About the Wilson Center

CONTEXT Series

CONTEXT is a series of concise, intelligent, hi-definition video interviews that draws on the expertise of Wilson Center scholars, fellows, and staff, along with visiting experts, to provide unique perspectives, insight, and analysis of the stories and events shaping our world.

Ukraine’s Election Delivers a New Generation of Leadership

Oct 30, 2014
In an exclusive interview, newly elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament, Hanna Hopko, shares her thoughts on post-election voter expectations and the challenges she and her party faces. Her party, the Samopomich (“Self-Reliance”) Party, polled at less than 5% before the election. But after the votes were counted, Samopomich is the third largest party in Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine.

From the Velvet Revolution to Putin’s Russia: Is the Need for “Free Media” Greater Than Ever?

Nov 14, 2014
A. Ross Johnson and Nenad Pejic reflect on the decline of independent media and the attempt to fill the information deficit in nations across the globe. What Cold War lessons resonate today and what are the demands of the new media environment? And is the U.S. doing enough to bring objective information to authoritarian countries and unfree societies?

It’s Complicated: The Evolving Dynamics of Iran’s Relations With Iraq and Syria

Nov 06, 2014
With ongoing violence in Iraq, a “proxy” civil war in Syria, the rise of the Islamic State, and ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, regional dynamics are very complicated. Middle East scholar and analyst Jubin Goodarzi helps us sort out the players and begin to understand the very complex relationships among these three key regional powers in this edition of CONTEXT.

The Future of Syria: A History Lesson

Oct 24, 2014
Christian Sahner provides insight into Syria’s civil war and the impact of the emergence of the Islamic State through the lens of history. What can the country's past tell us about its future?

Environmental Change and Security: A Look Back and Ahead With the Founder

Oct 03, 2014
For 20 years, the Environmental Change and Security Program has brought together a wide range of communities that do not always interact with one another to create new connections and discuss some of the most critical challenges facing the world today. We recently spoke with the program’s founding director, P.J. Simmons, and asked him to provide both a history lesson and a look forward.

Supply and Demand: The Present and Future of U.S. Energy Policy

Sep 30, 2014
Daniel Poneman has served as Deputy Secretary of Energy since 2009. As he prepares to leave office (October 2, 2014), he visited the Wilson Center to provide context on U.S. energy needs and the policies designed to meet them.

Who Owns The Arctic Part 7: Regional or Global Resource?

Jul 11, 2014
The Arctic is a nearly pristine environment containing vast resources that are attracting a growing number of non-Arctic nations. And questions about the changing nature of the region present challenges to our understanding of how to best approach a fragile ecosystem. Are the questions and challenges surrounding the Arctic regional or global in nature. Willy Østreng shares his thoughts during the final installment of our series, “Who Owns The Arctic?”

Is the Middle Class the Key to Security and Conflict Prevention?

Jul 11, 2014
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in much discussion of European Security and whether or not current arrangements and resources are adequate to deter threats. While much of the discussion has focused on NATO, former President of Finland, Martti Ahtissari, spoke to us about a more holistic view of how security is achieved and maintained.

Who Owns The Arctic Part 5: Focus on Russia

Jul 03, 2014
In part 5 of our series on the Arctic, Russia expert, Marlene Laruelle, shares her thoughts on Russia’s leading role as an Arctic nation and how it might react to a China-US partnership in the region.

Who Owns The Arctic Part 4: Focus on China

Jul 03, 2014
In part 4 of our series, Anne-Marie Brady provides insight into China’s goals for the region and possibilities for Chinese collaboration with the United States.

Who Owns The Arctic Part 3: Who Makes the Rules?

Jun 26, 2014
Are there adequate rules and governing bodies in place to sort out current and anticipated disputes in the Arctic region? That’s the focus of part 3 of our series, “Who Owns The Arctic?” Rob Huebert shares his thoughts on the jurisdictional questions surrounding the earth’s northern pole.

Who Owns The Arctic Part 2: Is Sustainable Development Possible?

Jun 26, 2014
In part 2 of our series “Who Owns The Arctic?”, Aki Tonami discusses the prospects for protecting the environment and creating sustainable development as more and more countries turn their attention to the North Pole.

Who Owns the Arctic? Part I

Jun 19, 2014
Tensions over security, access, and environmental impacts in the Arctic are rising. While members of the Arctic Council assert their established rights under new circumstances, an increasing number of non-Arctic states seek an active role in the region.

The Future of NATO: Ukraine and Beyond

Jun 18, 2014
Some have described Russia’s aggression in Ukraine as a “wake up call” for NATO. In this Context interview, former Prime Minister of Poland and a former Russian Foreign Minister offer their perspectives on the past, present, and future of European security and the NATO alliance.

Reality & Potential: How Large Can the Mexico-U.S. Border Economy Grow?

Jun 18, 2014
In this edition of CONTEXT, two legislative representatives from both the U.S. and Mexico provide cross-border perspectives on what can be done by both countries to enhance an already productive relationship.

Beyond the Current Crisis: The Big Picture in Venezuela

May 08, 2014
Demonstrators in Venezuela blame President Nicolás Maduro for "mismanaging" the economy of the oil-rich country and have said they will continue protesting until he resigns. But problems such as lack of security, high crime rates, and frustration with the country's poor economic situation did not begin when Maduro took office. In this edition of CONTEXT, Margarita López Maya looks at the big picture in Venezuela. How did it get to this point and what will it take to solve problems that have persisted for many years?

How Has Global Leadership Changed?

Apr 29, 2014
If a world leader had a do over, what would he do differently based on what he’s learned since leaving office? Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark discusses the current state of global leadership.

Who Can World Leaders Turn to For Advice?

