August 22, 2017

 

The The American Interest-American Committees on Foreign Relations - Experience in Birmingham

 

The purpose of this communication is to record the events in Birmingham on October 18-19, 2006 and how it was evaluated by Frank Young, Chairman of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations (“BCFR”); David Carder, President of the American Committees on Foreign Relations (“ACFR”) in Washington, D.C.; and Ken Jensen, Executive Director of ACFR..

In accord with an understanding between The American Interest (hereafter “TAI”), publisher Charles Davidson, and the BCFR staged a number of events together in Birmingham. TAI provided and paid the expenses of speakers in the persons of its editorial board chairman, Frank Fukuyama, editor Adam Garfinkle, and contributor Raymond Baker. The BCFR did the organizing of local meetings and arrangements. ACFR acted as an intermediary initially, but almost all of the organizational work was undertaken by TAI and the Birmingham Committee

In accord with an agreement with the head of America Abroad Media (AAM), Aaron Lobel, one of the events in Birmingham was the taping of a radio program for NPR broadcast distribution. Again, ACFR acted as an intermediary only. The taping was conducted in conjunction with a local NPR outlet, which provided the moderator/host for the panel discussion.

The events of the 18th-19th were as follows:

1) The Committee leadership (including a member of ACFR’s Board of Distinguished Advisors, Herb Sklenar) hosted a dinner on the evening of October 18 at the Mountain Brook Country Club for the four TAI visitors (publisher Charles Davidson came down as well), Aaron Lobel and Mr. Jensen. Guests included former city council president William Bell and his wife. The spouses of Committee leaders also attended. While dinner went forward, Frank Young called upon the group to introduce themselves and then to make remarks on what each of them hoped to get out of the events of the next day. This became a very lively exchange of views that focused both on national and local concerns of an international character.

2) The 19th began with the radio program taping. Panelists included Frank Fukuyama, Adam Garfinkle, Frank Young, and David Pollick, the president of Birmingham Southern College, which hosted the event. The topic was the Bush Doctrine and the Middle East. The guiding principle of the event was the bringing together of significant national opinionmakers and local concerned citizens/international actors. A number of Committee leaders were in attendance. They formed both the audience and were a source of questions and dialogue. The quality of the product was, all agreed, outstanding.

3) The next event was an hour-long meeting with the editor and editorial board of The Birmingham News. TAI spoke to its own “creative centrist” editorial position and its concern for American public policy as well as foreign policy. A discussion of Alabama politics as they related to national foreign policy and other political issues ensued.

4) At noon, a public event was held at Birmingham Southern College. On the occasion, the speakers were Frank Fukuyama, Adam Garfinkle, Raymond Baker, and William Bell, with Frank Young moderating. BSC president David Pollick did welcoming remarks. The topic was, roughly, “America in the World,” with Baker opening the bidding with a presentation on the role of international corruption in globalization, Bell speaking on his experiences in dealing with the PRC as a local trade official, Garfinkle speaking on the Middle East, and Fukuyama speaking on the limitations of the Bush Doctrine. The presentations were followed by a lengthy question and answer period.

5) There followed an afternoon visit to the Birmingham Civic Rights Institute, which began with a panel of three local speakers discussing civil and human rights issues pertinent to Birmingham. This was hosted by Institute director Odessa Woolfolk, who afterwards led a tour for TAI and BCFR members. The greatest effect of this, inasmuch as it explained and gave evidence of the way in which the Institute was created as a civic response to Birmingham’s uncomfortable civil rights history, effectively acquainted the non-Birminghamians present with local civic and political culture. The Institute and Odessa Woolfolk proved to be a world-class experience. Accordingly, the group’s visit was very much more than a visit to a local attraction: it conveyed meaning regarding life in Birmingham.

6) The climax of October 19 was the monthly dinner meeting of the BCFR, at which Adam Garfinkle spoke on a half-dozen realities of the Muslim Middle East and Frank Fukuyama spoke once again on the limitations of the Bush Doctrine and the current problems of U.S. foreign policy. It should be mentioned here that each of the TAI presentations throughout the day was fresh, which was much to the benefit of the BCFR members who attended more than one event. Some 120 BCFR members turned out for dinner and asked first-rate questions. Host Frank Young and ACFR President David Carder thanked the TAI participants and presented Fukuyama, Garfinkle, and Davidson with a number of gifts as mementoes of their stay in Birmingham.

