Tomáš Němeček

Professor of Czech and
Slovak Modern History
Charles University

Geoffrey Harris

former official of the
European Parliament
Distinguished Teaching Fellow for European Integration and Global Rights
Vasalius College

Jamie Kirchick

Visiting Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Steven A. Cook, PhD

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Eyal Zisser, PhD

Vice Rector
Tel Aviv University

Jan Schroth

International Organization
for Migration

Alena Ledeneva, PhD

Professor of Politics and Society
School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London

Mark Galeotti, PhD

Senior Researcher
Institute of International Relations
Prague

Daniel Prieto

CEO of Incubate, LLC
and former Director, Cybersecurity Policy, National Security Council

september 13–17, 2017

Fall 2017 Forum Highlights

The Fall Senate Presidents’ Forum held in Prague, Czech Republic, included presentations from distinguished parliamentary and academic leaders, and experts in geopolitics. These speakers provided seasoned and nuanced insights into critical events occurring around the world, whose impacts reach into the States. The Forum meets outside the US every other year so State Senate leaders can explore, at first-hand, global opportunities and challenges that may impact their constituents’ work, investments, and future. The presentations also help inform the State Senate leaders as they develop State policies related to international affairs.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Sen. Kevin Grantham (CO) relax between sessions. Senators become valuable resources for one another during Forum events.

Czech Integration to the EU: Lessons Learned Since 2004

Professor Tomáš Nĕmeček provided the Forum with a brief history of the Czech Republic from the 14th to the 21st century, using its bank notes as a historical guide. Each denomination of banknote carries a symbol of the unique Czech history of intellectualism, free markets, religious tolerance, legislative reform, universal suffrage for women, and cosmopolitan openness. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, these traits paved the way for Czech emergence as a westernized, democratic state and a member of the EU. He noted that small countries can disappear, as the Czech Republic did for many years. But the fundamental Czech cultural attitudes remained Western and progressive, therefore, the country was poised for a rapid improvement in Czech quality of life, including a transition to a free market democracy, an increase in life span, and lower infant mortality rate in the post-Soviet era.

Professor Nĕmeček quipped, “Formerly, Czechs were not invited to diplomatic dinners, unless the country was on the menu. Today they play a leadership role in the EU and in NATO.”  He dissected the modern-day changes shaping the Czech Republic today and the challenges it faces for the future. He quoted former Czech President Václav Havel who, when asked in 1990, “What can the US do to help the Czech Republic?” responded, “We don’t need help. Instead, help our former aggressors (Russia) to transition to democracy.”

Challenging Times for European Unity

Geoffrey Harris’ distinguished career of service as an official of the European Parliament spanned from 1976 to 2016, including a role as the Deputy Head of the European Parliament's Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. He also served as Head of the Human Rights Unit within the Secretariat General of the European Parliament and coordinated relations with the parliaments of all countries involved in the EU enlargement process and the European Economic Area. His book, The Dark Side of Europe, examines right-wing extremism in contemporary Europe.

Professor Harris compared the current state of debate among EU countries to the disagreements and discussions that characterize the United States narrative, concluding that such discussions are ultimately productive. The EU is not facing collapse, he said, as he debunked misinformation seeking to destabilize the European Union. However, the rise of far-right populism in Europe, recent elections in France and the upcoming vote in Germany, as well as the effects of Brexit, pose challenges to the EU’s future. Mr. Harris described how challenging issues facing the EU, such as slow economies, a lack of jobs, and immigration tensions, are fueling the rise of nationalism, while the EU works toward integration, and the implications of these tensions for the US States.

Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age of Europe

Jamie Kirchick, a reporter and political analyst, is the author The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. As the EU works to create a region of peace, stability, cooperation, democracy, and social harmony, multiple crises across the continent threaten to quash that forward momentum. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many political analysts assumed that liberal democracy and free market capitalism would naturally arise, making Europe a place of peace and security. Mr. Kirchick described the diverse set of challenges now compromising those assumptions and straining the institutions and norms that have bound the region together. The rise of right-wing governments, slow economic growth, and a resurgent Russia could bring about the “end of Europe,” and a reversion to a Europe of small, squabbling states that do not embrace western values, Mr. Kirchick said. He examined the potential scenarios that may threaten the vision for a peaceful, integrated EU and considered the repercussions to the US and the States.

Turmoil in The Middle East

Steven A. Cook is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy, Dr. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East. Dr. Cook updated the Forum on developments in the Middle East, examining the forces that shriveled the hopes of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 to create democracy in the region. Egypt remains an authoritarian state, Syria and Yemen are in the midst of civil wars, Libya has descended into anarchy, and the self-declared Islamic State remains a threat. Turkey, once thought to be a democratizing model for the Arab world, now more closely resembles an autocracy. Iran seeks to regain regional dominance by extending its influence over Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, effectively surrounding and isolating Saudi Arabia, Dr. Cook reported. He analyzed why the old structures of power were never eliminated and the power struggles that have ensued. “The Middle East is disintegrating and lacks the resources to create democratic societies and free markets,” Dr. Cook observed. Given thess unstable situations, he stressed the importance for the US to define its Mideast goals and articulate a clear strategic foreign policy to achieve them.

The Failure of Syria

Professor Eyal Zisser is the Vice Rector of Tel Aviv University and the holder of The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East. He has written extensively on the history and the modern politics of Syria and Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among his seven books on Syria, the latest Syria: Protest, Revolution, Civil War tracks the history of the Syrian revolution - its origins and roots, its initial stages, and finally, the decline from a limited protest to widespread popular uprising and eventually to civil war. In 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria estimated that 400,000 had died in the war. And an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and about one million have requested asylum in Europe.

Professor Zisser informed the Forum that the war in Syria appears to be coming to an end, but with Assad as the victor, largely due to support from his allies, Russia and Iran, while the US failed to provide support for the rebels. “For the past 40 years, the US strategy was to keep Russia out of the Middle East,” Professor Zizzer remarked, “Now the US is giving Russia the keys to the Middle East.” The outcome will have significant political and social impacts on Europe and the US.

Refugee Crises: The Humanitarian Toll

Mr. Schroth has worked on numerous projects focused on labor migration, integration, return migration or migration and development since 2004. He has frontline experiences of the largest wave of human displacement since World War II, that has been unfolding for the past decade. The refugee and migrant crises are fueled by conflicts and violence, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, climate change, and demographic changes, such as the growing number of children living in extreme poverty. Today 1.5 billion people are living in a state of near permanent conflict or in zones of economic and social breakdown – the tide of refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East is one aspect of this crisis.  Mr. Schroth discussed the root causes of large-scale movements of migrants, and reported on efforts to manage migration for the benefit of all, pointing out that the key work of the International Organization for Immigration is to facilitate integration and the safe and successful repatriation of refugees.

Russia – Domestic Perspective:
Back at the Ranch – Russian Politics and Society

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London in the UK. She is an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Her research interests include corruption, informal economy, economic crime, informal practices in corporate governance, and the role of networks and patron-client relationships in Russia and around the globe. Professor Ledeneva described Russia as a “hybrid” regime, combining elements of democracy and authoritarianism. She pointed out that Russia’s huge geography, difficult climate, and poor infrastructure do not support a successful market-economy. However, despite economic realities, Russians believe in an ideal of national greatness based on their history.

Professor Ledeneva’s presentation shed light on current Russian attitudes toward the US, as well as internal Russian politics that may impact US States. She reported that a non-intervention treaty to restrict both the US and Russia from meddling in international affairs, planting fake news, and manipulating through false information would be a step toward reducing the US-Russia tension. A second step would be increasing trade between Russia and the US, which today is only 10% of that between Russia and Europe, and recognition of Russia as an important WWII ally, who lost 20M Russians in defeating fascism.

