Roundtables for 2013 Conference
#1: Human Trafficking
MODERATOR: Austin Gerald
Globalization has brought the world an increased flow of information, goods, and services. However, globalization has also left the door open for a lamentable undercurrent of human trafficking to encircle the globe. Across East Asia and the Middle East, development is built on a foundation of exploitation, and whole societies look the other way. The moral implications for such acts are undeniably horrible, but why should government leaders care about people without money, without a vote, and often without representation? This issues takes new forms in different regions, so this table will explore a multiplicity of issues. This roundtable will focus on the unintended effects of globalization upon society's most nefarious forms of criminal trafficking.
#2: Culture and Societies
MODERATOR: Claire Fletcher
The US, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific are all under the watchful eyes of the international community through the incredible availability of media. Actions taken by countries, or even individual people, can rapidly elicit responses from across the globe. The international community faces a time of transition, and the media plays an essential role in drawing attention to these changes. How do media sources shape cultural and societal perspectives? With its coverage of international relations, can media redirect military and political strategic focus? Can the variant sources of media revolutionize the international communities? The effectiveness and span of media influence varies with each country; differences in nations’ government systems, civil rights, media sources and privileges creates a unique atmosphere in each country.
#3: American Priorities: Balancing Foreign Interests and Domestic Restrictions
MODERATOR: Clif Luber
Regardless of what geographic region a nation may have its troops focused upon, crimes against humanity continually occur around the world. What should US political institutions do when genocide and other human atrocities begin while they have troops and resources occupied in theater? In 2004, the White House, State Department, and Congress all struggled with how to respond to the Darfur genocide while at the same time being overwhelmed in Iraq. A similar situation may presently be occurring with Syria as the US ends military operations in Afghanistan and shifts towards the Pacific. This roundtable will primarily analyze how US domestic institutions, including government and non-governmental organizations work multilaterally and/or unilaterally to respond to restricting factors such as war, terrorism, foreign conflicts, and economic recessions. We will discuss how these efforts are aided or hampered by small-force intervention, leaving an unstable region too early, and risking the loss of sovereignty by fully cooperating with the international community.
#4: Economic Geography
MODERATOR: Jack Oster
This roundtable will concern itself with how people in different parts of the world earn their living and how livelihood systems vary by region. Three subsections of economic geography will be our focus. They are: (1) military economics, (2) globalization/international trade/finance, and (3) economic development/resource economics. Our goal will be to gain a truer understanding of the realities facing different peoples of the globe. The economic conditions surrounding the people of the Middle East and the Pacific will be emphasized during their respective conference days. Members of the Economic Geography roundtable seek an awareness of the dynamic and interlocking diversity of human enterprise. The impact of economic activity on all other facets of human life, especially militarism and culture, is of particular interest.
#5: Education and Soft Power in a Knowledge Economy
MODERATOR: Garland Christopher
In the developed world, the shift to a knowledge-based economy makes education one of the single greatest determinants of economic prosperity. Any country’s economic strength depends upon equipping its populace with the educational tools necessary for success. With the greatest higher education system in the world, the United States has passively expanded its strategic influence by attracting millions of foreigners to its research institutions each year. While this perceived “brain drain” benefits the United States’ goals, how does it damage the economic growth of developing nations? How will free access to education shape the future economies of the developing world and Middle East in the wake of Arab Spring? More importantly, how will the economies of the Asia-Pacific region grow with an increasingly educated populace?
#6: Economic Policy: Foreign Affairs on a Budget
MODERATOR: Michael DeLong
Foreign policy is entering a new age in which dollars and cents will be as important as missiles and bullets. Because the United States and other Western powers will be forced to make budgetary cuts in order to confront structural budget deficits in the near future, budgets will shrink and hard choices will be made. The challenge these countries face is to decrease the size of their budgets without decreasing their capabilities or damaging their influence. Foreign policy choices that were once available to these nations may no longer be fiscally feasible, and how these countries respond will dictate the course of much of the 21st century. This roundtable will analyze the current US budget, analyze the efficiency of potential cuts, and discuss creative solutions that the United States and other nations can utilize to maintain their influence with limited resources.