Evaluation

TAI visitors Fukuyama, Garfinkle and Davidson expressed their pleasure at the success of the enterprise and stated that the manner in which they were hosted was demonstrable. What interested them most was what they had learned about Birmingham civic life and Alabama politics. They also discussed the possibility of further collaboration.

A large amount of work was necessary to pull off a program the likes of which occurred in Birmingham - several hundred man-hours would be no exaggeration at all. The BCFR provided 2-3 drivers continuously throughout the two days, managed the logistics of each event, fed the speaking participants between events, gave them mini-tours when time between events permitted, and, generally speaking and most importantly, engaged them personally throughout.

It is hoped that TAI editor Adam Garfinkle will print an article regarding the Birmingham experience in a future edition of The American Interest. A piece will also be submitted to The Birmingham News as a possible feature article.

David L. Carder Elected President of the American Committees on Foreign Relations

 

At the Annual Meeting of The American Committees on Foreign Relations held in Washington, D.C. on May 5, 6 and 7, 2005, David L. Carder, of Birmingham, Alabama, was elected President of the organization and Frank M. Young, III was elected a member of the Executive Committee. Carder, Retired President of Vulcan Lands, has been a member of the Executive Committee of the ACFR since 2002. He is a past Chairman of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations and a longstanding member of its Board of Directors. Through Carder’s leadership during the past two years, the ACFR organized a Board of Distinguished Advisors, of which Herb Sklenar, retired Chief Executive Officer of Vulcan Materials, serves as a member.

Carder assumed his duties at the ACFR Board meeting on Saturday, May 7th, presiding over a meeting of Board members from across the country. The ACFR is an organization of over 2,400 members throughout the United States that supports civic dialogue on U. S. foreign policy issues by sponsoring outstanding programs and guest speakers on these important issues. The Committee in Birmingham was established in 1943, and is in its 61st year. Carder’s leadership helped build the Birmingham membership to become one of the strongest committees in the ACFR organization.

Carder is the first President of the organization from Birmingham. “I hope to continue to strengthen the organization’s emphasis on quality speakers and add new committees where appropriate during my term,” said Carder, who has held many leadership roles in the Birmingham community, including Past Chairman of the Norton Board of Advisors for Birmingham Southern College, and Past President of The Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.

Frank M. Young, III, the current Chairman of The Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations, said it is a great honor for Birmingham to have its first elected President of the national organization. “Dave Carder is an outstanding leader and will do a superb job as President of our organization. Under Dave’s leadership, we expect the ACFR to continue to grow and prosper.”

 

In Honor of Charles F. Zukoski, Founding Member

 

A year or so ago, Frank Young asked me to present a short biographical sketch of the founder of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations, Charles F. Zukoski. I gladly accepted. I accepted because of the fond memories I had of him as a young member of this organization which met then at the Relay House. Charles was always in attendance, along with General Henry Graham and Alex Lacy, smartly dressed and truly on top of the issues of the moment. Even though he was over 75 years of age, we could always count on him to ask thought provoking questions of our speakers. As Shorty Williams will attest later, he was never loath to speak his mind on issues, however controversial!

As I researched his life, I ran across an 88-page book entitled "Voice In The Storm" the Button Gwinnett Columns written during the Civil Rights Struggles and other writings. It is to be found in the Birmingham Public Library and was published in 1990, six years before his death at age 97. In a foreward to the book his friend and archivist Marion Yeomans Whitley wrote in part and I quote:

"Charles F. Zukoski, Jr. is a remarkable individual. His history includes a successful career as a senior officer of Birmingham, Alabama’s First National Bank; as the first mayor, and as a four-term mayor, of the City of Mountain Brook; as one of the area’s civic leaders, serving as chairman of the Shades Valley High School Advisory Committee; as one of the organizers, committee members, and early president and long board member of the Birmingham Civic Symphony Association (now the Alabama Symphony Association); for many years a member of the board of the Birmingham Music Club; as organizer and for twenty years the secretary of the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations; and as president of the Jefferson County Coordinating Council of Social Forces, which was for years the planning agency of the community for health, recreation and welfare.

Although this history bespeaks the “remarkable,” as does the work which he and his wife Bernadine undertook, following his retirement from the bank, in behalf of family planning and birth control both locally and in many countries on all the continents, to my mind, Charles deserves the appellation principally because he is an individual who has never been afraid to think, to explore ideas and issues, and to speak his mind when the occasion is appropriate. In a culture crowded with people who are either not trained to the life of the mind, or who, although once trained, find the pursuit of ideas too demanding, Charles has remained wedded to the discipline.