Russia – International Perspective:
Putin’s Foreign Policy: Making Russia Great Again

Dr. Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s. Educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, he is now a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinates its Centre for European Security. Dr. Galeotti described Mr. Putin’s objectives to “Make Russia Great Again,” the country’s capabilities to fulfill those objectives, the policies undertaken to implement these plans, and the likely long-term outcomes of these policies. Dr. Galeotti warns that “Russia has entered a new phase of national mobilization. The Kremlin clearly considers itself threatened by − and in a kind of political war with the West − a war started by the West.”

In the Russian view, the West does not honor Russia’s proper place in the world, and this spurs Russian desires to assert their voice in international affairs and fosters sovereignty displays such as the Crimea invasion. Russia wants to push back the influence of the world on Russia. “This Russian drive to world power could unravel the whole fabric of post-World-War II Europe,” Dr. Galeotti said.

In fact, the failure to adapt to globalization and stagnant economic growth, resulting from old industries and a failure to diversify to new technologies is the real challenge. But Russia blames the west for its weakening economy and will seek security through the geopolitics of extortion, seeking to exploit the fault lines between countries in the constellation of democracies that is Europe, instigating crises of legitimacy through misinformation, intimidation, and manipulation.

CyberSecurity: Risks and Recourse

Daniel B. Prieto has worked for two decades in the private sector, government, and academia at the intersection of technology, public policy, and national and homeland security issues, including service as the Director of Cybersecurity and Technology in the Department of Defense, where he led the development of cybersecurity strategy and policy. Mr. Prieto is the author of numerous publications on cybersecurity, including Meeting the Cybersecurity Challenge: Empowering Stakeholders and Ensuring Coordination and Global Movement Management: Commerce, Security, and Resilience in Today’s Networked World. Mr. Prieto’s presentation focused on the highly integrated, complex economic systems that move people, goods, conveyances, money and information around the world today, creating a circulatory system for the global economy, which he refers to as the “global movement system.”

Global movement systems embody a unique intersection of public and private interests, Mr. Prieto said.  However, the tight integration of global systems means that disruptions that may seem small or localized at first, can rapidly magnify, spill over into other systems and cause more serious harm that is difficult to envision or predict.  Mr. Prieto discussed the range of invasive activities that can occur in cyberspace, the impacts of those disruptions, and strategies for the States to provide cybersecurity legislation to protect their citizens.

CONTACT

Senate Presidents’ Forum

26 Main Street

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706

 

Tel: 914-693-1818

Copyright © 2017 Senate Presidents' Forum. All rights reserved.

september 13–17, 2017

Fall 2017 Forum Highlights

The Fall Senate Presidents’ Forum held in Prague, Czech Republic, included presentations from distinguished parliamentary and academic leaders, and experts in geopolitics. These speakers provided seasoned and nuanced insights into critical events occurring around the world, whose impacts reach into the States. The Forum meets outside the US every other year so State Senate leaders can explore, at first-hand, global opportunities and challenges that may impact their constituents’ work, investments, and future. The presentations also help inform the State Senate leaders as they develop State policies related to international affairs.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Sen. Kevin Grantham (CO) relax between sessions. Senators become valuable resources for one another during Forum events.

Czech Integration to the EU: Lessons Learned Since 2004

Professor Tomáš Nĕmeček provided the Forum with a brief history of the Czech Republic from the 14th to the 21st century, using its bank notes as a historical guide. Each denomination of banknote carries a symbol of the unique Czech history of intellectualism, free markets, religious tolerance, legislative reform, universal suffrage for women, and cosmopolitan openness. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, these traits paved the way for Czech emergence as a westernized, democratic state and a member of the EU. He noted that small countries can disappear, as the Czech Republic did for many years. But the fundamental Czech cultural attitudes remained Western and progressive, therefore, the country was poised for a rapid improvement in Czech quality of life, including a transition to a free market democracy, an increase in life span, and lower infant mortality rate in the post-Soviet era.

Professor Nĕmeček quipped, “Formerly, Czechs were not invited to diplomatic dinners, unless the country was on the menu. Today they play a leadership role in the EU and in NATO.”  He dissected the modern-day changes shaping the Czech Republic today and the challenges it faces for the future. He quoted former Czech President Václav Havel who, when asked in 1990, “What can the US do to help the Czech Republic?” responded, “We don’t need help. Instead, help our former aggressors (Russia) to transition to democracy.”

Challenging Times for European Unity

Geoffrey Harris’ distinguished career of service as an official of the European Parliament spanned from 1976 to 2016, including a role as the Deputy Head of the European Parliament's Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. He also served as Head of the Human Rights Unit within the Secretariat General of the European Parliament and coordinated relations with the parliaments of all countries involved in the EU enlargement process and the European Economic Area. His book, The Dark Side of Europe, examines right-wing extremism in contemporary Europe.

Professor Harris compared the current state of debate among EU countries to the disagreements and discussions that characterize the United States narrative, concluding that such discussions are ultimately productive. The EU is not facing collapse, he said, as he debunked misinformation seeking to destabilize the European Union. However, the rise of far-right populism in Europe, recent elections in France and the upcoming vote in Germany, as well as the effects of Brexit, pose challenges to the EU’s future. Mr. Harris described how challenging issues facing the EU, such as slow economies, a lack of jobs, and immigration tensions, are fueling the rise of nationalism, while the EU works toward integration, and the implications of these tensions for the US States.

Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age of Europe

Jamie Kirchick, a reporter and political analyst, is the author The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. As the EU works to create a region of peace, stability, cooperation, democracy, and social harmony, multiple crises across the continent threaten to quash that forward momentum. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many political analysts assumed that liberal democracy and free market capitalism would naturally arise, making Europe a place of peace and security. Mr. Kirchick described the diverse set of challenges now compromising those assumptions and straining the institutions and norms that have bound the region together. The rise of right-wing governments, slow economic growth, and a resurgent Russia could bring about the “end of Europe,” and a reversion to a Europe of small, squabbling states that do not embrace western values, Mr. Kirchick said. He examined the potential scenarios that may threaten the vision for a peaceful, integrated EU and considered the repercussions to the US and the States.

Turmoil in The Middle East

Steven A. Cook is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy, Dr. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East. Dr. Cook updated the Forum on developments in the Middle East, examining the forces that shriveled the hopes of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 to create democracy in the region. Egypt remains an authoritarian state, Syria and Yemen are in the midst of civil wars, Libya has descended into anarchy, and the self-declared Islamic State remains a threat. Turkey, once thought to be a democratizing model for the Arab world, now more closely resembles an autocracy. Iran seeks to regain regional dominance by extending its influence over Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, effectively surrounding and isolating Saudi Arabia, Dr. Cook reported. He analyzed why the old structures of power were never eliminated and the power struggles that have ensued. “The Middle East is disintegrating and lacks the resources to create democratic societies and free markets,” Dr. Cook observed. Given thess unstable situations, he stressed the importance for the US to define its Mideast goals and articulate a clear strategic foreign policy to achieve them.

The Failure of Syria

Professor Eyal Zisser is the Vice Rector of Tel Aviv University and the holder of The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East. He has written extensively on the history and the modern politics of Syria and Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among his seven books on Syria, the latest Syria: Protest, Revolution, Civil War tracks the history of the Syrian revolution - its origins and roots, its initial stages, and finally, the decline from a limited protest to widespread popular uprising and eventually to civil war. In 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria estimated that 400,000 had died in the war. And an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and about one million have requested asylum in Europe.