#7: Institutional Influences within the Global Political Arena
MODERATOR: David Williams
With an increasingly interdependent and unpredictable global system, global institutions are taking on larger roles. As evident in the last decade’s rapidly changing global arena, the foreign policy of institutions and individual nations has been anything but continuous. Recently, with the Arab Spring and the rise of China, the Middle East and the Pacific have attracted much attention and changed institutional policies. This roundtable will discuss how partnerships have addressed issues regarding political crises, cooperative security, and foreign policy across the globe in the past, present, and future. The discussion will focus on the successes or failures of these policies through the lens of security, cooperation, and stability. Regional political and economic partnerships, to include the European Union, the Arab League, ASEAN, and others, will be emphasized. As the global system continues to change, this table will delve into how nations choose to use institutions and the political implications of their policies.
#8: International Intervention: Issues and Interests
MODERATOR: Colin Grier
Since the drafting of the United Nations’ Charter in 1945, international organizations have played a substantial role in confronting the challenges facing international relations. Exploring relations beyond bilateral diplomacy has developed into a system where nearly all issues are handled on an international level. This roundtable will discuss the process by and the extent to which international organizations (IOs) have become involved in conflicts around the world during the 21st century, with specific emphasis on NATO and the UN. Evaluating the world’s security issues through the lenses of IOs will provide a rounded assessment of the interests of all countries involved. Discussion of the processes by which IOs are able to involve themselves in international conflict will allow for a debate on the international bureaucracy and the issues stalling action on the world stage. This roundtable will serve as a critical evaluation of the status of IOs throughout the world today and discuss their value to the international community. Potential discussion topics include the effectiveness of the UN, NATO, ASEAN, the Arab League and other IOs, the competition between soft and hard power as well as the international legal system.
#9: -Isms and the Role of International Institutions.
MODERATOR: Akheel Patel
In an increasingly globalized world, the actions of international partnerships and militaries to protect people and resources in the 21st century are essential. However, are these institutions able to transgress beyond a forum of discussion and execute effective policy? Or will they simply remain just that, a forum, in which action cannot occur without the support of a formidable armed force? With the eyes of the world upon AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) controlled Northern Mali, will the partnership between France and the United States be successful in increasing human security in Mali? Moving eastward, the New Silk Road Initiative between India, Pakistan, Iran, and the United States seeks to ensure that Afghanistan maintains stability and prospers economically. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, East Asia Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, as well as other seek to maintain free trade and prosperous relationships within the South China Sea. As violence and threats to human security and free trade become more frequent, this table will examine the cooperation and effectiveness of international institutions and military coalitions which seek to mitigate and combat these threats.
#10: Cultural Heritage: The Bridge Between Past and Future
MODERATOR: Sean Finney
The 21st century has been characterized by many as the most substantial period of change throughout the course of human history. However, the cultural heritages of each nation will dictate how and to what extent these changes will occur. In the wake of the Arab Spring and other similar movements, many cultures in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are experiencing rapid changes firsthand. As political, economic and military interests shift how does the cultural heritage of different societies affect how they will continue to change in the coming years? In this roundtable, we will discuss how the different aspects of cultural heritage within societies around the world will dictate how these same societies will respond to the shift in economic and political interest to the Pacific. Among others, gender relations, societal hierarchy, religious systems and historical roles of the government will all be explored in an effort to use the past to build a roadmap to the future.
#11: Political Economy
As the world continues to shrink, politics and economics become inextricably linked. How do we make political policies without looking at economic consequences, and how do we change economic policy without balancing the politics? This table will look at the political consequences of economic decisions that hegemons like the United States make today. In addition, we will examine what developing countries can do to better their economic situations while stepping into the realm of international politics.
