For more than 25 years, Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized citizens in Uganda, killing tens of thousands and abducting more than 25,000 children to become soldiers and sex slaves. But one philanthropic group used nontraditional means to stop the slaughter. Hari Sreenivasan spoke to human rights advocate and the Bridgeway Foundation CEO Shannon Sedgwick Davis to learn more.
The record number of foreigners who fought in the Syrian civil war and their involvement in terrorist attacks in the West have highlighted the importance of foreign fighters and the need to develop better policies to stop them. In his latest book, “Road Warriors: Foreign Fighters in the Armies of Jihad,” Brookings Senior Fellow Daniel Byman weaves the story of the modern jihadi foreign fighter movement, bringing together past conflicts such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya and current ones such as Iraq, Syria, and Somalia. Byman discusses how and why foreign fighters pose a threat but also how they often foster infighting, alienate local populations, and otherwise hurt the very causes they try to advance. Byman further argues that, left alone, the foreign fighters are dangerous, but that states can effectively stymie their rise and reduce the allure of conflict. On May 10, Brookings hosted the launch event for “Road Warriors,” featuring a discussion with the author moderated by Peter Bergen, acclaimed journalist and vice president for global studies and fellows at New America. Following the discussion, the participants answered questions from the audience.
In an exciting new book, “Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, From Balfour to Trump,” Brookings Nonresident Fellow Khaled Elgindy takes a historical view of America’s engagement with the Palestinians and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He argues that while the United States has often presented itself as an honest broker and the one power best suited to mediate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Washington’s ability to serve as an effective peace broker has been hampered by a “blind spot” in two critical areas: Israeli power and Palestinian politics. The Trump administration’s policies, such as moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, are only the most extreme manifestations of this age-old, American blind spot, Elgindy writes.
On Wednesday, April 24, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings hosted the launch of “Blind Spot”, which featured a discussion with the author. Laura Rozen, the diplomatic correspondent for Al-Monitor, moderated the conversation. Following the discussion, panelists answered questions from the audience.
U.S.-China relations have entered perhaps their most trying period since normalization in 1979. As both countries rethink the trajectory of their relationship, the last 40 years of diplomacy are invaluable to informing new ideas on a way forward. With this notion in mind, Georgetown University recently launched the “U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast,” a series of interviews with former U.S. cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, and other senior officials who helped sculpt U.S.-China relations over much of the past four decades. These edited recordings, now being released individually, trace the negotiating history of major periods of conflict and cooperation between the two countries, including anti-Soviet coordination, the Tiananmen crackdown, nonproliferation, cyber theft, China’s WTO accession, its role in G-20 summits, and much more. In gleaning the lessons of the past, policymakers and the public may gain a clearer perspective on the road ahead for U.S.-China relations.
On April 22, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings welcomed James Green, the host of “U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast.” Green moderated a conversation with three highly esteemed experts who have shaped U.S.-China relations through their extensive careers in government—Amy Celico, David Shear, and Dennis Wilder—two of whom have been guests of the podcast. The group weighed the insights and oversights gathered through four decades of interacting with the Chinese government. Questions from the audience followed the discussion.
On April 15, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings hosted Singapore’s Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat for an address on U.S. engagement in Asia, covering both economic and strategic dimensions. Following Minister Heng’s address, Brookings Senior Fellow and Lee Kuan Yew Chair Jonathan Stromseth joined him for a conversation on this topic. Brookings President John R. Allen opened the program with welcoming remarks and introductions. Heng Swee Keat has been Singapore’s minister for finance since 2015. He was appointed first assistant secretary-general of the People’s Action Party in November 2018, and previously served as minister for education from 2011 to 2015. Prior to entering politics, Minister Heng served as the managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore from 2005 to 2011. He has served in various other public service positions, including as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the chief executive officer of the Trade Development Board, and the principal private secretary to then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. After the conversation, Minister Heng answered questions from the audience.
The Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim people who primarily live in Xinjiang, a northwestern region in China, have long suffered the repressive regime of the Chinese Communist Party. Since early 2017, however, a new wave of repression began, as Chinese authorities initiated a comprehensive “reeducation” program involving state propaganda, mass surveillance, and the internment of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in concentration camps. Using the handful of violent extremists among Uyghurs as a pretext, the Beijing government, as observed by international media and human rights organizations, has embarked on a crusade to erase the identity, religion, culture, and language of a minority.
This story is a major human rights crisis in itself, yet it also signals a broader threat to freedom in other parts of the world. In Xinjiang, Chinese authorities are testing their new products for social control, such as drones disguised as birds to surveil citizens and state-issued tracking devices on human bodies. This cutting-edge totalitarianism can easily be exported to other regimes around the world that are eager to spy on their citizens and persecute their dissidents.