Professor Zisser informed the Forum that the war in Syria appears to be coming to an end, but with Assad as the victor, largely due to support from his allies, Russia and Iran, while the US failed to provide support for the rebels. “For the past 40 years, the US strategy was to keep Russia out of the Middle East,” Professor Zizzer remarked, “Now the US is giving Russia the keys to the Middle East.” The outcome will have significant political and social impacts on Europe and the US.

Refugee Crises: The Humanitarian Toll

Mr. Schroth has worked on numerous projects focused on labor migration, integration, return migration or migration and development since 2004. He has frontline experiences of the largest wave of human displacement since World War II, that has been unfolding for the past decade. The refugee and migrant crises are fueled by conflicts and violence, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, climate change, and demographic changes, such as the growing number of children living in extreme poverty. Today 1.5 billion people are living in a state of near permanent conflict or in zones of economic and social breakdown – the tide of refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East is one aspect of this crisis.  Mr. Schroth discussed the root causes of large-scale movements of migrants, and reported on efforts to manage migration for the benefit of all, pointing out that the key work of the International Organization for Immigration is to facilitate integration and the safe and successful repatriation of refugees.

Russia – Domestic Perspective:
Back at the Ranch – Russian Politics and Society

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London in the UK. She is an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Her research interests include corruption, informal economy, economic crime, informal practices in corporate governance, and the role of networks and patron-client relationships in Russia and around the globe. Professor Ledeneva described Russia as a “hybrid” regime, combining elements of democracy and authoritarianism. She pointed out that Russia’s huge geography, difficult climate, and poor infrastructure do not support a successful market-economy. However, despite economic realities, Russians believe in an ideal of national greatness based on their history.

Professor Ledeneva’s presentation shed light on current Russian attitudes toward the US, as well as internal Russian politics that may impact US States. She reported that a non-intervention treaty to restrict both the US and Russia from meddling in international affairs, planting fake news, and manipulating through false information would be a step toward reducing the US-Russia tension. A second step would be increasing trade between Russia and the US, which today is only 10% of that between Russia and Europe, and recognition of Russia as an important WWII ally, who lost 20M Russians in defeating fascism.

Russia – International Perspective:
Putin’s Foreign Policy: Making Russia Great Again

Dr. Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s. Educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, he is now a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinates its Centre for European Security. Dr. Galeotti described Mr. Putin’s objectives to “Make Russia Great Again,” the country’s capabilities to fulfill those objectives, the policies undertaken to implement these plans, and the likely long-term outcomes of these policies. Dr. Galeotti warns that “Russia has entered a new phase of national mobilization. The Kremlin clearly considers itself threatened by − and in a kind of political war with the West − a war started by the West.”

In the Russian view, the West does not honor Russia’s proper place in the world, and this spurs Russian desires to assert their voice in international affairs and fosters sovereignty displays such as the Crimea invasion. Russia wants to push back the influence of the world on Russia. “This Russian drive to world power could unravel the whole fabric of post-World-War II Europe,” Dr. Galeotti said.

In fact, the failure to adapt to globalization and stagnant economic growth, resulting from old industries and a failure to diversify to new technologies is the real challenge. But Russia blames the west for its weakening economy and will seek security through the geopolitics of extortion, seeking to exploit the fault lines between countries in the constellation of democracies that is Europe, instigating crises of legitimacy through misinformation, intimidation, and manipulation.

CyberSecurity: Risks and Recourse

Daniel B. Prieto has worked for two decades in the private sector, government, and academia at the intersection of technology, public policy, and national and homeland security issues, including service as the Director of Cybersecurity and Technology in the Department of Defense, where he led the development of cybersecurity strategy and policy. Mr. Prieto is the author of numerous publications on cybersecurity, including Meeting the Cybersecurity Challenge: Empowering Stakeholders and Ensuring Coordination and Global Movement Management: Commerce, Security, and Resilience in Today’s Networked World. Mr. Prieto’s presentation focused on the highly integrated, complex economic systems that move people, goods, conveyances, money and information around the world today, creating a circulatory system for the global economy, which he refers to as the “global movement system.”

