Category Archives: The Middle East

Juan R.I. Cole, Tuesday, October 17, 2017

la-ca-jc-juan-cole-20140720“The New Arabs: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East”

Juan R. I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He received his B.A. in History and Literature of Religions from Northwestern University, his M.A. in Arabic Studies / History from American University in Cairo, and his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from UCLA. Juan speaks Arabic and possesses skill in Persian, Urdu, and reads Turkish. He is the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt. He has been a regular guest on PBS NewsHour and has also appeared on ABC World News, Nightline, the Today show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Colbert Report, Democracy!, Al Jazeera America, and many other programs. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Iraq, Egypt, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Syria, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs.

For thirty-five years, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His deep knowledge of language, Middle Eastern Culture, and the differing theological traditions of Islam, have made him an authority on the region. Professor Cole will be discussing his most recent book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East will be the focus of his presentation.

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Filed under Fall 2017, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized

Karim Abdel-Malek, Thursday March 30, 2017

Picture1“Jordan: People, Culture, Challenges”

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As a native from Jordan, Karim will share his experience growing up in the capital city of Amman. Jordan has historically been a strong ally of the US. Situated in the center of the Middle East’s many conflicts, bordering countries with significant turmoil, Jordan has accepted over one million refugees. Jordan’s economy and political topography has significantly changed. The presenter will first share the beauty of Jordan, its people and provide insights into how Jordan has survived in peace for so many years. He will provide his own personal view of the country’s significant challenges. Because of its strategic location, Jordan’s significance in today’s political scene is paramount to the future of the region.

Dr. Abdel-Malek is internationally recognized in the areas of robotics and human simulation. He is the Director of the Center for Computer Aided Design, a world renowned research center with 7 units and 150 researchers. Dr. Abdel-Malek has led projects with all services of the US Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Marines), and industry partners including Ford, GM, Chrysler, Rockwell Collins, Caterpillar and others. He received his Ms  and PhD  in robotics from the University of Pennsylvania and his BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Jordan. He has published over 220 technical articles, a book and serves on the board of three companies.  Dr. Abdel-Malek is the Senior Associate to the Provost.

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Filed under Past Events, Spring 2017, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy

Maria Filippone, Thursday February 9, 2017

picture1“Gaza: To Exist is to Resist”

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Gaza, often referred to as the Gaza Strip, is a narrow piece of land approximately 24 miles long and four to seven miles wide. This home to 1.85 million persons is bound by a border closure by Egypt to the south, Israel to the west, and an Israeli air and sea blockade. Its residents are not free to leave this very hot, arid land which lacks clean water. Founded in 1949 as a self-governing Palestinian Territory, Gaza is part of the wide Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A report release last year by the United Nations stated that if conditions remain unchanged, Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020.

Maria Filippone, D.O., is a family physician practicing in Des Moines. She received her degree from Kansas City University of Medicine and Bio-sciences. Maria has participated in medical delegations visiting Gaza which were sponsored in part by Physicians for Social Responsibility. She is currently pursuing a life-long dream of learning Arabic at Drake University. Maria is co-founder of the Des Moines Young Artists’ Theatre and co-owner of Noce, Des Moines’ premiere jazz club. Maria has also taught yoga for more than two decades.

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Filed under Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2017, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Elizabeth Onasch, Wednesday January, 18th, 2017

picture1“Excluded by Definition: Representations of Immigrants in the French Civic Integration”

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France established the “Reception and Integration Contract” for non-European migrants in the context of a perceived crisis of integration and a rise in right-wing populism. While the official purpose of this civic integration program is to facilitate migrants’ entry into society by teaching them about French history, laws, and values, the program may actually reinforce the symbolic boundaries, or conceptual distinctions that separate migrants from the national community. This lecture presents data from an ethnography of the program and interviews with program staff and migrant participants to describe how the program discourse draws different combinations of boundaries based on language, religion and culture between the French nation and migrants from three regions: North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia.

Elizabeth Onasch is a Visiting Assistant Professor, SUNY Plattsburgh, with a Ph.D. in Sociology. Her teaching and research interests are race and ethnicity, immigration, political sociology, critical race theory, ethnography and comparative historical methods.

