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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.

Ending ISIS in North Africa: The Road Through Libya and Tunisia

On July 16th, Vice President of the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute of Peace Mike Yaffe and Senior Analyst and Africa Team Lead for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute Emily Estelle discussed evolving efforts in Libya and Tunisia to counter terrorist operations across the region.  The discussion took place as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.

In Monday’s briefing, the expert panel discussed both the stark differences and shared problems in Tunisia and Libya. The discussion focused on issues of establishing good governance on the national and local level, boosting economic growth, and countering terrorism and crime–especially along the border. The panelists also discussed the role of external actors such as Russia, Egypt, and the Gulf. The tone of the discussion was one of fragile optimism as the panel acknowledged that, despite severe problems, there are opportunities for improvement. The panel encouraged Congress and the executive branch to adopt a clear strategy in conjunction with European allies to address these crises in North Africa.


Mike Yaffe

Michael Yaffe joined the United States Institute of Peace after serving as the senior advisor to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations at the U.S. Department of State. Between 2001 and 2012, he was an academic dean and distinguished professor of strategic studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Previously, Dr. Yaffe was a career foreign affairs officer at the State Department concentrating on the Middle East peace negotiations, regional security, and nonproliferation, and served on U.S. delegations to the “Madrid” Middle East Arms Control and Regional Security talks, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO.

During his twenty-five year career with the U.S. Government he was the recipient of several State Department Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well Department of Defense commendations. He was an Olin post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and peace scholar at the United States Institute of Peace (1988-1989). Mike earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Emily Estelle

Emily Estelle is a senior analyst for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute and the Africa Team Lead. She studies the Salafi-jihadi movement in Africa, including al Qaeda, ISIS, and associated groups. She specializes in the Libya conflict. Emily also coordinates CTP’s training and tradecraft and manages the integration of technology into the research process. Emily graduated Summa Cum Laude from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Anthropology modified with Arabic

Renewed Prospects for Peace on the Korean Peninsula?

On May 22, the United States Institute of Peace’s Senior Expert on North Korea, Frank Aum and the Senior Research Fellow on Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation, Bruce Klingner discussed the available options for President Trump at a US-North Korea Summit. Congressional Research Service Specialist in Asian Affairs, Emma Chanlett-Avery moderated the discussion. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.


Frank Aum

frank_aumFrank Aum joins USIP from the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where he was a Visiting Scholar. From 2010-2017, Mr. Aum served as the senior advisor for North Korea in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this time, he advised four Secretaries of Defense on issues related to Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Aum also served as head of delegation for working level negotiations in Seoul with the Republic of Korea (ROK), and received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Mr. Aum previously worked as a corporate attorney, and also has extensive experience in the public and non-profit sectors. He completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Jeju Island, South Korea and worked as a speechwriter in the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In addition, he worked to strengthen the Koreatown community in Los Angeles at the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and the Korean American Coalition (KAC).

Mr. Aum received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his MPP from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and his JD from the University of California, Berkeley.


Bruce Klingner

Bruce Klingner specializes in Korean and Japanese affairs as the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Klingner’s analysis and writing about North Korea, South Korea, and Japan as well as related issues, are informed by his 20 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Klingner, who jointed Heritage in 2007, has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

He is a frequent commentator in U.S. and foreign media. His articles and commentary have appeared in major American and foreign publications and he is a regular guest on broadcast and cable news outlets. He is a regular contributor to the international and security section of The Daily Signal.

From 1996 to 2001, Klingner was CIA’s deputy division chief for Korea, responsible for the analysis of political, military, economic, and leadership issues for the president of the United States and other senior U.S. policymakers. In 1993-1994, he was the chief of CIA’s Korea branch, which analyzed military developments during a nuclear crisis with Korea.

Klingner is a distinguished graduate of the National War College, where he received a master’s degree in national security strategy in 2002. He also holds a master’s degree in strategic intelligence from the Defense Intelligence College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Middlebury College in Vermont.

He is active in Korean martial arts, attaining third-degree black belt in taekwondo and first-degree black belt in hapkido and teuk kong moo sool.

 

Turning the Tide on US-Turkey Relations

On April 19th, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman and former National Security Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan discussed the deteriorating US-Turkey relationship as part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series Dr. Graeme Bannerman moderated the discussion. This was a closed, off-the-record event for congressional staff.


Ambassador Eric Edelman

EdelmanAmbassador Eric S. Edelman retired as a career minister from the U.S. Foreign Service on May 1, 2009. He is currently a Roger Hertog Practitioner in Residence at Johns Hopkins SAIS and Counselor at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Edelman has served in senior positions at the Departments of State and Defense as well as the White House where he led organizations providing analysis, strategy, policy development, security services, trade advocacy, public outreach, citizen services and congressional relations. As the undersecretary of defense for policy (August, 2005-January 2009) he oversaw strategy development as DoD’s senior policy official with global responsibility for bilateral defense relations, war plans, special operations forces, homeland defense, missile defense, nuclear weapons and arms control policies, counter-proliferation, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, arms sales, and defense trade controls.