Global movement systems embody a unique intersection of public and private interests, Mr. Prieto said.  However, the tight integration of global systems means that disruptions that may seem small or localized at first, can rapidly magnify, spill over into other systems and cause more serious harm that is difficult to envision or predict.  Mr. Prieto discussed the range of invasive activities that can occur in cyberspace, the impacts of those disruptions, and strategies for the States to provide cybersecurity legislation to protect their citizens.

Tomáš Němeček

Professor of Czech and
Slovak Modern History
Charles University

Geoffrey Harris

former official of the
European Parliament
Distinguished Teaching Fellow for European Integration and Global Rights
Vasalius College

Jamie Kirchick

Visiting Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Steven A. Cook, PhD

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Eyal Zisser, PhD

Vice Rector
Tel Aviv University

Jan Schroth

International Organization
for Migration

Alena Ledeneva, PhD

Professor of Politics and Society
School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London

Mark Galeotti, PhD

Senior Researcher
Institute of International Relations
Prague

Daniel Prieto

CEO of Incubate, LLC
and former Director, Cybersecurity Policy, National Security Council

september 13–17, 2017

Fall 2017 Forum Highlights

The Fall Senate Presidents’ Forum held in Prague, Czech Republic, included presentations from distinguished parliamentary and academic leaders, and experts in geopolitics. These speakers provided seasoned and nuanced insights into critical events occurring around the world, whose impacts reach into the States. The Forum meets outside the US every other year so State Senate leaders can explore, at first-hand, global opportunities and challenges that may impact their constituents’ work, investments, and future. The presentations also help inform the State Senate leaders as they develop State policies related to international affairs.

Sen. Wayne Niederhauser (UT) and Sen. Kevin Grantham (CO) relax between sessions. Senators become valuable resources for one another during Forum events.

Czech Integration to the EU: Lessons Learned Since 2004

Tomáš Němeček

Professor of Czech and
Slovak Modern History
Charles University

Professor Tomáš Nĕmeček provided the Forum with a brief history of the Czech Republic from the 14th to the 21st century, using its bank notes as a historical guide. Each denomination of banknote carries a symbol of the unique Czech history of intellectualism, free markets, religious tolerance, legislative reform, universal suffrage for women, and cosmopolitan openness. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, these traits paved the way for Czech emergence as a westernized, democratic state and a member of the EU. He noted that small countries can disappear, as the Czech Republic did for many years. But the fundamental Czech cultural attitudes remained Western and progressive, therefore, the country was poised for a rapid improvement in Czech quality of life, including a transition to a free market democracy, an increase in life span, and lower infant mortality rate in the post-Soviet era.

Professor Nĕmeček quipped, “Formerly, Czechs were not invited to diplomatic dinners, unless the country was on the menu. Today they play a leadership role in the EU and in NATO.”  He dissected the modern-day changes shaping the Czech Republic today and the challenges it faces for the future. He quoted former Czech President Václav Havel who, when asked in 1990, “What can the US do to help the Czech Republic?” responded, “We don’t need help. Instead, help our former aggressors (Russia) to transition to democracy.”

Challenging Times for European Unity

Geoffrey Harris

former official of the European Parliament
Distinguished Teaching Fellow for European Integration and Global Rights
Vasalius College

Geoffrey Harris’ distinguished career of service as an official of the European Parliament spanned from 1976 to 2016, including a role as the Deputy Head of the European Parliament's Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. He also served as Head of the Human Rights Unit within the Secretariat General of the European Parliament and coordinated relations with the parliaments of all countries involved in the EU enlargement process and the European Economic Area. His book, The Dark Side of Europe, examines right-wing extremism in contemporary Europe.