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Filed under Europe, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2017, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Moe Shakally, Thursday December 1, 2016

Monzer Moe Shakally“Bullets and Bombs: The Background Music for an Average Day in Damascus, Syria”

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As the Syrian civil war continues, the average Syrian person is dehumanized to a number, a casualty, or a cost on a neighboring state. While the media has mainly been focused on the outflow of refugees, little is known about what daily lives look like in the capital Damascus; a place where contradictions occur at every corner.

Monzer “Moe” Shakally. UI junior and Asylum seeker from Damascus, Syria. Evolutionary Biology major and a minor in International Relations, pursuing a career in dentistry. Activist in the Syrian conflict in Damascus and has been in the United States for 4 years.

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Filed under Fall 2016, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Janice Weiner, Wednesday November 16, 2016

Picture1“The Sad State of Turkish Democracy: Why We Should Care”

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Just a few short years ago, Turkey was viewed as an anchor of stability in the Middle East, a situation that is now changing rapidly. Following coups in 1960, 1971, and 1980, a new constitution designed to bring democracy and stability was enacted in 1982. Turkey also has the misfortune to share a border with Syria and Iraq. Democracy has now eroded, especially following an attempted military coup against President Recep Erdogan in last July in which 240 persons died. Following the failed coup, more than 100,000 citizens, military personnel, and journalists have been arrested jailed or suspended, and more than 170 media outlets have been shuttered.

Janice G. Weiner was a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service for nearly 26 years. She then worked for two years as professional issues and policy adviser for the American Foreign Service Association. From 1993-1996, she was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey as embassy human rights officer, where she won AFSA’s Rivkin Award for her work. She returned to Ankara from 2005-2008, where she worked as the U.S. Embassy’s Political Counselor. She returned to Washington to work as a Legislative Management Officer in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs until her retirement in September 2013. She speaks German, French, Turkish, Polish, and conversational Spanish and Dutch. Ms. Weiner was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa, where she recently returned. She graduated from Princeton University Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Comparative Literature, and earned a J.D. from Stanford University Law School.

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Filed under Fall 2016, Governance Issues, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, The Middle East

Janine di Giovanni, Thursday September 29, 2016

picture1“The Human Face of Middle East Refugee Crisis”

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Janine di Giovanni, Middle East Editor of Newsweek, contributing editor of Vanity Fair and contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian, is one of Europe’s most respected and experienced reporters, with vast experience covering war and conflict. Her reporting has been called “established, accomplished brilliance” and she has been cited as “the finest foreign correspondent of our generation”.

She recently became an Ochberg Fellow at Columbia University in recognition of her work on violence and war and the trauma it brings to society, and has been named as one of the 100 most influential people reducing armed conflict by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). She is also an Associate Fellow at the Geneva Center for Policy Studies. Her themes are conflict, stability, transitional justice and security.

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Filed under Fall 2016, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Ron McMullen, Wednesday April 13, 2016

Picture1“Iowa, Heroin, and Afghanistan”

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This presentation will focus on the connection between U.S counter-narcotics policy, the deteriorating rule of law situation in Afghanistan, and Iowa’s surge in opioid and heroin abuse.

Ron McMullen, currently the University of Iowa’s Ambassador in Residence, served as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Eritrea.  Ron has over 30 years of diplomatic experience and has lived, worked, or traveled in 98 countries.  In Burma he worked closely with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and pro-democracy groups. While posted in Fiji he helped prevent civil conflict after an armed takeover of parliament.  He was shot at during a riot in Sri Lanka and helped train mongooses to detect heroin.  He survived a voodoo curse in the Dominican Republic and took Hillary Clinton on a tour of South Africa’s Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.
Between foreign assignments, Ron served three years as Visiting Professor at the Military Academy at West Point, where he taught International Relations and Comparative Politics.  He was Diplomat-In-Residence at the University of Texas at Austin 2010-2012. He has authored a number of scholarly works and is a three-time recipient of the State Department’s Superior Honor Award.  In 2015 he received the University of Iowa’s Honors Program Teaching Award. A native of Northwood, Iowa and a graduate of Drake University, he earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Iowa.

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Filed under Governance Issues, Health & Medicine, Past Events, Spring 2016, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy

Abdulaziz Al-Hussan, Tuesday February 16, 2016

Picture1“The Need for International Exposure to Human Rights Abuses in Saudi Arabia”

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Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al-Hussan is a lawyer and reformist born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In late 2011, following the Arab Spring, Al-Hussan represented the cases of political detainees and spoke out against government injustices via Twitter. After threat of travel ban and imprisonment, Al-Hussan moved to the United States to study law and provide a voice for those who remain voiceless in the Kingdom.