Apr 28, 2014
Who can understand the problems and challenges faced by heads of state? One organization believes that former world leaders are best equipped to provide unique and helpful perspectives and advice that others can’t. Founded by F.W. DeKlek, who led South Africa during its transition from Apartheid, the Global Leadership Foundation is attempting to provide exactly that type of high-level service to nations in need. We spoke with the organizations Vice Chairman, former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, to learn more about this intriguing project.

Mexico’s Struggles With Violence: Is There an End in Sight?

Apr 16, 2014
In light of recent desperate measures taken by vigilantes and armed self-defense groups in rural Mexico, a new book, Building Resilient Communities in Mexico: Civic Responses to Crime and Violence, provides timely analysis of constructive responses from Mexican society to fight crime and violence. Here is what the authors had to say.

When Thinking About Border Security, Should the U.S. Look North?

Apr 03, 2014
Cross-border smuggling and border vulnerabilities on the tribal lands that straddle New York, Quebec, and Ontario are not new, but there is now increasing evidence linking the illicit tobacco network to terrorist funding, organized crime networks, and illegal movements of narcotics, weapons, and people. Experts discuss the complexities in solving the problem.

Too Hot To Handle: Assessing the Impact of Climate Change

Mar 27, 2014
Beyond partisan political debates, scientists are attempting to understand the reality and implications of a warming planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a new report that assesses a wide range of vulnerabilities related to rising temperatures. In this interview, Geoff Dabelko comments on the report's findings.

Business and the Environment: What’s Trending?

Mar 17, 2014
Bloomberg BNA is a leading provider of news to businesses around the world. We spoke with its director of environmental news, Larry Pearl, to learn about the issues that are of most interest to his clients. He provides insight into how the business community views climate change and also about a regulatory issue that may be rising in prominence.
Naheed Farid, Member of Parliament, Afghanistan

Afghanistan: The View From Parliament

Mar 06, 2014
With an upcoming presidential election and the anticipated withdrawal of U.S. troops, 2014 will be a very important year for Afghanistan. Naheed Farid, Afghanistan’s youngest member of Parliament and a woman, talks about the concerns and hopes for women and young people in her country.

Improving Citizen Security in Mexico: Is the Peña Nieto Administration Succeeding?

Feb 05, 2014
Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto made several bold promises while on the campaign trail in 2012 on how he would improve citizen security, including the unofficial claim that his administration would cut violence by 50% during his first year in office. With the administration’s first year complete, we asked two expert observers to provide analysis and context on what has transpired and to provide insight on the outlook moving forward.

NAFTA at 20: Success, Failure, or Something In Between?

Dec 19, 2013
It was going to change the world. Some said for the better and others for the worse. As we observe the 20th Anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we offer three perspectives (Canada, Mexico, US) on its successes, failures, and implications for future trade agreements.

The Federal Reserve System: Woodrow Wilson's Most Important Achievement?

Dec 19, 2013
Many people think of Woodrow Wilson’s legacy exclusively in terms of foreign policy. But his domestic achievements should not be overlooked. Economist Kent Hughes says that creation of the Federal Reserve System may be at the top of the list when it comes to evaluating Wilson’s presidency and legacy.

Global Violence Against Women: Can it be Stopped?

Dec 18, 2013
From human trafficking to wartime rape, violence against women is a widespread and persistent human rights and humanitarian problem. Wilson Center Fellow Alison Brysk discusses the scope of the problem, root causes, and possible solutions.

Do Friends Spy on Friends? What We Have Learned From the “Summer of Snowden”

Nov 20, 2013
Tension is high between the U.S. and its European allies over revelations about NSA spying. Georg Mascolo, former Editor-in-Chief of the German news weekly Der Spiegel recently met with Edward Snowden and has co-authored an article about the need to rebuild trust between allies. In this interview he summarizes what we have learned from the "Summer of Snowden."

The Future of American Warfare: The Rise of Special Ops

Nov 15, 2013
Admiral William H. McRaven said that, “Folks within the Special Operations community listen to Linda Robinson, and when they listen to her I listen to them…” Robinson has spent much of the last two years in Afghanistan studying the evolution of special ops in their largest and longest deployment since Vietnam. In this interview, she provides insight and context on this evolution of U.S. military strategy.

Hopes for Peace in a Troubled Region: The View from Israel

Oct 30, 2013
In this Context Q&A, former Israeli Chief Peace Negotiator Gilead Sher discussed the newest round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the larger security picture in the region.

Burkina Faso: A Conversation With President Compaoré

Oct 24, 2013
During his recent visit to the United States, we had the opportunity to speak with President Blaise Compaoré about his role in conflict mediation in Mali and also about his thoughts on economic development in Burkina Faso.

Nuclear Weapons: Lesson From the Yom Kippur War

Oct 03, 2013
According to some historical accounts, Israel came very close to deploying nuclear weapons during the Yom Kippur War. But a newly released firsthand account of high-level deliberations provides a more nuanced account of what occurred. Avner Cohen is a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and a former Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Dr. Cohen is the author of two groundbreaking books on Israeli nuclear history and has worked with the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project for the past two years to facilitate the release of historical materials from his research collection.

Understanding North Korea: Tyranny of the Weak

Sep 26, 2013
A weak state by many measures, North Korea has managed to survive while other regimes have fallen. To many, the nation remains a seemingly impenetrable mystery when it comes to understanding motivations and behavior. But historian Charles Armstrong believes the near opposite is true.

John Kerry’s Challenge: Restarting the Middle East Peace Process

Jul 26, 2013
Stalled efforts to reach an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians are once again front and center. Secretary of State Kerry has committed himself to finding a way forward on a dispute that has become one of the world’s immovable objects. Is there any reason to believe that this time can be different? Aaron Miller, a veteran of Middle East negotiations, provides context.