Professor Harris compared the current state of debate among EU countries to the disagreements and discussions that characterize the United States narrative, concluding that such discussions are ultimately productive. The EU is not facing collapse, he said, as he debunked misinformation seeking to destabilize the European Union. However, the rise of far-right populism in Europe, recent elections in France and the upcoming vote in Germany, as well as the effects of Brexit, pose challenges to the EU’s future. Mr. Harris described how challenging issues facing the EU, such as slow economies, a lack of jobs, and immigration tensions, are fueling the rise of nationalism, while the EU works toward integration, and the implications of these tensions for the US States.

Dictators, Demagogues, and
the Coming Dark Age of Europe

Jamie Kirchick

Visiting Fellow
The Brookings Institution

Jamie Kirchick, a reporter and political analyst, is the author The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. As the EU works to create a region of peace, stability, cooperation, democracy, and social harmony, multiple crises across the continent threaten to quash that forward momentum. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many political analysts assumed that liberal democracy and free market capitalism would naturally arise, making Europe a place of peace and security. Mr. Kirchick described the diverse set of challenges now compromising those assumptions and straining the institutions and norms that have bound the region together. The rise of right-wing governments, slow economic growth, and a resurgent Russia could bring about the “end of Europe,” and a reversion to a Europe of small, squabbling states that do not embrace western values, Mr. Kirchick said. He examined the potential scenarios that may threaten the vision for a peaceful, integrated EU and considered the repercussions to the US and the States.

Turmoil in The Middle East

Steven A. Cook, PhD

Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
Council on Foreign Relations

Steven A. Cook is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. An expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy, Dr. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East. Dr. Cook updated the Forum on developments in the Middle East, examining the forces that shriveled the hopes of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 to create democracy in the region. Egypt remains an authoritarian state, Syria and Yemen are in the midst of civil wars, Libya has descended into anarchy, and the self-declared Islamic State remains a threat. Turkey, once thought to be a democratizing model for the Arab world, now more closely resembles an autocracy. Iran seeks to regain regional dominance by extending its influence over Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, effectively surrounding and isolating Saudi Arabia, Dr. Cook reported. He analyzed why the old structures of power were never eliminated and the power struggles that have ensued. “The Middle East is disintegrating and lacks the resources to create democratic societies and free markets,” Dr. Cook observed. Given thess unstable situations, he stressed the importance for the US to define its Mideast goals and articulate a clear strategic foreign policy to achieve them.

The Failure of Syria

Eyal Zisser, PhD

Vice Rector
Tel Aviv University

Professor Eyal Zisser is the Vice Rector of Tel Aviv University and the holder of The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair in Contemporary History of the Middle East. He has written extensively on the history and the modern politics of Syria and Lebanon and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among his seven books on Syria, the latest Syria: Protest, Revolution, Civil War tracks the history of the Syrian revolution - its origins and roots, its initial stages, and finally, the decline from a limited protest to widespread popular uprising and eventually to civil war. In 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria estimated that 400,000 had died in the war. And an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March 2011, seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and about one million have requested asylum in Europe.

Professor Zisser informed the Forum that the war in Syria appears to be coming to an end, but with Assad as the victor, largely due to support from his allies, Russia and Iran, while the US failed to provide support for the rebels. “For the past 40 years, the US strategy was to keep Russia out of the Middle East,” Professor Zizzer remarked, “Now the US is giving Russia the keys to the Middle East.” The outcome will have significant political and social impacts on Europe and the US.

Refugee Crises: The Humanitarian Toll

Jan Schroth

International Organization for Migration

Mr. Schroth has worked on numerous projects focused on labor migration, integration, return migration or migration and development since 2004. He has frontline experiences of the largest wave of human displacement since World War II, that has been unfolding for the past decade. The refugee and migrant crises are fueled by conflicts and violence, poverty, lack of employment opportunities, climate change, and demographic changes, such as the growing number of children living in extreme poverty. Today 1.5 billion people are living in a state of near permanent conflict or in zones of economic and social breakdown – the tide of refugees pouring into Europe from the Middle East is one aspect of this crisis.  Mr. Schroth discussed the root causes of large-scale movements of migrants, and reported on efforts to manage migration for the benefit of all, pointing out that the key work of the International Organization for Immigration is to facilitate integration and the safe and successful repatriation of refugees.

