Great Issues—Miller Center

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America in the World: War, Statecraft and Diplomacy

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Greece and the Eurozone

This interview stems from “Greece and the Eurozone: Crisis Averted or Crash Test Dummies?” filmed at the Miller Center in 2015. 

What are the Origins of the Greek Debt Crisis? - Yiorgos Allayannis traces the origins of the Greek sovereign debt crisis. The borrowing problem started, according to Allayannis, before Greece became a member of the EU and worsened as the debt to GDP ratio increased.

What are Greece’s Options? - Yiorgos Allayannis discusses potential models for debt relief in Greece. He compares and contrasts plans for increasing income, defaulting, and restructuring debt.

The Way Forward for Greece - Yiorgos Allayannis discusses recent events in Greece, including the election of Alexis Tspiras as Prime Minister in January of 2015, the introduction of capital controls, and a referendum, that will affect the "way forward" for Greece.

What were Germany’s Motivations? - David Leblang traces the history of the sovereign debt crisis to the banking crisis in 2008. This framing provides a context for understanding Germany's motivation for bailing out other EU member states.

The Political Geography of Bailouts - Why did Germany bail out Greece for a second time, even after markets had stabilized? David Leblang examines the political and geographic pressures that have led to past Eurozone bailouts.

A Crisis of Competitiveness - Bill Antholis argues that while excessive regulation affected Greece's debt, ultimately the country faces a problem of innovation and competitiveness.

Where Does the U.S. Stand? - While the U.S. agrees, according to Antholis, that austerity is not the way to grow out of the crisis, the American position recognizes that Greece still imposes too much regulation and taxes the private sector in unproductive ways. Ultimately, the U.S. is concerned with stability and the geopolitical forces in the region that could be affected by the Tsipras government's turn towards Russia.

Tourism, the Private Sector, and the Way Forward - In the six years since the crisis started, Greek tourism has continued to grow each year. Antholis argues that Greece needs to continue investing in the private sector and private infrastructure to address its ongoing economic instability.

Ken Hughes

American Credibility and the Fall of South Vietnam - As the White House recordings show, behind closed doors Nixon negotiated with the Soviets and the Chinese--sacrificing South Vietnam--to avoid taking responsibility for the loss of the war in front of the American public. Ken Hughes argues that Nixon sacrificed American credibility to preserve his own political reputation.

Nixon and Kissinger - Ken Hughes describes the complicated relationship between Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. 

Nixon’s Reelection and the End of the Vietnam War - Ken Hughes argues that Nixon timed American military withdrawl from Vietnam with his 1972 reelection campaign, thus raising questions about the ethics of American withdrawl. 

Were there Alternative Endings to the Vietnam War? - According to Ken Hughes, an alternative proposal for ending the Vietnam War was put forth by the North Vietnamese and included a plan for power-sharing between the two sides. However, as Hughes explains, Nixon rejected this, seeing it as a "surrender on installment" plan.

What Do the Tapes Reveal About Nixon? - Ken Hughes discusses the private side of Nixon revealed through the tapes.   Hughes notes that in private Nixon demonstrated a deep understanding of domestic and international affairs, yet was also characterized by prejudices and biases. 

Why Is It So Difficult to End a War? - The increasingly ambiguous parameters of warfare make it hard to see a "way out" of many conflicts. In this clip, Ken Hughes discusses the implications from the prolongement of the Vietnam War to contemporary military campaigns in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Elizabeth Field

This interview stems from “Lessons Learned: State-Building in Afghanistan,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2013. Click to watch full event video.

How to Stop Wasteful Spending in Afghanistan - In order to put an end to wasteful spending in Afghanistan, there must be a willingness on the part of Congress to take money back. We need to reverse the logic that spending more money is necessarily better for reconstruction.

Is Continued U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan Inevitable? - Elizabeth Field notes that as fears grew that Afghanistan would revert back to its pre-2003 state, the United States has became increasingly involved in the country. While it is not inevitable, the path towards disengagement is not immediately clear.

Is It Possible to Secure and Reconstruct at the Same Time? - Addressing the question of whether it is advisable to simultaneously secure and reconstruct Afghanistan, Elizabeth Field explains how decades of war, repression, and severe humanitarian challenges have created a situation where it is necessary, if not ideal, to rebuild and secure at the same time.

The Problems of Reconstruction in Afghanistan - Although the nature of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan has changed since SIGAR's creation in 2008, Elizabeth Field notes that many of the challenges in the reconstruction of Afghanistan are recurring, from inadequate planning to limited sustainability.

Using Contractors for Reconstruction in Afghanistan - Elizabeth Field explains that the use of contractors allows the United States to accomplish many reconstruction goals in Afghanistan, but presents some challenges as well. SIGAR has discovered large problems with contract oversight and management in Afghanistan.

What is SIGAR? - Created in 2008 by Congress, SIGAR provides oversight for the funds used for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

Stuart Bowen

This interview stems from “Lessons Learned: State-Building in Iraq,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2013. Click to watch full event video.

