The behind-the-scenes story of the rise and reign of the world’s strangest and most elusive tyrant, Kim Jong Un, by the journalist with the best connections and insights into the bizarrely dangerous world of North Korea. Anna Fifield, Beijing Bureau Chief at The Washington Post, reconstructs Kim’s past and present with exclusive access to sources near him and brings her unique understanding to explain the dynastic mission of the Kim family in North Korea. The archaic notion of despotic family rule matches the almost medieval hardship the country has suffered under the Kims. Few people thought that a young, untested, unhealthy, Swiss-educated basketball fanatic could hold together a country that should have fallen apart years ago.
Iran has resumed enrichment of uranium and the U.S. has blamed Iran for attacking an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. Many worry current tensions could escalate, leading to a wider conflagration in the region. Join Dr. Noorbaksh and WAC Harrisburg President and CEO Joyce Davis as they discuss the current state of U.S.-Iran relations and the potential impact of increasing belligerence between the countries.
Japan has one of Asia’s most technologically advanced militaries and yet struggles to use its hard power as an instrument of national policy. The horrors of World War II continue to haunt policymakers in Tokyo, while China and South Korea remain wary of any military ambitions Japan may entertain. In Japan Rearmed Sheila Smith argues that Japan is not only responding to increasing threats from North Korean missiles and Chinese maritime activities but also reevaluating its dependence on the United States. No longer convinced that they can rely on Americans to defend Japan, Tokyo’s political leaders are now confronting the possibility that they may need to prepare the nation’s military for war.
There is a high risk that someone will use, by accident or design, one or more of the 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. Many thought such threats ended with the Cold War, but they remain an ongoing nightmare. Author of the books Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons and Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats, Joe Cirincione is one of the leading experts in the country on U.S. nuclear weapons. Join Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, as he discusses the major nuclear weapons threats the world faces today and the debate over the best policies to counter them with Tennessee WAC's Patrick Ryan.
The Arctic has been warming almost twice as quickly as the rest of the planet and its effects can be felt worldwide. Research thus far shows the warming Arctic impacts weather patterns as far away as mid-latitude areas like California by weakening the jet stream. Colder water in the Pacific Northwest is becoming more acidic and unstable for farming shellfish, while melting permafrost and coastal erosion in Alaska is causing infrastructure collapse and loss of biodiversity. Join the World Affairs Councils of America and former Lt. Gov and Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission Fran Ulmer for a conversation about the arctic, climate change, and the intersections of environmental science and policy.
Read more about Hon. Fran Ulmer.
Air pollution prematurely kills seven million people every year, including more than one hundred thousand Americans. It is strongly linked to strokes, heart attacks, many kinds of cancer, dementia, and premature birth, among other ailments. In Choked: Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution, Beth Gardiner travels the world to tell the story of this modern-day plague, taking readers from the halls of power in Washington and the diesel-fogged London streets she walks with her daughter to Poland’s coal heartland and India’s gasping capital. In a gripping narrative that’s alive with powerful voices and personalities, she exposes the political decisions and economic forces that have kept so many of us breathing dirty air. This is a moving, up-close look at the human toll, where we meet the scientists who have transformed our understanding of pollution’s effects on the body and the ordinary people fighting for a cleaner future.
In the United States, air is far cleaner than it once was. But progress has failed to keep up with the science, which tells us that even today’s lower pollution levels are doing real damage. And as the Trump administration rips up the regulations that have brought us where we are, decades of gains are now at risk. Elsewhere, the problem is far worse, and choking nations like China are scrambling to replicate the achievements of an American agency—the EPA—that until recently was the envy of the world.
KNOW NOW: Documentary photographer, Greg Constantine, on the ethics of photographing war and atrocity.
Photojournalism often succeeds where words fail. From powerful, iconic, and polarizing images, like Nick Ut's Vietnam-era "Napalm Girl" to three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a sandy beach in Turkey - these images tell stories with vivid urgency. Constantine, author of the Exiled to Nowhere book and exhibit, discusses the challenges and ethical implications of documenting war and atrocity with WorldOregon's Tim DuRoche.
Constantine has spent much of the past fifteen years living and working in Asia. In 2005, he began work on his long-term project, Nowhere People. Constantine has spent the past 10 years documenting stateless communities in eighteen countries, including Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Ukraine, Serbia, Italy, Iraq, Kuwait, and Lebanon. His work has been featured in various publications including the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek, The Atlantic, The New Republic, CNN, and Al-Jazeera.
KNOW NOW: Her Excellency Lolwah R M Al-Khater on the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue and Qatar’s Foreign Policy
Appointed by His Excellency Mohammad Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Before her appointment as the Spokesperson, H.E. Lolwah joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Minister Plenipotentiary. She also served as the Director of Planning and Quality at Qatar Tourism Authority and as a Research Project Manager at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development.
Her Excellency will provide an update on the U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue and Qatar's foreign policy.
Over the course of more than three decades as an American diplomat, William J. Burns played a central role in the most consequential diplomatic episodes of his time—from the bloodless end of the Cold War to the collapse of post–Cold War relations with Putin’s Russia, from post–9/11 tumult in the Middle East to the secret nuclear talks with Iran.
In The Back Channel, Burns recounts, with novelistic detail and incisive analysis, some of the seminal moments of his career. Drawing on a trove of newly declassified cables and memos, he gives readers a rare inside look at American diplomacy in action. His dispatches from war-torn Chechnya and Qaddafi’s bizarre camp in the Libyan desert and his warnings of the “Perfect Storm” that would be unleashed by the Iraq War will reshape our understanding of history—and inform the policy debates of the future. Burns sketches the contours of effective American leadership in a world that resembles neither the zero-sum Cold War contest of his early years as a diplomat nor the “unipolar moment” of American primacy that followed.
Ultimately, The Back Channel is an eloquent, deeply informed, and timely story of a life spent in service of American interests abroad. It is also a powerful reminder, in a time of great turmoil, of the enduring importance of diplomacy.
Council on Foreign Relations' Thomas J. Bollyky
Plagues and parasites have played a central role in world affairs, shaping the evolution of the modern state, the growth of cities, and the disparate fortunes of national economies. This book tells that story, but it is not about the resurgence of pestilence. It is the story of its decline. For the first time in recorded history, virus, bacteria, and other infectious diseases are not the leading cause of death or disability in any region of the world. People are living longer, and fewer mothers are giving birth to many children in the hopes that some might survive. And yet, the news is not all good. Recent reductions in infectious disease have not been accompanied by the same improvements in income, job opportunities, and governance that occurred with these changes in wealthier countries decades ago. There have also been unintended consequences. In this book, Thomas Bollyky explores the paradox in our fight against infectious disease: the world is getting healthier in ways that should make us worry.
Bollyky interweaves a grand historical narrative about the rise and fall of plagues in human societies with contemporary case studies of the consequences. Bollyky visits Dhaka—one of the most densely populated places on the planet—to show how low-cost health tools helped enable the phenomenon of poor world megacities. He visits China and Kenya to illustrate how dramatic declines in plagues have affected national economies. Bollyky traces the role of infectious disease in the migrations from Ireland before the potato famine and to Europe from Africa and elsewhere today.
Historic health achievements are remaking a world that is both worrisome and full of opportunities. Whether the peril or promise of that progress prevails, Bollyky explains, depends on what we do next.
Read more from Bollyky here: