All posts by Grace Caldwell

American University Lecture- Is Global Governance Gone?

American University hosted a unique event Tuesday, where a panel comprised of three people discussed the topic of “Is Global governance gone?” The panel ranged from Professors of International Service to a man who was the deputy head of The Delegation Of The European Union. The topics discussed were all finance debates on a global scale. Is it specific countries duty to watch up on others? This includes issues with everything from starvation to climate change and energy shortages? Whose duty is it?

Something that was mentioned and really got me thinking was the topic of the American 2008 financial crisis. When thinking about the 2008 financial meltdown, I was always under the impression that we could have seen it coming, that we should have seen it coming. A French journalist said this idea is totally wrong. A lot of what she spoke about what over my head, however I could wrap my head around the idea of it. The 2008 financial crisis is a lot scarier then I thought. With all these watchdogs and systems that we have in place, this still happened? Could this happen on a more global scale? This idea really consumed me the entire lecture.

While walking to the American University metro stop, I was fascinated the wealth of knowledge that all these people possess. While knowledge on the same topic, their backgrounds are very different, yet they can come together for one unified lecture. The issues of global governance and whose job is whose, I’ve never really thought about. All panelists using their unique backgrounds had different opinions on issues and spoke about details I would never have thought about. However, while fascinated, I walked away very nervous for the future of the universe. The world players need to come together and work as one, and if that can’t happen, what will our future be like?

State Dept Classroom with Marc Norman

When preparing for the Dept.  of State “Foreign Policy Classroom” with Marc Norman, Director of Africa, Europe and The Americas, I was not at all expecting what I got.  I figured there would be a lot of talk about those specific countries. How we research terrorism and defend attacks from terror cells in those areas. However, this lecture was the most detailed comprehensive lesson on taking down terrorism in general. Marc Norman, while hilarious spoke on broad terms on how US effectively has taken down terrorist attacks.

Norman stated a line that really has stayed with me and I never thought about. When defending the United States, we have to be luck 100% of the time to keep our people safe. However, any terrorist unit, only has to be lucky once. When thinking about it, I’m sure we have been lucky most of the time considering the rareness of a large scale terrorist attacks.

Norman spoke about taking down down terrorists in a very systematic way. For instance you make money harder to wire and transfer. There goes their funding. You make it hard to talk on any normal way of communication. You take away their communication. When you spread out their leaders in different prisons across the world, or even take care of the leaders in a more permanent manner. There are so many thinks that the US government does to make life so much  more difficult for terrorists. These are probably the things that do the most damage, that the average American citizens don’t even realize.

A factor I never thought about with work the state dept. does is how much red tape they have to cut through. Norman made a joke that the best way for a terrorist cell to evade punishment is to change their name. Thats the easiest thing for them to do, something so easy and simple. I know the government has to follow the same rules as everyone else, but working for a bureaucracy such as the Government must get very frustrating. The work the State dept. never has seemed more rewarding and with Norman’s insight, the audience really felt like they were the good guys.


Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda

The New America Foundation is an organization in Washington DC, clearly doing big things; I attended an event there this afternoon, at what seemed like a conversation between old friends (later revealing they ARE old friends). Peter Bergen, a British-American journalist, interviewed Phillip Mudd, who worked in the CIA, and then a liaison for the White House during 9/11.

The event began with Mudd simply introducing himself and how he began his career. Mudd is a graduate from UVA, in English surprisingly enough. He had been turned down several times for a teaching career, and drove up to the CIA gates when he was aware they were hiring. Mudd worked his way up quickly and specialized in South East Asia in intelligence. He began working on Iraq in 1999 and was still involved and a leader during the September 11th attacks. Mudd says he didn’t know how, but as soon as he became aware of the attacks, he knew the world in that moment, changed forever. Throughout his deep involved testimonial of the time, Mudd repeats the phrase “let me blunt” very often. He was honest and even though he has no regrets, he says the time was very emotionally trying. He talks about how the CIA perfected in those years, the art of taking down individual leaders before more could develop. An interesting comment he made revolved around that “art” he mentions. Mudd believes that drug and human traffickers could also be taken down in this manor, claiming the Government isn’t doing enough. Mudd went on to talk about how much the hunt for Bin Ladan weighed on him. He speaks openly about how even though we were killing of these awful men, they still had families, and children whom would never see them again. Mudd also brought up a claim that really weighed with me my metro ride home. He says he believes the CIA has gone into a business of man hunting, and has left its espionage roots. (Mudd is no longer working for the CIA- and is an investment banker in DC). He spoke candidly saying this needs to change, and this is a root problem in not only America, but a lot of Intelligence Agencies across the world.

“Al Qaeda is a movement… not a group” Mudd said. This was something I had not just not been aware of, but didn’t even understand. (even after countless views of Zero Dark Thirty) During this presentation, my knowledge of Al Qaeda grew exponentially. He explained Al Qaeda “cells” and other brief knowledge of the movement in a language not only I could understand, but really enjoyed and found fascinating. That quote really stuck with me as well, changing a lot of my preconceived notions about Al Qaeda.

The talk ended with a question and answer session. There were questions from why isn’t he married, to other organizations America should be worried about. A man praised him on being one of the few CIA officers to acknowledge the pain and suffering children of Al Qaeda leaders have faced. Mudd was no longer part of the CIA during the final capture of Bin Laden, he remarks that he was upset with America and the praise his death recieved. While necessary he says, it was still a death. I really respected this outlook and thought about how much morality this must take….especially for a man so much on the inside.