WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL POLICY TASK FORCES AND CONFERENCES SPRING 2010 WWS 402a - Afghanistan: Is There a Way Out? Task Force ROB, Tuesday, 7:30-10:00 PM Robert Finn The war in Afghanistan is going into its eighth year and there is no end in sight. Majority public opinion in the United States and other countries no longer supports the war, as declining security and a tainted government in Afghanistan present problems rather than solutions. Pakistan next door seems also to be threatened by fundamentalist forces. The counter-insurgency plan raises both pragmatic and logistical dilemmas that raise strong differences of opinion both within the government and among the allies. The unbalanced nature of the international commitment to Afghanistan is another problematic element, as is the fact that Afghanistan remains among the poorest nations despite recent development efforts. It is also one of the most corrupt. Should the international commitment continue? If not, is there an acceptable way out? This task force will investigate and examine the advantages and disadvantages of current and future policy agendas from many differing points of view and try to find ways to achieve an end to the conflict and the disengagement of foreign forces. The seminar will deal with troop movements and public diplomacy, underlying historical relations and virtual communication realities. The task force report will be in the form of recommendations to principal policymakers in Washington or at the United Nations. Robert Finn served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in more than 20 years, from March 2002 until August 2003. Previous to that, he was the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan from 1998 to 2001. His other diplomatic postings include Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey; Lahore, Pakistan; and Zagreb, Croatia. He opened the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan in 1992. WWS 402b - U.S. Nuclear Weapon Policies in the 21st Century Conference ROB, Monday, 7:30-10:00 PM Harold Feiveson The period 2009-2010 promises to be a watershed in the development of nuclear weapon policies in the U.S. and worldwide. By the end of 2009, it is likely that the U.S. and Russia will have concluded a first-phase arms control agreement to follow the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in December. The second phase will be the subject of intense negotiation during the spring and summer of 2010, and will involve several key issues: the place of missile defenses, the expansion of NATO into Central and Eastern Europe, further and much more drastic cuts in strategic nuclear weapons, and the inclusion of non-strategic nuclear weapons. Along with the bilateral U.S.-Russian negotiations, there will also be discussion of initiatives affecting all the current (and aspiring) nuclear weapon states. These will include the fate of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban (CTBT), negotiations on a cutoff of missile material production for nuclear weapons, new and more draconian nonproliferation measures and, above all, whether there are practical steps that can now be taken to move the world toward complete nuclear disarmament. This goal has been endorsed by President Obama and Russia’s President Medvedev, among others. Conference recommendations will be in the form of recommendations to the U.S. task force responsible for negotiating the second phase of the START effort and perhaps to the Global Zero forum, which is coordinating a global effort to promote the disarmament agenda. Harold Feiveson is a member and former Co-Director of the Program on Science and Global Security in the Woodrow Wilson School. He is the Editor and one of the founders of the international journal, Science and Global Security. WWS 402c- Health Care Reform and Medicaid Expansion Task Force ROB, Monday, 7:30-10:00 PM Stephen Somers/James Verdier The Obama Administration and the Congress have worked throughout 2009 to reform the U.S. health care system - a system that spends over $2.6 trillion a year (nearly 18 percent of the nation’s economy), but still leaves more than 46 million people uninsured. Even without reform, in 2010 Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will provide health care coverage to nearly 60 million lower-income children and families, as well as people with disabilities and the elderly, at a cost of well over $430 billion in federal and state expenditures. With reform, Medicaid could become responsible for an additional 14-20 million Americans from the ranks of the currently uninsured, creating huge implementation challenges for its federal and state administrators. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers Medicaid and CHIP, will be responsible for many of the next steps in health care reform. The task force will make recommendations to the Center for Medicaid and State Operations in CMS on how best to deal with the challenges states and the federal government will be facing in the next several years. Stephen Somers is present of the Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. in Princeton. He previously worked at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and was a professional staff member in the U.S. Senate and at the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. James Verdier is a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. in Washington. He previously served as Indiana state Medicaid director, worked at the Congressional Budget Office, and served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Congress. WWS 402e - National Education Standards and Revisions to NCLB Task Force ROB, Thursday, 7:30-10:00 PM Thomas Corcoran The No Child Left Behind law was considered to be breakthrough bipartisan legislation when it was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2002. It dramatically altered the federal role in education. Although the law was controversial among educators, it was considered a great victory both by liberals concerned with children traditionally poorly served by public education and by conservatives who wanted