There is, however, another quality in Charles which I find remarkable. When he has explored an idea or an issue and has come to a conclusion about it, he will stand up for what he then believes. To quote a phrase my grandfather was wont to use, Charles has the “conviction of conscience.” These two qualities, a willingness to think and the courage to argue for what one comes to believe, are clearly evident in The Columns which Charles authored in the 1940s and 1950s, The Columns published under the pseudonym “Button Gwinnett” in the Shades Valley Sun. Whatever the issue-McCarthyism, race in education, the U.S. Supreme Court, racially-motivated bombings, death, fraternities and sororities in a local high school -- the writing always reflects careful forethought, the capacity to live with ideas, and precise afterthought, the ability to reach conclusions, to present them cogently, and to offer arguments in their behalf.

In an era of growing social hysteria, when the word "race" more than often, among Southerners, provoked the "knee-jerk reaction" and not the reasoned response, when it was often easier, among Americans, to hurl the word communist than to endure thinking that differed from the norm -- in the mist of a growing storm of voices speaking in defense of a status quo, the voice of "Button Gwinnett" was remarkable, for it spoke of inevitable change, of the need to adjust to that change, of restrained and decent adjustment; of the value of ideas, of the need for a sense of the ethical, of the worth of the individual. For the age in which it spoke and the place from which it spoke, the voice was indeed remarkable, as was the man who spoke through it: Charles F. Zukoski, Jr.”

Dearly beloved, we have come together on life’s road until now, and it has been good. There have been trials and there have been gratifications. For a moment you and I have had a part in mankind’s endless procession. I am saddened over your going, but your memory will have meaning for me all along the remainder of my journey. I bid you good-bye.

 

New Book Reviews

 

The following books all deal with the situation of the United States in the world of 2004.  They are neither historical background nor entertaining reading.  They are “hard-nosed” information about the challenges that our country faces.  Opinions differ on the current state of affairs.  However any informed citizen needs to work to be as informed as possible.  The following books are all recommended as helping to accomplish that goal.

Salam Pax - Salam Pax -This book is a blogger’s diary of the time before, during and immediately after the Iraq war.  The word Blogger is short for Web Logger.  This is a person who posts a continuing account of an event or situation on the World Wide Web.  In this case, the blogger is a resident of Baghdad.  His continuing log of events starts several months prior to the invasion of Iraq.  It details daily life in Baghdad. The result is to give a valuable insight into how an informed Iraqui views his country, its place in the world and the prospects for the future. 

A commentary on how the world has changed in the current century is presented when the author discusses the arrival of the B-52 bombers.  He has a friend in England who lives near the B-52 base.  When his friend hears the bombers taking off on their mission to Baghdad, he notifies Salam Pax in Baghdad on the Internet.  Salam Pax then starts a countdown until the arrival of the B-52’s.  He times going to the bar and having a drink to allow time to get home, take shelter and sit out the raid.  This is only a small view of the interconnectedness and communications possible in our world of today.  The book gives a great overview of this quality.

Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern - John Gray -A short, very dense book about the philosophical basis of Al Qaeda.  The author maintains that Al Qaeda is both Western and modern. It is a byproduct of globalization’s international capital flows and open borders.  Their utopian zeal to remake the world descends from the same Enlightenment creed that informed both the disastrous Soviet experiment and the neo-liberal dream of a global free market. 

Anyone who thinks of Al Qaeda as a group of escapees from the Middle Ages or some sort of religious misfits needs to read this book.  It shows the face of the enemy and the view is frightening. The insight is into a totally different culture and set of values.  We ignore these viewpoints at our peril. The author is a Professor of European thought at the London School of Economics.

The Bookseller of Kabul - Asne Seierstad - The authoress of this book is a Norwegian journalist who has covered many assignments in war-torn regions.  She was invited to move into the house of a bookseller in Kabul. She lived with this family for several months. The bookseller himself has 2 wives, 5 children and several other relatives who live in a 4 room house in Kabul.  The authoress moves in with this group and shares their joys and trials.  The result is to present a view of life in an Islamic community where the influence of the Taliban is never very far away.  Military operations and presence are a very small part of this book.  It is more of a social interest story of life in a very different culture.

