Steve Clemons: King of the Hill, America Kicks Down Its Own Hill: US Foreign Policy in an America First Era

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Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic and Senior Fellow, American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation

Steve Clemons is a Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, where he previously served as Executive Vice President. He is also publisher of the popular political blog, A specialist in U.S.-Asia policy and U.S. foreign policy matters as well as broad international economic and security affairs, Steve Clemons joined New America in May 1999 after serving as Executive Vice President of the Economic Strategy Institute. Mr. Clemons has also served as Senior Policy Advisor to Senator Jeff Bingaman and was the first Executive Director of the Nixon Center in Washington. In Los Angeles, Clemons served for seven years as the Executive Director of the Japan America Society of Southern California and co-founded the Japan Policy Research Institute. 

Steve Clemons writes frequently on foreign policy, defense, and international economic policy. His work has appeared in most of the major leading op-ed pages, journals, and magazines around the world. Clemons serves on the Board of Directors of the Citizens for Global Solutions Education Fund, the Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College, and on the Clark Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College.

Thomas Countryman: US Foreign Policy at the Mid Point of the Trump Administration


Countryman served for 35 years as a member of the Foreign Service until January 2017, achieving the rank of minister-counselor, and served as acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, a position to which he was appointed Oct. 9, 2016. Appointed by President Obama in 2011, he simultaneously served as assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation, a position he had held since September 2011. As acting undersecretary, he advised the Secretary of State on arms control, nonproliferation, disarmament and political-military affairs.  

In January, 2017, while traveling to an international arms control conference, he was informed he had been relieved of all duties by President Trump. 

In the White House he was at the National Security Council he was responsible of for the area ranging from Morocco to Syria and was Ambassador Dennis Ross’s liaison with the White House. 

Countryman was elected to join the board of the Arms Control Association in June 2017. Since leaving government and joining the Association’s board, he has spoken on the Association’s concerns in interviews in The Guardian, Voice of America, CNN, and NBC News and has written for The Washington Post and other publications. 

Stephane Lessard, Consul General of Canada: Canada-U.S. Relations: Friends, Partners, Allies


Consul General Lessard has been in charge of the Canadian Consulate in Denver since August, 2016. In this position he represents the trade, economic and political interests of Canada in the Rocky Mountain West. Prior to his arrival in Denver he served in senior positions in Health Canada, the Canadian Space Agency and with Global Affaires Canada’s Global Partnership Program where he focused on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. 

Today Canada is at the center of attention in several areas critically important to the United States. Among them are the newly instituted tariffs, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a major human rights dispute with Saudi Arabia.

Consul General Lessard earned his BCL from the University of Montreal, his LLM in Air and Space Law from McGill University and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.

Chris Hill: North Korea, One of America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Challenges

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Ambassador Christopher Hill will discuss recent challenges as the United States attempts to deal with North Korea, including the nation’s development of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. Attention will be given, as well, to the role of South Korea and China in relations with North Korea. Analysis of the recent summit and political meetings will also be provided along with possible next steps.  He will share his insights into how the world community can address these nuclear threats.

Ambassador Hill is a former career diplomat. He served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 until 2009 during which he was also the head of the US delegation to the Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.  Earlier, He was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. 

Hill is four-time ambassador, nominated by three presidents, whose last post was as Ambassador to Iraq, April 2009 until August 2010.  Prior to Iraq, Previously he served as U.S. Ambassador to Poland (2000-2004), Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia (1996-1999) and Special Envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).  He also served as a Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director on the staff of the National Security Council, 1999-2000

Former Dean of Josef Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver, he now serves as Chief Advisor to the Chancellor for Global Engagement & Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy.

Ira Helfand: Is a post-nuclear world possible?

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 Ira Helfand, MD is co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and he is co-founder and past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, IPPNW’s US affiliate. He has published studies on the medical consequences of nuclear war in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the British Medical Journal, and has lectured widely in the United States, and in India, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Israel, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, and throughout Europe on the health effects of nuclear weapons. He represented PSR and IPPNW at the Nobel ceremonies in Oslo in December 2009, honoring President Obama, and presented their new report, Nuclear Famine: One Billion People at Risk, at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Chicago in April of 2012. A second edition was released in December of 2013.

Dr. Helfand was also a co-founder of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground- breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons".

Dr. Helfand was educated at Harvard College and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  He is a former chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine and president of the Medical Staff at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and currently practices as an internist and urgent care physician at Family Care Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Sophal Ear: Escaping the Khmer Rouge: the rest of the story.

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Sophal Ear, Ph.D., is a tenured Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles where he teaches international political economy, international development, international security, and Asian security. Previously, he taught contemporary theories of political economy, Asian political economy, and how to rebuild countries after wars at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and international development policy at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. 