#12: Impact of Domestic Institutions on Foreign Policy
MODERATOR: Aaron Fleming
Over the past thirty years, domestic institutions within the United States have played an undeniable role in exporting American soft-power abroad. The American system of higher education, government sponsored organizations, NGOs, and private charitable institutions have all either directly contributed to, or have served as the premier model for development in countries around the globe. But at what point does the presence of American institutional influence, whether real or imagined, become a hindrance to US foreign relations abroad? For example, how is it that US influence in the Middle East, irrespective of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, waned so completely in the last decade? Does the US have the potential to reassert that influence within the Pacific region as it shifts its strategic focus? The "Potential Power of Domestic Institutions on Foreign Policy" roundtable will approach these questions, and others like them, from a multiplicity of perspectives, attempting to look at how domestic institutions, in both the US and other countries, will continue to shape foreign policy in the near future.
#13: Progressivism Through the Empowerment of Women
MODERATOR: Krishnan Rajagopalan
As the world gets increasingly interconnected, the societal status of women across regions of the world still varies considerably. In Burma, a female politician, Aung San Suu Kyi, was recently elected as a member of the Burmese parliament. Conversely, an Indonesian law was just passed to ban women from straddling motorcycles because females seated in such a manner were believed to be in violation of Sharia Law. Why do women’s rights advocates struggle to achieve gains in certain traditional societies yet are more successful in others? What happens when a single woman or group of women take a stand? Can stories like that of the young female blogger from Pakistan, Malala Yousafzi, trigger other types of change? Although the status of women is often used to gauge the degree of liberalism within a particular nation or region, this roundtable will take the line of thinking one step further. We will examine how the empowerment of women is in and of itself a vehicle of continued progress.
#14: Human Security: The Modern Illegal Drug Trade
MODERATOR: Kenny Healy
Recent conflicts have shown that the drug trade has been used to finance terrorist activities, from Middle East terrorism to Mexican drug cartels. Drug traffickers continue to be a source of violence throughout the world, now with an ever increasing influence. As a rule, the drug trade flows from developing nations as the producers to developed nations as the consumers. Heroin, cocaine, and other illicit drugs destined for the United States and Western Europe are produced in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Columbia, and other neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and South America. The international community has been battling the drug trade for over a hundred years, but with limited results. Is the drug trade preventable, or is the international community tasked with the impossible? Is modern drug trafficking an inevitable—yet fatal—symptom of globalization for developing nations? Certainly, international organizations will be looked upon more often to combat an inherently international problem. However, the complex transnational, network-centric structure of drug traffickers and drug cartels make preventing the trade difficult and expensive. As international presence in Afghanistan draws down, will the opium trade inherently lead to instability? Will the Asia/Pacific region have the resources to draw down the Southeast Asian drug trade as demand grows? This panel will focus on the regional problems in the Middle East and Asia, as well as discuss the role that international organizations should play in the transition.
#15. The International Responsibility to Provide Human Security
MODERATOR: Steven Knopf
Helen Keller claims, "God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over his work." The world has witnessed a domestication of bloody conflicts and a transition from interstate to intrastate conflicts, since the end of the Cold War. Consequently, aggressors are harder to recognize, civilians are more endangered, and peace resolutions are harder to reach. According to the 2005 Human Security Report, 20,000 people die every day because they are too poor, or do not have the means to stay alive. These victims constantly live without any food, drinking water, or medical care, and are extremely vulnerable to drug trade, human trafficking, slavery, and one-sided violence. Thus, although conflicts have descended from the international to the domestic scale, death tolls and violence have not seceded. Human security has become an integral part of foreign policy and civil military relations in every continent, especially Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. These three regions have retained unaddressed security threats and domestic disputes that make them prone to further human security threats. Does the international community have the responsibility and right to intervene across sovereign borders in the name of human security? If so, where is the line drawn to protect a state's sovereign rights? In an increasingly globalized and technologically connected world, how do states find the delicate balance between human security intervention and international intrusion?