Mixed Set of Expectations for Iran’s New President

Jul 26, 2013
When Hassan Rouhani takes office as Iran’s newly elected president on August 3, the expectations of those who elected him and expect him to pursue a moderate course will be high, but many remain skeptical about the prospects for real change. Leading Iran expert Shaul Bakhash provides context on expectations for the new president.

Pope Francis Challenges Brazil’s Leaders to Address Economic Inequality

Jul 26, 2013
The first Latin American Pope has come to Brazil with a message that challenges leaders to address the needs of the “have-nots” at a time when citizens have become increasingly restless about economic inequality. Will Pope Francis’ message have an impact on Brazilian politics and renew interest in the Catholic Church among Brazil’s youth? Paulo Sotero provides context.

Egyptian Democracy: Is the Ouster of Morsi a Step Forward or Backward?

Jul 11, 2013
Many observers see the military’s removal of President Morsi from office as a step backward for democracy and the rule of law. We spoke with a former Egyptian official who believes the opposite and sees the current situation as an example of democracy in action. Moushira Khattab provides context on the evolution of Egyptian politics.

Tipping the Scales: Can TTIP Jump Start the Global Economy?

Jul 10, 2013
With a still sluggish and struggling global economy, many economists believe that a successfully negotiated trade agreement between the U.S. and E.U. could provide the kind of jolt that many markets need. With negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) about to heat up, Kent Hughes provides context on what could be a game changing agreement.

Widespread Protests in Brazil Challenge Government to Respond

Jul 02, 2013
Mass protests across Brazil surprised politicians at all levels of government when they began in June following a brutal police response to demonstrations against increases in public transport fares in São Paulo. Paulo Sotero, just back from Brazil, described what’s happening and what it represents.

Crime Violence in Mexico: Is the Tide Turning?

Jun 26, 2013
Recent government statistics suggest that an almost decade long focus on reducing crime related violence in Mexico is working. But do the numbers accurately depict what’s really happening? Are the efforts of the new administration and its recent predecessors improving public safety and helping to change the country’s image? Our guest, David Shirk, has been following the situation for many years and offers a broad perspective on what’s gone before, the current situation, and prospects for the future during this edition of CONTEXT.

Iran’s Surprising Election: Has the Reform Movement Been Reborn?

Jun 17, 2013
With just about everyone expecting the need for a runoff, it came as a significant surprise when moderate presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani captured more than 50 percent of the vote. A late surge of enthusiasm and some key endorsements gave Rouhani the victory and seems to have given new life to Iran’s reform movement. Haleh Esfandiari, the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program Director, provides context.

Iran after Ahmadinejad: What to Expect From the Presidential Election

Jun 13, 2013
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called on all Iranians to vote in Friday's elections. Last minute changes to the field of candidates and new endorsements for moderate candidate, Hassan Rouhani, have created “buzz” according to a journalist in Tehran. Will this late excitement have an impact on voter turnout, and more importantly, on the actual outcome? To gain insight into the field of candidates and the forces influencing the election, we spoke with the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program Director, Haleh Esfandiari.

How Well Do You Understand the U.S.-Mexico Border?

Jun 04, 2013
In this Context interview, Wilson Center Vice President of Programs Andrew Selee discusses common misperceptions about the U.S.-Mexico border.

Africa Transformed: How Women and Youth are Leading the Way Through Technology and Innovation

May 08, 2013
Development on the African continent has gone “high tech.” Using the Internet, mobile devices, and other tools unavailable to previous generations, young people, particularly women, are leading the way in finding innovative ways to unleash technology to solve problems large and small. During a recent conference conducted by the Wilson Center’s Africa Program, we spoke with three front line leaders of a movement that has transformational potential.

Keeping the Lights On: Cyber Threats and the North American Power Grid

Apr 25, 2013
Attempted cyber attacks on critical infrastructure occur daily throughout the world. And the job of protecting critical infrastructure from potentially catastrophic disruptions is a 24-7 undertaking. Leading cyber security expert Mark Fabro discusses the U.S. and Canadian efforts to protect the North American power grid.

Presidential Election Results Challenged in Venezuela

Apr 15, 2013
An unexpectedly close outcome in the Venezuela election has resulted in charges of “irregularities” and the demand for a recount from opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Can the “Chavismo” movement survive without Hugo Chavez? We spoke with Latin American Program Director Cynthia Arnson to gain perspective on this and other questions.
Robert Litwak on Context

How Serious are North Korea’s Nuclear Threats?

Apr 09, 2013
How much do we really know about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and ability to attack the U.S. and its allies? To explore these questions and more, we spoke with the Wilson Center’s resident expert on nuclear-powered “outlier states,” Robert Litwak.

Is Social Entrepreneurship the Key to Ending Poverty?

Mar 21, 2013
Social entrepreneurship blurs the boundaries between civil society, the state, and the market. The term embraces a range of activities, organizations, and individuals including non-governmental organizations, commercial enterprises, and entrepreneurs that has significant potential and hope for addressing global poverty. In this Context interview, Oxford University professor and author Paul Collier describes the latest innovations and alternative solutions to meeting international development goals and empowering the poor.

Has the Arab Spring Become a Nightmare for Women?

Mar 13, 2013
In the wake of the Arab Spring, women are not participating in the drafting of new constitutions and political violence against them is on the rise. In this interview, Special Representative to Civil Society for the League of Arab States Haifa Abu Ghazaleh discusses the challenges women of the MENA region are facing in the post-Arab Spring period and prospects for their future.

Iran’s Nuclear Program: Diplomacy Inches Forward

Mar 08, 2013
The last round of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program proceeded with a positive tone and ended with an agreement to meet again. Is it possible that a deal is in sight? Or is Iran simply engaged in stall tactics while its nuclear research and development moves forward? Iran Nuclear expert Michael Adler assesses the recent meeting and looks ahead to the next round of negotiations.