stronger accountability for results. The law aimed to raise achievement and close achievement gaps by holding schools accountable for reaching annual test-score targets for all of the various groups of students they served. It ambitiously declared that all students must reach proficiency by 2014, and based the annual school targets on this goal. Many held great hope for this new federal initiative. Seven years later, as Congress considers re-authorization of the law, the public discussions have a decidedly different tone. Both Republicans and Democrats are calling for changes; some want to roll back the federal role, others want to write a new law from scratch, and some, perhaps the majority, want to make major revisions to NCLB. At the same time, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have taken the lead in developing voluntary national standards for public education and 46 states have agreed to adopt them. The new federal administration is offering grants to consortia of states to develop new assessments based on these standards. It is estimated that it will take 4-5 years for these new policies to take effect. What should Congress do about National Standards and about revisions to NCLB? The task force will examine the relevant evidence and frame recommendations to a national education organization likely to be in the center of Congressional debates on these questions. Thomas Corcoran is Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He formerly served as Policy Advisor for Education to the Governor of New Jersey, and as Chief of Staff of the New Jersey Department of Education WWS 402f – Defining a Coherent U.S. Approach to the Middle East Conference ROB, Thursday, 7:30-10:00 PM Daniel Kurtzer The Middle East has been a region of critical importance to the United States since the end of World War II. While some substantial achievements have been registered for U.S. diplomacy and interests, there have also been serious setbacks, with dangerous implications for our policy. Despite long involvement with the region, successive U.S. administrations have not defined a set of bipartisan, sustainable and over-arching interests of the U.S. in this region. This policy dilemma has been complicated by endemic problems in the Middle East such as weak regimes, suspect legitimacy, succession struggles, border disputes, poverty and class struggle, and religious/secular divides that are common throughout the region. Arab specialists have pointed to critical deficits in education systems, political rights and women’s empowerment. At the same time, U.S. policymakers have described the region’s problems in far different terms, for example, the persistence of violence and terrorism, the failure to accept Israel’s right to exist, or the absence of democracy. What are the core issues of concern to Arab societies in the Middle East? What progress is being made by these societies themselves to deal with their problems? What are U.S. interests in these countries and in the region? Do these problems and U.S. interests lend themselves to a coherent U.S. policy approach to the Middle East and, if so, what elements ought to be included and what should constitute U.S. policy priorities? The task force will try to answer these questions and frame a report in the form of recommendations to the U.S. State Department. Daniel C. Kurtzer is S. Daniel Abraham Visiting Professor of Middle East Policy Studies at the Woodrow Wilson School. He spent 29 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, including service as the United States Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005), and as the United States Ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001). WWS 402g - Campaign Reform: Is this the Way to Elect a President? Task Force ROB, Monday, 7:30-10:00 PM Markus Prior Every four years, Americans elect a president. Inevitably, complaints emerge about the electoral process. The Electoral College distorts preferences. Voters are apathetic. Campaigning is too negative. Media coverage is vacuous. Too much money is involved. Campaigns are too long. The task force will examine the merits of these claims Presidential elections in the United States are run according to a hodgepodge of constitutional requirements, federal and state laws, policy guidelines, and party rules. It is influenced by strategic considerations of the candidates, economic incentives of media organizations, and the psychology of citizens. It also involves many different actors, including citizens, candidates, parties, journalists, news organizations. In this context, the task force will make recommendations to the Democratic and Republican parties and to the news media. Markus Prior is Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. WWS 402h - Conflict Prevention and U.S. Foreign Policy Task Force ROB, Tuesday, 7:30-10:00 PM William L. Nash This task force will explore the question of how to prevent conflicts in failed and failing states. The premise of the task force is that conflict prevention is an effective instrument of U.S. foreign policy and that the United States can better address these precarious situations in a time of terrorism and global conflict. It will review the theoretical foundations of conflict prevention and the policies that best address potential conflict situations. In doing so, it will examine the influence of governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the business community in pre-empting violence and creating an environment for peaceful political, economic and social development. The task force will consider conflict prevention as a set of issues along the full spectrum of conflict management: before, during and after violent conflict. It will consider methods for mitigating conflict and for reconstructing a country after a conflict. Its report will be in the form of recommendations to the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State. William L. Nash is a retired U.S Army major general; he has extensive experience in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict operations.
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