He served as U.S. ambassador to the Republics of Finland and Turkey in the Clinton and Bush Administrations and was principal deputy assistant to the vice president for national security affairs. In other assignment he has been chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, special assistant to Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt and special assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. His other assignments include the State Department Operations Center, Prague, Moscow, and Tel Aviv, where he was a member of the U.S. Middle East delegation to the West Bank/Gaza autonomy talks.

He has been awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Department of State Superior Honor Awards. In January 2011 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French Government.

He received a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Cornell University and a doctorate in U.S. diplomatic history from Yale University.


Jake Sullivan

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Jake Sullivan is a Martin R. Flug Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He served in the Obama administration as national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, as well as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He was the Senior Policy Adviser on Secretary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.  Previously, he served as deputy policy director on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign, and a member of the debate preparation team for Barack Obama’s general election campaign.

Sullivan also previously served as a senior policy adviser and chief counsel to Senator Amy Klobuchar from his home state of Minnesota, worked as an associate for Faegre & Benson LLP, and taught at the University of St. Thomas Law School. He clerked for Judge Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States and Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Sullivan holds undergraduate and law degrees from Yale and a master’s degree from Oxford.

 


Dr. Graeme Bannerman

Dr. Graeme Bannerman is a Scholar at the Middle East Institute. As such, he frequently provides commentary on Middle Eastern issues for numerous American and international media outlets including the BBC, Canadian National television, NBC, CBS, PBS News Hour, Fox News, al-Hurra, al-Jazeera, and others. He is Vice Chairman of the Board of Hands along the Nile and serves on the Board of Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

Prior to joining the Middle East Institute, he founded and served as President of Bannerman & Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm. Bannerman & Associates, Inc. worked with a variety of international clients primarily in the Middle East.

He served on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1979 until 1987. His last position was Committee Staff Director. From 1979 through 1984, he was the Committee’s professional staff member responsible for the Middle East and South Asia.

Before working for the Senate, he was employed by the Department of State, as a Middle Eastern Affairs Analyst and on the Policy Planning Staff. He worked on Arab-Israeli affairs during the time of Camp David and the negotiation of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

Dr. Bannerman taught at several institutions including Georgetown University, George Washington University, and The American University in Beirut. He holds a doctorate in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of Wisconsin, a MA in South Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin, a MA in Modern Middle Eastern history from The American University in Beirut, and a BA degree from Northwestern University.

U.S. Military Presence in Africa

On February 22nd, the United States Institute of Peace’s Director of Africa Programs Susan Stigant and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Amanda Dory discussed the recent terror threats in Sub-Saharan Africa as a part of the USIP-PSA congressional briefing series. Congressional Research Service Specialist in African Affairs, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, moderated the discussion. The briefing explored the role for U.S. military, regional partners and civil society in countering these threats. In addition, the briefing focused on the evolving footprint of the U.S.’s military presence in the region and what regional partners and civil society can do to build a sustainable stability. This event was a closed off-the-record event held for congressional staff.


Susan Stigant:

Susan Stigant is the director of Africa Programs at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) where she oversees programming in South Sudan, Nigeria, Sudan, CAR, DRC, Tanzania and Kenya and with the African Union. Susan’s thematic focus is on the design and implementation of inclusive constitutional reform and national dialogue processes. She has and continues to advise government officials and civil society actors on inclusive processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere. Susan also serves as co-chair of USIP’s national dialogue working group. Prior to joining USIP, she managed constitutional development, citizen engagement and election observation programs with the National Democratic Institute (NDI). From 2005-2011, she served as program director with NDI in South Sudan, where she supported the implementation of the peace agreement.  She also worked with the Forum of Federations on comparative federalism and with the research unit of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in South Africa.


Amanda Dory

Image result for amanda doryAmanda J. Dory joined the War College faculty in 2017.  She is a career member of the Senior Executive Service.

From 2012-2017 she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD).  She served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy from 2008-2011 and as the Principal Director for Policy Planning in OSD.  In both capacities her responsibilities included strategy development, force planning scenarios, and long-term trends analysis.

