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Former Major General Yaakov Amidror served as the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and the Head of the National Security Council from April 2011 to November 2013. He is now the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in Bar Ilan University. 

He served with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for 36 years. During his long military career, General Amidror held the following positions: commander of IDF Military Colleges, including the National Defense College, Military Secretary for the Minister of Defense, and Director of the Intelligence Analysis Division, responsible for National Intelligence Assessment. General Amidror received a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Haifa and various other degrees and certificates from IDF colleges.

After his retirement, he has served as Senior Research Fellow to the Institute for Middle East Research in Washington. General Amidror also served as Vice President of Lander Institute, an academic center in Jerusalem. He was a member of several large Israeli companies' boards as well as numerous high-tech start-ups.

Since retiring from the armed forces, General Amidror has published Reflections on Army and Security, a book on the subject of military affairs and national security (in Hebrew). A second book,Intelligence, Theory and Practice, was published in 2006 (also in Hebrew). His articles appear frequently in Israeli and international publications.

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SFS alumna Ambassador Nancy E. Soderberg was recently included in President Obama's announcement of intent to appoint several individuals to key administration posts. Amb. Soderberg will be appointed for Chairperson of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Read more about Amb. Soderberg's background and the other appointees from the White House.

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Jason Whitely (JD/MSFS '09) will be signing his book Father of Money: Buying Peace in Baghdad at Barnes and Noble in Georgetown this Friday, October 8 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Whiteley reveals the dark details of his time spent on the streets of Baghdad as a soldier rebuilding the Iraqi political system from the ground-up. He would discover that it would take more than American ideals to complete the task.

Reviewing the book for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Jim Drury said it's a compelling read.

Part memoir and part military history, Jason Whiteley’s Father of Money is more of a Heart of Darkness-tale of personal introspection than a full, comprehensive description of the American occupation of Iraq. And while the author deftly describes his experiences in the Al Dora district of Baghdad from 2004 to early 2005, the book is most valuable for its disturbing revelations of how unprepared the United States Army was for the job entrusted to it. The American Armed Forces completed their mission in a matter of weeks when they destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was a complete and unequivocal success, traditionally speaking. Unfortunately, the Iraq War is inherently untraditional. For Whiteley, the problem lay not in the Army’s execution, which was top notch, but in the mission after the mission. As governance officer of Al Dora, Whiteley is at the tip of the spear in the Army’s second battle, which is rebuilding Iraq. His position in Baghdad allows him to explain the confusing struggle between Shi’ites, Sunnis and Americans with considerable authority.

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MSFS first year student Sean Mann recently wrote a piece for Foreign Policy about the presence of the Taliban in Pakistan and the turning tide with the Pakistani military.

Information from the FATA is scarce, as few independent reporters are fearless enough to venture into the area, and their number is dwindling. Over coffee in Islamabad last February, Asia Times Online's Syed Saleem Shahzad told me, "journalist access in the tribal areas is difficult now, you need strong contacts with the government, the locals, and also with the militants." Tragically, three months later Shahzad's body was found dumped in a canal southeast of the capital. Many blame the Pakistani security services for his death, and interpret his killing as intended to intimidate the Pakistani media.

To read the full article, check it out at Foreign Policy.

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This spring’s two installments of the Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series (MJDARTS) focused on establishing non-profits and working on Capitol Hill.

Learning from Each Other

On February 28, “Forming Your Own Non-profit” featured three SFS alumni: Jess Rimington, executive director of the One World Youth Project; Indra Sen, executive director and co-founder of Inspire Dreams; and Osman Ashai, engagement manager at Ashoka and co-founder of Kashmir Corps. Each speaker has balanced or is currently juggling full-time school or a job with running a non-profit.

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“The time commitment is definitely needed. If the motivation and the energy is there, you’ll find it’s doable,” Ashai said. He added that nights and weekends become busy.

All of the speakers advised to find something that makes students passionate. Sen, whose organization Inspire Dreams provides academic, athletic and arts-based education programs to young Palestinian refugees, said to consider whether there’s a real need for something in society and not just to consider future scholarships or accolades.

Ashai emphasized forming partnerships and delivering on those partnerships. “It’s a very collaborative industry. There are a lot of young folks who are starting NGOs,” he said.  He said that people are willing to share best practices and intellectual property more than in the private sector because they’re all just starting out. He advised students to take advantage of that but to do their part and help others, as well.

Rimington, whose organization One World Youth Project helps classrooms connect around the world to build global literacy, agreed that networking is key.