Russia – Domestic Perspective:
Back at the Ranch – Russian Politics and Society

Alena Ledeneva, PhD

Professor of Politics and Society
School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London

Alena Ledeneva is Professor of Politics and Society at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London in the UK. She is an internationally renowned expert on informal governance in Russia. Her research interests include corruption, informal economy, economic crime, informal practices in corporate governance, and the role of networks and patron-client relationships in Russia and around the globe. Professor Ledeneva described Russia as a “hybrid” regime, combining elements of democracy and authoritarianism. She pointed out that Russia’s huge geography, difficult climate, and poor infrastructure do not support a successful market-economy. However, despite economic realities, Russians believe in an ideal of national greatness based on their history.

Professor Ledeneva’s presentation shed light on current Russian attitudes toward the US, as well as internal Russian politics that may impact US States. She reported that a non-intervention treaty to restrict both the US and Russia from meddling in international affairs, planting fake news, and manipulating through false information would be a step toward reducing the US-Russia tension. A second step would be increasing trade between Russia and the US, which today is only 10% of that between Russia and Europe, and recognition of Russia as an important WWII ally, who lost 20M Russians in defeating fascism.

Russia – International Perspective:
Putin’s Foreign Policy: Making Russia Great Again

Mark Galeotti, PhD

Senior Researcher
Institute of International Relations
Prague

Dr. Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s. Educated at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, he is now a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague and coordinates its Centre for European Security. Dr. Galeotti described Mr. Putin’s objectives to “Make Russia Great Again,” the country’s capabilities to fulfill those objectives, the policies undertaken to implement these plans, and the likely long-term outcomes of these policies. Dr. Galeotti warns that “Russia has entered a new phase of national mobilization. The Kremlin clearly considers itself threatened by − and in a kind of political war with the West − a war started by the West.”

In the Russian view, the West does not honor Russia’s proper place in the world, and this spurs Russian desires to assert their voice in international affairs and fosters sovereignty displays such as the Crimea invasion. Russia wants to push back the influence of the world on Russia. “This Russian drive to world power could unravel the whole fabric of post-World-War II Europe,” Dr. Galeotti said.

In fact, the failure to adapt to globalization and stagnant economic growth, resulting from old industries and a failure to diversify to new technologies is the real challenge. But Russia blames the west for its weakening economy and will seek security through the geopolitics of extortion, seeking to exploit the fault lines between countries in the constellation of democracies that is Europe, instigating crises of legitimacy through misinformation, intimidation, and manipulation.

CyberSecurity: Risks and Recourse

Daniel Prieto

CEO of Incubate, LLC
and former Director, Cybersecurity Policy, National Security Council

Daniel B. Prieto has worked for two decades in the private sector, government, and academia at the intersection of technology, public policy, and national and homeland security issues, including service as the Director of Cybersecurity and Technology in the Department of Defense, where he led the development of cybersecurity strategy and policy. Mr. Prieto is the author of numerous publications on cybersecurity, including Meeting the Cybersecurity Challenge: Empowering Stakeholders and Ensuring Coordination and Global Movement Management: Commerce, Security, and Resilience in Today’s Networked World. Mr. Prieto’s presentation focused on the highly integrated, complex economic systems that move people, goods, conveyances, money and information around the world today, creating a circulatory system for the global economy, which he refers to as the “global movement system.”

Global movement systems embody a unique intersection of public and private interests, Mr. Prieto said.  However, the tight integration of global systems means that disruptions that may seem small or localized at first, can rapidly magnify, spill over into other systems and cause more serious harm that is difficult to envision or predict.  Mr. Prieto discussed the range of invasive activities that can occur in cyberspace, the impacts of those disruptions, and strategies for the States to provide cybersecurity legislation to protect their citizens.