Category Archives: War & Conflict

Ubah Cristina Ali Farah, Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ubah“To Leave in the Afternoon: Inheriting the Language of a Civil War”

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Ubah Cristina Ali Farah is a Somali-Italian novelist, performer, teacher and social activist. Her two novels, Madre piccola [Little Mother, Indiana UP 2011] and Il Comandante del fiume [The Commander of the River] tell stories of the Somali civil war and its refugees in Italy. In 2006, she was awarded the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize, and in 2008, the Vittorini Prize. She has a PhD in African Studies from the University of Naples; currently she lives in Brussels. She is participating in the International Writing Program’s 2017 Fall Residency courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Born in Italy to a Somali father and an Italian mother, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah grew up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, attending an Italian school there until the Somalia Civil War broke out in 1991.  Ali Farah and her family subsequently relocated to Pécs, Hungary, and then later moved back to her birthplace, Verona, Italy.  In the intervening years, she has carried with her a Somali language that was radically re-shaped by the conflict and stories that seem like her own memories.  Farah draws on Eva Hoffman’s concept of “postmemory” to describe the effect of these traumatic experiences on the entire generation born after the Civil War.  In this lunchtime lecture, Ubah Cristina Ali Farah will share her experiences as a writer addressing violence, civil division, and national memory.

Reminder: If you have not already done so, please remember to renew your ICFRC membership.

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Filed under Fall 2017, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Uncategorized, War & Conflict

Keith Porter & Jen Smyser, Wednesday April 26, 2017

JenniferSmyser“The International Order Under Fire: Old Problems and New Threats”

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Jennifer Smyser is  Vice President and Director of Policy Programming for the Stanley Foundation. She leads the Foundation’s team of policy professionals in advancing multilateral action to create fair, just, and lasting solutions to critical issues of peace and security. Foundation programming is currently focused on nuclear security, genocide prevention, and climate

change. Smyser oversees implementation of the foundation’s programming efforts, which include identifying policy gaps and commissioning relevant analysis, developing and participating in coalitions and working groups, organizing roundtable and other policy dialogues, engaging the media and broader public, and establishing networks.

Before assuming her current position becoming Jen was Director of Policy Programming  for more than six years, overseeing the Foundation’s nuclear security policy programming as well as citizen leader outreach. She played a key role in the
creation of the Fissile Materials Working Group and the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group, and fostered the foundation’s involvement in the Nuclear Security Summit process. Smyser also led an effort to improve and refine the
Foundation’s engagement with citizen organizations focused on international affairs and US foreign policy. Smyser spent a decade working in US-based nongovernmental organizations focused on US global engagement and citizen diplomacy. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies from Iowa State University and a  Master’s in Public Administration from Drake University.

KeithPorterKeith Porter is President and CEO  of the Stanley Foundation. Previously, he was the Director of Policy and Outreach for the Foundation. In that post, he played a leadership role in the Foundation’s transition toward a dynamic advocacy organization focused on specific multilateral policy-change goals. This included developing and implementing a new strategic plan, creating work plans , evaluating progress, and maximizing the foundation’s impact through increased networking and collaboration with a wide range of institutions and individuals.

Porter was Co-Producer and Co-Host of the Foundation’s nationally syndicated public radio program on world affairs, Common Ground, from 1988 to 2004. He also served as Co-Producer and reporter for a number of radio documentaries on international issues. Keith has been recognized him for excellence in broadcast journalism, including the National Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Headliner Awards, the New York Festivals, and the United Nations Correspondents Association. He was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Porter holds a graduate degree from Illinois State University.

The post– World War II international order has fostered ongoing cooperation and progress toward shared peace, prosperity and dignity for more than 70 years. Fault lines and fractures in the order are not new– for years rising powers have been
looking for an equitable piece of the decision-making process,
non-state actors have been challenging the systems in unique ways, and many states have been assaulting the system’s founding pillars of international law. However, new threats to the system’s stability have cropped up in recent years. Keith Porter and Jen Smyser will share how the international system can be preserved and improved.