Can We Avoid Chaos in Iraq? - Stuart Bowen explains why he foresees Iraq being the leading country in the Middle East within the next decade. He urges patience, acknowledging that the strengthening of civil society and democracy will take time.

Don’t Try to Bring Democracy by “Ad Hocracy” - Stuart Bowen explains how the sudden shift in U.S. policy in Iraq in 2003 lacked strategic planning. In Iraq, it became clear that there was a lack of synchronization and little clarity about who was in charge.

Finding Accountability in Reconstruction - Before missions begin, there must be decisions made about who will oversee operations. The lack of accountability was one of the biggest problems with the reconstruction program in Iraq. Bowen, however, outlines lessons for future attempts at stabilization and reconstruction, and proposes the creation of a U.S. office of contingency operations.

The Evolution of U.S. Policy in Iraq - In April of 2003, the U.S. strategy in Iraq shifted from “liberate and leave” to “occupy and rebuild.” The biggest lesson from Iraq, according to Stuart Bowen, is that before switching strategies, it is imperative to make sure that the new strategy is feasible.

What’s Next for Iraq? - Before missions begin, there must be decisions made about who will oversee operations. The lack of accountability was one of the biggest problems with the reconstruction program in Iraq. Bowen, however, outlines lessons for future attempts at stabilization and reconstruction, and proposes the creation of a U.S. office of contingency operations.

Ryan Crocker

This interview stems from the The 2014 Ambassador William C. Battle Symposium on American Diplomacy, “Barack Obama’s New Middle”. Click to watch full event video.

Balancing Military and Civilian Operations in Iraq - Ambassador Ryan Crocker discusses the imbalance between the defense budget and aid spending in Iraq. Instead of relying on the Department of Defense as the primary conduit for reconstruction, Crocker argues that it is important to invest in USAID and focus on longer term development to achieve stability.

Perceptions of the United States in the Middle East - Ambassador Ryan Crocker reflects on perceptions of the United States in the Middle East. Anecdotally, many Middle Easterners claim to like American values but resent American policies in the region. The way to combat negative perceptions, according to Crocker, is to strike a balance between staying engaged in the region while ensuring the autonomy of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reconstructing a War Zone - The biggest lesson from reconstructing Iraq, according to Ambassador Ryan Crocker, is that it is extremely difficult to complete large scale infrastructure projects while fighting insurgencies. Instead, there has to be significant security within a country to ensure that reconstruction efforts can succeed.

Statebuilding in Iraq Versus Afghanistan - Ambassador Ryan Crocker discusses how statebuilding has taken radically different shapes in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Iraq has oil and can generate income, Afghanistan has very few resources and a chronically underdeveloped civil society. Crocker compares and contrasts statebuilding in these two challenging environments.

Strategic Planning in a Messy World - The Cold War-era global political structure has been replaced by an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world. While the United States has a history of strong, long-term strategic planning, Ryan Crocker contends that it lacks the ability to understand the importance of history.

What Does Success Look Like in Afghanistan? - Ambassador Ryan Crocker explains why human capital is the key to making Afghanistan a successful example of state-building. The post-Taliban, urban generation is graduating college, has access to the outside world, and is determined to prevent the return of warlordism.

Katherine Epstein

This interview stems from “Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.

Was the British Empire Really Declining at the Turn of the Century? - Although many observers position the late nineteenth century as a period of terminal decline for the British Empire, Katherine Epstein suggests that the story might be more complicated. Epstein explains that at the turn of the century, Great Britain was still in many ways the global financial and naval hegemon, while the rising power of the United States was more tempered than many narratives might suggest. 

When Did the Military-Industrial Complex Emerge? - Katherine Epstein discusses her book, Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain. Epstein argues that the development of torpedo technology in the United States and Britain between the 1890s and World War I led to a new procurement relationship between public and private sectors in both countries. This relationship was characterized by an increased rate of government investment in private-sector weapons research and development that led to the emergence of the military-industrial complex.

The Problems of Government Contracting - Katherine Epstein discusses the perennial problems associated with the relationship between the U.S. federal government and private defense contractors. Instead of easing over time, Epstein argues that many of the negative consequences of defense contracting in the early twentieth century still characterize government contracting today.

Weaponization and the Dark Side of Globalization - Katherine Epstein discusses the emergence of a global arms market as a marker of the beginning of globalization. Although many narratives of globalization are characterized by liberalism, Epstein draws attention to the relationship between the military-industrial complex and globalization.

Piracy and the Emergence of the U.S. Arms Market - Katherine Epstein discusses the relationship between British capital and American technology acquisition in the late nineteenth century. Although U.S. technology markets were emerging, much of the information was imported or pirated, revealing how much more advanced the British arms markets were.

The Problem of Intellectual Property and Weapons Technology - Katherine Epstein discusses the problem of resolving intellectual property disputes between governments and the companies that produced torpedo technology. The problem of intellectual property, according to Epstein, comes from the fact that the governments were investing in the research and development phase of weapon technologies that were then being sold on international markets, raising difficult questions of how to disentangle the contributions made by various parties.

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