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    Mordecai Ian Brownlee, president of the Community College of Aurora, will lead the conversation on navigating the digital equity gap in higher education.   FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Mordecai Ian Brownlee with us today to talk about the digital equity gap in higher education. Dr. Brownlee is president of the Community College of Aurora in Colorado. He also teaches for Lamar University in the College of Education and Human Development. Dr. Brownlee publishes frequently and serves as a columnist for EdSurge. He has been featured on a number of national platforms including by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine as a new school leader representing the next generation of college presidents, and he was most recently appointed to serve on the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges. So, Dr. Brownlee, thank you very much for taking the time to be with us. I thought we could begin by having you define digital equity and give us an overview of the digital equity gap in higher education, and I know you are going to share a presentation with us so we look forward to seeing that on screen. BROWNLEE: Absolutely. Thank you so much for the opportunity to the Council on Foreign Relations. Just thank you all so much. And to answer that question as we talk about digital equity, it’s the assurance of ensuring that all have access to the information technology available and to have the capacity to engage in society and productive citizenship. And so we’ll talk about that and let me just start sharing the screen and we’ll jump right into it. All right. Here we go. So, once again, thank you all for the opportunity, again, to the Council of Foreign Relations for this opportunity to talk about navigating digital equity. Bringing greetings on behalf of the Community College of Aurora here in Aurora, Colorado. And let’s just jump right into it. You know, as we talk about defining this work, how to navigate this work, we have to first understand the work, and to understand digital equity we must first understand the digital divide. And so, you know, as we talked about the digital divide at the beginning of the pandemic it, certainly, was dealing with the voice and mindset, the texture and tone, of accessibility and being able to engage in learning throughout the pandemic and, first of all, I would say as educators it’s so critical that even as we are, quote/unquote, “coming out of the pandemic” that we still acknowledge part of the challenges that are happening across the country and across the world in regards to accessibility—equitable accessibility to information technology, to the tools, and to have the capacity to not only learn but, certainly, engage in the economy and society. So as we talk about digital equity, we must understand the digital divide and so let’s kind of define that. One of my favorite definitions for the digital divide defined comes from the National League of Cities and they say the digital divide is the gap between individuals who have access to computers, high-speed internet, and the skills to use them, and those who do not. There’s two critical components as we talk about digital equity that I want to call out with the digital divide definition here. One is access. The other is skill. Access and skill. So as we think about equity and just think about how do we level the playing field, how do we close the gap on accessibility and skill attainment to engage. And it’s not just being able to access and that’s the other—I think the complexity here as we think about the term equity because just because I provide you the computer, right—and we found this during the pandemic—just because I provide you the computer do you even have broadband access? And if you have broadband access do you have dependable sustainable broadband access? And then if you have sustainable broadband access, are you skilled to not only learn but and engage through this instrument and tool, and that in itself is where we have found there to be challenges as we think throughout the pandemic and, certainly, beyond the pandemic on what we must do to close the gap for equity and the digital divide. So digital divide provides that access, skill. Equity will then take us deeper into this work. Here are key factors I want to call out in regards to how we must eradicate or address these challenges, these factors, in order to close the gap on the digital divide. Number one, what we have seen through research—and has done a great job of calling this out—number one, age-related issues as we think about the various generations that are engaged in society and still present in society. We have digital natives. I consider myself to be a digital native as a millennial. But this is very different than previous generations that may not have had the proper training and skill and their jobs do not have them engaging, utilizing these tools and instruments on a regular basis and so that in itself has created some challenges. And, again, there is, certainly, all those that are outliers and those among the generations that have been able to engage in these instruments and tools. However, it is truly a fact through research that age-related issues have been a part of this challenge, more specifically, speaking to our older population. Socioeconomic factors—have to talk about it. I think about it, especially in the higher education space. Our tribal institutions is where I’ve heard throughout the pandemic some of our most severe challenges that have been experienced in regards to the digital divide. One of the stories that I heard that just breaks my heart—I remember the first time I heard it, it truly had me in tears—we were at the height of the pandemic at this point and what we were learning is in one particular tribal community in order for those students to complete—these are young K-12 students—in order for them to complete their assignments they had elders and community members of that tribe that would walk the students up to the highest point on the mountain within that particular tribal territory just to be able to pick up an internet signal, and they were able to do this when there was not as much traffic on that internet broadband access—that grid, if you will. And so those students were having to do their work—their homework—between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. in the morning. Very interesting reality—unfortunate reality. We, certainly, have to come up with the solutions to addressing this. This in itself is part of that digital divide conversation. Geographic causes—it depends on where you are in the country. I remember at one point in time I was teaching and served the University of Charleston out of Charleston, West Virginia, and for those that are familiar with that part of the country in the Appalachia, I would have my students that were having to use their own cell phones in order to complete their assignments and upload their assignments. They did not have either, in some cases, the actual tools or accessibility, would have to drive in to more populated spaces to pick up a signal. This was impacting their learning experience. This in itself is all a part of that digital divide. Last, certainly, not least, racial, culture, language. All of this plays a role and more in that skill set component along with accessibility component and how are we going to as educators, as key stakeholders within our community, leaders, be a part of the solution to close that divide. Age-related issues, socioeconomic factors, geographic causes, racial, cultural, and language. Again, is the source on that there. Step two, to navigate digital equity we must understand digital equity, and so now we’re going to go and delve into what does it mean—what does digital equity mean. So I’m taking my definition, again, from the National League of Cities. Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. This is huge. So, again, as you heard me talk about the digital divide just moments ago, it’s the component of accessibility and skill. That skill is then where we get into productive citizenship through society, democracy, and economy, and so now we’re talking about how does this tool, this instrument—it’s much more than just accessibility. Now how do I engage? How am I advancing my family, my economic—social economic realities through this instrument and tool? The definition goes on to say—again, by the National League of Cities—digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. Case in point, life. As we think about all aspects of life from employment to social participation—as we think social media engagement, employment, we all understand what that means; lifelong learning, certainly as educators we have to think about that component—and then accessibility to the tools that we need, I think about my own child who this past weekend had to reach out for virtual assistance from medical care for an earache that he was having. My ability to have the skill set and accessibility to reach out, obtain those resources for my family, and engage through an electronic means to fulfill what my needs were are all a part of this equity. Life in itself should be able to remain whole in what I produce and how it is able to produce within me, and that is in itself digital equity. So step three, let’s discuss how to navigate digital equity in higher education and, again, hello to all of our educators that are on the call today. So here’s some tips that I want to leave for you on today just to think about, and I look forward to our conversation that we’re about to have here in a moment. Number one, as educators—and we’re talking about navigating digital equity—it is so important that we understand who we’re serving. I say that because, unfortunately, what can happen is especially as educators and we think about the economy, the disruptions that we’re experiencing in the marketplace right now, we’ll sometimes pursue who we want, not necessarily who we have, and that’s unfortunate. As we think about the respective institutional missions and the spaces in which we serve, we have to be mission centered and embrace who it is that we’re serving because we owe it to those students who are pursuing their academic endeavors and their professional endeavors through our respective institutions to totally be served. We must understand their realities. One of the conversations we have here at the Community College of Aurora is the conversation about you don’t know who is actually sitting, respectively, in that seat in that classroom and what they had to overcome in order to sit in that seat that particular day. Do we know how many bus routes they had to take? Do we understand the challenges that they were having with their children? Do we know are they now leaving their second job that they’ve worked for the past twenty-four hours to now sit in your classroom? So we have to understand, be aware, and approach that engagement with a sense of grace. I think that’s a word that we, perhaps, haven’t necessarily embraced in the academy in the way in which we have—should have, but now more than ever we have to. Secondly, create systems that level the learning engagement field. So it’s this idea of privilege—this thought of privilege—and, perhaps, what we assumed that everyone had access to and what everyone had the ability to engage with that they don’t necessarily have, and if they do have accessibility to it do we have a true understanding of what all they have to do to have that level of engagement and accessibility? Again, case in point, bus routes. Think about what’s happening around our country. There has been a reduction from a transportation standpoint financially, and many of the routes and the transportation services that have been provided—some of this due to disruption, others due to areas in which there have had to be a funneling of tax dollars and resources in other spaces and places in our communities. Long story short, the reality is, is that in many communities the bus routes have had to be reduced, which means that individuals are either having to walk or find ways to public accessibility to some of these resources in terms of broadband access and computer access. So then as we’re teaching and we’re instructing and we’re providing services, we have to think about how can we level the playing field and remove barriers? Does it have to be performed—does that learning outcome have to come in the form of computer access and broadband accessibility? And maybe it does, so this takes us to point number three. Let’s promote community resources to close the digital divide. I think that laser focus on how we’re going to close that divide creates this space for equity, and so, perhaps, it’s through libraries. There’s one organization out of North Carolina in some of their rural spaces they have now through grant funds created different spaces in their rural communities for those in more rural spaces to gain access to a computer lab and the grants are sustaining that accessibility through computer labs in those rural spaces. Amazing resource. There’s many others and examples that we can share around the country. So with that said, let’s promote these community resources. Sometimes it’s a library. Sometimes it’s a grant-funded opportunity. Sometimes it’s a local nonprofit. So let’s talk about how we can be creative in our respective communities to close the gap there. Fourth, adjust learning experiences to be more inclusive. Not only do we need to create the systems to level the playing field but we must then adjust the learning experiences to be more inclusive to create learning spaces and engagement spaces for all, going back to not only accessibility but skill. Last, certainly not least, providing institutional resources to close the digital divide. What I mean by this is, is that, in closing, due to—through the pandemic and many of our institutions received the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds—the HEERF funds. Those HEERF funds were utilized in many different ways. In many cases, we were able to do laptop loan programs. In some spaces they were even doing hotspot loan programs. And so now that we are coming out of the pandemic what does it look like to sustain these resources, OK, because now that we provide these resources how do we sustain them? How do we ensure that we’re having long-term engagements? One of the things that I want and I ask from my educators, especially administrators, to look at: How do we close this—(inaudible)—without placing the costs on the backs of our students? They already have enough going on. We don’t need to just move the cost of something on to their tuition and fees. How can we be even more creative with the engagements and enrollments of our students to being laser focused on what we’re doing to close, again, many of those factors and gaps that were highlighted earlier? So grateful for the opportunity. Have a website. Would love to engage with you all more. I know we’re getting ready to go into conversation. But and, again, thank you all so much for the opportunity. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you so much for that overview. So we’re going to go to all of you for your questions now. You can click the raised hand icon on your screen to ask a question, and on an iPad or a tablet click the more button to access the raised hand feature. When you’re called upon accept the unmute prompt and please state your name and affiliation followed by a question. You can also submit a written question by the Q&A icon and I will read out the question, and if you do write your question please include your affiliation just to give us a sense of where you’re coming from. And there are no questions as of yet but I know that will change, or else you were so thorough that nobody has questions. (Laughs.) So do you see now with the pandemic experience that there will be continued—I’m going to ask the first question—you know, that this has opened up the space now for deeper understanding of the digital divide and bringing the resources to bear? Or now that we’re kind of post-pandemic or whatever this is people have forgotten about it and are moving on? BROWNLEE: Thank you so much for the question, my friend. I think that it’s twofold. There’s two sides of this coin, right. So there’s the one side of the coin where the awareness now is so much deeper and richer than it ever has been because of the amount of resources and what it took to sustain since 2020 those resources that were being provided to the students in the community. So now there’s many that have learned and they’re now having those conversations about how to sustain the resources because, as we all know, while there’s been an extension of HEERF funds through the Department of Education, that day is coming to an end here pretty soon and so we have to talk about sustainability. The other side of that coin is, unfortunately, there are those that acknowledge what the realities were but their agenda is more on how do we move past it, not necessarily sustain what we were providing. That’s part of the issue for some that we have to address because we don’t just move on from hardship, right. That hardship is real and we have to still maintain a laser focus on how we’re going to close the digital divide, especially in the academic spaces, but also understanding our responsibility as not only educators but community leaders, stakeholders within our community, to be a part of the solutions and the expansions on equitable access and resources being made available. And so I think with both sides of those coins we’re seeing two different realities. But I think that there’s also a need now more than ever to maintain the senses of urgency around the haves and have nots and what we’re going to do to be a part of the solution to ensure that we’re raising the level of accessibility and skill for all within our communities. FASKIANOS: I noted in your presentation you talked about knowing who your students are. So what advice do you have for higher education educators and leaders who are trying to navigate the digital divide in their classroom and to get to know—to figure out where their students are coming from and what their needs may be? BROWNLEE: So, as we all know, especially in the IR space, right, there’s different tools, resources, that we can use to survey our students. There’s different splash pages, if you will, that we can utilize in terms of the enrollment processes or the readvising processes, or even think of some of our learning management tools that we can engage with students to determine what their needs truly are. I think that it’s important that we create tools and instruments that will have high engagement rates. Sometimes those have to be incentivized. But we have to think about outside of our normal student leader responses how we’re capturing the voice of all of our students. And so that’s those that would not typically provide response, and as we think about the digital divide we have to acknowledge that that tool, that instrument, can’t just be electronic. What are we going to do to have paper resources or maybe through phone conversations, outreach, being able to have, certainly, the walk around conversations