She has worked on multiple Quadrennial Defense Reviews (QDRs), to include as the chief of staff to lead implementation of QDR execution roadmaps for Building Partner Capacity and Irregular Warfare in 2007-2008.  In addition to strategic and regional assignments, Amanda has also served in OSD’s Homeland Defense office as the director for planning and integration.  In 2002, she was selected as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow and conducted an independent research project based at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Amanda has received numerous awards to include the Presidential Rank Award in 2010 and 2015 and awards for exceptional and meritorious civilian service.  She is an alumna of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received a master’s degree with concentrations in international economics and African studies from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Lauren Ploch Blanchard

Image result for lauren ploch blanchardLauren 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 Future of US-Pakistan Relations

On February 12th, the United States Institute of Peace’s Associate Vice President of the Asia Center Moeed Yusuf and former Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Olson led a discussion on US-Pakistan Relations as a part of the USIP-PSA Congressional briefing series. This briefing explored the deterioration of US-Pakistan relations and how the US can encourage greater cooperation on Afghanistan, counterterrorism, and other important priorities. This was a closed off-the-record event held for congressional staff.


Moeed Yusuf

Moeed W. Yusuf is the associate vice president of the Asia center at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Yusuf has been engaged in expanding USIP’s work on Pakistan/South Asia since 2010. His current research focuses on youth and democratic institutions in Pakistan, policy options to mitigate militancy in Pakistan and the South Asian region in general, and U.S. role in South Asian crisis management. His latest book, Brokering Peace in Nuclear Environments: U.S. Crisis Management in South Asia, is being released by Stanford University Press in 2018. Before joining USIP, Yusuf was a fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and concurrently a research fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at Harvard Kennedy School. He has also worked at the Brookings Institution.

In 2007, he co-founded Strategic and Economic Policy Research, a private sector consultancy firm in Pakistan. Yusuf has also consulted for a number of Pakistani and international organizations including the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and the Stockholm Policy Research Institute, among others. From 2004-2007, he was a full-time consultant with the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan’s premier development-sector think tank. Yusuf taught in Boston University’s Political Science and International Relations Departments as a senior teaching fellow in 2009. He had previously taught at the defense and strategic studies department at Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan. He lectures regularly at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute and has also lectured at the Pakistan Military Staff College and at NATO’s Center of Excellence-Defense Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey.

He has published widely in national and international journals, professional publications and magazines. He writes regularly for Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English daily. He also frequently appears as an expert on U.S. and Pakistani media. His books South Asia 2060: Envisioning Regional Futures (Adil Najam and Moeed Yusuf, eds.) and Getting it Right in Afghanistan (Scott Smith, Moeed Yusuf, and Colin Cookman, eds.) were published by Anthem Press, UK and U.S. Institute of Peace Press respectively in 2013. He is also the editor of Pakistan’s Counter-terrorism Challenge (Georgetown University Press, 2014) and Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in South Asia: From a Peacebuilding Lens (U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2014). Yusuf has served on a number of important task forces, advisory councils, working groups, and governing boards, both in the U.S. and Pakistan. In 2013, he was selected to Nobel laureate, Pugwash International’s ‘Council’ (governing body) and subsequently became the youngest member ever to be included in its global executive committee to serve a six-year term. He holds a Masters in International Relations and PhD in Political Science from Boston University.


Ambassador Richard Olson

Ambassador Richard Olson retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in November of 2016 with the rank of Career Minister. His final assignment was as U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). From 2012 to 2015 he was the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. Olson served as the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs, at U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan, from 2011 to 2012, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates from 2008 to 2011. Olson joined the U.S. Department of State in 1982. He served in Mexico, Uganda, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates (both Abu Dhabi and Dubai), and in Najaf, Iraq. He was also Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

His Washington assignments included: State Department Operations Center (twice), NATO Desk, the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs (twice, including as Director), and the Office of Iraqi Affairs, including as Director. Olson is a recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, a Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach, the State Department’s Superior Honor Award (three times), and the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award (for his service in Iraq). He was awarded the medal of Wazir Akbar Khan by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani. He graduated from Brown University in 1981, receiving an A.B. in Law and Society (Honors) and History. He is the father of two daughters and enjoys cycling and hiking.

 

USIP-PSA Mark Six Years for Joint Congressional Series

In January, The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) celebrated the six year anniversary of the Congressional Briefing Series – Topics on Conflict Resolution and Prevention. The series, started in 2012, is an educational program that is designed to provide congressional staff with opportunities to engage leading experts and fellow Capitol Hill staff in bipartisan forums.

The series has engaged hundreds of congressional policy advisers and has featured events on conflict resolution in countries including North Korea, Colombia, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, Tunisia, and South Sudan. Experts affiliated with AEI, the Heritage Foundation, the Wilson Center, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, Brookings, the Atlantic Council, the German Marshal Fund, and many others have spoken at events for this series. Notable speakers include General John Allen, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Ambassador James Jeffrey, General Jan-Marc Jouas, and Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

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