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Filed under Past Events, Spring 2017, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Howard Kerr, Tuesday April 4, 2017

Picture1“Vietnam: 1968-1969, New Leadership, Same Stalemate”

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In mid-1968, President Nixon appointed Rear Admiral Elmo Zumwalt as the Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Vietnam, with a promotion to Vice Admiral. The Navy had been in Vietnam since 1954 and this was the first Commander with a three-star rank. Howard Kerr accompanied the Admiral to Vietnam and served as his personal aide. General Creighton Abrams was the Senior Military Commander and Ellsworth Bunker was the U.S. Ambassador. The United States had over 500,000 uniformed military in Vietnam and had been fighting there with significant forces since 1965. Despite the escalation, the Vietnam war was already being lost in the minds of Americans.

After earning his UI degree, Iowa native Howard Kerr served as a U.S. Naval Officer from 1960-1981. During his time as a naval officer, he earned his MA and MA in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. From 1973-1975, Kerr served as a Military Aide to Vice Presidents Agnew and Ford, and as a Naval Aide and Deputy Presidential Counselor to President Ford. From there he went on to serve as a Military Fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations in 1978-1979. Upon leaving the military, he developed a successful private-sector career, becoming President and CEO of Custom Technologies Corporation, Grabill Aerospace Industries, Ltd., and Pocklington Financial Corporation. In his former hometown of Lake Forest, Illinois, Kerr served on the City Council and as Mayor. Through Rotary International, he is instrumental in providing scholarships to local high school students, and he has returned to the UI campus regularly to speak with students in the Department of Political Science and is a member of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board.

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Filed under Past Events, South Asia, Spring 2017, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

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

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

Christopher D. Roy, Thursday September 1, 2016

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“Continuity and Change in the Political and Cultural Life of a Small West African Country”

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The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council presents an expert in the field of African art, Professor Christopher Roy. In his myriad of adventures throughout the past 45 years in Burkina Faso, he has observed a multitude of changes in the cultural life of the Burkina. Professor Roy will lead a discussion on how the Burkina culture reacted to bloodshed, change of governance and development.

Christopher Roy has been teaching about art and life in Africa at the University of Iowa for 38 years. He also teaches about the art of ancient Mexico, Native American art and the art of the Pacific Islands. For many years he served as Curator of the African collection at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, and was deeply involved with Maxwell Stanley and Elizabeth M. Stanley in the creation of the Stanley collection. He is currently teaching an online course on African Art that has an enrollment of 300 undergraduates.

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Filed under Africa, Arts & Culture, Fall 2016, Past Events, War & Conflict

Nicholas Martini, Thursday March 10, 2016

Picture1“Foreign Policy and the Role of the Public”

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Nicholas Martini is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Iowa in 2012. His research focuses on the intersection of international relations and political behavior. His current research explores the factors driving public opinion (e.g., ideology, beliefs, and religion) and how they shape preferences around foreign policy issues. He has published articles in Political Research Quarterly, Foreign Policy Analysis, Electoral Studies, Social Science Quarterly, and other journals.

Dr. Martini’s presentation will concentrate on the vital influence that public opinion plays on the policy considerations of democratic leaders.  This is especially important as alliances around the globe are being pressured from outside threats. He will focus on public attitudes around US alliances and how recent work with survey experiments are aiding in understanding public preferences and leader assessments.

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Filed under Governance Issues, Past Events, Spring 2016, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Maureen “Micki” McCue, Wednesday February 10, 2016

Picture1“The Global Humanitarian Movement to Abolish Nuclear Weapons: What, Why, Who and Where”

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Dr. Maureen McCue has traveled, consulted, and worked extensively around the world as a physician, researcher, and peace maker. She served as physician to 500 US and Soviet Citizen Diplomats during the Cold War walking from Leningrad to Moscow in the former Soviet Union. Her Ph.D. research included working with leading medical professionals and former female combatants during the Sandanista Revolution in Nicaragua. In 2005 she met and subsequently interviewed for an award winning film, Dr. Salam Ismael founder of Iraqi Doctors for Peace. As an adjunct Clinical Professor in the Colleges of Public Health and of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Dr. McCue teaches a variety of Health and Human Rights topics including War or Health. She has coordinated the Iowa Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) since 2003 working to halt the gravest threats to human health and survival, specifically the threat of climate disruption and nuclear proliferation.