around our respective campuses and the universities. And so we need to have those conversations to make sure that we’re capturing the voice of all of our students, I think, is in the true spirit of continued improvement. We have to understand who we serve and then acknowledge, through the development of systems and the recalibration of our student experiences, are the voice of these students. FASKIANOS: Right. And in terms of the skills, because community colleges are so focused on developing the skills, what specifically are you doing at Aurora or are you seeing in the community college space to help students develop those skills that they need to navigate digitally? BROWNLEE: Absolutely. One of the things I’ll talk about—and those that may not be aware and I don’t know who all has visited Denver—but the history of Aurora—Aurora is the most diverse community—city—in the state of Colorado. I call that out because immigrants—it has a strong—there’s a strong population in this community and so part of our young thirty-nine years of existence in this community has been providing English second language courses. We’re noticing that especially our immigrant families and communities that are seeking social and economic mobility, highly skilled from where they come from but now we must create learning opportunities to close that gap, not only through language but through accessibility in this American market. And so through our community ESL programs we’ve been able to educate upwards of two thousand students a year and walk them through the various levels of learning and engagement with the English language, and then at some point in that process—learning process—we then engage and begin the computer engagement in utilizing the English language in their native language and beginning to close that gap. So I think that that work in itself is a part of that digital equity that must be created—how do you create the foundation to build upon to then advance the engagement. And there’s been some other great examples that I’ve seen around the country in doing that work, a lot of grant programs that I’ve seen in respective communities. You heard me talk about what’s happening out there in the Carolinas. But I think about what’s also happening over in California. California has been a great state that’s been able to do some work about working and identifying through heat maps and institutional resource—research and resources and community resources, looking at demographics, identifying low socioeconomic spaces, and putting concentrated efforts in those particular communities to increase the level of engagement, accessibility, and skill, and it’s critical and key. FASKIANOS: Great. We have a question from Gloria Ayee. So if you can unmute yourself and state your affiliation. Q: Hello. Thank you so much for sharing this important work that you’re doing. I am Gloria Ayee and I am a lecturer and senior research fellow at Harvard University, and my question is about the connection between the digital divide and also how it mirrors to current inequities that we see in the educational system in general. So thinking about that type of relationship, what do you think are the most significant challenges to addressing the digital divide, given the issues that we continue to see with the educational system in general at all types of institutions, and what do you foresee as the best way to actually address these challenges? BROWNLEE: Oh, that’s a great question. Great question. Thank you so much for asking that question, Gloria. I would say two things come to mind—funding and agenda, right. So if—I’ll tell you what comes to mind for me. So as we think about financially and we look at how these institutions are funded around the country, let’s think K-12. So grade schools. Think K-12. Let’s also think higher education. Are we talking headcount? Are we talking full-time equivalency? Are we talking success points? Are we talking—even as we think about developmental education, how are these institutions being funded to sustain the work of working especially with low socioeconomic communities? Let’s just take, for example, full-time equivalency, especially in this higher education space. So if I were someone who wanted to work to create programs that I’m going to help in the advancing and addressing of the digital divide and advancing digital equity, I need funds in order to do that. Now, could I pursue grant funds? Absolutely. But even—we all know that grant funds are not necessarily all the time sustainable funds. Short-term funds, but it still has to be a hard-lined. So then as we think about doing this work—I’ll go back to funding and agenda—realizing and looking at what would need to shift within particularly my state’s legislative agenda or, perhaps, in that particular district how the funding is occurring. If I’m working with a high population, which we are here at the Community College of Aurora—a high population of part-time students, these are students that are maybe taking one class and engaging. However, if I’m funded by a full-time equivalency model it then takes several students that are taking one class to then equal that one full-time equivalent, which then impacts my funding structure. So then how do I then serve, yet, I am seeking to obtain? And this is where we then get into, I think, a part of that friction of agenda and funding models. So I think that as we think equity—with an equity mindset beyond just the initiatives of overlay—we actually want to bake in the equity experience within our respective states and communities—then we’re going to have to take a look at the funding agenda, the agenda and funding—how are we truly going to advance equity and closing the digital divide. It has to be funded properly towards sustainability. We’ve seen this same thing occur in developmental education as well for those who’ve been a part of those conversations where we saw around the country there will be a reduction in developmental education funding, which has been impacted, in some cases, the success rates and resources that were historically provided through community colleges in certain communities. Same thing in this digital divide space and digital equity. So funding an agenda, and I think that the solution is, is really coming to the table and saying what does equity look like without it being an overlaid agenda, without it just being a conversation? What does it look like for it to be baked into the experience of how we’re going to transform lives, which then means that, in many cases, legislatively and funding models. We have to move from a transactional mindset to a transformational mindset and we have to go all in on ensuring that we’re creating equitable communities and engagements for those that we serve. Oh, you’re muted, my friend. FASKIANOS: Yes. Thank you. After two-and-a-half years—(laughter)—I should know that. Encourage all of you to share your best practices and what you’re doing in your communities as well. You know, we have seen the Biden administration really focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion. They’re focusing on bringing more diversity to the State Department and other parts of the government. Is the Department of Education looking at the funding model? Is this an area that they are actively trying to reform and adjust? BROWNLEE: I get the sense—and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking in front of several legislators in different venues—I get the sense that there is a major conversation that’s happening. I do. I truly get the sense that there’s a major conversation happening, not just with our current administration from thinking about our U.S. president but also thinking local legislators as well. I really think that there’s conversations—many conversations that are happening. If anything, I feel as though the major—I don’t want to use the word barrier so I’m searching for the appropriate word here. But I think the major hurdle that we’re going to have to think about is how we have built and designed our funding models to date. You know, some of these funding models were built in early 1990s, mid-1990s in some cases. Really, you don’t see it too much early 2000s, and so we have older financial modeling infrastructure that we’re trying to pursue this work and how to change it. And so it can’t be a Band-Aid approach. I think in some spaces and communities that’s what’s been done is that rather than changing the actual model, the infrastructure itself, it’s received a Band-Aid in the form of grants. And I do believe that grants are significant and, certainly, necessary and appreciated. However, I think that we’re reaching a point in society where there has to be a total restructuring of our funding models and taking a look at what percentages are going where, taking a look at the demographics in our respective communities, taking a look at the economic realities in our respective communities. Take a look at just how much the demographics are shifting in our respective communities and building a model that’s ready to engage, sustain, and raise the level for all, and I think that we’re on our way. I, certainly, hope that we are. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Rufus Glasper. Q: I am here. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Q: Hi, Mordecai. How are you today? BROWNLEE: How are you, sir? Q: Hi, Irina. FASKIANOS: Hi, Rufus. Great to hear from you. Q: Mordecai, talk a little bit about digital equity and faculty. How have they accepted, rejected, embraced what you were describing as all of the different factors that are affecting our students, and what kind of practices have you developed or can be developed to ensure that faculty can continue the progress and include our students who are most needy? BROWNLEE: Great question, Dr. Glasper. I didn’t expect anything different coming from you. So, let me just say, we’ve had some very intense conversations, and I have to really give our faculty and our instructors kudos because I will tell you this is probably by far one of the most engaged communities that I’ve ever worked in of educators that are committed to just truly getting to the solution. There’s some strong work that was done around inclusive excellence here at the Community College of Aurora, certainly, prior to my arrival. It led to this college receiving an Inclusive Excellence Award from the American Association of Community Colleges right around 2017. Part of their work at that time was looking at, as our faculty and our academy, how were we going to close the gap on success rates, particularly in English and math, and part of that work was creating resources towards gap closure to ensure that those that had not traditionally and historically had access to some of those learning materials and plans and resources that they were being provided those in a more intensive way. Now as we think more into the digital space and, certainly, think through the pandemic, what we’ve now done as an institution is that we’ve become—Community College of Aurora has become the very first Achieving the Dream institution in the state of Colorado and one of the projects that our faculty and our instructors are delving into—I’ve got a big meeting tomorrow on this, matter of fact—is taking a look at the respective success rates in our gateway courses—our key courses that are gateways into our respective academic programs—and asking ourselves how can we create more equitable learning experiences. Two things—critical things—that I’ve seen our faculty do. Number one, looking at the data. I think that the data is key and critical—taking a look, disaggregating that data. And our faculty and our instructors continue to do that work, looking at a three-year spread, a five-year spread, and saying: Where is the success occurring? Who’s it occurring with and those respective identities of those students? And then really asking the hard questions: Why isn’t this population succeeding at the same rate as this population? The other part of this criticality is, is also then accepting that there can’t be an excuse in the work. There can’t be an excuse in the work and that we must ensure then that we are creating the equitable resources and infrastructure to close the gap, create learning experiences, and say, listen, if our students can’t access the internet and the Web then what can we do to create for them the resources, whether it be paper? If they can’t come to the teaching demonstration at this particular day how can I create an opportunity for them to engage and obtain that information at another given time? Perhaps they’re a working parent and can’t necessarily attend at 10:00 a.m. but they can at 5:00 p.m. What are we doing to level the playing field with accessibility? And the other aspect of that is just that our faculty and instructors have been partnering to create these more holistic learning engagement opportunities where if we’re having a conversation in English then what can we do within our math department and almost cohorting, in a sense, the learning experiences amongst those two separate classes but then creating like engagements where the same conversations happening in English could be happening in math and science to begin to bring about a new learning within the students to say, OK, well, this particular world issue, now I’m understanding it through various lenses and I understand the interconnectivity in these learning experiences. And so more integrated learning, and I think that we’ve got a long way to go but we’re committed to doing that work. FASKIANOS: So Rufus Glasper is the chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges, and I just thought I would ask you, Rufus, to maybe share your experience as the chancellor what has been working in your community. Q: I am the chancellor emeritus. I have not been at the colleges for a little over six years now. But I am the president and CEO for the League for Innovation in the Community College. And one of the things that I’d like to connect with with our experience right now we are involved in the state of Arizona with a project which is—which we are embracing. We are working with four different types of institutions right now—urban metropolitan, we have a couple of rural institutions and we have a couple of tribal, and we’re trying to make that connectiveness between insecurities—student insecurities. So we’re looking at housing. We’re looking at hunger. We’re looking at jobs. And one of the things that we have found is that we can’t make either of these items connect and work without broadband first, and the reason being when you’re looking at access it’s critical when you start to look at the activities that are occurring throughout the U.S. now and specifically within Arizona—I’ll talk about the connections we have now made that are national in scope, that are city, town, and county in scope, and the commitments that we are now working to obtain from all of those who are in position relative to enhancing broadband access and digital equity. There’s actually a Center for Digital Equity at Arizona State University (ASU), and last week we had a gathering of all of our institutions to get a better understanding of what does digital equity mean as it comes from the ASU center. What does it mean for each of our different types of institutions, and I will tell you that the one that was hardest hit was the one you talked about and that’s tribal just in terms of access, in terms of resources. But I am pleased with the dollars that are out there now at all levels. So if this is a time for us to increase access, increase affordability, than I think we should seize the moment. My question then, which would lead to another one, is on the whole notion of sustainability and you talked about that in terms of stimulus kinds of resources, and equity is in everyone’s face right now, especially broadband and others. Is it a sustainable initiative and focus and what are the elements that need to be connected in order to make sure that it stays in the forefront and that our students who may have benefited from buses sitting in their neighborhood during the pandemic and others but are still trying to make choices? And I’ll make the last connection point, and you made the opening—how flexible should our institutions be around work-based learning so that our students who are not able to come to the campus and be there on a regular basis but want to balance having a virtual environment? Do you see a balance coming or do you see us forced into staying the old, antiquated model of face-to-face classes and sixteen and eighteen weeks? BROWNLEE: Let me start with the sustainability component then. Thank you again, Dr. Glasper. From a sustainability standpoint, I’ll say here at the institution part of the conversation—it’s a hard conversation. But I encourage every educator to have this conversation, this brave conversation, in your spaces. Let’s take a look at your success rates, and I’m just particularly speaking to higher education right now. Let’s take a look at your various academic profiles. Let’s take a look at what has been your engagements with your workforce partners, your advisory councils, in many cases, and let’s talk about two things—one, the sustainability of those programs and, two, the social and economic mobility of those programs directly to workforce. I think what we will find is what we found here at the Community College of Aurora is that over time the various disruptions that have occurred has shifted the needs of our students. However, the institutions respectively delivering these services have not shifted with the times. And so it is quite possible that either our approach to the work or the actual lack of proper programming is prohibiting social and economic mobility in many of these communities and especially for us. Fifty-two percent of our students are first generation. Sixty-seven percent of our students are students of color. So as we talk about sustainability, we’re right there on the front line of having to take a look at enrollment, full-time equivalency, completion, graduation, and employment rates, and we began to find a shifting of that. And so when we talk sustainability, I bring this up as a framework, if you will, to say once you’ve had those conversations now let’s talk about where there are losses—financial losses—and areas in which we can truly be innovative and reallocate dollars that were once going in certain areas and infuse that into other areas that are going to have a higher return. So I think thinking, truly, with a return on investment—an ROI mindset—will then help us to not only meet the needs of our mission, meet it in its current state and its current needs and the disruption that’s currently being experienced, which will then help create new opportunities for sustainability beyond what has just been HEERF funding or potential grant funding, it can be hardlined into the institutional mission. I think the other component of that sustainability, too, is looking at the strategic plans of our respective organizations, looking at those—not only the mission but the objectives and asking how equity is not necessarily a separate objective but equity is actually ingrained in all aspects of the objectives—the strategic objectives—because, at