Sunday, March 22, 2009


Dear Listeners, 

Thank you for visiting Conversations on the Diplomacy and Power Politics. Because of you and the tremendous feedback we've received, I am happy to announce that we have moved to a brand new, redesigned website.

For all future podcasts, articles and information visit:

Let us know what you think of the new website! Thank you.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Somali Pirates and the International Naval Uproar

Modern-day pirates off the coast of Somalia have the attention of the world's most powerful navies. Around the Horn of Africa, a tinderbox combination of black-market arms deals, million dollar ransoms, navy gunships, UN Resolutions and fishermen turned professional pirates have led to an international naval build-up. Over 20 nations are actively patrolling the coasts to combat the pirate menace that threatens international merchant vessels. While a comprehensive solution to restore government law and order in Somalia seems far off, the pirates are also unwittingly serving an intelligence role for western nations. Download the 11 minute podcast and submit your comments on this fascinating problem.

Download Podcast - Somali Pirates 03.16.09

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An Analysis of Microfinance in Bangladesh

Microfinance has been a heavily touted strategy to alleviate poverty in developing countries by the UN and World Bank. In this podcast, Dr. Lamia Karim of the University of Oregon shares her research on the real-life impact and spiraling debt consequences of microfinance for women in Bangladesh. Her research on the Grameen Bank and other NGOs reveals many of the unintended consequences of microfinance driven development strategies and offers the means by which policy makers can design better anti-poverty programs. Dr. Karim’s forthcoming book is entitled “Microfinance and Its Discontents: NGOs and Gender in Bangladesh,” and is being published through the University of California Press in Fall 2009.

Download Podcast - An Analysis of Microfinance in Bangladesh 03.01.09

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Role of Trade and the Commerce Department in U.S. Diplomacy

Discussions on trade, especially in this current financial climate, begin at the intersection of two of the biggest concerns facing the American people: the economy and foreign policy. In this podcast, Dan Keenaghan, Deputy National Director for the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration, explains how trade can be used as a tool for American diplomacy and highlights specific examples where trade has opened lines of communication through business, often leading to a greater understanding of foreign cultures and even friendships.

Download Podcast - Trade and U.S. Diplomacy 02.21.08

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President Obama's Special Envoys and Amb. Holbrooke goes to South Asia

President Obama’s decision to deploy a diplomatic envoy strategy in several global hotspots was a swift and strong move, but is this tactic effective? In this podcast, Ambassador S. Azmat Hassan (ret.) reviews the recent trip of Amb. Richard Holbrooke, the President’s newly named Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and examines the diplomatic tool of Special Envoys.

Download Podcast - Envoy Diplomacy and Amb. Richard Holbrooke 02.14.09

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai named Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

Following nearly a year of political turmoil, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in today as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe's coalition government. Facing rampant hyperinflation, a widespread cholera outbreak and almost 90% unemployment Mr. Tsvangirai steps into a particularly difficult state of affairs. The former Secretary-General of the Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and founder of the opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mr. Tsvangirai is no stranger to difficult times. Two years ago he found himself tortured and imprisoned by loyalists of President Robert Mugabe. Now he is expected to put past ills aside, and help move a country crippled at the hands of a despotic regime into a prosperous future. The real question is, will this political experiment succeed, or will today’s events simply mark another chapter in the traumatic history of failed African states? Curiously, Mr. Tsvangirai must now work to rebuild his struggling country with the same man who drove it into the ground. Truly, the prospects for Zimbabwe’s future are inextricably linked to the tenuous relationship between President and Prime Minister.
By: Freedom-Kai Phillips

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sri Lankan Resistance Over

Reports from Sri Lanka indicate that time and territory are about to run out for a decades old opposition group, the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankan army has taken control of Kilinochchi, a city on the northern tip of the island that was the political and military headquarters of the Tigers. Aid groups cannot keep up with the steadily increasing humanitarian crisis, the last hospital in the region has been forced to evacuate. The last remaining rebel fighters are hemmed in around Mullaittivu, a town on the northeast coast. Designated a terrorist group by the U.S. in 1997, the Tigers are reported to have purchased arms from Myanmar, Ukraine, Cambodia and other sources, with profits from drugs and human trafficking, money laundering, piracy and credit card fraud. The violence has been ruthless on both sides, Tamils and government troops alike, but the government's first moves in the next few months will be critical in deciding whether the bloodshed is truly over. A rapid and substantial overhaul of Sri Lanka's human rights laws and the majority's treatment of ethnic minority groups must occur to ensure that opposition groups don't turn to violence instead of a strong system of social justice.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pakistani court frees A.Q. Khan

