U.S. Needs to Adopt a Different Approach to Foreign Policy Challenges, says Head of Council on Foreign Relations

“I can’t think of another time when there were so many difficult challenges filling the foreign policy plate at any one time,” said Haass, who served in the National Security Council under the first President George Bush, and in the State Department under President George W. Bush.

Haass cited a litany of foreign policy challenges confronting the current administration that included the threat of an avian flu pandemic, terrorism, drugs, global climate change, the current HIV-AIDS pandemic, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. “The characteristic challenges of this era essentially stem from the dark side of globalization,” said Haass.

Free Media and More Transparent Government Can Help Limit Corruption, Scholar Says

He began by looking at one of the most widely cited corruption indices, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. He pointed out that the rankings are based upon perceptions of corruption, rather than documented instances of corruption. “Corruption is a visceral, emotional issue,” Moss explained. “You’ll always remember paying a bribe.” Because of this, the perception that a country is corrupt can linger long after a country has actually made progress cleaning up crooked practices. Other indices that attempt to measure corruption include World Bank indices that measure good governance and anti-corruption efforts, and the International Country Risk Guide.

Moss discussed the debilitating effects that corruption can have on a country and its citizens. He argued that corruption denies services to the public, harms a country’s future by reducing the prospects of investment and other economic opportunities, increases poverty and undermines state legitimacy. In extreme cases, corrupt states can deteriorate into kleptocracies that exist almost solely to steal money.

IRP Fellows and SAIS Masters in Public Policy Students Discuss Changes in the News Media

International Reporting Project Fellows are working journalists who come to SAIS on a 13 week fellowship to study international topics, and then travel overseas for international reporting. The SAIS MIPP students are a diverse mix of mid-career professionals from around the world who have worked for at least nine years prior to coming to SAIS. Many of them work in banking, consulting, with non-profits, and in the military. Some are also journalists.

MIPP students spoke about the difficulty of finding in-depth international stories, and the need to browse many news sources—often on the Internet —to get the information they need. “Is anyone catering to me?” asked MIPP student Jenifer Rogers. IRP Fellows asked MIPP students how they consumed news, and several of them emphasized the need to multitask, saying they listed to radio stations such as NPR while getting ready for work in the morning.

Traditional Media Must Adapt in Today’s Transforming Landscape, Says Journalism Expert

An “on-demand” audience now has more ways to dig up its own information, and journalists are not the gatekeepers they once were, Rosenstiel said. “That concept is obsolete, on a lot of stories.”

Rosenstiel said changes in technology are breaking apart the notion of who controls the news. While the number of outlets that present news is increasing, the audience for most of those outlets is shrinking.

How do journalists survive in this kind of market? Rosenstiel said he believes that traditional media outlets must embrace the Internet. “The big issue for the future in news is who can figure out what the new role of journalism will be, and deliver that online and innovate the potential of that new medium.

US Needs to Revamp its Africa Policy, Says CSIS Specialist

The common perception that Africa is simply a humanitarian disaster area is outdated and in some ways, dangerous, Morrison told the spring 2006 International Reporting Project Fellows. “It ignores reality,” he said. “It ignores the rising stakes.”

Currently, the United States receives 15 percent of its oil from Africa. That figure is expected to rise to 25 percent within the next five years. Liquid natural gas is also being discovered in the Niger Delta and elsewhere. In a few years, the region is expected to be a major oil producer to the U.S., China, and other countries, Morrison said.

US Media Coverage of Religion Still Needs to Improve, say US Religion Writers

O’Keefe, an evangelical Christian, added that American journalists often don’t cover the evangelical community effectively or evenhandedly. “Sometimes I run into these articles that are alarmist and along the lines of ‘can you believe these yahoos?’” he said of some stories that deal with evangelical Christians. “There’s that added fear element.”

He was one of three speakers who discussed religion coverage in the U.S. and overseas at a recent meeting with the International Reporting Project Fellows. Kim Lawton, a managing editor and correspondent for PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and Steve Herrick, media relations director for the American Academy of Religion, also spoke about their experiences and discussed how American media covers religion.

Layers of Identity Make African Unity Elusive, says Africa Scholar

The trend toward religious identity is pulling some people away from ethnic and tribal identities. In some countries, such as Nigeria, the rise of Christian and Islamic fundamentalism could spur conflict or fracture the national identity, Dr. Nyang said. “People who were tribal, and were confined to a specific locality, now have these universal visions of Islamic or Christian solidarity,” said Dr. Nyang, an expert on African systems of thought and former president of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

In a seminar with IRP fellows, Dr. Nyang said the layering of spiritual, tribal, ethnic and national identities has long flummoxed many African leaders trying to forge a national character. The continent is home to over 1,000 ethnic groups and at least 40 language groups.

The United States and China Need and Mistrust Each Other

 Speaking at a seminar to International Reporting Project Fellows, Lampton focused on China’s growing economic power and how it is transforming its relations with the United States and other countries across the globe. China’s high national savings rate — 31 to 47 percent of its gross national product compared to zero savings in the United States — is helping the country gain tremendous international economic muscle. As the second-largest foreign holder of U.S. debt and a manufacturing and export juggernaut of goods ranging from textiles to telecommunications, China has become essential to global economic growth, Lampton said.

But that power also creates suspicion, Lampton noted. The recent Chinese effort to take over Unocal, a U.S. oil company, provoked a backlash in the U.S. Congress that illustrates the quandary China faces in the international system: it is sought as a market because of its growing wealth but feared for the same reason.


Indians debate whether caste system helps or hurts development

In a seminar with IRP fellows, Andersen said that the caste system, a Hindu-inspired social and religious class structure that came into existence around 1500 BC, still hampers development across India, despite extensive affirmative action programs for disadvantaged or “scheduled” castes successive Indian governments have put in place.

Andersen, a former State Department official who followed South Asia for the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said that while caste group identification is not breaking down, the notion of caste hierarchy, that puts Brahmins at the top and Dalits or “untouchables” at the bottom, is beginning to change