that point, we can then understand the significance in resourcing and funding equity all the way through the entirety of the institution. In regards to your latter question about work-based learning and the old model of doing things, I, certainly, believe and hope, Dr. Glasper, that there’s this new movement that’s occurring where we’re going to have to embrace, whether we like it or not, the next era of higher education, and that next era will require us to not approach things in the same modalities and same ways. We’re watching, especially in research, the confidence levels reduce—heavily reduced now in the public’s perception of what higher education is to provide in comparison to what it once provided. Higher education in many communities isn’t necessarily being seen as the sole or the primary tool towards social economic mobility as it once was twenty, thirty years ago. So what does this mean? Our approach to sixteen-week instruction is, certainly, going to have to be transformed. What does it look like to have five-week instruction? Eight-week instruction? What does it look like for us to have true noncredit instructional programs that’s in direct partnership with business and industry to ramp up the training and social economic mobility opportunities within our communities? Folks aren’t necessarily looking for a two-year or a four-year or a six-year learning experience. They need to put food on their family’s table today. What does it look like for them to engage with the institution and have that kind of learning experience, and we have to do it with a digital equity mindset, right, because they’re seeking opportunity. So it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have accessibility in their current state. We want to get them to a state where they can have that accessibility. So how then do we create those tools? One key component of this is even looking at our college application processes. What is the readability score on some of these applications? We want to educate those that may have a reading level of a—seventh or eighth grade reading level. But some of these college applications are reading at a fourteen, fifteen grade reading level. That in itself is creating a barrier to those that are seeking opportunity, that need the opportunity to up skill. And so I think that the old model is going to, in my opinion, and hopefully quickly deteriorate and we’re going to have to be more effective. But let me also say this. It is critical that we have our faculty and our instructors at the table. These decisions shouldn’t be thrown upon them. It should be conversations that we’re having collectively together, and then how can then we resource our faculty and our instructors and our staff to be a part of those solutions, drive those solutions, reinvest in them to be able to create more innovative and more, I’ll say the word, relevant learning experiences because I truly believe that relevance is not necessarily a word that we’ve used in higher education in terms of our approach, but now more than ever we’re going to have to. FASKIANOS: OK. So I’m going to take a written question from Nicole Muthoni, who is an entrepreneur and innovator at the University of Connecticut. She has been passionately working on bridging the divide in emergent nations, especially Kenya. Therefore, in this regard, the key factors creating the digital divide in this space is geographic causes, socioeconomic factors, and culture. So the question is what tools and programs can we use to effectively educate teachers to learn the necessary skills that they can use to teach their students in the classrooms. This is because most of the teachers have not been empowered with the necessary and needed skills for educating in the space of digital equity. BROWNLEE: I think—I began to speak to that right towards the end of what I was just sharing, right. FASKIANOS: Right. BROWNLEE: It’s this idea of we’ve got to get out of the blame game. Oh, I want you to come up with the solution. Well, how are you investing in me to be a part of the solution? How are you even engaging me in part of being the solution? You know, as I talked earlier about those conversations we’re having at CCA about what are those programs that have been unsustainable or times have shifted and changed and we needed to create some more relevant learning experiences. It is our faculty and our instructors that made that decision to be able to say, hey, it’s time to pivot. They were at the table. Not just present for the sake of inclusion but, truly, the decision makers in that work. Now, I think, the next component of this work as we talked about achieving the dream and us being the first in the state of Colorado, part of our strategic plan is creating a—we don’t have a name so just work with me here conceptually. We don’t have a name yet. But I can tell you what the desired outcome is, and the desired outcome is that we create a learning center for our faculty and our instructors to grow and to be invested in and to learn what are those emerging approaches that will—on the verge of becoming best practices. However, they’re not, quote/unquote, “best practices” around the country yet. What could we create here at CCA to be a part of those solutions? And also exposure to national best practice. What are we doing to invest into our people? So I think that part of that shifting that Dr. Glasper was calling out is going to have to occur now more than ever because, unfortunately, what’s happened, I think, in the academy too many of our instructors and faculty have been blamed. Too many of our staff had been blamed, not engaged and brought about to be the solution, and not just thrown right out there in the fire to say come up with something. No. You need to care for your folks more deeply, more passionately, and more genuinely than we have ever before and really ask the question how are we going to be relevant and make sure that our folks feel cared for and that they’re valued in the spaces in which they’re serving. FASKIANOS: Thank you. So the next question is from Krishna Garza-Baker from the University of Texas at San Antonio. What would you say is the role of private service providers and their ability to assist in reducing the digital divide? Are they doing enough to collaborate with higher education institutions to address this area, specifically, internet service providers? And I’m going to add on to that. What are your recommendations for how schools can and should be leveraging corporate and community partnerships to help address the digital divide? BROWNLEE: You know, you heard me earlier talk about how we can’t just do this overlay approach. Yes, I want to give you a voucher for reduced broadband access. That’s wonderful. It is. It is grateful. It’s better than not having it. But now let’s talk about how we’re truly going to hardline in opportunities for all. As we think about the spirit of advocacy, unfortunately, sometimes, as they say, it’s the squeaky wheel gets the grease, I think, is how it’s communicated. And so what I would say is, is that now we have to think about those that don’t have a voice how we’re still meeting their needs. And so working directly with corporate industry partners, those who have the access. What does it look like if we focus less on trying to make a dollar and more on trying to create opportunity? What would it look like if we all came about and said we want to be the solution to the issue? Yes, there’s areas and opportunities where we’ll make that dollar. But as we think about society as a whole, what does it look like to create experiences and a life for the goodness of all? And so I think that now we really more than ever have to have these conversations. More than ever it just can’t be who gets the voucher. It’s how do you create the accessibility for all, those who have a voice and those who know how to use their voice. And I think that—if I understand the nature of that question now, I will say with private entities, corporate partnerships, I think it’s more visibility in these colleges and universities and these nonprofit spaces beyond the cameras and just looking at the campaigns. What does it look like for us to have the conversations day in and day out to say we’re neighbors, we’re all going to collectively be a part of the solutions and to bring the rising up, if you will, of our communities to raise the level for all and that’s, certainly, what we’re seeking to do. We’ve seen some major responsiveness in this particular community to say, listen, outside of just some campaign and a picture, what does it look like for you all to be a part of our learning experience, a part of our community, a part of our solutions, and to hardline these experiences for all. So equity causes and it charges and it demands that, and we have to realize the power of that. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Laila Bichara from SUNY Farmingdale. Many of my students are immigrants and are first-generation college students. My question is about skill transfer—once our students get access to technology for themselves and their families who are then losing their jobs due to automation. BROWNLEE: Demographic shift. I talked about it earlier. You know, I think about here in the Denver Metro area and I’m going to—I attended a site visit conversation with their chamber of commerce there in Denver. It was pretty telling. In looking at the demographics, it broke down how for millennials, I think, there’s currently—so there’s 3.3 million in the greater Denver area. It broke down for millennials, which I fall into this group—I think it was eight hundred and sixty-four thousand millennials currently in that space. Then it had Xers. Not Xers. It had generation Z. Z accounted for, roughly, six hundred thousand. But get this. So my children, my eight- and my four-year-old—they’re generation alpha—were only accounting for, roughly, three hundred thousand in the space currently right now. I say that as an example that I’m going to walk us through really quickly, and that is, is with the lens of equity and we think about the shifting and the disruptions in market and we think about especially now in the markets humanization versus automation, and we want to create social and economic mobility for these respective spaces wherever those realities are and we think about accessibility to the internet and we talk about that digital equity and the digital divide, we then have to have a high degree of urgency within us to say that what will—can we create today that will prevent communities of color and low socioeconomic communities that traditionally in this current market would have been given opportunities but that in the future market, due to a lack of potential skill and accessibility, will not be provided the resources and the opportunities that they once were in an automated world. And so what do we do then to make sure that they’re not the one pressing the button. They’re the one that’s coding the button, right, and that’s all a part of that work and that shifting. So it’s going to take stronger math and science skills and accessibility and equity all built into their learning experiences because if not the wide—we will widen the gap—the poverty gap—because we move, again, deeper into automation, lessen the humanization, and then we are essentially moving an entire population of folks further down the supply chain, if you will, which then will prohibit their learning—not learning, their earning ability. And so we have to be laser focused on those realities and, really, look to eradicate what’s going to be future barriers now so systematically we are able to address it. FASKIANOS: Great. So the last question I wanted to ask you is you’ve just completed your first year as president. What are the lessons that you’ve learned? BROWNLEE: Oh, my gosh. I will tell you that, you know, I just released an article on this talking about my first year in the presidency and through EdSurge and lessons learned, and one of those lessons I would say is is—that I highlighted in that article is, you know, don’t do more for an institution than you would do for your own family. I think that as educators, as community leaders, and anyone that’s on this call, I’ll just take the opportunity to encourage you. You know, sometimes we give our all to these entities in which we serve, and we do it and we give it countless hours. You know, we say it’s a forty-hour job but we’re probably spending fifty, sixty, seventy, if not more, and we get lost in that, right. And so there’s good work to be done. However, what is the biggest mockery of all to save the world but lose your own family? And I think that part of my lesson that I had to really reflect on was, like, right now as I’m giving this lecture my eight-year-old son is here in the office with me right now that I’m trying to get to be quiet and work with me as I’m giving—having this time with you all now, right. He doesn’t have school today. It’s an in-service day. But really creating those engagements for my family to be engaged in the experiences and making sure that they’re part of the process. I think the other component of this is, too—and I talked about this in the article—is realizing that it is a privilege to serve, never taking for granted the ability, the opportunity, that we have to serve because there’s others that wish that they had these opportunities. So, yes, even in our most—our days of most frustration it still is a pleasure and a blessing and an opportunity to serve and honor. And so what would life look like if we embraced it for the pleasure and the honor that it truly is and how we treat and create spaces for others to thrive, because they’re sacrificing being away from their families and loved ones to do this work. We need to create more communities for all to thrive. FASKIANOS: Oh, your son should be very proud of you. I have to say that—what a role model. BROWNLEE: Thank you. FASKIANOS: I’m going to go next to Laurette Foster. Laurette, please say your affiliation. It’s great to have you on. Q: Hi. Laurette Foster, Prairie View A&M University in Texas. And I really don’t have a question. I just want to say how delighted I was to hear the conversation and hear about what the next steps are, because looking back at the pandemic and how we wanted to step up and do so much and I’m just afraid that even though we did those things that needed to be done that many of us now are settling back into the old ways. And it’s still funny that when you told the story about the tribal community happened to go to the top of the mountain from 2:00 in the morning to do—the passion for education is there with the kids. But we have to continue to do our part. So I just appreciate all the comments and—that you did today. It was really enlightening. So thank you very much. BROWNLEE: And thank you, and I will say that my wife is a proud product of Prairie View A&M. The Hill as well. So just thank you for your comments. FASKIANOS: We have another thank you from John Marks of LSU of Alexandria just saying that it was really great to take time out of his day and to—said they—definitely in Louisiana access and skills are, indeed, real obstacles that are typical of every online class that he’s taught. I’m going to take the final question from Haetham Abdul-Razaq from Northwest Vista College, again, from San Antonio, Texas, working on a research project regarding online learning and community college students. One of the interesting findings is that some students might be considered as tech savvy, yet they have problems engaging in online classes. Do you think that we should build on the strengths of our students’ digital knowledge when it comes to these sorts of skills? BROWNLEE: Great question. Absolutely. I think, you know, we talk about creating student-centered approaches and sometimes we’re successful at that and other times we’re not, perhaps, because if we were to really delve into student-centered approaches just how far from our base currently of how we approach higher education just how far it’ll take us. But I would say, going back to an earlier conversation, now’s the time more than ever to go there. Matter of fact, we should have went there already before. It’s time, truly, for a revolution and an evolution in our approach to learning and engagement and advancement with an equity lens. And I go back to that word relevance. We have to create more relevant learning experiences. Think about business and industry. If we look at what’s happened over the past ten years due to some of our bureaucracies and our lack of responsiveness. Look at business and industry. They’re creating learning experiences right around higher education, in some cases not even engaging higher education anymore, directly working with middle schools and high schools to create their own strong pipelines. What has happened that that even came about, right? And so due to a lack of responsiveness, perhaps, innovation—true innovation—and that student-centered approach that we, perhaps, moved far from or maybe just took parts of that was easier to tackle, not the harder aspects of that, and so we now have to tackle it. We have to embrace it, because if not I think that five, ten years from now, certainly, twenty years from now, we’ll have more institutional closures, more reductions in enrollments, if we fail to be responsive and create these more equitable learning opportunities that are geared at creating a digital equity. FASKIANOS: Right. Well, we are just at the end of our time. Thank you very much, Dr. Mordecai Brownlee. We really appreciate your being with us and sharing your insights, and to all of you for your questions and comments. And so you can follow Dr. Mordecai and also go to his website,, and at @itsdrmordecai, correct? BROWNLEE: That is correct. That is correct. I look forward to engaging with everyone. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. We really appreciate it. Just as a reminder for all of you, our next Higher Education webinar will be on Wednesday, November 2, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Rebecca Granato, associate vice president for global initiatives at Bard College, will talk about refugees, migration, and education. So we hope you’ll tune in for that. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out CFR fellowships for educators at, and this is a program that allows educators to come for a year in residence at CFR or else go work in—we place you in government to get some policy-relevant experience. The deadline is October 31. So if you’re interested email us and we can send you information about that. Also, go to,, and for research and analysis, and follow us at @CFR_Academic. Thank you all again. Thank you, Dr. Brownlee. We appreciate it, and we hope you have a good rest of the day. (END)  
  • Brazil

    Ahead of the October 30 runoff, our panelists discuss Brazil’s presidential elections, the implications for Brazilian democracy, and how the results will affect relations with the United States.
  • Banking

    Join U.S. Senator and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Pat Toomey for a discussion on banking regulations, trade, and existing and proposed U.S. sanctions on Russia to hold it accountable for the war in Ukraine.
