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Turkish official Kalin explores Middle East-U.S. relations

In a week dedicated to exploring whether or not Turkey is a model for the Middle East, Ibrahim Kalin will explain why he believes the country’s political and economic systems are ideal for continued prosperity in the region and for cultivating improved relations with other countries such as the United States.

Kalin is the chief adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the head of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party. The party, better known as the AKP, currently controls parliament and is the country’s largest political party. At today’s 10:45 a.m. morning lecture in the Amphitheater, Kalin will be speaking about how Erdoğan and the AKP are working to improve relations between the Middle East and the West.

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Shifting demographics key to understanding modern Turkey, scholar Rubin says

Michael Rubin was excited. He had just returned from meeting with key Kurdish political officials in a mountain redoubt in northern Iraq, adding fresh perspectives to his ongoing pursuit of understanding Turkey, the Middle East and the future of U.S. interests in the region.

Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, will open Week Eight’s exploration of “Turkey: Model for the Middle East?” at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater.

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Ross stresses need for context in Middle East discussions

When Dennis Ross served under the Reagan administration as the director of the Near East and South Asian affairs for the National Security Council, he worked with a team of three. But almost 25 years later, when he served as special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he worked with a team of 33.

“We’re looking at a region that is, at this point, undergoing upheaval,” Ross said, “and it’s frankly unprecedented. It’s not surprising that we’re wrestling with profound challenges that we haven’t really seen before.”

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Bowen discusses lessons learned from fraud, lack of oversight in Iraq

The United States assisted in the construction of a prison an hour north of Baghdad — a prison with a $40 million price tag that will never be used and was not wanted in the first place.

Khan Bani Saad Prison is just one example of the massive fraud, waste and abuse in the Iraq Reconstruction program. Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, was tasked with auditing and inspecting the various projects of the Coalition Provisional Authority. Through 34 trips to Iraq and 390 audits and inspections, Bowen’s office saved $1.8 billion — money that may otherwise have been misused on projects like Khan Bani Saad Prison.

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Williamson dissects numbers of diplomacy

Although discussing strategic concerns and security matters in the context of diplomacy is important, Molly Williamson suggests that studying a nation’s demographic and economic construction is equally critical.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has a young population, with a median age of 26 and two-thirds of its population under the age of 30. China’s demographic pyramid is the opposite; a baby boom in the 1960s followed by the country’s one-child policy has led to a large number of older citizens. And Russia’s entire population is on a decline, with the lowest numbers since before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Kagan urges America to retain influence in world

Robert Kagan surveys today’s international political landscape and, on the whole, likes what he sees. Fewer wars, more democracies and an increasing quality of life around the world make Kagan glad he’s alive today.

“We shouldn’t take for granted that we do live in a pretty remarkable period,” he said.

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Burns to speak on balance of force, diplomacy

When U.S. government officials are analyzing an international threat, Nicholas Burns wants them to lead with one question: Instead of using force to prevent a potential conflict, can diplomacy be used?

Burns is an advocate for peaceful negotiation over the use of military power in international relations. Though the U.S. has led with military force since 9/11 — the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being the foremost examples — Burns thinks the country needs to return to diplomatic activity as a first response to threat and leave war as only a last resort.

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Retired judge Gertner to speak about mass incarceration

Nancy Gertner believes mass incarceration has been a failure of the American justice system. Having worked in it for most of her life, she has seen firsthand the injustice imposed upon prisoners by harsh sentencing.

Gertner will speak at today’s 10:45 a.m. morning lecture in the Amphitheater about a system that incarcerates more people for longer periods of time than any other Western country.

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