“One thing I tried to do was meet with ten people a week and tell them the story,” she said about making connections.  “It’s about being intentional with each step.”

Networking, Networking, Networking

On March 28, “Working on Capitol Hill” featured Lauryn Bruck (F ’08) and Brent Woolfork (G ’08/MSFS), currently working  as staff members of the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee respectively.

Bruck encouraged people to get internships and to keep up conversations with people who are from the same state and are affiliated with the same party as they are.  She stressed following up with contacts that students make through Georgetown.  She noted that she completed six internships during her undergraduate years.

Bruck is currently working on her master’s degree and told students that working on the Hill offers a lot of opportunity for education. “SFS really adequately prepared me both for the stress of my job and also for my graduate degree,” she said.

Woolfork said that he felt comfortable at interviews after going through the MSFS orals process. When asked about turnover in jobs on the Hill, he advised, “Always just keep an ear to the ground to see what’s happening in other offices.”  He also stressed that going to events, networking and staying active in events on the Hill can help keep options open in the worst-case scenario.

“Just get on peoples’ radar. Even if they don’t have a position, if they get on in the near future, they’ll remember you,” Bruck said.

Remembering Michael Jurist

The Michael Jurist Distinguished Alumni Roundtable Series is named in memory of Michael Jurist (F ’07). It is designed to expose School of Foreign Service undergraduates to the rich and varied accomplishments of SFS alumni who return to campus in an informal, roundtable setting to speak about where their degree has taken them and their personal experiences as well as the successes and challenges they have faced since graduation.

Jen Lennon | May 2011

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Georgetown professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged more than 100 recipients of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) degree to make learning a lifelong endeavor, keynoting the program's awards ceremony as 2011 commencement activities continued on the Hilltop Friday night.

The key to wisdom is being open to new ideas; "those who believe they are in full possession of the truth can be dangerous," Albright said during an MSFS Tropaia event that proved a raucous celebration of achievements for students and hundreds of their family and friends in Gaston Hall.

Albright said that whether the issue is nuclear proliferation, food security or personal freedom, issues can look very different from one side of the world to the other.  "The challenge is to make them so we're not defined solely by our differences," she said.

Alumni honoree Ben Powell (G '00), founder of a nonprofit that invests in entrepreneurs in the developing world, told graduates to stay in touch with one another.  "There is enormous social capital in this room," said Powell, "and it can grow or diminish based on your actions.  Nurture it."

Student speaker Mahveen Azam said that in MSFS, she found what she had sought when she came to Georgetown from Pakistan to study international affairs.  "What truly makes this a great program is... great people who are seriously invested in each other's success," she said.

Honorees included 15 graduates who completed the MSFS oral examination with distinction.

Marco Schad, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and a 2003 MSFS and Law Center graduate delivered the benediction.

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Student speaker Matthew Shapiro's remarks were a highlight of the BSFS Tropaia awards ceremony Friday afternoon:

As a 2011graduate of the School of Foreign Service (SFS), Matthew Shapiro says he is most grateful for the sense of community he was able to establish while a student at Georgetown.

“The most valuable lessons of the past four years have not come from the classroom, but from everyone in this room and the larger Georgetown community,” Shapiro said at this year’s SFS Tropaia ceremony. “We were here to support each other and to challenge one another to do things we might have thought were impossible before meeting each other.”

Click to read more.

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Candidates for the six SFS graduate degrees received their diplomas during Commencement exercises Friday morning for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Students earning the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS), the Master of Arts in Security Studies (SSP), the Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS), the Master of Arts in German and European Studies (MAGES), the Master of Arts in Latin American Studies (MALAS) and the Master of Arts in Russian and East European Studies (REES) were recognized during the ceremonies on Healy Lawn.

Historian Richard White told 2011 Georgetown graduate students at their commencement ceremony May 20 that it will take time to master the “intellectual toolkit” they received at the university.

White encouraged the more than 1,000 Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students to appreciate interdisciplinary work and to collaborate with other scholars over the course of their lives.

Dean Timothy A. Barbari presented professor Victor Cha with the 2011 Distinguished Achievement in Research Award.

Cha, the D.S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair in Asian Studies and Government in the School of Foreign Service, was honored for receiving three prestigious external awards – the National Asia Research Fellowship; the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI Grant, and a four-year $1.2 million grant from the Education Ministry of Korea.

Click here to read more.

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As the world digests the news that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his compound in Pakistan, faculty across the School of Foreign Service have been tapped by American and international media to lend insight.

We'll update this list throughout the week of May 2.