He is the author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2013, and co-author of The Hungry Dragon: How China’s Resources Quest is Reshaping the World (Routledge, 2013, He wrote and narrated the award-winning documentary film "The End/Beginning: Cambodia" based on his 2009 TED Talk and has appeared in several other documentaries. In 2015 he was named a 40 Under 40 Inspiring Professor by NerdWallet and in 2016 won the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Achievement Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Public Service by the Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program. A graduate of Princeton and Berkeley, he moved to the United States from France as a Cambodian refugee at the age of 10.

 Tenzin Dickie: Tibetan Stories of Homeland, Exile, and Diaspora


 Tenzin Dickie is a poet, writer and translator living in NYC. Her work has appeared in Cultural AnthropologyThe Washington Post online, Words Without Borders and Modern Poetry in Translation, among other places, and are forthcoming in The Tibet Reader by Duke University Press. She is editor of Old Demons, New Deities published by OR Books, which is the first English-language anthology of modern Tibetan fiction published in the west.

She is also editor of The Treasury of Lives, an online, open-access biographical encyclopedia of Tibet, Inner Asia and the Himalayan Region. A 2014-2015 fellow of the American Literary Translators’ Association, she holds an MFA in Fiction and Literary Translation from Columbia University where she was a Hertog fellow, and a BA in English literature from Harvard University.

Born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India where she lived till she was fourteen, her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, through the Tibetan Resettlement Program. After attending the local high school, she went on to study English and American literature at Harvard where she was President of the Harvard Students for a Free Tibet and features editor of the Harvard South Asian Journal. She then worked at the Office of Tibet, NY, as Special Assistant to the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the Americas.

While doing her MFA in Fiction and Literary Translation at Columbia, she began to study and translate contemporary Tibetan poetry into English. As the Chinese Communist Party works to censor and suppress Tibetan language works, Dickie focuses on a group of established and emerging writers in and around Amdo and is happy to be a conduit in making their work available to the rest of the world. Her current translation project is Pema Bhum’s memoir of his teacher, Remembering Dorje Tsering. One of the rare Tibetan accounts of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, it’s the story of how Dorje Tsering saved the Tibetan language in his area of Rebkong, at a time when Tibetan could no longer be taught in schools, by teaching his students Mao Zedong Thought in Tibetan.


Trita Parsi: Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy

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Trita Parsi is an award winning author, speaker and founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. In 2013 he gave a very popular “TED” Talk.

His highly regarded books include Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press) for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers and was the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the 2010 recipient of the $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. His second book A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press) was selected by Foreign Affairs journal as the Best Book of 2012 on the Middle East.

His latest book - Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press, 2017), about which he will be speaking - reveals the behind the scenes story to the historic nuclear deal with Iran.

Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic who was jailed by both Shah and later, the Ayatollah Khomeini. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D.

He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, George Washington University and Georgetown University, as well as an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Dr. Parsi is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. His many articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane's Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera. 

David Firestein: China’s 19th People’s Congress: What are the Implications?


David Firestein is the founding Executive Director of the China Public Policy Center and Clinical Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas’s Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs.

As CPPC chief, Firestein leads UT's institutional engagement with China and oversees innovative interdisciplinary research on China-related domestic and foreign policy topics. Prior to joining UT, Firestein served as senior vice president and Perot Fellow at the East West Institute; there, he led the Institute’s work in the areas of U.S.-China relations, East Asian security and U.S.-Russia relations.

Professor Firestein has a decorated career U.S. diplomat from 1992–2010, Firestein specialized primarily in China and U.S.-China relations. He is the author or co-author of three books on China, including two published Chinese-language best-sellers. Firestein speaks Chinese at the near-native level.

 Throughout his career, Firestein has played an active role advancing U.S.-China and U.S.-Asia trade. He has also produced path-breaking thought leadership, scholarship and Capitol Hill testimony on a range of topics, including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, U.S.-China infrastructure investment cooperation, and the role of national exceptionalism as a driver of major international conflict today  Firestein was also a principal architect of the U.S.-China High-Level Political Party Leaders Dialogue.

Zachary Karabell: The Rise of World Populism


As a commentator, Karabell is a Contributing Editor for Politico. Previously he wrote “The Edgy Optimist” column for Slate, Reuters, and The Atlantic. He is a LinkedIn Influencer, a CNBC Contributor, a regular commentator on MSNBC, and was a Contributing Editor for The Daily Beast. He also contributes to such publications as The Washington Post, Wired, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Financial Times, and Foreign Affairs.

Zachary Karabell is Head of Global Strategies at Envestnet, and is also President of River Twice Research. Previously, he was Executive Vice President, Chief Economist, and Head of Marketing at Fred Alger Management, a New York-based investment firm. 