Al-Hussan has been a scholar in the Center for Constitutional Democracy at Indiana Law School, and is now working towards his doctorate dissertation in the Iowa College of Law. His work focuses on the study of constitutional change in Saudi Arabia and how a transition from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy would affect the Arabian country. He recently founded the Dir’iyah Institution (DIW) in Washington D.C., an independent non-profit dedicated to studies of the Arabian Peninsula with a focus on constitutional law, reform, and history.

Al-Hussan’s talk will provide a broad overview of the current Saudi legal system and the nature of human rights in the Kingdom before delving into the complex and tenuous relationships that exist between the Saudi government and Western nations. Al-Hussan will present paths toward human rights progress in Saudi Arabia and offer solutions to the violence and secrecy that have plagued the country for decades.

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Filed under Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2016, The Middle East

James D. Fielder, Wednesday November 4, 2015

Picture1“Putting Theory into Practice: Applying Political Science To Afghanistan Operations”

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In this presentation, Lieutenant Colonel James Fielder, USAF discusses how he applied two political science models to respectively improve Afghan Air Force communications and to forecast the 2014 Afghan Presidential election outcome, the latter which drove force protection decisions for fellow Airmen stationed in Kabul. In addition to a personal account of using scientific in a combat environment, his presentation also touches on debates surrounding positive and normative science.

Lieutenant Colonel James Fielder is the Assessments and Lessons Learned Division Chief at Headquarters, 25th Air Force, Lackland AFB, Texas. Lt. Col. Fielder enlisted in U.S. Army in 1994 as a Persian Linguist and electronic warfare specialist and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in 1999 to attend the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School. Lt. Col. Fielder has served in a variety of intelligence positions and from 2006 to 2009 was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was then sponsored for an Air Force-funded Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Iowa, graduating in 2012. From October 2013 to September 2014 Lt. Col. Fielder was the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group Senior Intelligence Officer and Advisor to the Afghan Air Force Kabul Air Wing, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Achievement in operations against an opposing armed force.

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Filed under Fall 2015, Past Events, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Ahmed Souaiaia, Wednesday October 28, 2015

Picture1“Genealogy & Ideology of ISIL & its Future”

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The organization known today simply as the “Islamic State” has historical and ideological roots that go beyond the territories it now controls. These deep roots give ISIL confidence that it will succeed but give others reason that it will fail. Mixing a puritan religious and political discourse, ISIL managed to dominate all other armed opposition groups in conflict zones (Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya) and has inspired individuals in many other countries (Pakistan, France, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia) to carry out brutal attacks in its name. An attempt will be made to place the rise and future of ISIL in religious, historical, and political contexts.

Ahmed E. Souaiaia is an Associate Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies with join appointments in Religious Studies, History, International Studies, and College of Law at the University of Iowa. He is the author of a number of books, articles, and essays.

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Filed under Fall 2015, Past Events, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Ari Ariel, Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ariel Picture“Illustrating Impacts of Foods on Identities & Migration: The Hummus Wars”

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Some Middle Eastern nations are bringing the classic concept of ‘food fights’ to a new level—the Guinness World Records have inspired intense competition to craft the world’s largest dish of hummus, attempts have been made to trademark this Levantine delicacy which has captured hearts and stomachs around the world, and calls for boycotts of nationalized food-producing enterprises have politicized the consumption of this modest yet peerless dish. Dr. Ariel will join us for a meal of hummus, falafel, and other Middle Eastern favorites from Iowa City’s very own Oasis while he discusses these “hummus wars” and legacies of food as an arena for both international conflict and coexistence.

Ari Ariel, a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa, received a Ph.D. degree from Columbia University, an MA from Tel Aviv University, a BA from the City College of New York, and a Diploma in Classical Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York. He studies ethnic, national, and religious identities, migration, and ‘foodways’—the intersection of food in culture, tradition, and history—particularly in Middle Eastern Jewish communities.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Past Events, Spring 2015, The Middle East

Anthony Sudarmawan, Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Anthony Sudarmawan Photo“Why We Should Care About Foreign Fighters and Paramilitary in the  Middle East”

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Why should we care about foreign fighters and paramilitary forces in the Middle East? People tend to overlook the rationality behind the reasons why the number of foreign fighters and paramilitary forces has been increasing significantly in the last few years. Many of the rational factors that contribute to the rise of the Islamic State and other paramilitary forces can be found in historical documents.  Anthony Sudarmawan will lay out historical context  to give us a more accurate perspective of the situation.