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Filed under Governance Issues, Past Events, Spring 2016, U.S. Foreign Policy, War & Conflict

Sara Mitchell, Wednesday January 27, 2016

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“Cross—Border Troubles? Interstate River Conflicts & Intrastate Violence”

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Sara McLaughlin Mitchell is Professor of Political Science and Department Chair at the University of Iowa.  She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at Michigan State University in 1997 and her B.S degree in Economics and Political Science at Iowa State University in 1991.  An accomplished author, Mitchell has published many books on global conflict and resolution, and has been the recipient of several major research awards from the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development.  Her areas of expertise include international conflict and political methodology. Professor Mitchell is co-founder of the Journeys in World Politics workshop, a mentoring workshop for junior women studying international relations. She received the Faculty Scholar Award (2007-2010), the Collegiate Scholar Award (2011), and the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award (2012) from the University of Iowa and the Quincy Wright Distinguished Scholar Award (2015) from the International Studies Association.
Her research examines the relationship between interstate river conflicts and intrastate violence such as riots, strikes, demonstrations, and civil wars in the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, and the Middle East.  She argues that interstate disagreements over cross-border river basins increase the potential for intrastate conflict by creating unequal access to water resources, displacing populations through damming and diversion projects, and increasing demands for freshwater as population growth occurs.

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Filed under Environmental Issues, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, Spring 2016, War & Conflict

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

Andrey Sazonov, Wednesday September 16, 2015

10959533_418712668285750_1303954258318720487_n (2) “Ramzan Kadyrov, Leader of Chechnya: Putin’s Frenemy?”

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Ramzan Kadyrov is currently serving as a head of the Chechen Republic and is notorious for being the most prominent and controversial figure in the North Caucasus region of Russia and for having a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. Over the years Chechen leader was able to rebuild Chechnya and consolidated a significant amount of influence and power thus signaling the changing status and rising importance of Chechnya. These factors have led to a renewed debate over whether the Kremlin’s political control over the region, and over the Chechen republic in particular, won back after two gruesome wars in the post-Soviet years, may be loosening.

Andrey Sazonov is a senior majoring in International Relations at the University of Iowa and is originally from the North Caucasus region of Russian Federation. In 2014 Andrey represented the University of Iowa at the prestigious conference in the U.S. Military Academy in West Point and was a part of a workshop which developed a strategy to counter Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. In 2015 he participated in European Student Conference at Yale University where he authored a paper on issues of European Identity – which was later send to the European Parliament – and took part in creation of European Student think-tank “European Horizons.” During the same month Andrey represented newly created think-tank at Harvard’s annual European Conference. Currently he is working on establishment of a “European Horizons” chapter at the University of Iowa and is largely involved in the local and the university community.

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Filed under Europe, Fall 2015, Governance Issues, Past Events, War & Conflict

Tibi Galis, Wednesday September 9, 2015

Tibi Galis

“Early Prevention of Mass Atrocities: Fulfilling Our Responsibility to Protect”

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Many scholars argue that had the world known about the horrors of the holocaust, something would have been done to stop the systematic ethnic cleansing. Today, such genocides still exist throughout the world yet it seems nothing is done to alleviate them.  This presentation will analyze the existing institutional infrastructures for mass atrocity prevention in various states and at the multilateral level. It will invite the audience to consider the effectiveness of the current arrangements and it will propose ways to continue the work that has been started in order to truly fulfill our responsibility to protect.

Tibi Galis has been the Executive Director of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation since 2006. As a result of his efforts, AIPR, a small non-profit with the vision of making the world a better place, has developed into a major force within the international movement to combat genocide. In addition to his work for AIPR, Dr. Galis received his Ph.D., which explores the relationship between transitional justice and regime consolidation around the world, from Clark University. Dr. Galis has previously worked as an associate researcher for the UK Parliament, where he helped to develop the UK position regarding the Special Adviser on Genocide Prevention to the UN Secretary General, and also as a rapporteur for the Swedish government at the 2004 Stockholm International Forum on the Prevention of Genocide.

