NEWPORT, R.I. – Naval War College (NWC) faculty members Nikolas Gvosdev, Cmdr. James Kraska and Mackubin Owens; and Adjunct Professor Richard Lobban, will deliver upcoming lectures for the weekly Great Decisions Seminars Series presented by Newport’s Council for International Visitors (CIV) and co-sponsored by Salve Regina University’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.
The seminar series, scheduled to run Feb. 23-April 27, is designed to encourage debate and discussion of important global issues. The program’s books and literature materials are provided by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), a national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world. The series of eight globally "hot" topics selected annually by FPA is presented by regional guest speakers, who are chosen by CIV and are knowledgeable and proficient in those particular topics.
“These seminars are important ways in which citizens become educated on key foreign policy issues and it is an important way to connect the work done at the NWC with the broader Newport community,” said Gvosdev, professor of national security studies with the National Security Decision Making (NSDM) Department.
Gvosdev’s Feb. 23 topic “The Caucasus,” will explore the countries and regions of the Caucasus which have long lived in the shadow of their larger neighbors: Russia, Iran and Turkey. He will discuss this influence on the region today and how energy resources play into its relations with the outside world.
Kraska serves as the Howard S. Levie Chair of Operational Law and is a faculty member with the International Law Department at NWC. His lecture on “Maritime Piracy off the Horn of Africa" is March 9.
Since the early 1990s, the U.S. has monitored the Horn of Africa due to security concerns. Internal instability, weak governments in some countries, regional rivalries and a lack of development have resulted in an environment conducive to terrorism. The discussion will focus on whether the U.S. can protect its national interests while mitigating the dangerous conditions in the region.
“I’ll also examine the rise of maritime piracy from Somalia, some of the causes of the growth in piracy, and diplomatic, legal and operational responses by the international community,” Kraska said.
Lobban’s presentation, "Strategic concerns for the Horn of Africa," is scheduled for the same evening and will focus on the main players in the region including especially Somalia, Sudan and Egypt. It will discuss the current trends and implications as well as importance for the United States in rapidly changing times. Issues of security, stability and terrorism will also be addressed.
“I am participating in this series because I have been working in the region for almost fifty years as an anthropologist, journalist, professor and archaeologist,” Lobban added. “I believe it is critical that we make the right decisions and avoid the wrong ones relative to our national interests and the construction of the Africa Combatant Command.”
Owens, professor of national security affairs at NSDM, will address the issue of “U.S. National Security Since 9/11” on March 16. National security priorities were expanded and realigned after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to include waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, tightening border security, tracking terrorist finances, pursuing cyber-threats, halting nuclear proliferation, and attempting to neutralize homegrown terrorists.
“The seminar will explore how the U.S. national security agenda has evolved since the terrorist attacks and the ways in which this agenda will affect the American way of life in the future,” Owens said.
Kraska and Owens echoed their colleagues’ views about the importance of participating in these seminars.
“I’m involved with this program because it helps to shape public participation in foreign policy, which is essential for a democracy,” Kraska said. Owens added “we can serve as a resource for educating citizens about critical security issues that affect them more directly than they may even realize.”
Reservations are requested for “The Caucasus” seminar due to limited seating at the Pell Center. The presentations in March are free and open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. in the Young Building at the Pell Center, Salve Regina University, 518 Bellevue Avenue in Newport.
Newport’s Council for International Visitors is a community organization promoting global understanding through the exchange of ideas and shared experiences via education and people-to-people programs for international visitors and local residents. Most Newport CIV members also serve as “sponsors” for foreign officer students who are posted to NWC (NCC and NSC), SWOS, and DIILS each year.
for more information on the Great Decisions Seminars Series and Newport’s Council for International Visitors.
By David Reese, Naval War College Public Affairs