Anthony Sudarmawan was born in Indonesia to a family who owns a small business. His family members encouraged him to study science or engineering, yet he was determined to pursue a career in international relations after participating in a political conference in Washington, D.C. and New York. He graduated from the University of Iowa in May 2013 with honors in political science and international studies. Since then, he has been active in conducting research on paramilitary forces and foreign fighters in the Middle East while finishing his Master’s study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Anthony Sudarmawan is one of the four recipients of Findley Fellow Award—a highly prestigious award named after Congressman Paul Findley and awarded to those who achieve academic excellence.  As one of the recipients, he delivered a speech in Washington, D.C. last year at the annual U.S.- Arab Policymakers Conference.

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Filed under Past Events, Spring 2015, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Christopher Merrill, May 7, 2014

Merrill pic

“Reading Walt Whitman in Tehran”

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Christopher Merrill will discuss the University of Iowa’s first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), which he co-developed with Whitman scholar and Roy J. Carver Professor of English Ed Folsom. The course covered Walt Whitman’s famous poem, Song of Myself, and ran for six weeks. In addition, Christopher is an ambitious world traveler, and has conducted cultural diplomacy missions in over 40 countries. He enjoys spreading and sharing the wisdom of Walt Whitman. Christopher Merrill is the Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He is the author of multiple works of nonfiction, several edited volumes, and six collections of poetry. He led the initiative which resulted in Iowa City becoming a UNESCO City of Literature. He serves on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Merrill to the National Council on the Humanities.

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Filed under Arts & Culture, Past Events, Spring 2014, The Middle East

Adrien Wing, April 17, 2014

wing photo“Women’s Rights in Egypt After the Arab Spring” 

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In 2010, the small North African country of Tunisia received global attention when its citizens managed to overthrow their authoritarian government. The turmoil quickly spread to neighboring countries, resulting in massive protests and demonstrations across North Africa and the Middle East. In Egypt, long-time president Hosni Mubarak was overthrown. Many Egyptians hoped Mubarak’s deposition marked the beginning of a new time for Egypt, but that has seemingly not been the case. Professor Adrien Wing will discuss how the Arab Spring in Egypt has the lives of women. Have their lives improved? Worsened? Are the human rights of women more or less secure in post-revolution Egypt? Using thirty years of experience in the fields of law, history, and gender politics, Professor Wing will assess these questions.

 Adrien Wing is the Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, where she has taught since 1987. Additionally, she is the Director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. She served as the Associate Dean for Faculty Development 2006-2009 and the on-site Director for the London Law Consortium semester abroad program 2010-12. She earned her B.A. at Princeton University, her M.A. at University of California Los Angeles, and her J.D. at Stanford Law School. Author of more than 100 publications, Wing is the editor of Critical Race Feminism: A Reader and Global Critical Race Feminism: An International Reader.

 

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Filed under Governance Issues, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2014, The Middle East, War & Conflict

Tyler Priest, November 20, 2013

Ty Priest“40th Anniversary:The 1973 Oil Embargo and its Aftermath”

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1973 oil crisis or “shock.” The shock is mainly remembered for the Arab oil embargo imposed in the fall of 1973, but there were underlying structural problems within the oil industry that turned the embargo into a full-blown crisis. The inability of U.S. production to compensate for supply shortages, combined with the loss of the major oil companies’ control over Middle East production and prices, created a shock that reshaped the international petroleum industry and world affairs in ways that still reverberate today.

Tyler Priest (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is Associate Professor of History and Geography, University of Iowa.  He is a specialist in the history of oil and energy.  He is the author of The Offshore Imperative: Shell Oil’s Search for Petroleum in Postwar America (Texas A&M Press: 2007) and is working on a new book titled, Deepwater Horizons: Managing Offshore Oil and Gas in the United States.  In 2010-2011, he served as a senior policy analyst for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

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Filed under Economics, Environmental Issues, Fall 2013, Governance Issues, Past Events, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy

Vicki Hesli Claypool, November 6, 2013

vicki picture“Egypt’s Revolution & Regional Dynamic: Current Status?”