U.S.-Mexico Relations: Through the Eyes of Former Ambassadors

Mar 01, 2013
Few relationships, if any, matter more to the United States than the one it shares with its southern neighbor. Mexico is a vital trading partner, a source of heritage for millions of Americans, a neighbor in an uncertain world, and a partner on numerous global challenges. In this CONTEXT interview, we explore this important relationship through the eyes of former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico.

The Science Beat: Has Quality of Reporting Improved or Declined?

Feb 28, 2013
In a world increasingly driven by scientific and technological breakthroughs, are we getting the information we need to understand the rapid changes and choices we face? And as print space dedicated to science decreases, have online sources emerged to fill the void?

U.S.-Mexico Relations: Through the Eyes of Former Ambassadors

Mar 01, 2013
Few relationships, if any, matter more to the United States than the one it shares with its southern neighbor. Mexico is a vital trading partner, a source of heritage for millions of Americans, a neighbor in an uncertain world, and a partner on numerous global challenges. In this CONTEXT interview, we explore this important relationship through the eyes of former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico.

Police Reform in Mexico: Can Trust and Security be Achieved?

Feb 21, 2013
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced widespread changes to Mexico’s federal security forces. As these changes begin to take shape, we spoke with two of Mexico’s leading experts on police reform to discuss the current state of reform efforts and the issues that the Peña Nieto government must address.

Environmental Issues: What’s Trending in 2013?

Feb 12, 2013
Which environmental issues will dominate headlines this year? Bloomberg BNA's Director of Environmental News, John Sullivan, offers his thoughts on what will be the key legislative, regulatory, and legal developments in 2013.

Colombia Tries Again: Can Peace Be Achieved This Time?

Jan 31, 2013
New rounds of negotiations are underway in Colombia between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, Latin America’s oldest insurgency. What are the prospects for success this time around? To gain perspective on why the environment may be right for progress, we spoke with one of Colombia’s most accomplished journalists, Enrique Santos Calderón.

Africa Rising

Jan 17, 2013
For decades, much of the news about Africa was dire. From disease and famine to horrific violence, the continent has endured its share of problems. But while challenges remain, positive trends are developing across the continent. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson spoke about trends and developments and about U.S. involvement with the nations of Africa.

After Chavez: Venezuela Prepares For Possible Transition

Jan 03, 2013
Discussions are underway to determine the best course if Hugo Chavez is unable to recover from his latest health setback by his inauguration day on January 10. Will the letter of the Constitution be adhered to, or will some special circumstance be invoked in an effort to maintain the ailing president’s hold on power? And what will happen if Chavez, Venezuela’s President since 1999, is unable to fulfill his duties? Cindy Arnson, Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program has been monitoring the situation and provides context on what to expect in the coming days and weeks.

Can Mexico's Oil and Gas Production Keep Pace With the Nation's Energy Needs?

Dec 20, 2012
During his campaign, recently elected Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke of energy sector reform as a national priority. So is the time ripe for significant change? And is there agreement on the nature of the problems and preferred solutions? To gain perspective on the current situation and the potential for reform, we spoke with Mexican energy policy expert and Wilson Center Mexico Institute Director, Duncan Wood.

Part I of The Latino Vote: Election 2012 Results

Dec 14, 2012
Perhaps the biggest story to emerge from the 2012 election other than the actual results, is the potentially decisive role played by Latino American voters. In part one of our series, Tamar Jacoby, President of ImmigrationWorks USA, looks back at the recent outcome and its implications for the future.

Part II of The Latino Vote: Bad News for the Grand Old Party?

Dec 14, 2012
In our second installment, Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, discusses challenges facing the Republican Party when it comes to increasing support from Latino voters.

Part III of The Latino Vote: Why Did Arizona Buck the Trend?

Dec 14, 2012
While Latino voters were helping deliver Democratic majorites in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia, Arizona remained solidly in the Republican column. This happend in spite of the state's growing Latino population and also in the face of heated debate over its immigration policies. To gain insight into Arizona's politics, we spoke with Arizona State University's Rodolfo Espino.

Part IV of the Latino Vote: A Look Ahead

Dec 14, 2012
In our final chapter, Roberto Suro looks beyond the headlines of 2012 to identify the most important trend lines reshaping the dynamics of U.S. elections.

Obama's Second Term: The Foreign Policy Agenda

Dec 06, 2012
From ongoing turmoil in the Middle East and the need to "pivot" to the Pacific in response to China's rise, situations demanding the administration's attention abound. And the clock is still ticking on Iran's movement toward becoming a nuclear power. Veteran journalist David Ignatius of The Washington Post tells us what to expect from Obama Administration foreign policy during the next four years.

A New Cold War? The Future of US-China Relations

Dec 13, 2012
The shadow of the Cold War still looms large over global affairs. Could increasing competition between China and the United States lead us back to another super-power stand-off? China expert Cheng Li discusses the consequences of a downturn in US-China relations.

Negotiating With Iran Part 1: Switzerland's Protecting Power Mandate

Nov 06, 2012
Iran's nuclear program continues to move forward. Israel and the United States have declared a nuclear Iran unacceptable. Negotiations have stalled while sanctions appear to be taking a toll on the Islamic Republic's economy. How will the standoff be resolved? Is a diplomatic solution possible or is a military confrontation inevitable? To gain insight into the possibility for diplomacy to prevail, we spoke with two veteran Iran experts with decades of direct experience in the diplomatic arena. First up is the Swiss Ambassador to the Islamic Republic. Because of Switzerland's role as "protective power" of the U.S. in Iran, Livia Leu Agosti has served as the diplomatic liaison between the countries since 2009.

Israeli Security: Has it Changed in the Wake of the Arab Spring?

Nov 07, 2012
Efraim Halevy, former Director of Mossad and one of Israel’s most preeminent strategic thinkers, provides his perspective on how sweeping changes throughout the region may be altering the security scenario for Israel and its allies.