  • Russia

    Mary Elise Sarotte, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis distinguished professor of historical studies at the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, leads the conversation on Russia’s global influence. FASKIANOS: Welcome to today’s session of the Fall 2022 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Mary Elise Sarotte with us to talk about Russia’s global influence. Professor Sarotte is the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis distinguished professor of historical studies in the Henry Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She is also research associate at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies. She previously taught at the University of Southern California and the University of Cambridge and served as a White House fellow. She is the author or editor of six books. Her most recent book is entitled Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate. And it was published by Yale University Press. Thank you, Mary. She has already won the Pushkin House Prize for the best book on Russia, and she is shortlisted for CFR’s Arthur Ross Book Award, and the Cundill History Prize. So we’re very excited to have you here with us, Professor Sarotte, to talk about this and to be with us. And congratulation on your accolades for prior books as well as this one. So best of luck with those two upcoming book awards. So I thought we could perhaps start with you giving us your analysis of what exactly is happening to Russia’s global influence as we are watching the war in Ukraine and Russia, obviously, on the world stage. SAROTTE: Absolutely. First, let me just say a quick word of thanks to you, Irina, to your staff, and to all the people who have taken the time to sign on. At a time like this, which is a time of war, the Council is more essential than ever. It’s essential to have a place where we can meet, either in person or virtually, and talk about these utterly critical issues. So thank you for doing this. And thank you to all of the students and educators who have made time to Zoom in today. I was looking through the list last night and, as of last night, we have people signed up from eleven time zones—from London, to Hilo, Hawaii. So in these days where there’s a lot to be worried about, it’s a silver lining that there are smart young students and that there are smart educators taking time to inform and learn about this. Yeah. So the name of today’s session is Russia’s global influence. My feeling is that as—what’s happening is that Russia’s global influence is decreasing as the Ukraine war’s global influence is increasing. So in other words, they’re on opposite trajectories. So as the duration, significance, brutality and bloodiness of the war increases, Russia becomes more and more isolated. You can go through this in a number of factors. If you look, for example, in energy terms, this is going to be the last winter that Russia could plausibly put Europe in the cold and in the dark. Europe is making great strides towards finding alternative sources of energy—whether that’s alternative suppliers, or renewables. Dramatic changes are happening. There’s a famous saying, I think it’s attributed to Lenin, I believe, that there are some decades when nothing happens and then there are some weeks when decades happen. And there’s been many, many weeks this year where decades happen. And I think we’ve seen decades of progress in terms of energy renewables, and so forth. So, one of five. So, number one, energy terms. Russia is going to have decreasing influence over Europe. Number two, in trade and economic affairs we’ve already seen what’s being referred to as the great decoupling of Russia being cut off from what used to be formerly major trading partners. In military terms, the recent retaliation against Ukraine for the putative attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge—putative in that they’re subscribing authorship of that to Ukraine—that is, again, also self-defeating for Russia. It’s using up a supply of precision-guided munitions that, in military terms, would be better used against military targets, not against kindergarten playgrounds. And to say nothing of the incredible moral crime of doing that. Just in pure military terms it doesn’t make sense. Also, what it has done is further solidified Ukrainian opposition. As historians, we see this again and again. When you bomb a people—like, for example, the Blitz in London, the reaction tends to be a sense of solidarity and a sense of hanging together to survive and persist. And that’s happening in Ukraine as well. It's also given such credence to Ukraine’s request for air defense systems that the New York Times just now, as I was just getting ready for this session, just reported that Germany is now shipping an air defense system that is so new, it has never been used in Germany or anywhere else. It’s called the IRIS-T SLM system. It has already crossed Ukraine’s border from Poland. It apparently includes mobile launchers, a 360-degree radar, and a separate command vehicle from which you can operate the system. This was in development in Germany, and it was—it’s capable, apparently—it’s effective at distances of up to twenty-five miles. It can strike targets twelve miles up. It was basically still in development, but now they’ve let Ukraine jump the queue and shipped it right to Ukraine. The idea that that would have happened even, you know, a week ago is unthinkable. So to recap, in terms of energy, economics, military, Russian influence is actually declining because allies are banding together to fight against it. Soft power from before, that is—in the West, Russia’s soft power is basically nonexistent at this point. The fifth and final category, and that’s the real wild card, is nuclear. That’s, obviously, the big worry. There, Russia’s global influence in that category remains strong. There are only two strategic nuclear powers, and that’s the United States and Russia. More than thirty years after the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States still control 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads. They are the only two states with civilization-ending capabilities, with the ability to kill most life on earth, within practically a matter of minutes, if they choose to do so. They are in a nuclear class by themselves. So that is why we are now hearing so much nuclear saber rattling from Russia. So just to sum up, because of the immense self-inflicted harm of this war to Russia—to say nothing of the terrible harm to the Ukrainians who are fighting bravely against a truly brutal aggressor—because of this war, Russia’s global influence is decreasing, which, of course, raises the risk that they’ll lean heavily on the one way in which they still have global influence, which is as a strategic nuclear power. So I think you’ve chosen exactly the right topic for us to talk about today. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you, Mary, for that. We want to get to all of you and your questions. So we’re going to turn now to you. (Gives queuing instructions.) And we already have four hands raised, so I’m going to go first to Morton Holbrook. Q: Professor Sarotte, a somewhat obscure question. Russia early on purported to recognize two new countries in eastern Ukraine, which Russia did not do with regard to Georgia or with regard to Crimea. And the question is, is it a complete charade? Or has anyone actually, besides Russia, recognized them. Someone like Belarus, maybe, or China, or any other country? Or is it just a completely charade, these two new countries? FASKIANOS: Morton, can you give us your affiliation? Q: Kentucky Wesleyan College in Kentucky. FASKIANOS: Thank you so much. SAROTTE: OK. Thank you for calling in from Kentucky. So we’ve got one time zone down, for those of you doing a time zone bingo chart. We can tick that one off. Thank you, Morton Holbrook, for your question. Yeah, things have been moving so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Initially, as you indicated, Putin indicated he was going to recognize people’s republics in eastern Ukraine. But now things have moved on, and now he’s said he’s annexed those areas. There’s a little bit of a gray zone because, of course, no one’s quite sure what the annexed borders are, what the borders of the annexed area are. Obviously, no other countries have recognized this. So this is, obviously, all very contested. I would actually, rather than trying to parse the recent terms—whether it’s a recognized republic, or a country, or an annexation—I actually would go back to a vote that took place in 1991, while the Soviet Union still existed, although it was falling apart. And in December 1991, Ukraine held what was essentially a free election to decide—to basically confirm among the population the decision of the parliament to depart from the Soviet Union and become an independent state. And that vote, that Ukrainian vote for independence, was enormously successful. It was over 90 percent in favor of independence. And the relevant fact here for your question, Morton, is that in no electoral district was support for independence below 50 percent. In other words, there was majority support for independence in every single part of Ukraine—whether that was Crimea, whether that was Donetsk, whether that was Luhansk, whether that’s the areas that Putin is now calling new countries, or new annexations. And so if we take that as an expression of popular will about whether or not Ukrainians want to be part of Russia, it was really clear that the desire was overwhelmingly to be independent. So that is, I think, an important data point. That when that question was actually put to a vote, an overwhelming number of Ukrainians voted to be independent, and a majority voted in every single district. Now, obviously, there are Ukrainian separatists who feel—sorry—there are pro-Russian people inside Ukraine who feel differently. But I think that that election is the information that we should really look to when we’re trying to figure out the sentiments of the people. FASKIANOS: Thanks. I’m going to go next to Julian Reich. And you need to unmute yourself. Q: Yeah. Hi, professor. Yeah, I’m Julian Reich from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. I’ve read some of your articles about NATO enlargement and the post-Cold War settlement. Do you think Russia’s renewed revisionism is as much a sense of their inability to achieve economic growth post-Cold War? Or do you think it largely rests on the unsatisfactory nature of the post-Cold War settlement? SAROTTE: Hmm. Yeah. Thank you, Julian, calling from Hunter College. Yeah, so as I like to say to my own students—so if any of them are on this call, they’ll groan when they hear me say this—the one phenomenon that I have never observed as a historian is mono-causality. Important events happen for multiple reasons. They’re not necessarily significant reasons. There’s a huge role for accident and chance in history. But there’s usually a mixture, often a dramatic mixture changing over time, of reasons. So I don’t think there is one simple answer for why what’s happening now—why Putin has become an aggressive invader of Ukraine. Certainly, the economic difficulties of Russia in the 1990s, the economic difficulties of other parts of the Soviet space, those are all a factor because they then gave Putin a base of support. When he came in and the economy started doing better, setting aside for a moment the question of whether or not he was responsible for that, people then associated him with moving beyond a really terrible time. The 1990s were an awful time in the post-Soviet space. Any of the indicators that you look at are just truly depressing. For example, the life expectancy for men decreased in Russia in the 1990s. The population decreased. Those are numbers that conceal a great deal of suffering. And so Putin coming in and the economy improving meant there was a certain base of support for Putin, which then meant when he started dismantling the fragile democracy in Russia, he had support for what he was doing that put him in the position that he’s in. But of course, you also have to look at his personal beliefs and fixations. It seems that he spent sadly, tragically, far too much time alone during the pandemic obsessing about the history of what he thinks belongs to Russia. I’m hearing reports from archivists out of Russia that there were all kinds of requests from the Kremlin, presumably from Putin personally through his subordinates, for evidence and documents. And he, Putin, has been publishing articles, or at least allowing articles to be published under his name, about the history of the Second World War, the history of ties with Ukraine. I’m not agreeing with any of them; I’m just noting that he is fixated on history. And so he has this fixation on the idea that he can restore the Russian greatness, he can restore land that belonged to Russia. So that’s a factor as well. Then there is, of course, the factor that the post-Cold War settlement didn’t define a place in its security structure for Ukraine. There were early discussions about that, and I talk about that in my book Not One Inch, but those did not result in a fixed secure birth for Ukraine in the European security structure. So that meant it was left outside of what was essentially the new frontline in Europe, which was the Article 5 frontline. Article 5 is, of course, the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty. It’s the article that says every member state should treat an attack on one state as an attack on all. It’s a very, very strong security guarantee. And NATO, of course, as I describe in my book Not One Inch, expanded, enlarged, in the 1990s, and expanded and enlarged its Article 5 territory, but not to Ukraine. One of the bigger surprises of my research was that President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s recognized, as he put it, that Ukraine was the, quote, “linchpin” of Europe, the key to Europe. I’m paraphrasing, but the exact quotations are in my book, Not One Inch, if you’re interested. So in early discussions of NATO enlargement, Clinton went to Central and Eastern Europeans and said: I understand. You have every right to want to join NATO. You are new, free democracies. We admire hugely how you threw off Soviet control. But you have to understand, if we give you Article 5, we’ll draw essentially a new line. We just got rid of the Cold War line. If we give you Article 5, we’ll draw a new line, and that will leave Ukraine on the wrong side. And Ukraine is a huge country in terms of geography, in terms of population. At the end of the Cold War, it had a population over fifty million, which meant it was on the size of Britain or France. It’s geographically enormous. It was becoming a new democracy as well. And Clinton said, you know, we can’t leave Ukraine in the lurch like that. It’s too big a leap to put it in NATO right away, but we can’t just leave Ukraine in the lurch like that. But then Boris Yeltsin, Putin’s predecessor, made a lot of self-harming, bad mistakes. He started using bloodshed to fight what should have been political fights. In October 1993, Boris Yeltsin decided to have tanks fire on his own parliament. I mean, we think about in the United States we had January 6. Imagine if Trump had sent tanks to fire on the Capitol, right? Then Yeltsin allowed a very brutal invasion of Chechnya. There’s some question as to whether he understood quite how extensive that invasion would be, and quite how brutal it would be. But he allowed it. He was president of the country. And so once he started shedding blood again in Russia, so soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europeans, who had been willing to listen to what Clinton said about Ukraine, who had been willing to agree, through clenched teeth, to perhaps try to find some intermediate solution for Ukraine as well, said: No. Forget it. We need Article 5. And you see this kind of parting of the ways between the post-Cold War path for the Central and Eastern Europeans and the Ukrainians. And so then Ukraine gets left out. So I could continue. There’s, like, five more reasons. But basically, when you’re looking at a history, you try to look at what the main factors are and how they interact with each other. So I think that there are a lot of factors, and the ones that you mention are part of them, that led to where we are today. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Victoria Williams, who has written her question out. But why don’t you ask it? Q: Hi, how are you? Hello. So I’m very curious to understand how we can deescalate the situation and move away from the sort of nuclear option or nuclear threat. How can we do this without basically empowering him and allowing him to just take Ukraine—take pieces of it? FASKIANOS: Victoria, you’re with Alvernia University? Q: In Reading, Pennsylvania, that’s correct. So I’m East Coast zone. (Laughs.) SAROTTE: East Coast, OK. (Laughs.) All right. Well, thank you, Victoria. And, yeah, obviously that’s the huge question. So the huge question is how do we avoid nuclear escalation. That is the essential question. The challenge is to balance that against responding to Putin, who is essentially an aggressive bully, right? And who at this point, it’s clear, only understands the language of force. What has happened in the past couple weeks has really, unfortunately, foreclosed options for de-escalation. The announcement of annexation of territory, what I was talking about in response to Morton Holbrook’s question, that removed, for example, the option that there could perhaps be a negotiated settlement. Because now Putin is saying, no, no, that’s Russian territory. It’s not even Ukraine anymore. And Ukrainians obviously don’t accept that. So the possibilities for de-escalation unfortunately became fewer in the past couple of weeks. And that is really tragic because, as I said, we’ve got the nuclear shadow hanging over all of this. So the real challenge is how to push back against a bully. And this, by the way, is not just, of course, about Ukraine and Russia. Obviously, there’s discussions about what the People’s Republic of China might do to Taiwan in the wake of its de facto takeover of Hong Kong. So there are other countries around the world that are looking at this to see what could happen. So it’s important to push back and be firm, but to do so in a way that doesn’t lead to nuclear escalation. That is a very, very difficult task. The one thing that heartens me is that we do have some experience with it. The experience was called the Cold War. So we do have a track record of dealing with this challenge. Some of the big differences that make me nervous are that the Cold War evolved over decades, and there was time to build guardrails, which were arms control agreements. We seem, by contrast, now to have spun back up to Cold War-like conditions in a matter of months, but we’re missing guardrails. We’re missing—and we’re missing popular understanding of what that means. Let me talk a little about both of those. So during the Cold War, there were a whole host of arms control agreements that limited the kinds of weapons that Washington or Moscow could build, and where they could be deployed, and a whole host of things. At present, there’s only one nuclear treaty that constrains Washington and Moscow in any way. It’s going to expire soon. And my guess is it’s probably not going to be renewed. And then Moscow and Washington will be in, in nuclear terms, completely unconstrained. That is jaw dropping and immensely frightening. So during the Cold War, of course, you had the ABM Treaty—the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty—Intermediate