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Filed under Fall 2015, Governance Issues, Past Events, War & Conflict

Valerie Bunce, Thursday, April 23, 2015

1d66dcc6-d07c-4af5-ad47-34b597f2c890“Putin’s Game in Ukraine”

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Why did Russia invade and annex Crimea last year and then aid and abet popular rebellion in eastern Ukraine?  The answer is that political changes in Ukraine were a “perfect storm” for Russia, whether we look at the threats to Russian security posed by Ukraine’s desire to join the EU and NATO or Putin’s fear that regime change in Ukraine could spread to Moscow.  What was at stake, in short, was Russia’s national security and Putin’s job security.

Valerie Bunce, Director of European Studies at Cornell Institute, is the Aaron Binenkorb Professor of International Studies and Professor of Government. Her primary field is comparative politics and, secondarily, international relations. Her research and teaching addresses comparative democratization, international democracy promotion, and inter-ethnic cooperation and conflict. Her geographical focus is primarily east-central Europe, the Balkans and the Soviet successor states, though her comparative interests extend to Latin America.

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Filed under Europe, Governance Issues, Past Events, Spring 2015, War & Conflict

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

Elizabeth Heineman, Thursday, November 13, 2014

Elizabeth D Heineman (online picture)“Gendering International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law”

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According to international humanitarian law, sexual violence is a grave crime in times of war.  Yet many states have inadequate laws to protect women from intimate partner violence.  Other domestic issues covered under the human rights framework, ranging from girls’ right to an education to marriage by consent, suffer similarly.  Professor Heineman will argue that citizenship is embedded in war and discuss how international feminists have gotten further when women’s equal citizenship is linked to war – and less far on issues that seem distant from war.

Elizabeth Heineman is a Professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and in the Department of History, where she also serves as Chair.  Her specialties include modern German and European History, gender and sexuality, and the history of human rights.  Her most recent books include Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones: From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights (2011), Before Porn was Legal: The Erotica Empire of Beate Uhse (2011), and the memoir Ghostbelly (2014).

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Filed under Fall 2014, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, War & Conflict, Women's Issues

Nathan Miller, September 23, 2014

Nathan Miller“The More Things Change: The Old Politics of South Sudan’s New War”

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Sudan has been in civil war since the mid-1950’s.  Although punctuated by brief bouts of peace, that war persisted through South Sudan’s independence and continues today.  It is as much, if not more, about political participation and control over economic resources as about religion or ethnicity.

Nathan Miller is an Assistant Director of the Center for Human Rights and the Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Iowa College of Law. He is the director of the International Legal Clinic at the College of Law, where students provide legal assistance to governments and nongovernmental organizations on projects related to human rights, development, and the rule of law. Miller joined the College of Law in 2011 after ten years of international advocacy in more than twenty countries, including what is now South Sudan, where he lived for three years as a legal advisor to the government. He graduated from the University of Dayton in 1998, where he studied Spanish and philosophy, and from the New York University School of Law in 2002.

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Filed under Fall 2014, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, War & Conflict

Jovana Davidovic, September 18, 2014

Davidovic Pic“The Changing Character and Theories of War”

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In the past few decades war has changed drastically so as to little resemble classic examples of Just War theory and international humanitarian law. The character of war has changed with constant technological advancements. What is less obvious, however, is the change in the nature of war and its participating actors. In addition to war itself, theories of war have evolved as well. Professor Davidovic will explore the changing nature of war, and the extent to which theories of Just War should reflect those changes.

Jovana Davidovic is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iowa, working in the fields of political philosophy, and philosophy of law and military ethics. Before coming to the University of Iowa Jovana was a Visiting Research Associate at the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Canberra, Australia, where she worked on the Australian Research Council Discovery project “Jus Post Bellum and Transitional Justice”.  She received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. Her publications include works on humanitarian military interventions, transitional justice and the moral and legal status of combatants.

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Filed under Fall 2014, Humanitarian Issues, Past Events, War & Conflict