Negotiating With Iran Part 2: A Matter of Trust

Nov 06, 2012
Iran's nuclear program continues to move forward. Israel and the United States have declared a nuclear Iran unacceptable. Negotiations have stalled while sanctions appear to be taking a toll on the Islamic Republic's economy. How will the standoff be resolved? Is a diplomatic solution possible or is a military confrontation inevitable? To gain insight into the possibility for diplomacy to prevail, we spoke with two veteran Iran experts with decades of direct experience in the diplomatic arena. John Limbert, one of the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, shares his unique perspective on U.S.-Iran relations.

On The Brink Part 1: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Later

Oct 26, 2012
50 years later, new research is shedding historical light on the tense and dangerous nuclear standoff between the US and USSR on the tiny island of Cuba. The first segment in a CONTEXT series marking the anniversary features Timothy Naftali who provides insight on the epic tale from the perspectives of Havana and Moscow.

On The Brink Part 2: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Later

Oct 26, 2012
New research is shedding additional light on the Cold War's iconic nuclear standoff between the US and USSR, with the tiny nation of Cuba in the middle. For the next two weeks, CONTEXT will look back on what we're learning with an eye toward the lessons that apply today. In part 2 of our "On The Brink" series, Philip Brenner describes how and why the missiles were brought to Cuba and what might have happened if they'd stayed.

On The Brink Part 3: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Later

Oct 26, 2012
New research is shedding additional historical light on the Cold War's iconic nuclear standoff between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., with the tiny nation of Cuba in the middle. For the next two weeks, CONTEXT will look back on what we're learning with an eye toward the lessons that apply today. In part 3 of our "On The Brink" series, Svetlana Savranskaya describes the underrated role of Russia's Anastas Mikoyan in events that ultimately avoided nuclear catastrophe.

On the Brink Part 4: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Later

Oct 24, 2012
New research is shedding additional historical light on the Cold War's iconic nuclear standoff between the US and USSR. CONTEXT has been looking back on what we're learning with an eye toward the lessons that apply today. In part 4 of our "On The Brink" series, James Hershberg tells us why new documents show us that, "this is not our parent's Cuban Missile Crisis."

On The Brink Part 5: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Later

Oct 26, 2012
In the latest chapter of our "On The Brink" series, we explore the meaning and relevance of the term, "nuclear order of battle" with Robert S. Norris from the Federation of American Scientists. If the worst had happened, how would escalation have occured? Norris' research is the first that attempts to answer this question.

On The Brink Part 6: Final Thoughts on The Cuban Missle Crisis

Oct 29, 2012
In our final chapter, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Martin J. Sherwin looks at the big picture of the crisis within the Cold War and offers thoughts on the ultimate lessons learned from the super power standoff.

Chavez Wins Again

Oct 11, 2012
Despite a number of prominent polls indicating a tight finish, Hugo Chavez was re-elected President of Venezuela by a comfortable margin. But the opposition ran a competitive race and may have some momentum with regional elections set for December. Chavez’s health and prospects for completing his latest term in office remain questionable. In this Context interview, Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, discusses the implications of the election results.

The Impact of Iran’s Currency Collapse

Oct 06, 2012
Calm has been restored for now, but Iran’s economic problems have not gone away just because protesters have left the streets of Tehran. Iranian businessman and observer Bijan Khajehpour provides insight into the nature and depth of Iran’s economic problems and where it all might lead.

Civil Liberties in America After 9/11

Oct 03, 2012
Many security experts believe that the question most relevant to the possibility of a “cyber 9/11” attack is not “if” but “when.” What do we need to do to fortify our digital infrastructure against such a worst case scenario? And what are the implications for civil liberties when privacy is already a threatened concept in the virtual world of cyber space? We spoke with Anthony Romero, who became Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union just days before 9/11, to gain his perspective on these and other tough questions.

Election Countdown: Poll Watching in Venezuela

Oct 02, 2012
Is Hugo Chavez sailing toward re-election? Or is challenger Henrique Capriles surging toward upset victory in Venezuela’s election? Your answer might depend on which of the country’s polls you’ve been following. Though major polling firms differ on where the race stands, they seem to agree that the final outcome is almost impossible to predict. We spoke with one of Venezuela’s top pollsters, Luis Vicente Leon, Director of Datanalisis, for an up to the moment analysis of the polling data and the dynamics of the race.

Egypt Rising: President Morsi Addresses the UN

Sep 27, 2012
Egyptian President Morsi's debut on the world stage was anything but tentative. He began by challenging the world to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and addressed the ongoing civil war in Syria, calling it the "tragedy of the age." To gain perspective on the highly-anticipated speech from Egypt's first democratically elected leader, we spoke with former Washington Post Cairo Bureau Chief, David Ottaway, on the eve of his latest trip to Egypt.

The Post 9/11 Threat

Sep 26, 2012
In this interview, Counterterrorism expert Philip Mudd describes the ability of the US to identify and respond to emerging global threats such as terrorism, drug cartels, and human trafficking. Are we safer today and what is the US national security narrative in the age of globalization?

First in Flight: Can America Retain its Leadership Position?

Sep 19, 2012
Always the world leader in the aerospace industry, today US leadership is threatened by budget constraints at home and heavy investment by other nations. In this interview with Context, Executive Vice President of The Boeing Company Jim Albaugh outlined what’s at stake and what steps the U.S. must take to lead the second century of flight.

America's Role in the World: Survey Results

Sep 12, 2012
A new Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey reveals a shift away from post 9/11 concerns to a focus on challenges from Asia. Council president Marshall Bouton describes Americans as “chastened” by the experiences of the past decade.
A view of the trading floor at the Nigerian Stock Exchange at the end of trading hours in Lagos

Uniting Africa: Is Regional Integration Possible?