Nuclear Range Forces Treaty, and a whole bunch of alphabet-soup treaties that at least put some guardrails on. We don’t have those. What we also had during the Cold War was a greater cultural understanding of what nuclear war would mean, the sheer devastation that would be involved. I remember as a kid seeing a film called The Day After, about the nuclear devastation that would ensue if Soviet missiles hit the United States. I was actually just listening to Ian Bremmer the other day. And Ian Bremmer said he woke up and started thinking about that film, The Day After, for the first time in decades. We, as kids, those of us who are old enough, at least have memory of the potential horror of nuclear war. My students now do not have that at all. There’s really no understanding of that. And that’s not their fault, but it means there’s just not a cultural awareness of just how risky this is. As a matter of fact, I heard a report—it must have been on the BBC, just some stray report. But someone—it was a couple months ago—something about Russia tested some nuclear systems, but they didn’t—and the journalist added: But they didn’t actually have nuclear weapons on them. They were just testing the systems. And I was thinking, of course they didn’t have nuclear weapons on them. (Laughs.) I mean, you know, of course they didn’t blow up large segments of Europe in a test. But just the fact that the person kind of didn’t know what she was saying I though, wow, we really just lost, like, the cultural understanding of what it means. So we have these risks and we don’t have the guardrails, and we don’t have the cultural understanding. So we need to move forward carefully. I think the Biden administration has been doing a good job with this immense challenge. I think the answer has been to move incrementally, which is what has been happening. So there has been a gradual escalation of the amount and sophistication of weaponry provided. As I said, literally just in the past couple of hours there was a big step forward with Germany now delivering air defense systems. There has been, obviously, meetings of the G-7 and NATO. I think the incremental approach has been a strong one in a very, very dark situation. The Finnish and Swedish memberships in NATO are advancing incrementally. And it seems that this incremental approach so far has, at least for the prospects of the wider world, kept the conflict constrained. Now, obviously, it has not kept it constrained in any way for Ukraine. And I really have to express my admiration for the Ukrainians for how bravely they are fighting, for what they are suffering. It really is remarkable. And these recent strikes, with precision-guided munitions hitting kindergartens, just, unspeakable. So obviously the war is not constrained for Ukraine, but it has not become a global thermonuclear war. It has not become a bigger war. I am worried about this pipeline destruction that has been going on. I heard reports this morning about some kind—I don’t even know if this is accurate, so don’t quote me on this. I haven’t even had time to look at this. But I heard reports this morning that there was pipeline damage in Poland. If that’s true, that’s Article 5 territory. That would be—things that start to happen in Article 5 territory increase the risk of escalation. So the best way to keep it from escalating is to keep it away from Article 5 territory, to give Ukrainians the means to defend themselves, to keep ratcheting up the pressure incrementally. I don’t really know that there are many offramps more for Putin. I think at this point we’re probably looking at some kind of a grinding to a stalemate process. I think that’s probably the best-case scenario. It’s not a good one, but it’s probably the best of bad options. Obviously, the worst option would be escalation in some way to nuclear use. So thank you, Victoria, for the question. Long-winded answer, but it’s an important and complicated question. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Manuel Montoya at the University of New Mexico. Q: Hello, Dr. Sarotte. I’m Manuel Montoya. I’m a professor here at the University of New Mexico, here in Albuquerque. So Rocky Mountains, Mountain time zone. SAROTTE: All right, thank you. (Laughter.) Q: Yeah, thank you very much for your presentation. And thanks, everybody, for all of your questions. I’ve been thinking recently about the health of international institutions in the next chapter of whatever follows what is happening now. And my question is about Russia’s global influence, not in terms of its military power or even its social power, but also the influence it will have on the stability of international institutions, like the International Criminal Court. If there is a political will to try Russia in the International Criminal Court system or to hold them accountable through any other political devices that the international global governance community has, what do you perceive being the vulnerabilities or the risks associated with that? And how is that going to influence the stability or legitimacy of those institutions moving forward? SAROTTE: All right, Mountain time in the house. Excellent. Thank you so much. Q: Thank you. SAROTTE: Yeah. Thank you, Manuel, for your question. Yeah, it’s a good question. I guess I would answer your question two different ways, short term and long term. And, preview, I’m actually going to duck answering the long-term part. So short term, I think one of the silver linings is—of these terrible events that are happening—one of the silver linings is that Putin’s actions have created a new sense of solidarity, purpose, mission, and togetherness in international organizations. And this is not uncommon. Theorists know that having a clear enemy concentrates minds. Having an enemy the size of Russia really concentrates minds. So this is not surprising, but it is heartening. NATO, in particular, has a new sense of purpose and mission. There’s some speculation on this—back in February—oh, there’s a sense of unity now but it will fall apart as soon as leaves start turning in the fall. Well, the leaves are turning, at least here in Washington, D.C., and that sense of unity has not fallen apart. And I think other international institutions are feeling new life in their limbs, feeling new power in their veins, feeling a new sense of purpose. So in the short run, I think what is happening—although, it is again, I can’t say this enough, it’s deeply tragic for the world, incredibly dangerous, awful for Ukrainians—there are some silver linings, such as this new sense of solidarity. Now, your question about holding Russia accountable, I would put that in the category of longer-term questions. Because right now what’s essential is to prevent loss of life in Ukraine, to somehow find a way to end the violence and the bloodshed. That’s the most pressing path. But obviously holding Russia accountable and pursing what has happened here, the war crimes that are happening, is obviously hugely important. It’s a little hard right now to predict exactly how, when, and where that will happen while the conflict is still ongoing. Because obviously the continuation of the conflict itself makes it difficult to gather evidence and so forth. So your question is an insightful one. It’s an important one. But it’s just really hard to answer right now. As a historian, I am interested in the interplay between contingency, so individual decisions, individual actors making decisions, and structures. And right now, we’re in a war. And a war is a time when contingency dominates. Many unpredictable factors come into play. So it’s just a little bit—a little bit—it’s a lot hard to say what the conditions, what the parameters will be for the kind of accountability initiative that you’re talking about. So I think it’s the right question, but I just think I’d be lying if I said I had a good answer for you. The only thing I can say with certainly is it’s not a question that can be answered right now. It’s an important question, but it’s something that has to be on hold for a little while. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go next to the University College London. I don’t know who is asking the question, but please say who you are and unmute yourself. Q: Yes. Hello. We are from UCL, from the IPP master’s program. My name is Dr. Aboudounya and I have a number of students who have really interesting questions. They are just on their way, just one second. (Laughs.) SAROTTE: All right. So we’ve got British summertime in the house, excellent. Very good. How many people have you got there in your classroom? Q: So at the moment we have around eight people attending. SAROTTE: Excellent. Q: And we have a number of questions. So the first one will— Q: Hello. I have two questions. The first question is, is our world still in the process of globalization, especially with the United States’ economic pressures to the Russia and as Russia set war to Ukraine and they cut off the energy to Europe, and also add in the situation of the spread of COVID-19? This is my first question. And then my second question is, without Russia, how can Europe solve its energy problem? Q: Thank you very much. We just have another question, sorry. FASKIANOS: One more and then we will go answers, and then we have so many other questions we’ll have to keep it at that. Q: Hi. I also have a question. That is, if the war continues, will Russia change its public policy with other developing countries, like Malaysia or India? Will they cooperate together to solve their current issues, or they will take other actions? Thanks. SAROTTE: All right. Well, thank you, UCL, for making a good showing there. You can check off British summertime. Let me—first, let me say—so, the second question first was Russia and its attitude towards developing countries. Obviously, because Russia is now decoupling itself, and also being decoupled from, the Western economy, that increases the importance to Russia of countries that are not in Europe, countries that are not in the United States, and so forth. So there is new leverage now for basically other countries. Obviously, , I wouldn’t call China a developing country, but obviously China and India have enormous leverage right now with Russia. So in a sense, there’s a kind of recalibration happening in the international system as the energy and economic ties between Europe are being cut, it’s then going to be creating newer ties or stronger ties to developing countries. So there’s a large realignment going on. Again, as with the previous question from Manuel, it’s a little early to foresee the outcome, but it’s clear that process is underway. And then the previous question about without Russia, how can Europe solve its energy problem, that’s obviously the right question. The Europeans have had now a lot of this calendar year to think about that. So one of the self-harming choices that Putin made was to play his energy card too early. In other words, he started threatening and actually cutting off supplies—energy supplies—to Europe in the early spring, when the invasion didn’t end in three days, as he hoped. And that actually gave Europeans the whole summer to start to make plans, to try to find alternatives, to do things like build floating harbors to get liquefied natural gas to their customers, to find alternative sources. The sense, for example, from Germany, which is a country where I was recently, is that while it might be a difficult winter, no one is going to freeze. The supplies will be enough. There might—they’re not going to be able to keep lights on, perhaps, in stores in the evening, and maybe the Christmas markets won’t be as bright, but no one is going to freeze. And they’re ready for it. And that feeling seems to cover other European countries as well. And if there are some difficulties, people are ready for that. And, as I said before, this will be the last winter where Russia will able to threaten to put Europe in the dark and in the cold. And renewables are going to come online in a major way. Germany had to reverse course on some of its use of coal. It’s also has to reverse course on cutting down some nuclear plants. There is going to be a shifting, but it will—Europe will be able to provide for its essential energy needs. There may be some non-essential things that go away, but Europe will make sure that nobody freezes. And I couldn’t quite hear the first question, but I understand there are other questioners, so you’ll forgive me if I pass on the first question and move onto the next questioner. But thank you for ticking off the British summertime box. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go next to Zachary Hammerschmidt. Q: Hi. I’m Zach Hammerschmidt from Mankato State—Minnesota State University in Mankato. So my question to you is: Should we be viewing this more of a continuation of the Cold War? Proxy wars have been more noticeable of late—as in Syria and the Ukraine, with NATO’s influence. And if so, wouldn’t the expansion of NATO into Scandinavia and our support of Ukraine as a pro-Western democracy further exacerbate the problem with Russian aggression? Because that definitely does mimic Putin’s rhetoric, of late. SAROTTE: OK. OK. Are you Central time? Q: Yes. SAROTTE: All right. We can tick off Central time. Excellent. Very good. All right, so, all right, Zachary, thank you for your question. Historical question. I love it. I’m a historian, so history, the one true discipline. All your political science students out there, nobody’s perfect. All right. So, yeah, Cold War. That whole thing has really come up again. My colleague, Stephen Kotkin, the author of the biography of Stalin, has recently said—I think actually in Foreign Affairs, Irina, I think, or at a Foreign (Affairs) event—that the Cold War never ended. That it’s been continuing. That we are kidding ourselves that we had a break in it. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that. I believe that we are once again now in cold war-like conditions. But in contrast to my colleague, Stephen Kotkin—I disagree with him with great hesitation—but I believe that the thaw between the last Cold War and this new cold war was real. The problem is that cold wars are not short-lived affairs. So thaws are precious. And neither Russia nor the West made the best use of the thaw that we had, that is now over. For example, it would have been wonderful if there had been more progress on disarmament than there was. That didn’t happen. It would have been wonderful if it had lasted longer. That didn’t happen. This indeed is what I investigate in my book, Not One Inch. So since I know this is not meant to be a seven hour, or an eleven hour event, I’m not meant to cover all the time zones, I won’t describe all the arguments in my book right here. But if you are interested, you can definitely look at it more. I think what has happened is we—the Cold War ended. We had a genuine moment where it would have been possible to establish lasting cooperation. I know there are other people who think differently, but I believe that there was a real moment of optimism. Perhaps that’s because I experienced some of it personally. I was studying abroad in West Berlin in 1989. That is ultimately the reason I do what I do. That is the reason why I became a historian, why I am interested in Cold War history, the history of the end of the Cold War, the history of what is happening now, because of the experiences that I had living in West Berlin and traveling behind the Iron Curtain and then, obviously, the experience of seeing that Iron Curtain open, unexpectedly. So I think that there was a genuine thaw. I do not agree with Stephen Kotkin. I do think, as I was saying before, that we are spinning back up to cold war-like conditions, but with some important differences. There are important differences both in the surrounding structure and context, and there are important individual differences. And the surrounding structure and context, obviously the previous Cold War was a lot more bipolar, Moscow-Washington. Now China’s a much—a major player, certainly in economic terms, also in military terms. So that is different. There are just—India, Brazil—it’s not as bipolar as it was. It's also not an ideological conflict. Putin is not a communist. He’s far too rich for that. (Laughs.) He’s not trying to restore communism. So I grant that there are many, many differences to the previous Cold War. And yet, the key factor of the previous Cold War was the rise of this thermonuclear conflict—a potential thermonuclear conflict between Washington and Moscow which, to repeat, would be a civilization-ending conflict. It would kill most life on Earth. That, for me, is a significant threshold in history. We crossed that with the development of thermonuclear weapons. And so that nuclear conflict between Washington and Moscow is, to me, what defines the Cold War, what made it unique and different from previous eras. The fact that we are now once again talking about a nuclear conflict at that level—again, I hope very much this does not happen, but the rhetoric is bad—means that we are once again having a cold war. And then, as you mentioned, Zachary, there’s also this idea of proxy wars. That there is a stalemate between Washington and Moscow directly, or Moscow and NATO countries, but then there are other countries where there is hot war, not cold war. The Cold War is a bit of a misnomer. There’s an excellent book by Paul Chamberlin called The Cold War Killing Fields. Talks about all of the people who died in hot wars during the Cold War. And so, yes, you’re right to say we’re seeing this phenomenon again of a stalemate between Moscow and Washington, for now, but with a lot of bloodshed and fighting in a proxy war situation. And then, to get to the last part of your question about NATO enlargement, I think that you have to differentiate sharply between peacetime and wartime. So as you’ll see, if you have a look at my book, I am not an opponent of NATO enlargement, right? If you’re looking for the person who says everything that’s happened is NATO’s fault, that’s John Mearsheimer. That’s not me. So you can ask Irina to organize an educator’s event with John Mearsheimer and have at him. I am not opposed to NATO enlargement. I think the problem with NATO enlargement was how it happened. There were ways not to leave Ukraine in the lurch, for example. There were alternatives known at the time, that I describe in my book. And I wish that those alternatives had dominated, those alternative methods of enlarging NATO. NATO enlargement was not one thing. There were multiple possibly ways to expand it known at the time, including ways that would have involved Ukraine. And I wish that those had happened. So I think how it happened was problematic. But—and this is a big but—my criticism referred to this peaceful thaw that I genuinely believe was a real thaw, a real opportunity for cooperation between the last Cold War and the one we’ve got coming up. That time has changed. We are now in a time of war. War changes everything. So now that we’ve seen that Putin will know no limits, that Putin will respond only to force, now that we’ve seen the brutality of what happened in Bucha, now that we’re uncovering the atrocities every time Ukraine liberates another city, now we need wartime actions. It’s clear that what we need to do now is to defend Ukraine, to make it clear either to Putin or people around Putin that there is no point in continuing this conflict, and to try to somehow move beyond this bloodshed. And in the first instance, that requires showing as much military resolve as possible. And, as I said, also, in response to an earlier question, that also shows playing up alliance unity, creating new opportunities for people to join, like Sweden and Finland. So in the context of the war, now that we are in war, I think that it is the right and appropriate thing for NATO to keep enlarging and for it to push back forcefully against Putin to hopefully get back to a place where we’re not in wartime, we’re in peacetime, and then diplomacy can take over again. FASKIANOS: Great. So we did have a written question from Gail Evans, who’s at Georgia Tech, who referenced—and I don’t know if you saw it—the event that CFR hosted with Dr. Henry Kissinger, Mary, in which he suggested that we needed to be aware of how the Ukraine war ended would determine whether Russia was the far end of the West or the beginning of the East. And she wondered what your reaction is to that. SAROTTE: Hmm, interesting. So, no, I did not see that event. I mean, obviously Henry Kissinger is very—is a smart man. I think whether Russia is the far end of the West or the near end of the East is up to the Russians. So I don’t know that it is in our hands to decide that. I’m also not sure that’s a meaningful distinction. Obviously, there’s a lot of countries between Europe and China. So what about them? I would—but I do agree with him, absolutely, that the way this war ends is of monumental significance. The problem is, it’s hard to say how it will end. We can talk about how it won’t end, right? So, for example, it’s not going to end with Putin saying, oh, I don’t know what got into me, sorry. And everyone saying, OK, no problem, let’s go back to where we were before February, 24, 2022. That is not going to happen. I mean, even if—I said this in a television interview recently—even if—and this is not going to happen. But even if we get off this Zoom and we find that somehow, miraculously, while we’ve been on the Zoom, Putin said: You know, what? Forget it. Let’s stop this sill invasion. Call it off. That’s not happening. And even if it did, no one is going back, right? No one is going to say, oh, OK, all right. Let’s, you know, start the oil flowing again. I mean, even though despite there’s holes in the pipelines now. This is a real breaking point in history. So the question is, how is the war going to end? And it will be something new. I don’t know what it will be. It could be worse. But it will be something new. Russia, as I said, has been largely decoupled from the Western economy. That’s not going to change immediately. There will be questions, obviously, huge questions, about the internal domestic politics in Russia. It seems that Putin has decided to really attach his fate to the fate of this war, which is yet another tragic decision. He seems to have foreclosed other options for himself. So it’s not clear—it is not clear to me how this war ends. But it is clear to me that it will be hugely significant. And so I would agree with Dr. Kissinger that how this war ends is hugely significant. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go next to Konstantin Tkachuk. Please excuse my pronunciation. Q: Yeah. Thank you a lot also from myself. My name is Konstantin. I’m coming from—I’m half Russian, half Ukrainian. And that’s a very insightful talk for me. I’m dialing from Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. SAROTTE: All right, Chinese time zones. Excellent. All right. All right. Very good. (Laughs.) Q: And my question is, we provide well—or somehow covered already the topic of the war and what is happening in the short term. I’m more curious that, given the situation will resolve in some time which we obviously cannot predict right now, and the war was definitely a political suicide for the current government in Russia, what do you think would be the settlement process worldwide for Russia, given the size of Russian resource markets, given the need in those resource markets still in many other countries, and the remaining impact on the various other industries? So how would you, from a historical perspective, see that? SAROTTE: Hmm, OK. Well, first of all, so thank you for adding the Chinese time zone. Secondly, thank you for sharing your personal background. I hope that your family members are safe. And I’m so sorry about the experiences that the Ukrainian side of your family is obviously going through. On your third point, your statement that this war was political suicide for the current Russia regime, I wish that were obviously true. I hope that will be true. I hope that we are approaching the post-Putin moment. It is not yet clear to me, however, that Putin has committed political suicide. When you’ve had a country in personal rule for decades, as he has—or, let me put it this way—when you’ve been at the top of a country for decades and you have created a situation of personal rule, you’ve established deep roots through the institutions of loyalties and supporters. Obviously, there’s no longer freedom of the press, there’s no longer freedom of association. And among the tragic effects of the war for Russia is that it has caused mass flight of people who might have led opposition. So certainly the outbreak of the war caused journalists and other writers to flee because the use of the word “war” was criminalized, and so their writing could have landed them in jail. More recently, the botched efforts at mobilization have caused some enormous number of young Russian men to leave Russia, as I’m sure you know. I haven’t—it seems like there are estimates that are bouncing around, but it looks like the number is clearly in the hundreds of thousands. So I’ve seen estimates that as many as half a million Russian men have fled the country because of the mobilization. So in a system that already has a dearth of venues to express opposition, to call for change, the war has depleted the supply of people who might be brave enough or inclined enough to make those calls. So it’s not clear to me that in domestic Russian terms Putin has committed political suicide. I think what has happened is grim for Russia as a country, as I said at the outset. I think as the global impact and influence of this war grows, the global impact and influence of Russia declines. I think many of the people around Putin are starting to realize they may be living in a very large version of North Korea. But again, the leader of North Korea has held on for a long time. So it’s not clear to me that this is political suicide for Putin. That then relates to the second part of your question, which is, you know, what kind of settlement comes out of this. And this goes back to the earlier question we had about, you know, the ICC and holding Russia accountable. You wisely mentioned, Konstantin, Russia’s resources. Obviously, Russia’s resources—its oil, its gas, and so forth—along with its strategic nuclear power, give it a certain weight in the international system. Russia is just simply too big to ignore, right? Before the war broke out I would often go to give talks and I would say: You know, there’s growing tensions with Russia, and they really worry me. And I would often face audiences who would say, well, why does Russia matter? It has the economy—it only has the economy the size of a small Chinese province or Spain. And I would respond, well, number one, Spain’s economy is not that small. And, number two, Russia’s a strategic nuclear power, right? That doesn’t change whether its economy is the size of Spain or not. So, you know, can’t just ignore Russia. It’s just too big and too nuclear to ignore. So it’s not as if the world is just going to be able to ignore Russia. There will, as you rightly said, have to be some kind of settlement. But as I’ve said with some of the other previous questions, I think we’re in a moment of contingency right now. And I think it would be—I’d be lying if I said, oh, I know absolutely what’s going to happen. It’s clear there is going to have to be a settlement. It’s clear Russia is just too big a factor, a player in the international system to simply write off. But what kind of settlement is going to come is going to depend on whether this really does turn out to be political suicide for Putin or not. And I don’t think that that is clear yet. But thank you for the insightful question. And thank you for adding in some Chinese time zones to this call. FASKIANOS: I’m going to go next to Zinadid Simpson Crasiyah (ph). Q: Hi. Good afternoon and thank you for this talk, Professor. I am a law student at the University of Oklahoma. I had a question regarding one of the articles you attached in your invitation to this, The World Putin Wants. And I was particularly interested in the talk about Putin’s influence on the global south and, as the article described it, the rest of the developing world, and how he has been winning the information war with them. So my question is, how does the West, the global west and I guess the United States, fight the information war if they’ve already started doing that? And how that could, in a sense, resolve at least some issues? SAROTTE: Hmm, yeah, all right. So, excellent. University of Oklahoma. I’m guessing Central time, yes? Q: Yes. Yes. SAROTTE: All right. Central time. All right. We’ve got another good—(inaudible)—from Central time. All right. Yeah, so the—I’m trying to remember how old that article is, I can’t remember exactly. I don’t think right now people would say Putin is winning the global information war. I think that headline has to go to the Ukrainians, right? Pro tip, don’t go to war against a very online comedian who knows how to communicate effectively. The Ukrainians have used information warfare very, very skillfully. As they should. They are at war. Again, wartime is different than peacetime. And so the terms of the information war have shifted greatly since that article was written. Obviously, another big factor, which is a little bit outside the topic here for us today but is worth mentioning, is the impact of, of course, the Chinese in the global south, the Belt and Road Initiative, their actions there. That, I think, has had much—had had more traction than the Russian approaches, and especially now because of the war Russia, as I—sort of just come back to my theme—Russia’s global influence is, I would submit, declining. So I think if that article were written today, it would have a little bit of a different focus. But that is a little bit outside of the area that we’re focusing on today. But thank you for the question. FASKIANOS: Mary, there are a lot of questions about China. So I guess maybe just to talk a little bit. You know, Russia’s relations with China, with a view to its global influence, and given its growing—China’s growing bargaining power. What opportunities does this create for China to reshape the power dynamic? And do you see this as a factor pressuring Russia to find an offramp? SAROTTE: Yeah. All right. We’re just going to assume that was, you know, questions from eleven time zones here and tick them all off here, as we wrap up. Yeah. So I actually—on the subject of Moscow’s relationship with Beijing, I co-authored an article with Sergey Radchenko for Foreign Affairs. So for those of you who are interested, please search—I don’t know, maybe one of the staff here could put it in the chat or, you know, the link to it. Sergey Radchenko and I, a colleague of mine at SAIS who is actually himself, Konstantin, he’s actually Russian-Ukrainian as well. We looked at historical parallels to the current relationship between Moscow and Beijing. And Sergey and I, we saw a cautionary tale. It’s a tale of a country that supported its crumbling neighbor in an effort to menace a smaller power. And in historical terms, that was rising Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, supported the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire, attacking Serbia. That did not end well for imperial Germany. That ended in World War I, which dragged down Germany as well. Germany, at the end—at the beginning of the 20th century was on course to be the dominant industrial military technological power of the century. If you at the beginning of the 20th century had tried to guess which country will dominate this century, the answer would have been Germany. And as a result of its foolish decision to support a crumbling neighbor in its effort to restore a lost empire, imperial Germany itself was dragged under. That’s not a good precedent for a current rising power, namely China, supporting a former imperial neighbor, namely Russia, trying to restore—trying to launch war and restore imperial glory in a small country, namely Ukraine. So we think that it is not wise for Beijing to be supporting Russia to the degree that it has been so far. There seem to be a lot of signs that Beijing is starting to have second thoughts itself. There seem to be a lot of signs that Beijing is trying to communicate to Putin that this war did not go well, is not going well, wrapping it up would be a good idea. I suspect that Xi Jinping regrets the statement that his partnership with Russia had no limits, made before the Olympics last fall—sorry—earlier this year. So I think the relationship between Moscow and Beijing is hugely important. As Russia gets more and more cut off from European countries, its economic relationship with China becomes more and more important. Beijing has leverage over Russia right now. Beijing is also enjoying getting, you know, gas and oil at a discount. Beijing is able to exploit Russia right now. That’s not really in Russia’s interest. So the relationship is hugely important. I hope that Beijing will continue on the trend line it is on, which is—which appears to be behind the scenes pressure on Moscow to start wrapping this up. I don’t think China, let me put it this way, would, you know, try to engage in some kind of muscular coercion of Putin. I think there are limits. But I think it’s at least—heartening is the wrong word—but less terrible if Beijing is saying to Moscow—if Xi is saying to Putin: This is really not a good idea. That’s better than what was being said earlier this year, which is, our friendship has no limits. Do whatever you want, right? So it’s an important relationship. Beijing has leverage. I hope Beijing will see that it is ultimately not in Beijing’s interest to be on the wrong side of this war. That is—I hope that very much. Again, like with so many other things, because we’re in a moment with such contingency, it’s a little bit hard to predict. But it’s definitely essential to keep an eye on Beijing and on China. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We just dropped the link to that Foreign Affairs article in the chat. So I commend it to all of you. We have so many questions, raised hands and written questions. I’m sorry we couldn’t get them all. But I’m going to reserve the right of the moderator to ask the last one. So, Mary, you did mention a little bit earlier about why you became a historian. So could you say a few words about, even if you don’t aspire to become a historian, why history is so important for all of us to have in our lives? SAROTTE: Yeah, absolutely. I believe that history is the—understanding history is the best way to prepare for the future. I don’t believe that it, or any other discipline, lets you accurately, to the last detail, predict the future. I think anyone who tells you students out there, I can predict the future, don’t believe them. But I think you can prepare for the future, right? If you think, for example, about, I don’t know what a soccer team, a football team, an American—you know, the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions, and in, you know, England it might be Manchester United. The fact that they hold a practice on—you know, in advance of the big game does not guarantee that they will win the game, but it greatly increases the chances, right? The fact, to use another example, that a pilot might spend many hours in a flight simulator before actually getting into a cockpit does not mean that the pilot will do everything personally—that he or she will do everything personally—but it does greatly increase the chances, right? And so, similarly, I would like to leave students with this thought. History doesn’t provide us with clear and obvious lessons, a clear, you know, checklist of what to do. But it does greatly increase the chances that we can meet the challenges that are coming. And, sadly, we are, once again, in an era of some very, very dangerous challenges—indeed, potentially existential challenges—for our planet. So I’ve been making a joke of it, but it actually really does mean a lot to me that the students have called in from around the globe to talk about these issues, because our globe needs you and needs your efforts to keep us away from disaster. So thank you for calling in to think about this, and helping create a global community to talk about these issues. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Well, thank you, Mary, for this terrific hour, and to all the students and professors who are trying to get everybody interested in history on the call. We appreciate your participation and I’m sorry, again, that we couldn’t get to all your questions. Again, I commend Mary’s book to you, Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate. And we will keep an eye on those book prizes. Hope you are the winner. So the next Academic Webinar will be on Wednesday, October 26, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. Zongyuan Zoe Liu, fellow for international political economy here at CFR, will talk about global economics. And in the meantime, please do check out our CFR fellowships for educators at The deadline for that is October 31. It IS a unique opportunity to come to the Council for nine months, or to go work in the government. Follow @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit,, and for research and analysis on global issues. So again, thank you all for being with us. Thank you, Professor Mary Elise Sarotte. And we look forward to having your join us again in a couple of weeks. SAROTTE: Sounds great. Bye-bye. FASKIANOS: Bye. (END)