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Recently eyes have been turned to the Middle East. Not just the recent Arab Spring, but also the revolts in Egypt have people more interested in that part of the world. Since Mohamed Morsi was removed as president by the Army Chief General, Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, the idea of democracy has been threatened. Vicki will talk about the departure of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s 30-year dictator; the rise, via democratic elections, and fall, via military coup, of the Muslim Brotherhood; the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of the coup; and the regional realignments occurring in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

Vicki Claypool is a professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa.  She has served in numerous UI service positions over the years including Chair of the University of Iowa Research Council  and Chair of the Faculty Assembly.  She created and then coordinated the University of Iowa Middle East and Islamic World Studies Group. She serves on the editorial board of the flagship journal of the American Political Science Association. Her publications include six books, numerous book chapters, and over forty peer-reviewed journal articles.

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Filed under Fall 2013, Past Events, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Jim Leach, October 24, 2013

1267“What is Old, New, and Unprecedented in America’s Relationships with the World”

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Jim Leach will address the United States’ relationships with key countries in the context of a global setting in which weapons of mass destruction have proliferated and terrorism has been globalized. Such countries include: Syria, Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea. He will conclude by emphasizing the role of the United Nations and of diplomacy in general.

Following a thirty-five year Congressional career, Jim has been very active. Since leaving Congress, he has taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and at Princeton. He served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 2009 until earlier this year.  This fall, Leach, 70, has returned to Iowa. He has joined the faculty as a visiting professor in the UI College of Law as the University of Iowa Chair in Public Affairs. He will work with the UI Center for Human Rights, advise law students, and help secure field placements in Washington, D.C. He also drives a black and gold Mini Cooper, which he’s owned for several years, proving his Hawkeye bona fides pre-dates his membership on the UI faculty.

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Filed under China & East Asia, Fall 2013, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Robert Naiman, May 2, 2013

“A Critique of the U.S. Drone Strike Policy”

RobertNaiman

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Since the beginning of the War on Terror, the U.S. has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to remotely target enemy militants. In recent years these attacks have escalated; hundreds of non-combatants have died in countries which are not formally at war with the U.S. This drone strike policy, as it has come to be known, has led to a rise of anti-American sentiment, as well as various contentions within the U.S.

Mr. Naiman will discuss key problems with the drone strike policy, what we know about public opinion, the state of efforts to open up the drone strike policy to public scrutiny, and opportunities for increased pressure on Congress and the Administration.

Robert Naiman is the Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman edits the Just Foreign Policy news summary and writes on U.S. foreign policy for the Huffington Post. He is president of the board of Truthout. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He has master’s degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois. In October, he participated in a peace delegation to Pakistan to protest the U.S. drone strike policy.

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Filed under Past Events, Spring 2013, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Peter Eichstaedt, April 9, 2013

“Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives”

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Once international forces finally vacate Afghanistan in 2014, the hope for the country will lie solely with its people. Peter Eichstaedt’s new book, “Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak about Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future-and Why America Should Listen”, illuminates the people of Afghanistan and how they have lived, and will continue to live, in a country that has been at war for 30 years.

After spending 2004 in Afghanistan working for the non-profit Institute for War and Peace Reporting and helping build Afghanistan’s first independent news agency, Peter Eichstaedt returned to Kabul in 2010. As he worked with Afghan journalists to document their history and collective struggles, he realized that although Kabul itself appeared cleaned up, the optimism of the freshly liberated capital had faded under the rise of insurgency. The war in Afghanistan is often examined from the perspective of a foreign correspondent, political analyst or US soldier. In “Above the Din of War”, Eichstaedt provides a forum for the everyday people of Afghanistan to be heard.

Peter Eichstaedt is a veteran journalist who has reported from locations worldwide, including Slovenia, Moldova, Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, and Uganda. He worked most recently as the Afghanistan Country Director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in The Hague, during which time he managed six journalism development programs, including the Afghan Investigative Journalism Fund, a one-year project to build investigative journalism reporting capacity. He is the author of “Consuming the Congo”, “First Kill Your Family”, “If You Poison Us”, and “Pirate State”. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Filed under Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2013, The Middle East, U.S. Foreign Policy