As U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke prepares to depart for Pakistan, Afghanistan and India next week; a court in Pakistan freed Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan today, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. Dr. Khan, who was placed under house arrest in 2004 has been called the "world's leading black market dealer in nuclear technology". Watch AP Video.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tony Blair's Multipolar Worldview

The former Prime Minister spoke at Seton Hall University's Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations on Tuesday, February 3rd. The reception was warm, and at the same time, Mr. Blair took no steps towards admitting mistakes in his foreign policy. Many Europeans (and Americans) fault him for not opposing former U.S. President George W. Bush on Iraq. In front of the packed auditorium, which included scholars, ambassadors, business leaders and the university community - Mr. Blair warned that today's global problems were too large and too intertwined to be solved by only a few nations. He said that even if the U.K. reduced its CO2 emissions to zero, China will have made up the difference in 18 months. He also called the G8 and UN Security Council out of date, noting that counties such as India and Brazil needed seats at the negotiating table. On the whole, he demonstrated that he understood the gravity of the world's problems ahead, but like many other equally stumped experts, he did not present a plan to fix them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

World Economic Forum, Davos 2009

The World Economic Forum held its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland last week - and there were many notable moments. While blame for the global financial meltdown was directed at the absent Americans, the real standouts of the summit were Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin and China's P.M. Wen Jiabao. Listen to the complete summit wrap-up in this 9 minute podcast.

Download Podcast - Davos 2009 01.31.09

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Putin Levels Michael Dell at Davos

At this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland - Vladimir Putin made two BOLD statements and flattened Michael Dell (CEO of Dell) in the process. We will discuss this on the weekend podcast.

He cited Russia's failed experiment, "communism" and warned the West against state intervention in their lagging economies. Then regarding Mr. Dell's question on how IT Companies [he means Dell] could help Russia develop its IT infrastructure: "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity," Putin replied.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Looming Iraqi Refugee Crisis

American policy makers start taking notes. C.Eduardo Vargas, a specialist in the Iraqi refugee crisis who has traveled the region, speaks about the developing crisis involving over 5,000,000 Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people. He presents American foreign policy makers with clear and strong actions to address this humanitarian and political challenge.

Download Podcast - Iraqi Refugees 01.24.09

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Podcast - India and Pakistani relations following the Mumbai attacks

On November 26th 2008, ten armed attackers struck at the heart of India's financial and entertainment capital, throwing relations between India and Pakistan into crisis mode. In this podcast, Mr. Zeeshan Suhail, a Pakistani with experience working for two major international organizations, discusses the current state of diplomacy in South Asia and examines the motives of Lashkar e Taiba, the organization blamed by India for the attacks. U.S. foreign assistance to Pakistan is also examined and whether past aid has been properly spent.

Download Podcast - India and Pakistan Relations 01.17.09

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Podcast - U.S. and EU Environmental Policy in 2009

With a new administration, the United States is expected to take a major redirection in its environmental policies. Freedom-Kai Phillips, an international affairs and law specialist discussed the expectations for the Obama administration and successful environmental initiatives of the European Union, of which Washington should take note. The role of the U.S. Congress and China are also discussed in this 32 minute conversation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Evidence in Mumbai Terror Case

The holiday season and a new Israeli-Palestinian conflict has taken prominence in the headlines, but analysts are still keenly focused on the fallout of the Mumbai terror attacks. By all accounts the follow-up investigation has been swift and comprehensive, identifying links between the 10 perpetrators and supervisory backers based in Pakistan.

Somini Senguta for the New York Times reported the delivery of evidence to Pakistani authorities by India on Jan. 8th. Diplomats of selected allies have also conducted an initial review of the 69 page report which outlines the evidence. They say the dossier is quite problematic for the government of Pakistan. Telephone records, audio transcripts, gun labels and boat parts match-up to Pakistani manufacturers and supplies left in the boats used by the terrorists point to an outlawed terrorist group in Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba. India has demanded full cooperation by Pakistan in the investigation and a list of subjects to be turned over to Indian authorities for trial.

While India has officially not suggested any concrete link between the terrorists and Pakistan's government agencies, every Indian Parliamentarian and Minister are openly talking about the connection as a fait accompli.  The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh even spoke publicly about the necessity for official assistance for the 25ish year old attackers to have been able to pull it off.

Let's see how cooperative Pakistan is - in public and in private. Watch closely.