PSA-USIP Briefing on Afghan Negotiations

Tuesday, September 17th – United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) hosted a panel discussion featuring Scott Worden, Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at USIP, and Luke Coffey, Director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation. This panel discussed how the Afghan negotiations […]

Nuclear Security Report Authors Present Legislative Update at Hudson Institute

Tuesday, August 13th – Authors of the 2018 report “Empowering Congress on Nuclear Security: Blueprints for a New Generation” from Partnership for a Secure America and the Arms Control Association provided an overview of the report’s findings and an update on legislative activity to prevent nuclear terrorism to a public audience at the Hudson Institute.

Bipartisan National Security Officials Call on Congress to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

Media Contacts: Jack Brosnan, Program Manager, Partnership for a Secure America, 202-293-8580;

Countering Russia’s Assertive Foreign Policy

On November 30, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on Russia’s increasingly assertive foreign policy and the role of Congress in guiding future relations between the U.S. and Russia.  Ambassador Bill Taylor, Executive Vice President at USIP, was joined by Dr. Michael Carpenter, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, to discuss the strategic implications of Russia’s foreign policy that includes the use of disinformation campaigns, hybrid warfare tactics in Ukraine and Georgia, and intervention in violent conflicts like Syria and Afghanistan.  This discussion was moderated by Cory Welt, Analyst in European Affairs at the Congressional Research Service.


Ambassador Bill Taylor

William B.Taylor

William B. Taylor is the executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  Earlier, he was the special coordinator for Middle East Transitions in the U.S. State Department.  He oversaw assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria.  He served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009.

He also served as the U.S. government’s representative to the Mideast Quartet, which facilitated the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank.  He served in Baghdad as the first director of the Iraq Reconstruction Management Office from 2004 to 2005, and in Kabul as coordinator of international and U.S. assistance to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.  Ambassador Taylor was also coordinator of U.S. assistance to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He earlier served on the staff of Senator Bill Bradley.

He is a graduate of West Point and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and served as an infantry platoon leader and combat company commander in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Germany.

 


Dr. Michael Carpenter

carpenter michael

Dr. Michael Carpenter is a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He is also senior director of the Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Carpenter is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense with responsibility for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, the Balkans, and Conventional Arms Control. Prior to joining the Department of Defense, Dr. Carpenter served in the White House as a foreign policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and as director for Russia at the National Security Council. Previously, he was a career foreign service officer with the State Department, where he worked in a number of different positions, including deputy director of the Office of Russian Affairs, speechwriter to the undersecretary of political affairs, and adviser on the South Caucasus. Dr. Carpenter also served abroad in the US Embassies in Poland, Slovenia, and Barbados.

During his career at the State Department, Dr. Carpenter received four Superior Honor Awards and three Meritorious Honor Awards. He holds an MA and PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and a BA in international relations from Stanford University. Dr. Carpenter was a Fulbright scholar at the Polish Academy of Sciences and has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, MacArthur Foundation, and IREX Foundation for his academic research.

 


Cory Welt

Cory Welt is Analyst in European Affairs in the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division of the Congressional Research Service. He covers Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, and the Caucasus. Previously, he was Associate Director and Research Professor of International Affairs at the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he co-directed the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia (PONARS Eurasia) and taught courses on post-Soviet Eurasian politics and security (2010-2016). He also has been associate director of the Eurasian Strategy Project at Georgetown University and deputy director and fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Elections in Nigeria: A New Hope for Peace and Governance?

On November 1, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on Nigeria’s consequential upcoming elections.  Oge Onubogu, Senior Program Officer of Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace, was joined by Christopher O’Connor, Senior Program Officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy, to discuss the implications of Nigeria’s upcoming elections on the future of democracy, peace and corruption in the country.  This event was moderated Lauren Ploch Blanchard.


Oge Onubogu

Oge Onubogu is senior program officer for Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she leads programming in Nigeria. In this position, she provides leadership, strategic management, and oversees the design and implementation of projects to promote inclusion and community security by partnering with policymakers, civic leaders, and organizations in Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin area. Oge’s thematic focus is on governance and civil society development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining USIP, she managed governance, citizen engagement, and election observation programs in Nigeria and across Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa) with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Before that, she worked as program officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) where for several years, she oversaw democratic governance projects and managed a multi-million dollar grants portfolio to civil society organizations in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Cameroon. Oge has consulted for the World Bank, observed elections with the Carter Center, and coordinated refugee resettlement programs with the International Rescue Committee. She earned her MA in International Development from the Heller School at Brandeis University, and BA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma.

 


Christopher O’Connor

Christopher O’Connor is the Senior Program Officer for West Africa at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Christopher oversees a diverse civil society grants program in Nigeria that aims to strengthen democracy, improve human rights, and consolidate peace. He also works on West Africa regional, Liberia, and Ghana governance projects. Prior to joining NED, Christopher served as an International Development Fellow with Catholic Relief Services in Abuja, Nigeria, where he worked on peacebuilding and good governance projects. He received his MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and his BA in African, Asian, and Russian History from Washington and Lee University.

 

 

 


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Lauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.

Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.

The New Great Powers Proving Ground: Africa & The Red Sea

On October 25, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record briefing on the strategic implications for U.S. interests around the Middle East powers’—Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Turkey—increasingly aggressive competition for influence in the Horn of Africa alongside an expanding Chinese and Russian presence.  The discussion was led by Payton Knopf, Advisor to the Africa Program at the United States Institute of Peace and former Spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and Farha Tahir, program officer at National Endowment for Democracy.  Congressional Research Service Specialist in African Affairs, Lauren Ploch Blanchard,  moderated.


Payton Knopf

Payton Knopf is an advisor to the Africa program where his work focuses on the intersecting political, economic and security dynamics in the Red Sea. He is concurrently an advisor to the European Institute of Peace.