Educated at Columbia, Oxford and Harvard, where he received his Ph.D., Karabell has taught at several leading universities, including Harvard and Dartmouth, and has written widely on economics, investing, history and international relations. His most recent book, The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World, was published by Simon & Schuster in February 2014. His next book will be a two-century history of money, power and the making of America using the storied firm Brown Brothers Harriman as the narrative arc, to be published by Penguin Press in 2018. He is the author of eleven previous books, including Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends On It (Simon & Schuster, 2009); and Sustainable Excellence: The Future of Business in the 21st Century and in 2003, the World Economic Forum designated him a "Global Leader for Tomorrow."

T. R. Reid


Reid, author of the critically acclaimed bestsellers “The Healing of America”, “The United States of Europe” and now, “A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System”  has been received with unparalleled enthusiasm at his several previous appearances before the CFWAC. He will give us thoughts on what works and what doesn’t as he compares and contrast the taxation systems of the world’s developed countries. His presentation is certain to be both controversial and entertaining.

“Reid takes us on a world tour of tax systems and the efforts to reform them. He approaches this most disliked specialty of the dismal science of economics with a wry voice and a light touch… a rich and sturdy fabric of facts presented in plain English.” The New York Times review of “A Fine Mess”.

“Mr. Reid’s underlying message of hope does not preclude an intensely satisfying quotient of moral outrage at the worst casualties of our system as it stands.” New York Times Review of Books about “The Healing of America”

TR Reid’s “The United States of Europe” nudges “… America Awake as a United Europe Takes the Stage”, New York Times


Ved Nanda: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq


 Professor Ved Nanda is significantly involved in the global international law community. He is Past President of the World Jurist Association and now its Honorary President. He is a former Vice President and counselor of the American Society of International Law, and a member of the advisory council of the United States Institute of Human Rights. He was formerly the United States Delegate and Vice-Chair of the Executive Council to the World Federation of the United Nations Associations in Geneva, and served on the Board of Directors of the United Nations Association-USA. 

Professor Nanda has been honored with numerous international and national law awards, including the “Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award for Community Peace Building” from Soka Gakkai International and Morehouse College, the World Jurist Association “World Legal Scholar” award, and the United Nations Association Human Rights Award. He has received honorary doctorates from Soka University in Tokyo, Japan and from Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, India.

Professor Nanda is widely published. He has authored or co-authored 25 books in the various fields of international law, over 225 chapters and major law review articles. Professor Nanda has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor and Scholar at a number of universities in the United States and abroad. He is a regular opinion columnist for the Denver Post.

Dr. Robert Daly: US-China Relations after the American Election

Considered by many as one of the most articulate and concise interpreters of modern China to the western world, Robert Daly was named as the second director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Woodrow Wilson Center in August, 2013.  He came to the Wilson Center from the Maryland China Initiative at the University of Maryland.  Prior to that, he was American Director of the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing.  

Robert Daly began work in US-China relations as a diplomat, serving as Cultural Exchanges Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the late 80s and early 90s.  After leaving the Foreign Service, he taught Chinese at Cornell University, worked on television and theater projects in China as a host, actor, and writer, and helped produce Chinese-language versions of Sesame Street and other Children’s Television Workshop programs.  During the same period, he directed the Syracuse University China Seminar and served as a commentator on Chinese affairs for CNN, the Voice of America, and Chinese television and radio stations.  Mr. Daly has testified before Congress on U.S.-China relations and has lectured at scores of Chinese and American institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution, the East-West Center, the Asia Society, and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.  He has lived in China for 11 years and has interpreted for Chinese leaders, including Chinese president Jiang Zemin and vice president Li Yuanchao, and American leaders, including Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger.

Kirsti Kauppi: Finland: How a Small Country Punches Above its Weight in International Politics

Finland’s geopolitical location is one of the most interesting in the world. It is a Nordic country, a member of the European Union, and a close NATO partner with an 800 mile border with Russia. Now, as a centenarian, it is also one of the most successful countries in the world. 

Ms. Kirsti Kauppi became Ambassador of Finland to the United States in September 2015. Before that (2012-2015) she was Political Director (Director General for Political Affairs) at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. In 2009-2012 Ambassador Kauppi served as Director General for Africa and the Middle East.

In 2005 she was appointed Ambassador of Finland to Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN-related international organizations located in Vienna. During her term in Vienna, Ambassador Kauppi also served for three years as the Finnish Governor in the IAEA Board of Governors, including vice-chair of the Board.