Jul 27, 2012
One of the main obstacles to growth in Africa is the lack of intra-African trade and commerce. Africa Program Director Steven McDonald describes recent international efforts to encourage regional integration which he believes will accelerate economic growth, promote peace and stability, and support sustainable development goals.

Can Gaming Address Serious Issues?

Jul 27, 2012
Games are a great way to explore policy options because they allow the player to see both intended and unintended consequences of decisions, said Diane Tucker who directs the Center’s Serious Games Initiative. Tucker described important updates coming this fall with the Election Edition of the serious game Budget Hero.

Is Entrepreneurship the Key to Economic Recovery?

Jul 31, 2012
Historically, economic downturns have provided fertile ground for entrepreneurship. Is the same true during the current economic crisis? Amy Wilkinson, who has been studying and reporting on the vital world of entrepreneurs, describes how public policy can spur entrepreneurship and job creation.

Mediterranean Gas and Oil Discoveries Could Change the Global Energy Equation

Jul 18, 2012
Recently discovered vast reserves of natural gas and oil in the Mediterranean have the potential to alter the geopolitics of energy in the region and beyond. In additon to enormous political and economic consequences, there is significant potential for both cooperation and conflict. Expert on energy geopolitics Emmanuel Karagiannis provides an overview of the possibilities.

Can the EU Oil Embargo Bring Iran Back to the Bargaining Table?

Jun 27, 2012
As nuclear talks with Iran remained deadlocked, the EU confirmed plans for a full embargo of Iranian crude oil exports commencing July 1. Will these sanctions force Iran back to the bargaining table? Michael Adler explains the latest developments.

In Search of a Budget Hero

Jun 20, 2012
With the threat of another partisan standoff over the federal budget looming, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) hosted a group of constituents to play a round of Budget Hero. The “serious game” is a fantastically effective tool that should be further deployed to the public, says Udall.

Egyptian Democracy in Peril

Jun 21, 2012
The deep divide between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood was confirmed at the ballot box. Regional expert David Ottaway analyzes the power struggle in a Post-Mubarak Egypt, and what to expect in the coming months.

Syria: Calls for Action, But a Lack of Good Options

Jun 14, 2012
Reports and images from Syria continue to cause heartbreak and outrage around the world as calls for intervention increase. Veteran analyst and observer Aaron David Miller says that there may be no good options for action.

The Arab Awakening: A Step Forward or Back For Women?

Jun 06, 2012
The initial optimism in the wake of the "Arab Spring" has in some cases given way to fears of women being marginalized through the rise of fundamentalist religious political parties. An expert on the global struggle for human rights, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, offers her analysis.

The Return of Vladimir Putin and the Future of Russian Democracy

Jun 06, 2012
Vladimir Putin began his third term as president of Russia amidst protests and questions about his ability to lead the country at this critical juncture in its post-Soviet evolution. We spoke to one of his critics, who happens to be the great-granddaughter of former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

Eurozone Reforms Still Captive to Local Politics

May 31, 2012
The populist backlash against austerity measures may force Greece to abandon the euro, sparking contagion in other parts of Europe. Speaking at The Wilson Center, Harvard scholar Harris Mylonas examines the influence of local politics on economic reforms.

Women’s Leadership in Post-Conflict Liberia

May 24, 2012
Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace played a major role in ending the nation’s 14-year civil war in 2003 and helped bring to power Liberia’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Olubanke King-Akerele, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Johnson Sirleaf discusses her new book, her country and the special role that women play there.
Supporters gather for Francois Hollande, Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 French presidential election

The End of Austerity Politics in Europe?

May 08, 2012
In the wake of this weekend's elections in France, Greece, and other parts of Europe, headlines across the globe suggest that voters have delivered a major anti-austerity message to their governments. Wilson Center expert Kent Hughes provides analysis and perspective on what political change in France and other countries might mean.

Arizona's Immigration Law on Trial

May 03, 2012
With a Supreme Court ruling expected this summer, the debate on state-level immigration enforcement is poised to shape the presidential campaign in unexpected ways. In this interview, Center expert Karthick Ramakrishnan discusses the Court’s recent hearing on Arizona’s controversial SB1070 law.

Iran Nuclear Talks: Is a Breakthrough Possible?

Apr 11, 2012
Expectations will be low at Saturday’s meeting on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. But dim hope is better than none at all, Wilson Center expert Michael Adler says. En route to Turkey, he tells Context the talks could reinvigorate diplomatic efforts between the West and Tehran.

Chasing Shadows: The Angleton Legacy and the World of Counterintelligence

Apr 18, 2012
His zeal both a benefit and a liability, longtime CIA counter-intelligence chief James Angleton is remembered with a mixed legacy. In this interview, Cambridge historian and Cold War expert Christopher Andrew discusses the complex personality behind one of the era’s towering figures.

Have Canada's Rules Helped Avoid Big Oil Spills?

Apr 05, 2012
Two years after Deepwater Horizon, memories linger of the massive Gulf oil disaster. In this interview, experts contrast Canada’s unique drilling regulations, which split responsibilities between Ottawa and the provinces, with a US regulatory framework overseen exclusively at the federal level.

Transnational Crime: The Americas’ Leading Security Threat

Mar 29, 2012
Aiding regional governments with intelligence and training, air and sea patrols, and guiding the interagency process are essential to beating organized crime. SOUTHCOM Commander Douglas M. Fraser discusses strategies to dismantle extortion, kidnapping, and drug-running bands.

Securing ‘Loose Nukes’

Mar 29, 2012
The international community is taking gradual—yet effective—steps to secure nuclear materials, with Russia “turning the corner from nuclear problem state to nuclear solution state,” Carnegie’s Matthew Rojansky says. In this interview, he and other experts assess the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
Ayatollah Khamenei voting

After Vote, A New Approach to Iran?

