications include: Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing with an Egg and a Stone, the co-edited Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East, so popular in university courses it is in the third edition, “Telepreachers and Talk Shows: The Fight over Egyptian Airwaves,” “Syrian Television Drama: Permitted Political Discourse,” “Fertility and Fate,” “Poetry and Pageants: Growing up in the Syrian Vanguard.” She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

This program will be in the Santa Fe Community College Board Room (room #223).

Past Programs

History, Identity, Democracy: A Framework for Understanding Israeli Politics

October 30, 2015

 Eytan Gilboa, Chair and Academic Director, The Israel Public Diplomacy Forum

What are the key characteristics of Israeli society that have affected the formation of the Israeli political system and political culture?  Professor Gilboa will offer insights into the Israeli political arena exploring such elements as political parties, elections, coalition government and representation for religious and ethnic minorities.  He will also address relations between the Israeli government, society, the Supreme Court and the mass media and explore the difficult issues that come from the delicate balance of power between them.

Categories: Democracy, Middle East|Tags: |

The Migration Crisis in the Mediterranean: Reasons and Repercussions

September 17, 2015

 Panayotis J. Tsakonas, Professor of International Relations, Security Studies and Foreign Policy Analysis at the Department of Mediterranean Studies, University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece.

What are the repercussions of migration for the EU and in particular South European states? How has illegal migration unfolded in the broader Mediterranean region during the last decade and why has it reached crisis proportions?  How is the huge influx of migrants from war torn areas in the Middle East and Africa being perceived and dealt with by the European Union and its members, particularly those hardest hit—Greece, Italy, and Hungary—as well as their neighbors.  What is driving the huge increase, how is Europe coping, how are these unprecedented waves of human migration affecting European security and what can be done to deal with the influx?

Categories: Africa, Europe & Russia, Human Rights, Middle East|Tags: |

How China’s Banks Work: A Prism for Understanding China

September 3, 2015

Jim Stent, Independent Director of China Minsheng Bank and China Everbright Bank

Americans have difficulty comprehending how and why China works the way it does, giving rise to increasing friction between the two countries. This lack of understanding extends to China’s banking system, which is a microcosm of China’s political economy. Contrary to much media reporting, China’s banks have been transformed over the past 15 years into modern financial institutions. At the same time, shaped by centuries of Chinese institutions and values, and deeply embedded in the Chinese market socialist political economy, Chinese banks fundamentally differ from Western banks. Chinese banks play a dual role– provide shareholders with return on investment (the market role) and support the party-state’s national development agenda (the socialist role).

Categories: China|Tags: |

US-Cuba Relations, the Hemispheric Consequences and the OAS

August 17, 2015

Jane Thery, Director, Department of International Affairs of the OAS

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba after more than fifty years is expected to reverberate throughout the Western Hemisphere and impact relationships within the Organization of American States. How far will this new development take us and how open will Cuba be to development, private investment, greater freedoms and fundamental changes to its long held ideologies and political system?

Categories: Latin America, US foreign policy|Tags: |

Europe Whole and Free after Ukraine? A View from the Baltics

June 15, 2015

Anne Derse, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania 2009 – 2012 and to Azerbaijan 2006 – 2009

It’s been 25 years since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the reemergence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as independent countries recognized as such by their neighbors including the Russian Federation. In 2004 the three Baltic republics joined the European Union and NATO for economic and security reasons. There have never been permanently based NATO forces on Baltic soil although NATO troops have been holding military exercises there as a result of Russia’s invasion of Crimea, its continuing military activities in Eastern Ukraine and particularly its threats against the countries that rim Russia’s northwest border. What are the Kremlin’s intentions?

Categories: Diplomacy, Europe & Russia, Russia, Ukraine|Tags: |

Finland and Russia’s Changing Policies

March 9, 2015

Jyrki Iivonen, Director for Public Policy at the Finnish Ministry of Defense until he retired in September 2013

For more than a year, the Russian Federation has been flying combat and surveillance aircraft – with transponders off – over the Baltic Sea approaching and occasionally entering Finnish and Swedish airspace. Such dangerous and provocative actions have come with no prior warning. In response, these two Nordic countries signed an agreement with NATO to increase cooperation and interoperability – meant to send a warning to the Russians. Finland has an 833 mile border with Russia, the Finns have fought innumerable wars with its much larger neighbor but have also managed to convince the Russians that a Russian military invasion of Finland is simply too costly. The post-World War II policy of Finlandization ended quietly with the demise of the Soviet Union as Finland joined the Council of Europe, the European Union and NATO’s Partners for Peace thereafter.

Categories: Europe & Russia, Russia, War & military strategy|Tags: |
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