Knopf is a former U.S. diplomat with expertise in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East. Immediately prior to joining USIP, Knopf was the first coordinator the United Nations Panel of Experts on South Sudan, from its inception in 2015 until April 2017. He was also formerly a senior advisor at the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)/Martti Ahtisaari Centre and the PeaceWorks Foundation.

Before leaving government, he was spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations under then-Ambassador Susan E. Rice, having previously served as a policy advisor to U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. From 2006 to 2008, he was based at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, where he advised the then-U.S Special Envoys for Sudan Andrew Natsios and Richard Williamson on issues related to the conflict in Darfur and to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan.

His other State Department assignments included in the Office of Egypt and the Levant and at the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  He was an International Affairs fellow in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations from 2010-2011 where is researched focused on diplomatic engagement with non-state armed groups.


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Lauren Ploch Blanchard is a Specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), where she provides nonpartisan analysis on African political, military and diplomatic affairs, and on U.S. policy in the region, to Members of Congress, congressional committees, and congressional staff. Her portfolio focuses on East Africa, Nigeria, and Chad, and on security issues and U.S. military engagement on the continent—she has written extensively on these topics and has testified before Congress on terrorist threats in the region, security assistance, and the U.S. military’s Africa Command.

Ms. Blanchard speaks regularly at academic and official institutions such as the National Defense University, the NATO Defense College, and the Foreign Service Institute, and at international policy forums. She has served on international election observation missions in several African countries and has conducted training for African parliamentarians and other government officials on the policymaking role of the United States Congress and on the role of parliamentary research institutions like CRS.

Prior to joining CRS, she managed governance programs in East and Southern Africa. During that time, she supervised and conducted training on political party and coalition strengthening, parliamentary support, civil society capacity building, and public opinion research. She also consulted on constitutional reform efforts in Kenya and the development of democratic institutions in Southern Sudan. Previously, Ms. Blanchard served as Legislative Assistant in the United States Senate. Lauren holds a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Classical Studies, with a minor in African Studies, from the University of Florida.


Farha Tahir

Farha Tahir is a program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), where she supports grantmaking to civil society organizations and human rights defenders in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining NED, Farha served as a senior program officer at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), where she worked on programs with government officials and civil society groups to strengthen governance and citizen engagement in decisionmaking. She also worked as a research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), providing research support and developing policy recommendations to support US foreign policy priorities. She remains an adjunct fellow with CSIS’s Human Rights Initiative, where she advises on drivers of closing political space, and also writes the Somalia and Somaliland case studies for Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report.

Farha holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

The War in Afghanistan: Time to Negotiate?

On September 26, Partnership for a Secure America and the United States Institute of Peace hosted an off-the-record dinner on the war in Afghanistan.  Scott Worden, Director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace and former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Amb. Marc Grossman provided a situation report and reflections on current negotiations with the Taliban to pursue peace in Afghanistan.

In 2011, the United States – led by Ambassador Grossman – and the Taliban held preliminary peace talks aimed at drawing the war to a close. Despite a series of global summits and significant diplomatic engagement these negotiations fell apart in early 2012. The U.S. is again exploring diplomatic engagement with the Taliban. Ceasefires between Afghan security forces and the Taliban and a battlefield stalemate created conditions where successful negotiations may be possible. In July, representatives from the State Department and the Taliban met for preliminary talks for the first time in 7 years. With another meeting slated to take place in September, this discussion focused on the path forward for ending this prolonged military conflict.

Amb. Grossman and Worden addressed the current challenges facing Afghanistan including a decline in the security situation and upcoming elections where the outcome is likely to be contested. They also commented on how the negotiating environment had changed since 2012 and expressed tepid optimism that the outcome would be different this time.


Scott Worden

Scott WordenScott Worden is director of Afghanistan and Central Asia Programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). He comes into this role with an extensive background in reconstruction, development, democracy and governance, policy, among others; as well as extensive regional expertise on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Prior to joining USIP, he was director of the Lessons Learned Program at the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), and served as acting director of policy as well as a senior policy advisor for the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In the latter position, he was responsible for advising senior officials on strategies for sustainable development in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

At his time at USIP, Mr. Worden directed Rule of Law development programs for the USIP and served as a United Nations-appointed Electoral Complaints Commissioner for the 2009 Afghanistan elections, as well as advising the U.N. on elections in 2005-06. Mr. Worden has a decade of experience working on Afghanistan issues and working in the field.

Originally from Boston, Mr. Worden earned his bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Ambassador Marc Grossman

grossman marcAmbassador Grossman served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the State Department’s third ranking official, until his retirement in 2005, after 29 years in the US Foreign Service. As Under Secretary, he helped marshal diplomatic support for the international response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He also managed US policies in the Balkans and Colombia and promoted a key expansion of the NATO alliance. As Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, he helped direct NATO’s military campaign in Kosovo and an earlier round of NATO expansion. In Turkey, Ambassador Grossman encouraged vibrant US-Turkish political, military, and economic relations.

Ambassador Grossman was a Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group from July, 2005 to February, 2011.

In February, 2011 President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton called Ambassador Grossman back to service as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman promoted the international effort to support Afghanistan by shaping major international meetings in Istanbul, Bonn, Chicago and Tokyo. He provided US backing for an Afghan peace process designed to end thirty years of conflict and played an important part in managing US relations with Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman returned to The Cohen Group in February, 2013.

Ambassador Grossman is the Chairman of the Board of the Senior Living Foundation of the Foreign Service. He serves as a Trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and as a Trustee of the University of California, Santa Barbara Foundation. He is Vice Chair of the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a Board Member of the Caribbean Educational and Baseball Foundation.

Raised in Los Angeles, California, Ambassador Grossman has a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.Sc in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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