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    Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator of the White House national monkeypox response, and Jeremy Youde, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth, discuss the emergence of monkeypox and other diseases, international responses, and messaging around health issues that especially affect the LGBTQ+ community. Jennifer Nuzzo, senior fellow for global health at CFR, moderates. Learn more about CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Program. FASKIANOS: Thank you, and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations Social Justice Webinar series. The purpose of this series is to explore social justice issues and how they shape policy at home and abroad through discourse with members of the faith community. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. As a reminder, this webinar is on the record, and it will be made available on CFR’s website,, and on the iTunes podcast channel, “Religion and Foreign Policy.” As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Jennifer Nuzzo, senior fellow for global health at CFR, to moderate today’s discussion on infectious diseases. Dr. Nuzzo is a senior fellow for global health here at CFR. She’s also a professor of epidemiology and the inaugural director of the Pandemic Center at Brown University’s School of Public Health. Her work focuses on global health security, public health preparedness and response, and health systems resilience. In addition to her research, she directs the Outbreak Observatory, which conducts operational research to improve outbreak preparedness and response. And she advises national governments, and for-profit and non-profit organizations on pandemic preparedness and response, and worked tirelessly during the COVID pandemic to advise and tell people what was going on, to the extent that we knew, as we made our way through this two-and-a-half-year pandemic. So, Jennifer, I’m going to turn it over to you to introduce our speakers. NUZZO: Great. Thank you, Irina. Thanks for that introduction and thanks for organizing this webinar today. I’m very glad that we’re having this conversation. As someone who’s worked in infectious diseases for my entire career, I have found the last few years to be particularly staggering. I was looking, and as of today there are more than 616 million cases of COVID-19 that have been reported globally, upwards of 6.5 million diagnosed deaths that have been reported worldwide. At the same time, we are also seeing a global surge in cases of monkeypox, a disease that many hadn’t heard of prior to this past year. And now we are over 66,000 cases that have been reported globally, more than 25,000 of those reported here in the United States alone. At the same time, successive outbreaks of Ebola have been occurring, and we have measles once again on the rise. And now vaccine-derived polio circulating in countries where the virus had been previously thought to be eliminated. So it’s really a staggering list of infectious diseases that have been occurring and continue to occur. So clearly, we’re at an important crossroads in terms of how we respond to these recurring hazards and infectious disease emergencies. But today we get to zoom out a little bit, and to examine factors that they may have all in common, and to try to understand what may be driving these—the recurrence of these events over and over again. So over the past few years we have seen the consequences of social, economic, and racial inequities play out center stage. These factors have underpinned not only our underlying vulnerabilities to infectious diseases, but also how effectively we respond to them. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. And to help discuss these issues we are joined by two globally renowned experts who have a long history in working to address infectious disease threats and the disparities that accelerate them. Our first panelist is Dr. Demetre Daskalakis. Dr. Daskalakis is the deputy coordinator of the White House national monkeypox response. Prior to this role, he served as director of CDC’s division of HIV prevention. And prior to that, oversaw infectious diseases for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which is one of the largest health departments in the nation and rivals the WHO in terms of staff and budgets. So Dr. Daskalakis is a leading national expert on many things, but also in particular health issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ communities. And he has worked clinically for much of his career to focus on providing care for these communities. We are also joined by Dr. Jeremy Youde, who is the dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Previously, Dr. Youde was an associate professor in the department of international relations at Australia National University in Canberra. Dr. Youde is an internationally recognized expert on global health politics. And he is a very prolific writer. He has written five books, and many chapters, and countless articles. I recently read a very compelling blog post by him on our own CFR’s Think Global Health. So really excited to get both Dr. Youde and Dr. Daskalakis’s perspectives on the issues in front of us. So I will get the conversation started. We have a lot of great attendees, and we’ll have time for questions. But just to get the conversation going, let’s see here. Maybe first, if I could turn to you, Dr. Demetre. For those who haven’t been living in the monkeypox data as much as you have, perhaps you could just give us a quick summary of where we are and where you see us being headed. DASKALAKIS: Thank you. And thank you for having me. I’m really excited to join Jeremy and to be a part of this discussion. So living in the data is, in fact, what I do. So I’ll tell you, so monkeypox—I’ll give a little key bit of background just for everyone to be level-set—is an orthopoxvirus, that is a virus that causes disease, transmitted usually from animals to humans. Usually, traditionally, not a lot of human-to-human transmission. This current outbreak in 2020, global in scale, with 66,500 cases reported internationally, actually demonstrates pretty good human-to-human transmission, often in the setting of close contact, often associated with sexual activity, and the majority of cases being among men who have sex with men—the vast majority, over 96 percent. In the U.S., at this moment, we have 25,300 cases. I can tell you right up to the moment. And so we continue to see increases in cases in the United States, but we’re seeing a deceleration in the rate of increase. So cases are stilling being logged. We used to see kind of around four hundred cases per day. We’re now more on the order of two hundred or below and continue to see that trend going in a good direction with more data imminently coming to the website of CDC later on today. Again, just briefly, the demographic, majority male, mainly men who have sex with men—the gay, bisexual, other men who have sex with men. Looking at the demographics, at the beginning of the outbreak in May, the majority of cases were among white men. And now we’re seeing about 68 percent of those cases are happening in Latino or Black men. From the perspective of that measure as well we’ve seen a significant increase in vaccinations. So we can talk—we’re going to talk more about that, I’m sure. But really with lots of strategies to increase vaccine supply. We are now well over eight hundred thousand vaccines administered. There is an inequity there as well. The majority of vaccines are going to white men. And we’re seeing Latino men and Black men in second and third place, respectively, in terms of vaccines administered. Jennifer, I hope that that’s a good situation summary to start off with. NUZZO: Yeah, great summary. Thank you so much. That helped kind of bring everybody to the same—somewhat same level. Just a quick follow-up question for you. There have been a lot of headlines about the important progress we’ve made, and the fact that the global monkey—or, sorry—the monkeypox cases seem to be coming down in terms of numbers. Question: Are you seeing similar trends for all demographics? Or are you concerned that perhaps the large numbers are hiding increased transmission in other groups? DASKALAKIS: I had to fix the mute. There we go. So I think what we’ve seen is that the declines are looking to be even across population. So that’s good news. Again, the vaccine equity is our main issue right now in terms of where we’re—where that’s stubborn right now, and really thinking about strategies to improve that. We had a lot of news today, which I’m sure we’ll be able to talk about some of the strategies that we have to address that. But so I think there’s no clear sign that the deceleration is different in different populations. Geographically, however, it is different. And so that’s, I think, one place where—the jurisdictions that have had the greatest and longest experience with this outbreak, so the most cases, are also the jurisdictions that have access to the most vaccines. So whether it’s because of behavior change that we’re seeing, which is definitely something that we, I imagine, could talk about here as well, or natural infections plus vaccine-induced immunity, I think the places that have had more experience are showing deceleration faster. So New York, California, Texas, and Georgia are looking down, while some of the places where the outbreak is newer and they’ve also had less access and time for vaccines, those places are showing an increase. We’re going to get an update of this, this week. So this is based on data that’s about a month old. So soon we’re going to have a new view into how this deceleration or acceleration looks like, jurisdiction by jurisdiction. NUZZO: Great. Thank you. Maybe turn to you, Dr. Youde. You’ve been an important voice about the global dimensions of the monkeypox crisis. And I’m just curious where you think we are globally. And I referenced in introducing you that piece that you wrote on Think Global Health that I thought was—made a quite compelling argument about the role of WHO and where you see the response needing to go. Do you want to maybe elaborate on those points for people who haven’t had a chance to read your article? YOUDE: Sure. Thank you for the question, and thanks for organizing this. I’m honored to be part of this event. And, picking up on some of what you were talking about and what Demetre was just talking about as well, we do see these inequities that exist, especially when we’re looking worldwide. The World Health Organization did declare monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. And while it doesn’t necessarily come with automatic funding or programmatic resources, it does raise the profile. It does put this on the global health agenda and say: This is something we need to be paying attention to. In the piece I described it as the WHO’s bat signal. We’re sending out the message: This is something that we need to pay attention to. But one of the things I think is frustrating about the WHO response, and just sort of the global community’s response to monkeypox in general, is that monkeypox isn’t a new disease. This is a disease that we’ve known about in human cases since 1970. Laurie Garrett in her book, The Coming Plague, which came out in ’94—which is one of the books I think a lot of us who are probably about a similar age read in our early, formative days as we were coming into global health and global health politics—she talks about it in that book. And if you look at the data that we have, we’ve been seeing increases in monkeypox cases in humans in countries where monkeypox was endemic for about the last decade or so. And so—but what really caught the international community’s attention was then when it came to the Global North, when it came to the industrialized countries. And that helps to reinforce some of these questions about what is the nature of our real concern about global health? Is it about health in this very broad mandate, like the World Health Organization has as part of its constitutional mandate, to be this international coordinating body? Or is the sense that we, in the Global North, want to keep the diseases from the Global South coming to affect us? And there are similar sorts of issues when we’re looking at vaccine equity and vaccine access, when we’re looking globally. And, there have certainly been some problems here in the United States, getting access to the vaccine. But, I was able to get vaccinated against monkeypox. Yeah, I had to drive two and a half hours to Minneapolis to do it, but I was able to do it. And I was able to arrange it. People in countries where monkeypox is endemic have little to no access to these vaccines. And it raises some of the questions then, again, about how the international system and the global health governance systems that we have in place—how they can address some of these equity challenges? Because in many ways, outbreaks like monkeypox, they glom onto the societal and social cleavages that exist, and help to reinforce and exacerbate them, but also provide this opportunity for us to really put some of our ideals and our promises around social justice, around a cosmopolitan view of understanding that we are all healthier if we are all healthier. And really put those into practice, if we have the political and economic will to do so. And that’s where—that’s one of the areas where I get a bit concerned right now. I know we’re all exhausted talking about COVID-19 and about monkeypox, and all of these sorts of outbreaks. Jennifer, I know you’ve been doing a lot of this. Demetre, obviously, you’ve been on the frontlines. I’ve been doing some of this work as well. But when we lose that attention, sometimes we lose then that motive—that momentum in the political system to try to address some of these challenges and these shortfalls that we have identified. So, I can be a critic of the World Health Organization, but I also recognize that the World Health Organization is a creature of its member states. And so, it’s really incumbent upon the member states to really put some action behind their words. And to say: If we want to have a more effective response, we need to build systems that are going to be able to respond better than this. NUZZO: Thank you for that. It’s a good segue to what I wanted to talk about next, which is the title of this webinar being about social justice. And those who’ve worked in public health, the notion that social justice has a role to play in reducing our vulnerability to infectious disease is quite clear. But I’m aware, particularly over watching—(laughs)—the national political debate over the last several years that those outside of public health may not recognize the connection between our vulnerability to infectious diseases and social justice. And they may be dismissive of the idea that public health authorities should be engaged in the work of social justice. So this is actually a question for you both. And maybe reflect on monkeypox or your long experience of other infectious disease threats that you’ve worked to address. And what would you say to folks that just don’t understand why public health should be concerned with social justice, and what role do you think it has to play going forward? And maybe we’ll turn back to you after Demetre. DASKALAKIS: Do you want Jeremy to go or do you want me to go first? NUZZO: Go ahead. YOUDE: Go for it. Go for it. I’ll let you start. DASKALAKIS: All right. So I’ll put my very strong HIV hat on, because that’s sort of where I come from. And I’ll start that this is a forty-one—a forty-two, almost, year-old lesson that I think we’ve seen play out over and over again, which is that really the social determinants of health are actually what drive infection. So there are countermeasures that can work. There’s vaccines. There’s drugs. There’s pre-exposure prophylactics, post-exposure prophylactics. It doesn’t matter. The social determinants are really what ultimately ends up blocking us from being able to implement the full vision of what we know we can from the perspective of medical technology and public health. And so I think that at the end of the day that implementation piece is so critical. So much technology can exist, so many interventions can be designed, but they sit on the shelf unless there’s both the political and social will to move them forward. And so I think I should put that HIV hat there for a second, because in environments where there is less political and social will we tend to see HIV flourish. And in places where there is social and political will, we tend to see HIV not do so well from the perspective—or, in other words, we will do well because of less incidents and prevalence. So I think that sort of looking at that will is so critical. I’ll give you a story from monkeypox which I think is really important, that is about the sort of CDC response. I got pulled in really early on, before the first case actually hit the United States. One of the very early conversations that we had with the response is that we need to expect that we’re going to have inequities that are going to be a part of this. And I think that’s based on lessons from COVID, and lessons from HIV, and lessons from so many other infections. I think we really worked to make equity the cornerstone of the response. But even when you do that, it is an all-of-society thing that needs to happen, and not just something that is mediated simply by a public health department or a public health agency. Over. YOUDE: And if I can take that public health hat and HIV hat that you had on, and I’ll wear it myself. I got into this line of work through working on HIV/AIDS issues in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and seeing how those sorts of societal cleavages played a role, but then also how infectious disease outbreaks, and the spread of HIV was glomming into these other issues around democratization, around building societies that were going to be equitable, that were going to be able to fulfill the promises that governments had made to their populations. And seeing how a disease like this was thwarting that progress. So it’s something that is not just unique to the United States. It’s something that we see globally. From a very instrumental perspective we can say, look, public health is ultimately a weakest link public good. Everyone is still at risk, so long as risks still exist. So we need to reach out to those places which might have fewer resources, which might not have the same sorts of ability to implement these sorts of programs, because ultimately that’s going to make us all healthier. And I think there’s elements and an important role for those sorts of instrumental views of public health. But I also think about the recently passed Paul Farmer, and his notion of public health, especially his idea around the preferential option for the poor, which was kind of a double-edge sword. Because on the one hand he was saying, look, the people who are disenfranchised within societies, those are the people who are the most vulnerable to these infectious disease outbreaks. Those are the people who are at the greatest risk. But also, we need to think about our programs, we need to think about our interventions putting those people first, thinking about equity. Putting that not as an afterthought or something that we think about five, six, seven steps down the road, but it needs to be central, and it needs to be core. Because, again, if we’re not taking equity seriously and we’re not really putting this into everything that we’re doing, then we’re just reinforcing these sorts of divisions and, again, providing these opportunities and these outlets where diseases can thrive. And so, to just cosign what Demetre was saying we can have all the technologies we want. And I have all my criticisms about the way that the access to pharmaceuticals and drug interventions exist on a global level, and questions about compulsory licensing and all these sorts of things. Those are all important, but those are secondary in a lot of respects if we don’t have the underlying core infrastructure in place. And that core infrastructure, even if it’s not touching us in a direct way, does have an effect on our ability to stay healthy. DASKALAKIS: Could I—this is a fun one. Could I keep going a little bit longer on this? NUZZO: Please do, yeah. DASKALAKIS: This is a great, stimulative conversation on this. And along with what ends up being both the foundation of the issue as well as the deeper foundation, the way that all of these social issues interact with stigma, like I think we’ve seen in fast-forward with monkeypox. Like all the things that we saw with HIV and other infections and COVID—today, for instance—this is a really good example. So, we’re giving the vaccines and right now they’re going on people’s forearms. Which means that literally some people will have a mark on their forearm. So talking about stigma—literally stigma. And so, we changed it so that individuals can elect to get the vaccine on their shoulder or on their back. So we have people who want vaccines but are saying, I don’t want to be marked by this. I don’t want to have the sort of—someone know that I am someone who’s potentially identifying myself as part of a group at risk. And so it interacts exactly with the social determinants. Whether it’s poverty, transportation, racism, all of it interacts in a way where these sort of more brass-tacks economic issues interact with these very profound