Foreign Policy Research Institute
News Article | May 27, 2017
Why did Jared Kushner seemingly trust Russian officials more than he trusted the U.S. government? Friday evening, The Washington Post broke the story that, according to an intercepted report by the Russian ambassador in Washington to his superiors in Moscow, Kushner sought to use secure communications facilities at the Russian Embassy to correspond directly with Russian officials. The Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, reported that the proposal was made in December, after Trump won the election but before he had taken office. The conversations reportedly involved Michael Flynn, the former Trump national-security adviser who was fired after it was revealed that he lied to administration officials about the content of his conversations with Russian officials. Although Kushner never used those facilities, former national-security officials said that for officials with access to classified information, entering foreign embassies is considered a security risk. The White House has not commented directly on the report. Kushner’s attorney, Jamie Gorelick, a former Justice Department official with extensive national-security experience, has neither confirmed nor denied the report, but she has emphasized Kushner’s willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations into the Trump team’s contacts with the Russians. If Kushner did in fact make the request, that alone would have put him in a compromising position, since Russian officials could have used it as leverage against him. Recommended: How Four Stories That Broke on a Single Day Define the Trump Era But what is also peculiar is the level of trust Kushner would have been placing in Russian officials in asking for such a communications channel. Foreign affairs is often complex, yet Kushner didn’t want the U.S. government’s help—or supervision. "What is unusual and borderline disturbing about this is less that it cut out the State Department or cut out the intelligence community; I think there is a precedent for both of those things in back-channels," said Jon Finer, former State Department chief of staff under John Kerry. “It shows a level of trust in Russian intelligence, and Russian diplomatic personnel beyond the level of trust afforded to American intelligence and American personnel.” The White House has obliquely defended Kushner’s actions while refusing to comment on them specifically. “We have back-channel communications with a number of countries. So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner,” National-Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters on Saturday. Asked whether it would be cause for concern if a National Security Council staffer used such a back-channel to Moscow, he said: "No, I would not be concerned about it." "What puts this in an entirely different category is that this is a transition; they weren't in the government yet,” said Paul Pillar, a former analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. "That's really a departure. It's normal for an incoming administration to have contacts with foreign leaders, but I can't think of a precedent for this kind of thing." And former national-security officials noted that while back-channel communications are often compartmentalized—meaning they can only be viewed by a select number of officials—they usually have some level of involvement from national-security officials. Communicating with Moscow using Russian facilities could have shielded Kushner’s correspondence from U.S. intelligence agencies, without denying their Russian counterparts the same access. “The only reason you would operate that way is if you were hiding something from your own government. That's it. That's the only plausible explanation," said Nada Bakos, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former CIA analyst. “There's compartmentalized classification—if they wanted to take this to the highest level of classification they could do that. It didn't have to be widely disseminated.” Reports from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have cited anonymous administration officials claiming that the purpose of the communications would have been to discuss the Syrian civil war. But that explanation raises similar issues: If that was the topic, why would Kushner want to cut out U.S. officials? And why couldn’t it wait until after the transition? Discussing Syria "just doesn't seem tremendously credible or urgent on the timelines they were seeking to operate,” said Finer. “It begs the question of what this was all about. Until we know that, we don't know if this is a bombshell, or just people who didn't know what they were doing." Recommended: Report: Jared Kushner Asked the Russians for Use of Their Facilities to Communicate With Moscow Kushner’s contacts with the Russian government are reportedly a topic of interest for the FBI, which is investigating whether there was any collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and what intelligence agencies have said was a deliberate Russian influence operation on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 presidential election. Reuters also reported Friday that Kushner’s contacts with Russian officials were much more extensive than he had previously acknowledged. Gorelick told Reuters that Kushner “participated in thousands of calls in this time period” and that he had “no recollection of the calls as described.” The reasons for the contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials—and the willingness of those associates to conceal those contacts—remain an ongoing mystery. “Collusion between the campaign and the Russian government would obviously be devastating for the administration,” Finer said. “But you don't need to get anywhere near that far to be disturbed by what's been revealed already—unprecedented and unexplained contacts between an adversarial government meddling in our election and people in ever-closer proximity to the president himself, after denials that proved false and alibis that don't make sense.” Read more from The Atlantic: The Trump Organization Says It's 'Not Practical' to Comply With the Constitution This article was originally published on The Atlantic.