The most outstanding conflict in the book is between Muslim hard liners and modernity.  As a bookseller, the main character must maintain a progressive, thoughtful and wide ranging outlook.  As a Muslim under very close scrutiny, he must be very discrete in his actions.  The book presents a balanced view of the difficulties of living a progressive and productive life under these conditions.  The problems of women and feminism in this culture also are well presented.

The Bubble of American Supremacy - Gorge Soros - This is a very disturbing book about the current foreign policy of the United States.  The author compares the current phenomenon of American supremacy to a stock market bubble similar to the one that collapsed at the beginning of this century.  He feels that current Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action is a potentially catastrophic policy grounded in the belief that international relations are relations of power, not law.  Soros argues that for the Bush administration legality and legitimacy are mere decorations and that military power is the true currency of all international relations.

Soros’ personal philanthropic commitments amount to roughly $500 million per year.  He directs these funds to promote open society around the globe. His argument in the book is that the supremacy attitude of the Bush administration puts all of our military might and reputation behind a single throw of the dice.  He alternately proposes that by building long term alliances and fostering cooperative actions with other nations, we can greatly increase the effectiveness of our efforts and enhance the long term influence of our country.  A somewhat dissonant point of view, but one that fits disturbingly well with the influential Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz.

All of these books are available at Barnes and Noble or Books and Company.

- Abbott ("Shorty") Williams

 

Winter Reading, Vol. 1
January 5th, 2004

 

Ladies and Gentlemen: Here's the first half-day's pickings from NewsGroup participants as to what to read this winter.  Fifteen of you responded with 40-plus suggestions!  I tried to create a uniform format, but gave up after the first couple of pages.  Bon appetite.  

- Ken Jensen

From Mari Banks: The Revolt of the Masses by Jose Ortega y Gasset.  Written in 1930, its very apropos for us and this age of anxiety.  

Also from Mari Banks: Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville; The Rights of Man/The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine; Meditations by Marcus Aurelius; Ethics by Benedictus de Spinoza

From Collum Clark: A truly outstanding book with an unusual perspective on the War of the American Revolution is Piers Mackesy's War for America. Mackesy tells the story from the perspective of Britain's grand strategy, with special emphasis on the political and organizational challenges posed on the home front by Britain's effort to wage a global war in at least five theaters. Written at the time of the Vietnam War, it has a good deal of resonance for U.S. foreign policy today.

From Ronald Cole: Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer by Tracy Kidder. This book affects international foreign policy since it describes the fundamental shift that has taken place in addressing infectious disease in the developing world. It is a remarkable book, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Also from Cole:  A Future Perfect : The Challenge and Promise of Globalization by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.  This book provides a detailed and involved argument for globalization. It discusses the counter arguments, and the realities of dealing with international bodies such as the IMF. It is extremely well written by two authors of the Economist magazine.

From Rachel Ehrenfeld: Rachel Ehrenfeld, Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It.

From Amb. Donald Gregg: C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters; C.P. Snow, Science and Government

From Mel Graves: James Michener, The Source

From Bill McGeehan: The Clash of Civilizations & The Remaking Of World Order by Samuel Huntington.  8-10 years old but still pertinent.  The term "The Clash of Civilizations" has become something of a buzz word and this puts a lot of meat on that bone.

From Joe Manguno: Okay, Ken, here's one you're not likely to get from anyone else: The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco. A superbly crafted novelization of the international race to find the prime meridian in the 17th Century, with all the implications for world trade and shipping, intertwined with much larger questions about life, God and man's purpose.

From Richard Millett: Wesley Clark's Waging Modern War.  (Better than his second book-and a study of the problems of dealing with modern tyrants)
 
Joe Nye, The Paradox of American Power  (for the present and future)
 
Dana Priest, The Mission  (Note especially the sections on Kosovo after intervention and the awful moral ambiguities
 
Richard Haass, Intervention  (Should have been required reading on Pennsylvania Avenue)
 
Russell Weigley, The American Way of War  (A history of American strategy with real implications for the present as well as the past)
 
Leslely Byrd SImpson, Many Mexicos  (Old but still fascinating  The best one volume history of any country I have ever read-and my students all loved it)
 
Tina Rosenberg, Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America (uneven, but disturbing and at times insightful)
 
 And now two more off the wall ideas.
 
Keith Devlin, Goodbye Descartes.  A book on the end of logic and on much more.
 
Richard Neustandt and Ernest May, Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers  (The title says it all.)  

From William Norris: Franklin and Winston by John Meacham, Random House, 2003 - An interesting, often poignant, historical review of the two allied leaders in the era leadiing up to and during World War II.
 