Mar 14, 2012
By consolidating Ayatollah Khamenei’s grip on power, last week’s elections suggest a new diplomatic “middle ground,” analyst Bijan Khajehpour says. “My feeling is that there could be an opening.”
Stefan Froehlich on Context

The Future of US-EU Relations

Mar 14, 2012
Once shoulder to shoulder allies against the USSR, the US and the EU still share many common challenges. In this interview Stefan Froehlich discusses trans-Atlantic ties, analyzing the impact of austerity budgets and a reduced US military presence on European security.

Diplomacy Reemerging to Deal With Iran

Mar 08, 2012
Diplomatic solutions are retaking center stage as recent developments—Iran’s parliamentary vote and the Netanyahu-Obama meeting—lead to a palpable softening of rhetoric, reducing the likelihood of imminent military action, Wilson Center expert Michael Adler tells Context.
George Kennan Thumbnail Image

John Lewis Gaddis on George Kennan

Mar 06, 2012
George F. Kennan will be remembered as one of America’s great foreign policy minds. In this interview, former Wilson Center Fellow John Lewis Gaddis reveals the complex personality behind the author of containment theory.

Mexico ‘Critically Important’ to US Economy

Feb 24, 2012
Enhanced North American economic integration benefits all of the United States—not just the border—Mexico’s Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan and former United States Trade Representative Carla Hills say. Mexico differs from other trade partners, since its U.S. exports contain such a large share of U.S. content, they note.

"The Week That Changed the World:" The 40th Anniversary of President Nixon's China Trip

Feb 17, 2012
In 1972, President Nixon became the first U.S. President to visit the People's Republic of China. Forty years later, the impact of that historic trip is still evident, as the U.S.-China relationship extends to economics, security, and climate. “The relationship we have now with China is the most important one we have in the world,” said Douglas Spelman, deputy director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States. He predicts the many positives of bilateral cooperation will outweigh the negatives of such historically contentious issues as human rights, Taiwan, and religious freedom.

Violence-plagued Horn of Africa in Need of Strategic Policy Vision

Feb 16, 2012
The site of hundreds of armed conflicts in the past quarter century, the Horn of Africa has suffered from a single-minded policy focus that emphasizes short-term tactical objectives at the expense of an overarching strategic vision, Wilson Center expert Paul Williams argues. Author of the new report, "Horn of Africa: Webs of Conflict and Pathways to Peace," Williams believes the time is now for policymakers to reconsider long-term strategies of peace-building and conflict-resolution—measures, which, he says, can go further to root out the causes of violence.

Can Cooperation Overcome Mistrust In U.S.-China Relationship?

Feb 13, 2012
Strategic mistrust between the U.S. and China is escalating, overshadowing their shared interests, says Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy. Vice President Xi Jinping’s visit will not produce immediate results but provides the two countries an opportunity to gain control of their relationship.
Trita Parsi

Iran-U.S. Ties Fray on Nuclear Concerns

Feb 08, 2012
The threat of military confrontation between Iran and the U.S. is real, as bilateral relations touch a low point on Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, says Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council. A former Wilson Center public policy scholar, Parsi questions whether efforts to negotiate and engage with Iran have hastened conflict, making war a more real risk than under the Bush administration, which employed a more hardline approach to Iran.

Challenging Chávez: What to Expect From Sunday's Venezuelan Primary

Feb 06, 2012
For Venezuela’s historically divided opposition, which enters a key test of unity this weekend, one-upping Chávez in the hearts of voters will be vital to winning this fall’s presidential election. Luis Vicente León and William H. Luers, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, gauge the current field of candidates and look ahead to October's general election.

The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents

Jan 31, 2012
Increasing numbers of Americans are breaking ranks with the traditional 2-party system and are self identifying as "independents." These voters are trying to make a statement with their registration, says Senior Scholar Linda Killian as she profiles this influential group and their top issues.
CONTEXT with Jane Harman

Jane Harman Assesses President's State of the Union

Jan 25, 2012
Wilson Center President and former member of Congress Jane Harman shares her reaction to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
People stand on a bridge overlooking the river Nile.

Return to Tahrir Square: Political Uncertainty, Military Unrest Color Protests

Jan 24, 2012
Egyptians mark the first anniversary of the revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak—an uprising centering on Cairo’s iconic square that prompted hopes of a new and democratic politics. Just back from a research trip to Egypt, Distinguished Scholar Robin Wright gives a first-hand impression of the country’s political situation, reporting on protests against the military and the recent parliamentary elections.

Closing the Gender Gap: Women Leaders as a 'Force Multiplier' in Politics, Business

Jan 20, 2012
The world’s population is split approximately 50-50 between men and women. But when it comes to presidents, prime ministers, and other heads of state and government, a significant gender disparity is uncovered. To commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the Council of Women World Leaders, we spoke with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, and Margot Wallstrom, former vice-president of the European Commission, about their work, the status of women leaders, and prospects for the future.

Taiwan Elections: China, U.S. Relations Loom as Nation Prepares to Vote

Jan 11, 2012
On January 14th, voters in Taiwan will choose their next president from a field that includes the country's first ever female candidate. Regional expert Bryce Wakefield discusses the dynamics of the race and the factors likely to decide the outcome.

The Struggle for Freedom and Human Rights

Dec 21, 2011
Nabil Rajab, recipient of the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award, says Bahraini people will continue to fight for human rights despite government intimidation. After ten months of government crackdown "people are back to the streets and are committed to the struggle until they achieve their goal."

Fall of the Soviet Union, Part III: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy

Dec 19, 2011
A panel of experts looks ahead and provides analysis on positive and negatvie trends related to attempts to build a more democratic Russia.

U.S. Troops Leave Iraq: The Arab World Reacts

Dec 15, 2011
Almost eight years after the invasion of Iraq, U.S. troops are on their way home. The Wilson Center interviews James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, about a new poll he conducted to gauge reactions to the withdrawal of American forces.