Ambassador Kauppi has also served in the Finnish Embassy in Berlin (2003-2005) as Deputy Chief of Mission (Minister). Her other foreign posts include Washington (1997-2000), the Finnish Permanent Mission to the EU in Brussels (1993- 1997) and Bangkok (1989-92),

In 2001-2003 she was head of EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy coordination in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. This was after serving two years (2000-2001) as advisor to the State Secretary. Ambassador Kauppi was born in 1957 in Oulu, Northern Finland. She studied in the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and received her Master's degree in Economics in 1981. In 1983 she joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland where she has made her professional career since then. Ambassador Kauppi is, in addition to her native Finnish, fluent in English, Swedish, German and French. 

Special Program: no dinner scheduled.

Robert Dannenberg: Is There “Perfect” Cybersecurity to Protect Countries and Corporations from Cyber- hacking?

Dannenberg is the former Head of Global Security for Goldman Sachs and Chief of Operations for Counter Terrorism at the CIA. He is uniquely qualified to speak on this topic. He also held the position of Director for International Security Affairs for BP. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and has done post-graduate studies at Georgetown University.

During his 24 year tenure at the CIA he served in several leadership positions, including Chief of Operations for the Counter Terrorism Center, Chief of the Central Eurasia Division and Chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.

Robert is a recipient of Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, The Donovan Award for Operation Excellence, and the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counter Terrorism and the Director’s Award.  He is a member of the Board of Advisors to the Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center and the Board of Business Executives for National Security.

Ambassador Gary Grappo: Challenges to US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Gary A. Grappo was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on March 6, 2006. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.

Following his posting as US ambassador to Oman, He served as Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Baghdad and then Envoy and Head of Mission of the UN Middle East Quartet under former British PM Tony Blair in Jerusalem. 

From November of 2003 to November of 2005, Mr. Grappo was Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counselor of the United States Mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which includes the Embassy and Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran. Prior to his assignment to Riyadh, he served as Director of the Office of Regional and Economic Affairs in the Bureau of Near East Affairs of the Department of State in Washington, DC. During that assignment, he played a leading role in the establishment and implementation of the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

Mr. Grappo has received several Department awards, including three Superior Honor Awards--for his work on food relief and economic recovery during and after the fall of the Soviet Union, for his leadership role in the 1995 Amman Middle East North Africa Economic Summit, and for his work in the U.S. Government’s campaign against terrorism financing in the Middle East--as well as several group and individual Meritorious Honor Awards.

Mr. Grappo holds a BS in Mathematics from the U. S. Air Force Academy, MS in Geodesy and Survey Engineering from Purdue University, and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.  He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Josef Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver and the former Senior Visiting Scholar at the Center for Global & Area Studies at the University of Wyoming.

Laura Secor : Children of Paradise, The Struggle for the Soul of Iran

In 1979, seemingly overnight—moving at a clip some thirty years faster than the rest of the world—Iran became the first revolutionary theocracy in modern times. Since then, the country has been largely a black box to the West, a sinister presence looming over the horizon. But inside Iran, a breathtaking drama has unfolded since then, as religious thinkers, political operatives, poets, journalists, and activists have imagined and reimagined what Iran should be. They have drawn as deeply on the traditions of the West as of the East and have acted upon their beliefs with urgency and passion, frequently staking their lives for them. 
With more than a decade of experience reporting on, researching, and writing about Iran, Laura Secor has observed this unprecedented history as a story of individuals caught up in the slipstream of their time, seizing and wielding ideas powerful enough to shift its course as they wrestle with their country’s apparatus of violent repression as well as its rich and often tragic history. Her latest book, considered essential reading at this moment when the fates of our countries have never been more entwined, Children of Paradise will stand as a classic of political reporting; an indelible portrait of a nation and its people striving for change.

Tom Farer: The US Grand Strategy: from Bush to Obama to Trump

 Tom Farer has a long and successful career as a leader, scholar, and keen observer of the international scene. In his presentation he will step back a bit to put today’s turmoil in the U.S. and the Middle East into a broader context by examining the evolution of recent American foreign policy.  He will conclude with a look into the future to speculate how this process may continue into the Trump era.

Farer is University Professor at the University of Denver, a position he assumed after serving for fourteen years (1996-2010) as Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.  He previously served as President of the University of New Mexico, President of the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and President of the Association of Professional Schools of International Relations.  He has taught law or international relations and foreign policy at Columbia, MIT, Rutgers, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Tulane, Princeton, American University and Cambridge University and has been Honorary Professor at Peking University.  He has been a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment and The Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.  He has worked in the Department of State as special assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs and the Department of Defense as special assistant to the General Counsel.  At the United Nations he served as legal advisor to the UN operation in Somalia where decades earlier he had served as law and karate instructor to the National Police force.  He is on the editorial boards of the American Journal of International Law and the Human Rights Quarterly and was co-editor of the journal Global Governance.  He has published twelve books and monographs.  His many articles have appeared in such journals as the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, the Harvard and Columbia Law Reviews, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Quarterly, and the American Journal of International Law.