Also from Norris: The Paradox of American Power by Joseph S. Nye, Oxford University Press, 2002 - Counterpoint to hard power, neo-conservatives and unilateralism
 
Also from Norris: The Ideas that Conquered the World by Michael Mandelbaum, Public Affairs (Perscus Book Groups), 2002 - How did we get here and the interplays of peace, democracy and free markets in the new world of today

From R. Prince: Old books worth looking at in light of current events:
Howard's The Partition of Turkey. for those of you familiar with Fromkin's work (Peace To End All Peace), this is of the same genre. mostly diplomatic history of the period before and after WWI. Found it a pearl.

Antonius' The Arab Awakening. Again, although written in 1938, and a book that has been the focus of much criticism by contemporary scholars (Dawisha comes to mind), for its time it is a fine carefully argued interesting book. worth reading if only to see what current Middle Eastern scholars are criticizing.

Zora Neale Hurston's Go Gator and Muddy The Water. retrieved writings of the Black novelist and anthropologist whose revival is due in large measure to Alice Walker who rediscovered her and paid to have a tomb stone placed on her unmarked grave. These are her anthropological writings about Florida that were done for the Federal Writers Project during the 1930s. Expunged from the record at the time, and Pamela Bordelon, it is a wonderful study of cultural history, about as good as it gets. Hurston was trained by Boas.

From Richard Slaughter: I recommend any one of three works by the Nobel laureate economic historian Douglass C. North.  I cite these in increasing order of theoretical sophistication, to be selected in light of the reader's background in political and economic history.

I offer these because of a deeply held belief that the ability of a society to function politically and economically is heavily impacted, if not determined, by its institutional structure (and history). Ergo, within can be found strategies through which to address many of the state-building issues of the day (through which one avoids violence associated with disaffected populations, failed states, etc.).

Caveat:  Successful economic and political development requires a secular state.  North does not have an answer to the problem presented by theocracy, wherein the state is an instrument of religious control and, in Bernard Lewis' terms, social dissatisfaction can be expressed only by creating a new sect.

The books are:

The Rise of the Western World.  Cambridge Univ. Press 1973.
Structure and Change in Economic History.  W.W. Northon 1981.
Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance.  Cambridge Univ. Press 1994.

From Richard Siegel: I am enjoying the D`Emilio biography of Bayard Rustin, a great inside look at the pacifist and civil rights movements. My students greatly like both Charles Kupchan , The End of the American Era, and Samantha Power on A Problem From Hell.  The latter is a very readable overview on the response of the international community to genocide and the former is a fairly balanced take on the way to view the past, present and future of U.S. foreign policy. I also liked Aryeh Neier`s autobiographic look at the origins of the human rights organizations, Taking Liberties.

From Bob Taichert: 20/21 Vision: Lessons of the 20th Century for the 21st by Bill Emmott, Editor in Chief of the Economist.  I found it terrific, informative and prescient.

Also from Bob Taichert: Edith Grossman's new translation of Don Quixote.

From Bob Wehrle: If you want to know why we are hated so much in the Middle East, read All the Shah's Men  by Stephen Kinzer, a new 2003 book.  It is about our government's involvement in the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadgh in Iran in 1953 and the reinstallation of our puppet, Reza Pahlavi, as the Shah.   Our Middle East policies have been a disaster ever since the Dulles brothers got involved.  If this book intrigues you, then read The Game of Nations by Miles Copeland, a 1969 out-of-print book, that follows up on the shenanigans of some of the same CIA operatives such as Kermit Roosevelt

 

Program Change for the meeting of December 9th
December 4th, 2003

 

Due to a medical situation, the speaker scheduled for December 9, 2003 is unable to speak to our group.  However, we have arranged for another excellent speaker, Robert R. Reilly, Director of the Voice of America, whose topic will be "Lessons from Baghdad."  We hope to see you at the Summit Club on December 9th.  If you have not made your reservations, please do so immediately by calling Regina Ash at 254-1445, or by email at ra@hsy.com."

- Frank M. Young, III, Chairman

You can also make reservations by going to the programs section of the site, finding the upcoming program you would like make reservations for, and clicking on the *MAKE RESERVATION(S)* link under the Meeting Number.

 

Book Reviews from member Shorty Williams
November 10th, 2003

 

In the past few months, there has been a spate of books on terrorism, Iraq, the Middle East, Afghanistan and other related issues. The following list is a brief outline of some of the ones that I have found most interesting. All of these books were purchased at Barnes and Noble at the Summit or Books and Co. at Brookwood.  