News Article | November 15, 2016
EDINBURG, TX, November 15, 2016-- Dr. Sonia Alianak has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.Dr. Alianak has been a political science professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley since 1989, and a full professor since 2015. A lifelong scholar, she is noted not only for her teaching, but also for her research, writing, media consultancy, involvement in the educational community and more. Dr. Alianak is the author of two books: "The Transition Toward Revolution and Reform: The Arab Spring Realised?," published in 2014, and "Middle Eastern Leaders and Islam: A Precarious Equilibrium," published in 2007. She also contributed a chapter to the book "The Gulen Hizmet Movement: Circumspect Activism in Faith Based Reform," published in 2012. Her writing has appeared in a number of professional journal articles over the course of her career as well. Dr. Alianak serves as a reviewer for the American Political Science Review, New Trends in Social and Liberal Sciences (NETSOL), and Social Science Quarterly.Dr. Alianak's own educational foundation began at the American University in Cairo, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science with an emphasis on journalism. She went on to the American University of Beirut to earn a Master of Arts in international relations with an emphasis on political theory. In 1987, Dr. Alianak graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Ph.D. in international relations and comparative government. Prior to joining the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, she was a visiting assistant professor at Texas A&M University at College Station.An active member of her professional community, Dr. Alianak is a member of the Southwestern Political Science Association, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Middle East Institute and the Middle East Forum. Her past affiliations include the American Political Science Association and the Midwestern National Political Science Association. Dr. Alianak, who has conducted a multitude of national presentations over the years, has also chaired numerous panels, the latest titled "Religion and State" at the Southwestern Social Science Convention at San Antonio on April 18, 2014. On March 27, 2015, she chaired a panel, titled "Cultural Variations in Health Practices" at the Social and Behavioral Sciences 8th Annual Research Conference at the University of Texas-Pan American. Furthermore, Dr. Alianak is proud to have served as a media consultant on a number of news programs on television and radio, as well as newspaper articles.As a result of her many endeavors both in and outside of the classroom, Dr. Alianak has received numerous awards and formal honors over the course of her career. Most recently, she was honored with the ADVANCE Leadership Institute Scholarship Award in spring 2016. Other honors include the Provost's Award in International Studies for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 2004, the Provost's Global Excellence Award for Global Week 2002, and the Provost's Service Appreciation Award for Pan American Week 2001, all from the University of Texas-PanAmerican. These and Dr. Alianak's other honors were taken into consideration when she was chosen to be featured in the 65th through 70th editions of Who's Who in America.For more information about Dr. Alianak, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org About Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
News Article | November 25, 2016
All that fake news you saw during the election may have been part of a "sophisticated" Russian propaganda campaign. The abundance of fake news in the lead up to President-elect Donald Trump's victory earlier this month has become a hot button issue, entangling tech giants like Facebook and Google. It turns out much of it was part of a Russian campaign, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. The campaign used thousands of botnets, teams of paid human trolls, and networks of websites and social-media accounts to create as well as spread misleading articles, the newspaper reported. Independent researchers tracking the operation say the goal was to help Trump and undermine faith in American democracy, according to the Post. "This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media," Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told the Post. The Russian embassy didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The propaganda campaign was revealed by researchers with the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a separate, nonpartisan group called PropOrNot, according to the Post. PropOrNot said it will publicly release its findings on Friday. The researchers with the FPRI also published what they learned in the article, "Trolling for Trump: How Russia Is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy" earlier this month. This comes on top of a report earlier this month that Facebook could have helped combat fake news with an update to its News Feed. The software update was reportedly shelved because it would have disproportionately blocked out supposed stories from right-wing news sites, and Facebook didn't want to give the impression it was politically biased. Even President Barack Obama weighed in, warning that fake news has the power to damage or even destroy democracy.