  • Paul Pillar -- director of graduate studies at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University and a former CIA National Intelligence officer appeared on Monday's Diane Rehm Show, broadcast from WAMU-FM in Washington and heard on NPR stations nationwide.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism efforts must continue, and in the short term perhaps even increase. The risk of revenge attacks should lead to a focus on bolstering defenses. Even more important, aggressive strikes on al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and the global intelligence and policy campaign must not end. Al Qaeda will be in disarray, and arresting or killing remaining leaders, hindering their communications, and foiling their plots can put them on the run.

Bin Laden's death will not immobilize the core. Indeed, it may seek to launch any off-the-shelf or in-process attacks as soon as possible to prove its relevance. However, this is an organization built along personal lines, with a new leader needing to win the loyalty and support of his followers. With Bin Laden's death, his successor—most likely his No. 2, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri—will need to consolidate his power. This is hard to do when he is on the run and cannot communicate freely.

We do not know whether the Taliban are actually popular among Afghans, and we won't know until U.S. forces are out of the equation in Afghanistan. Which leaves Pakistan as the main interest of U.S. policy -- Washington does in fact have strategic interest in Pakistan not going south.  So there is a strong argument for facilitating negotiations for the inevitable power-sharing arrangement, and starting the drawdown of U.S. forces.

  • Bruce Hoffman -- director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, as well as a professor -- wrote on The National Interest that Bin Laden's death shattered conventional wisdom about al-Qaeda's leader:

His presence in an urban hub, presumably with a variety of modes of contact, calls into question the supposedly hands-off, irrelevant role he had been believed to play in al-Qaeda’s strategy and perhaps even day-to-day operations. Indeed, it may have been his active participation in key al-Qaeda decision-making and operational matters that allowed us to track him to his hideout—there must have been an unusual number people coming and going, functioning essentially as couriers. It may thus be that he’s had much more of a role in al-Qaeda than we believed.

  • John Esposito -- director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and professor of religion, international Affairs and Islamic studies -- told Reuters that he hopes that this will take some pressure off of Muslims who are victim to Islamophobia in the US.
  • Esposito also wrote Monday for The Washington Post with colleague John Voll -- associate director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and professor of Islamic history -- questioning if the death of Bin Laden should be considered an ending or a turning point.

It is clear that the death of bin Laden does not mean an end to the global terrorist threat. Both President Obama and surviving leaders of al-Qaeda affirm that the attacks by terrorists against the whole world, including the United States, will continue. The death of the major leader of al-Qaeda does not mean an end to the organization but it does mean that trends toward a more decentralized network of militants will be strengthened.

  • Esposito commented to the Los Angeles Times that there is no simple answer to how Bin Laden's death will affect Muslims in America.

I think intelligent Muslims will be aware that this is a turning point but only the beginning of a turning point.

  • Hoffman commented to USA Today that though this doesn't mean the end of the movement, that a counterattack could go off half-cocked and allow US officials to learn more about surviving terror networks.
  • Hoffman spoke about Al-Qaida's next leader, the possibility that it might be Ayman al-Zawahiri and how he could be even stronger than Bin Laden to NPR.

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Georgetown Women in International Affairs (GWIA) held a tea April 18, bringing women in powerful positions together to mingle with graduate students.  It’s hoped that the tea will become an annual event for GWIA, which is a signature initiative of SFS Dean Carol Lancaster.

The prestigious guests included Dr. Paula J. Dobriansky, senior vice president and global head of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Thomson Reuters; Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones, who has extensive international experience in Europe, Eurasia, South Asia and the Middle East and is currently a senior counselor at APCO Worldwide; Nisha Desai Biswal, an assistant administrator for Asia at USAID; Jan Piercy, executive vice president with ShoreBank Corporation; and Sarah Margon, associate director for the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress.

Students sat with guests at small tables and got the opportunity to ask a lot of questions. Margon advised one student that “the best way to get a job on the Hill is to intern there” and told her to start with states where she has lived.

Ambassador Jones told her table that she felt that being a woman in foreign service was an advantage in the Middle East because she could speak with both men and women and she was easily recognizable.

While plenty of business cards got passed around, the students got some inside scoop on work-life balance, navigating a strategic career and where to get started after graduate school.

Georgetown Women in International Affairs (GWIA) aims to strengthen the competencies which are the foundation of quality leadership among our graduate students to increase visibility of women in international affairs. Through interactive programming, GWIA connects, empowers, and prepares emerging women leaders.

 

-Jen Lennon April 19, 2011

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