The New Terrorism (Walter Laquer, Oxford University Press). This is the bible of terrorism. Its 1999 publication date in no way should put you off. This one volume helps to make sense of terrorists from James Earl Ray to Eric Rudolph to Timothy McVey to Osama Bin Laden. I finished this book this Summer and was easily able to fit in all of these situations and find an explanation of the increasing “terrorist“resistance in Iraq. This is scary reading about how the terrorist thinks, what he wants, what he may do and what motivates him to do it. As the former Director of the CIA said, “If you read only one book on terrorism, this should be it.”  

Of Paradise and Power (Robert Kagan, Knopf) A short book by an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The book gives an overview of the new relationship of Europe and America. After years of mutual resentment and tension, there is a sudden recognition that the real interests of America and its allies are diverging sharply and that the transatlantic relationship itself has changed, possibly irreversibly. Europe sees the Unites States as high-handed, unilateralist, and unnecessarily belligerent; the United States sees Europe as spent, unserious and weak. The anger and mistrust on both sides are hardening into incomprehension. This book helps us to at least define the problem.  

Weapons of Mass Deception (Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Jeremy Tarcher, Penguin). A light hearted approach to a deadly serious subject. This is a book about how the “spin-masters” doctor the news and try to polish it into politically viable bits. This book by the authors of Trust Us, We’re Experts is a detailed expose of the aggressive public relations campaign that was used to sell the American public on the war with Iraq. This book is reminiscent of Bill press’s Spin This and Al Franken’s Lies and the Liars That Tell Them. All of these are books help us to learn how to filter the news, get behind the spin and find the truth.  

Sleeping With The Devil (Robert Baer) A frightening revelation of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. Written by a former CIA operative, it names names, gives facts, dates, places and insight into a highly questionable relationship with the oil giant. Particularly interesting are the revelations about the Bush family, some of the cabinet members and other high ranking officials with the Carlisle Group. This one is definitely not recommended for the fearful and squeamish.  

Full Spectrum Dominance (Rahul Mahajan, Seven Stories Press) A short book about the exercise of American military power in Iraq. Written by an anti-war activist, it outlines the futility of high tech weaponry and sophisticated organization against determined locals fighting for their survival and freedom from dominance. This is a “real politic” appraisal of Iraq and big military budgets.  

Three more that I am reading now and seem to warrant recommendations are:

Al-Jazeera (Mohammed El-Nawawy and Adel Iskandar,m Westview). A description of how the network operates, the programs it broadcasts, its effectiveness on Arab viewers, the reactions of the West and the Arab states, and the implications for the future of news broadcasting in the Middle East  

Inside Al Qaeda (Rohan Gunaratna, Berkeley) The definitive view of the world-wide terror network. Dan Rather calls the author “the foremost English-speaking expert on the terror network”. The book discusses organization, controls, objectives, methods and personnel of Al Qaeda.  

Salam Pax (Salam Pax, Grove Press) Salam Pax is a pseudonym of an Iraqi blogger. The author is a very well educated Iraqi who conducts an ongoing eMail conversation (Blogging) with a friend in Jordan. The effect of the book is to give an inside view of what life inside Iraq has been like for the past year. The author has recently been identified and now writes a column for the “Guardian” newspaper.

- Abbott ("Shorty") Williams

Do you have any comments on the above article, or any of the books reviewed? Voice your opinion in the forum, under the appropriate thread. You will need to be a registered forum member, so if you haven't, go register! You can do so by clicking on the forum button above. Members only.

 

Celebrating Our 60th Year
September 18th, 2003

The spectacular globalization of our world’s economy during the past decade has been driven, at least in part, by advances made in digital communications. We are living in a digital age. As digital communication technologies have advanced, the world has become smaller. Today from our offices and homes we instantaneously communicate with people and organizations around the world.

As one of the first organizations of the American Committees on Foreign Relations to have our own website, the Birmingham Committee on Foreign Relations is joining the digital age. I hope you will peruse this site and learn how to use it effectively. We hope to expand this website, make it better and use it as an ongoing tool for communication, education and discussion.

We will welcome all input, comments, suggestions and criticisms as we move forward with the project. Please understand that this beginning effort is a “work-in-progress.” We will refine, improve and strengthen our website as we go forward.

Welcome aboard. Again, we will appreciate all of your comments.

- Frank M. Young, III, Chairman

 

 


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