Noonan M.P.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2015
A quarter century after the end of the Cold War the United States faces an international geopolitical landscape that many would have not imagined a generation ago. Today the U.S. faces a disordered world where revisionist powers such as China and Russia wish to change the dynamics of the international system and a revolutionary Islamic State has aspirations to overthrow the entirety of the system itself. While the U.S. still maintains the strongest conventional military capabilities in the system it also has many global commitments and its resources are constrained. In order to cope with the current disordered world it must learn to operate within the current era's ambiguities, particularly in the space between war and peace, and much more adroitly blend its capabilities across the elements of national power to directly and indirectly confront threats and challengers. © 2015.
Granieri R.J.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2015
In honor of FPRI's 60th Anniversary, this lecture traces the intellectual roots of FPRI's approach to Geopolitics, as initially formulated by its founder Robert Strausz-Hupé, and considers how this approach contrasts with other intellectual traditions, to help illuminate FPRI's ongoing role in the formulation and discussion of American foreign policy. © 2015.
Garfinkle A.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2015
The geopolitical frame is a necessary but insufficient means to understand the contemporary Middle East. Defining the term in its original, fairly narrow, way puts the analytical spotlight on the Westphalian units-namely, states-that compose the classical modern international system. But those states' lack of decisional agency is itself at the core of the region's instability. As for the region, its troubles are likely to persist for some time. Outsiders cannot fix it; at best, if they are skillful and lucky, they can contain it. © 2015.
Basora A.A.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2012
In January 2011, when the Arab protest movements were just beginning in Tunisia and Egypt, few experts predicted the speed and extent of their spread. Fewer still suggested that there were significant analogies to the wave of post-communist revolutions that swept through Europe and Eurasia starting in 1989. However, such comparisons have become more frequent as the uprisings have continued. This article examines whether the current uprisings and political ferment in the Arab world have enough in common with the transitions that began two decades ago in Eastern Europe to provide useful analytical and policy comparisons. © 2012.
Chang F.K.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2014
Despite worries that ASEAN is becoming weak, the organization remains as strong as it ever was, given the parameters of its design. Its member countries still tightly embrace the organization's principles, the "ASEAN way." But simple adherence to those principles can be problematic. ASEAN countries, whose national economic and political interests collide, often appeal to the same principles to back their positions. That tends to pull ASEAN in different directions. Great power policies, particularly those of China and the United States, now exacerbate the situation. At the same time, ASEAN's reliance on multilateral consensus has made it difficult to reconcile real differences among its member countries or develop unified regional responses. That can be seen in issues from the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River to the South China Sea. The ease with which ASEAN's principles can come into conflict and its consensus-driven decision- making can become deadlocked clearly marks the limits of the "ASEAN way.". © 2014.
Neumann V.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2013
The threat is real, deadly and serious-for everyone, not just the United States. The rapid collapse of distinctions between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist organizations has led to a threat convergence the likes of which we have not seen before and are only beginning to understand. Transnational organized criminals and foreign terrorist organizations have linked (both wittingly and not) in what we now call the crime-terror pipeline, or CTP. While the intellectual landscape of the problem is still under study, its scale and relevance have made it squarely a Tier-One national security threat, as codified in the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. © 2013.
Garfinkle A.,Foreign Policy Research Institute
Orbis | Year: 2016
The collapse or weakening of six empires over a 53-year period furnished the precondition for the rise of what we offhandedly call the modern Middle East. But if we mean "modern" as a concept of political sociology rather than a shorthand way of saying recent or contemporary, we must conclude that a "modern" Middle East is still straining to be born. We see that through an integrated analysis that explains not how the post-Ottoman Middle East arose, but why it took the shape it did. © 2016.