Washington & The World: Who’s Leading Who?
Is the U.S. getting out of the business of leadership? Observers around the world are expressing criticism and concern at the Obama administration’s reluctance to bring all of America’s forces to bear against ISIS, its plans for a quick drawdown in Afghanistan and its posture vis-à-vis Russia after the annexation of Crimea. Asian nations are especially worried as they urge stronger U.S. engagement to help them stand up to the challenge of China, the world’s fastest rising power. A veteran of the Obama administration and longtime Washington insider, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin explains how the White House finds itself stretched between the demands of a war-weary populace and an array of global commitments that America alone can shoulder. He assesses whether the U.S. is getting the balance right and meeting the demands of the era, and he considers the possible consequences if it falls short.
A Global Threat Assessment: Terrorism Trends of Today
Almost 15 years after 9/11, the landscape of terrorism is changing rapidly. Though al Qaeda’s historic leadership in Pakistan has suffered profound damage and the threat of catastrophic attack has diminished, dangerous jihadist threats such as ISIS persist in Yemen and Iraq, and a plethora of new challenges have arisen, particularly across Africa. In the West, lone wolf operators who are hard to find and difficult to track add to the complexity of the picture.
As the State Department’s top counterterrorism official and as a high-level White House aide, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin takes the measure of the threats we face today, from bin Laden’s progeny to Iran’s role as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, and from the Islamic State to the emerging danger of cyberterrorism. He explains how the Arab Spring has radically altered the situation on the ground and how the conflict in Syria – and the sectarian strife behind it – could well spawn the next era of terror.
Mapping Risk: Navigating an Ever-Changing Global Landscape
In a short three years, international businesses have witnessed a redefinition of the security calculus for their foreign operations. In parts of the Middle East, the Arab Spring has opened up some societies, but swept away the ability of some states to provide a stable, safe environment. Elsewhere in the region, renewed repression has led to smoldering tensions or outright conflict. Terrorist groups are acting with greater impunity across Africa, while in countries such as Turkey, Brazil and Greece, social unrest has erupted, clouding these countries’ political and economic prospects. Daniel Benjamin served at the heart of the policy world at the State Department and the White House. With such experience, he provides audiences with a guide to the new global instability, identifying those developments that are passing trends and those that are reshaping the way governments and the global business community work.
Ethics & Foreign Policy: What Will the Moral of Our Story Be?
Every day, U.S. policymakers are confronted with a flood of news stories and intelligence on growing conflicts, mass atrocities and grave injustices. They also face the profoundly complex problem of reconciling their responsibilities to advance American interests and carefully manage American resources while upholding American values. In a democratic system, how should we weigh the requirements of moral principle against the preferences of the broader public? What role should concerns about political endurance and even survival play in these deliberations? Are there any moral imperatives in the conduct of statecraft?
Daniel Benjamin began working in the White House shortly after the Rwandan genocide and served in the 1990s through such events as the crises in the Balkans, the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan and, in the first Obama term, played a central role in counterterrorism policymaking in such areas as Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Syria. In this talk, he reflects on the extraordinary challenges faced by those who must decide when the nation should act to prevent bloodshed, protect the helpless or redress inequity.