Fall of the Soviet Union, Part II: Russia Today and the Ghost of Empires Past

Dec 12, 2011
In part two, the panel of experts assess Russia's progress during the 20 years since the end of the Soviet Union and it's current situation.

Fall of the Soviet Union, Part I: The Cold War's Unexpected Ending

Dec 07, 2011
In part one of three, Jack Matlock, Lilia Shevstova, Angela Stent and Charles King revisit the unexpected, dramatic and peaceful end to The Cold War.
Mirza Jahani

Reforming The Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act and Aid to Pakistan

Dec 07, 2011
There is always hope that new legislation will change relationships and improve development. In reality, the solution is a long term process, said Mirza Jahani, Chief Executive Officer of the Aga Khan Foundation, in an exclusive interview. “To be a better aid agency you need to have your people there for longer periods of time with increased tour lengths of individuals.”

The Fate of the Eurozone: Hanging Together or Falling Apart?

Nov 23, 2011
Does the possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone and the pressure on Italy's debt signal a new level of crisis for the monetary union? Senior Scholar and former chairman of the Fiscal Council in Hungary George Kopits explains the various elements of the crisis.

Follow the Money: Drug Crime, Money Laundering, and Regional Security in Central America

Nov 17, 2011
Newly elected President of Guatemala Otto Perez Molina promised a crackdown on crime and drug-related violence but faces rampant corruption and one of the lowest tax bases in the hemisphere. An exclusive interview with former Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein about the challenges ahead for his country and its President.

The Struggle for Equality: Can We Close the Global Gender Gap?

Nov 10, 2011
When it comes to equality between the sexes, women have made dramatic strides in recent decades. In spite of that good news, a new report reveals a significant gender gap persists in two critical areas: economic equality and political power.
Secretary general Lamy speaks with Russia's President Medvedev

In From the Cold: Russia Strikes Deal to Join the WTO

Nov 09, 2011
After 18 years of ambivalence, delays, and false starts, Russia and Georgia have reached an agreement that paves the way for Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. The Wilson Center's William Pomeranz on the implications of Russia's entry into the global trade group.
Adler and Miller

Iran's Nuclear Program: Reaction to the IAEA Report

Nov 08, 2011
Is Iran destined to become a nuclear power? Aaron David Miller and Michael Adler weigh the options, including whether military action might succeed where sanctions and diplomacy so far failed.
Celso Lafer

50 Years of Science in Brazil and Challenges Ahead

Nov 01, 2011
Three of the Sao Paulo Research Foundation's most prominent contributors talk about the future of Brazil's growing commitment to science and research.
Muammar Gaddafi

Libya and the Arab Spring after Gaddafi

Oct 31, 2011
In exclusive interviews, Aaron David Miller, Haleh Esfandiari and William B. Milam discuss the significance of Muammar Gaddafi's death in the context of the greater Arab Spring.
National Coversation

Afghanistan: Is There A Regional Endgame?

Oct 27, 2011
Dr. Henry Kissinger and a distinguished panel from the media, government, and academia discuss the future of Afghanistan. What role should outside powers play in promoting the peace process and stability in the aftermath of a US military presence?

Did You Feel It? Citizens Contribute to Earthquake Science

Oct 25, 2011
Thanks to new technology, people can immediately help seismologists assess the scope and impact of earthquakes by providing valuable firsthand data. The recent east coast quake, centered in Virginia, provided the back drop for our discussion with Colorado-based seismologist, David Wald.

Social Media and International Disaster Response

Oct 25, 2011
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools are making the response to national and man-made disasters faster and more efficient. We spoke with one of the world's leaders in the field, Gisli Olafsson, to learn about the latest developments.

Inside the World of Cyber Warfare—Exclusive Interview

Oct 20, 2011
Misha Glenny on the "cold war of the web" and what we can do to protect ourselves collectively and individually. From criminals engaged in electronic thievery to nation states involved in online espionage, the reasons for more focus on cyber security are on the rise.
King Abdullah and Ahmadinejad

Foiled Iranian Terror Plot

Oct 20, 2011
The alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador has increased the fear of more attacks on American soil and raised questions about what could be gained from such a bold provocation. Wilson Center experts provide broader context to this bizarre and disturbing news.

The World's Fresh Water - Have Supplies Peaked?

Oct 20, 2011
In an exclusive interview MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Peter Gleick answers questions on growing constraints of freshwater availability, quality, and use.
Saddam Hussein

The Iran-Iraq War: The View from Baghdad

Oct 17, 2011
Exclusive interviews with Mansour Farhang, David Newton, and William Miller on what they think newly-released Iraqi government documents and recorded conversations from Saddam Hussein mean for the retrospective view of the eight-year conflict.

Burundi: Prospects and Plans for 2011 and Beyond

Sep 30, 2011
President Pierre Nkurunziza detailed the fight to create both a political and economic environment necessary in Burundi for investment, trade, and support from the international community.

World Readies for Palestine Statehood Bid

Sep 18, 2011
With Palestine’s bid for statehood still under consideration by the UN General Assembly, Public Policy Scholar Aaron David Miller discusses the hard road ahead of a possible vote, its implications for Israel, and the United States' position on a UN-recognized Palestinian state.
Robert Hathaway

Who's Winning the War of Ideas in the Post-9/11 World?

Sep 09, 2011
Who is "winning hearts and minds" after 9/11, and what will the future bring for U.S.-Pakistan relations? Asia Program Director Robert Hathaway answers these questions and more as we observe the 10th anniversary of the attack on America.

Global Economic Challenges & Solutions: A Conversation With Christine Lagarde

Sep 07, 2011
Prior to the International Monetary Fund annual meeting, Managing Director Christine Lagarde gave her first Washington policy address at The Wilson Center.

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