stigma issues and create barriers where even if you do have great access—I’ll give an example again. [The] Ryan White [program] is really great access for people for HIV medication, but we still don’t have everybody in the country—(inaudible)—right? So why is that? It’s partially access, but it’s also that the systems are built to sort of maintain structures of stigma and structures of inequity that are really hard to overcome, even with things that provide access. NUZZO: So I was actually going to ask you about stigma. So thank you for segueing to it. And I seems to me that—and I don’t have the HIV hat to wear, like you both do. But studying events that we typically think about in the field of health security—which is a field that sort of struggles to incorporate the forty-plus year lessons that HIV has learned—is that it is clear that stigma is an issue in nearly every single event. Any time we have particularly a new infectious disease, or something that’s unusual, society seems to look for some group to blame. But what it seems, though, is that while there’s an increasing recognition of the importance of stigma, it doesn’t seem like we have great strategies for addressing it. And I guess I’m wondering, do you agree? And also, what practically can and should we be doing to address stigma? I really saw us struggle with this. I mean, we had a recognition of it as being important in monkeypox, but I feel that the absence of clear ways to deal with it really led us to struggle to talk about monkeypox, and who was at risk, and how people could protect themselves. So what should we be doing going forward not just for monkeypox but future threats, so that we don’t get hobbled by—first of all, that we can minimize or tackle stigma, but also don’t get hobbled by it? Whoever wants to chime in. (Laughs.) DASKALAKIS: So this is back to the HIV hat. This is the tightrope that we walk every day in HIV. And I think that the lesson actually—well, one of the first lessons that’s important, sort of sitting on the government side of the world, is that government needs to lead, and governmental public health needs to lead, so that its messaging does not propagate stigma. That’s very important. Because whether people like governmental public health or not, or have complaints about it, ultimately people do look to governmental public health—like CDC, local health departments—to really fine-tune their own messaging, and then translate that messaging not just to another language but translate it so the populations that people work with actually understand. And so I think monkeypox was actually a kind of exciting example, where from the very beginning of the response it was a how can we take an anti-stigma stance in how we messaged it? And so the balance really then depended on the data. And so that’s what was really important. So it was starting with imperfect data, and as the data became more and more clear, making sure that the messaging evolved in a way that addressed what you were actually seeing epidemiologically without necessarily—without creating a scenario where you’re pinning infection, a virus, on a population. Let me give you an example since, Jennifer, you say your HIV hat isn’t as strong as ours. So in the ’80s, when HIV started, before it was HIV it was gay-related immunodeficiency. So that lesson was the lesson that was so important in the work that we did with monkeypox, to start off by saying: This is a virus that can affect anyone. But we’re seeing this virus more in this population. As opposed to saying: This is this population’s virus. And so it’s leading by that example. And it’s one of those things that we can raise up and say: We have learned the lesson from this forty-two years ago, and we’re not doing it this way again. And so with that said, I think that there’s a lot of strategies that can address stigma. And a lot of that has to do with communications, using trusted messengers. So, that has been a really important part of this as well because, again, working in public health I would love if everybody listened to public health data. So providing good communications to individuals who are trusted messengers is really important. And also, part of the propagating stigma is also being clear about what data is, things that we fully know and things that we’re still learning. Because that really allows that risk communication so that you don’t over-select or too rapidly move a response into what population, as opposed to being broad. So as you learn more data—so, for us, our guidance started off in one place about safer sex and safer gathering. As we were seeing that this was not moving throughout the different populations, it got stronger and stronger. And we really started the conversation by saying that this is guidance that’s going to change as we learn more. I think that we do have stigma mitigation strategies. But stigma’s a stubborn thing. I’ll give it over to Jeremy. YOUDE: Yeah, I would agree with everything that you said. And especially being—having that level of humility. We are still learning about this. Things are going to change. Things are going to evolve but building those sorts of trusting relationships. The other things that I would emphasize, and I think these complement what you were saying quite well, is empowering communities to speak to each other. I think one of the things that we’ve seen here in the U.S. around access to the monkeypox vaccine, and the relatively high rates of vaccination that we’ve seen, has been people talking to other people. Men who have sex with men talking to other men who have sex with men, and this becoming part of the conversation. Even if it is something at the level of, where were you able to get access to it? When supplies are limited. Just building that sort of awareness within a community can be incredibly important. I think it’s also important to make sure that we do have targeted messages. Not blaming messages, but understand that the message that just says, everyone is at risk for HIV or everyone is at risk for monkeypox, ends up falling flat and doesn’t really strike anyone. And so having that sort of targeted outreach plays an important role. But going back to this point about empowering the affected communities, one of the most powerful things that I think that I’ve seen in the work that I’ve done is looking at the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, and the work that they did, especially in the late ’90s and early 2000s, with the T-shirts that just in huge, bold letters across the chest said: HIV positive. And just having people going out there, wearing those T-shirts. The image of Nelson Mandela wearing one of those Treatment Action Campaign T-shirts is just incredibly important because, again, it’s helping to remove some of that stigma. It’s getting people who are trusted, who are respected, coming into the conversation. OK, if he’s involved in this, if he’s saying this is an important issue, maybe this is something that I need to be paying attention to. But also just trying to make that sort of availability, so that people are willing to share their experiences, or talk about what’s going on, or what worked, or what didn’t work for them. Again, these all play really important roles. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s something that we do need to keep at the forefront when these sorts of outbreaks happen. And you see some of this in some of the broader conversation around even what we call diseases, the names that we use. The fact that there is a very strong move away from geographically located names for diseases, because we don’t want to stigmatize those particular communities or people who happen to be coming from those areas. Even something like that can play a really important role in helping people to think, this is something that I need to take seriously if I’m in the United States, I need to take this seriously. Even though we’re talking about something like monkeypox, which isn’t a geographic designator but there aren’t a lot of monkeys roaming around in Minnesota. But it’s something that they should be taking seriously, because of these effects and these sorts of community-based responses that help to try to destigmatize things, encourage people to get access to vaccines, or treatments, or other sorts of options that are available to them, and start to have those conversations to empower communities. NUZZO: That’s great. I’m going to turn over to questions. And maybe participants can start putting their hands up. But while that’s happening and before I turn it over for that section of the conversation, one last question to you both. Which is, I am deeply worried that we respond to these events as these one-offs. We have an emergency, we get emergency funding, then perceptions of the emergency being over, the funding disappears, and it’s gone. And we saw that happen with COVID, where the money went away and then states had to let go their pandemic hires. And guess what? They weren’t there when monkeypox happened. So I guess the question is, how do we move away from sort of seeing these as just one-off emergencies, and moving towards a role where we create a durable sort of permanent system that’s in place to snap into action anytime there’s an event, which is happening—which we’re seeing—these events are happening with an increasing frequency? YOUDE: I’ll jump in first, Jennifer. It’s like you’re reading the paper that I’ve been working on throughout the event today. And that’s part of my concern about WHO designating this to be a public health emergency of international concern, when we’re talking about monkeypox or COVID-19 for that matter, is the emergency framework. Public health, when it’s doing its job, we don’t know about it. It’s something that—where we’re essentially trying to stop things before they reach that level of public consciousness, or stopping it really, really early in the process. And so the emergencies, they get the attention for global health but they don’t necessarily get the long-lasting system. It becomes, like, OK, whew, we got through that. We can move onto the next thing, or we can just not pay attention to global health again until the next system comes up. But at a very fundamental level we have this organization. We have the World Health Organization, which has this constitutional mandate to act as this international coordinating body for health—cross-border health issues. And it has a smaller biennial budget than many large hospital systems here in the United States. So how is it going to be able to do that sort of work when it has so few resources? Plus, given the way that the WHO is funded, it only has control over about 20 percent of its budget. The rest of it is coming through these voluntary contributions, which are generally specified for specific purposes, which may or may not align with the purposes that the WHO itself would put in place. So I think that one of the things that happens there is it behooves us, it behooves the member states to actually—to put some diplomatic and political capital behind this, to actually move on this. I have no doubt that in a few years’ time we will have some sort of after—some sort of response that will look at the response that WHO made to COVID-19. And it will bemoan the failures. And it will talk about all the things that need to change. And then it will gather dust on the bookshelf. And we will get similar sorts of things for monkeypox. And what we haven’t had is a country or a group of countries, or some sort of person with high stature, really glom onto this and be like, yes. We need to do this. This is our potential roadmap for trying to address this in the future. I—nerding out in the global health politics world—I had this idea that someone like a Helen Clark, or an Angela Merkel, someone who knows international politics, who knows the systems, who has that sort of diplomatic experience, but also is concerned about issues around health, that could be the person who could help to inspire some of these actions, and could get the attention of world leaders in a way that civil society organizations often aren’t able to do. Which is not to say anything bad about those organizations, just that there are structural problems getting the attention of world leaders, and having that sort of concentrated attention. So I think we—ultimately, we need a champion. We need a person, or a country, or a group of countries who are willing to really champion this, and go to the mat for trying to make these sorts of changes, so it isn’t just emergency, after emergency, after emergency, but something that is going to be more long lasting, that is going to provide that sort of infrastructural support, and make sure that we aren’t just lurching from here, there and everywhere, but actually can have some sort of coordinated response and something that is a bit more forward-thinking. But it’s a challenge. NUZZO: Demetre, the bullets of your bio—(laughs)—are a list of the emergency, after emergency, after emergency. So I know you have first-hand perspectives of this. So any hope we can fix it? DASKALAKIS: Sure do. (Laughter.) So, my perspective may be very domestic, but I actually think it’s not. I think when I start talking, I think it’s going to seem as if there’s also infrastructure that needs to be leveraged internationally that’s similar. Which is, I always think about what actually worked. And so one of the things that I think we’re seeing over and over again, whether it’s COVID, or monkeypox, or other outbreaks, is leveraging systems that already exist, and really figuring out how to support those systems during peacetime as well as wartime, so that it stays warm for a response. And that’s a very public health—it’s a very sort of operational, public health example. So I’m talking HIV. I’m talking chronic infections. I’m thinking domestically, we have this excellent—I think the HIV Epidemic Initiative, it’s not nationwide yet. It hasn’t been resourced to do that. But, if it were, that is a really sort of important way to be able to create and maintain an infrastructure. So thinking about sort of chronic diseases like viral hepatitis, having an infrastructure that could potentially lead to curing more people with viral hepatitis creates a system that then could be used for care and other public health delivery of countermeasures. So thinking about things that—what can we do to sort of do our peacetime work, which is around chronic infections like virus hepatitis and HIV, and what can we—and STIs, which are out of control in the United States, mainly because they’re under-resourced—but what can we do sort of to maintain sort of those systems, so that when we flip the switch from peacetime to wartime that we can pivot those resources to do the work? I’ll give an example from the research universe—monkeypox, as an example. Right now, there are studies that are going on for monkeypox vaccines and for monkeypox therapeutics. And they’re built on the networks of HIV investigators. So, HIV Vaccine Trials Network and AIDS Clinical Trials Group are currently the people that are doing those studies. And sort of research funding potentially being a bit more flexible, that pivot is possible. But what if we had similar models sort of in the operational world of public health, where you have sexual health clinics or STD clinics that are doing HIV/STD work during peacetime, but can flip into monkeypox vaccines and testing in wartime? And so it’s investing in a chronic infrastructure to be able to make it translatable into an emergency response, in a nimble way, I think is really important. And of course, I back up Jeremy. That idea of political will and leadership is really important in making sure that this sort of moves forward in a way that works. But, I mean, I say this domestically, but then one can conjure PEPFAR in terms of an infrastructure that works. So that—they have been leveraged. And so what if we worked harder to make sure that they were resourced adequately during the peacetime, so that during wartime they flip and are flipped more effective? And by the way, that HIV positive T-shirt has influenced my career, Jeremy, in terms of seeing people who were willing to put on a shirt that really works against stigma. My favorite being Annie Lennox, who I met with that T-shirt on, and I was very excited, as a fan. But definitely an important thing to reclaim that stigma. Jennifer, thank you. YOUDE: And if I can build on what Demetre was saying, think about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, and the cases that popped up in Nigeria. That led to all sorts of concern. Now you’ve got someone who has Ebola in Lagos, a city of twenty million people, and just not a city that necessarily has the sort of infrastructure in place that you’re going to think, oh, we’re going to be able to contain this. But they were able to repurpose existing programs. They were able to use measles control programs and other sorts of programs. And, using the word that we have all become way too familiar with over these past two and a half years, they pivoted, turned that into doing the surveillance and doing the contact tracing for Ebola, and were able to stop the spread, and being able to prevent that from spreading rampantly throughout one of the largest cities in the world. And I think that’s the sort of thing, you know? If we have these sorts of structures in place, we can adapt them. Even if they are for one purpose, they can be adapted for other purposes. And so it’s not that we need to recreat the wheel each time, it’s that we need to figure—we need to make sure that we’ve got enough wheels out there, essentially. DASKALAKIS: And that goes for surveillance. Maintaining good surveillance systems for chronic things means that when an acute thing comes up, that good surveillance already exists there. So not only for an operation, but also for being able to understand what’s happening with the threat. I like to call it keeping the system warm, if you think of sort of the stuff that’s happening. So when you have to heat it up, you’re not starting from—it’s not a TV dinner you’re taking out from frozen. It’s thawed already. You can move quickly. NUZZO: It’s really hard to build capacities in the midst of an emergency. So thank you for those thoughts. I am going to give others a turn to ask questions and turn it over to the question-and-answer session now. OPERATOR: Thank you. (Gives queuing instructions.) Our first question comes from Mark P. Lagon from Friends of the Global Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. LAGON: Hi, there. Thank you for this really thought-provoking forum. I come from a perspective working in the health field, but also background in human rights. I was an adjunct senior fellow at CFR, and president of Freedom House. I wonder, to take some of the points that Jennifer Nuzzo has been making and posing to you, to move to pandemic preparedness. If you have—we’ve seen that AIDS confronts one with very clear human rights and equity issues, particularly for stigmatized populations. You have a kind of a reprise with monkeypox. There was a lot of discussion about in terms of the impact of COVID and equity on vaccines. As the international community has moved to form a fund housed at the World Bank, how do you embed preparation for pandemics to have a human rights or social justice perspective? Activists really had to push hard to get two voting seats for civil society on the governing body of that fund. Thank you. NUZZO: Anyone want to take that on? (Laughs.) YOUDE: Sure. I’ll offer a few thoughts. I think this is something—again, this is something to be thinking about at this early stage. As these sorts of systems are being designed, as they’re being set up, keeping these sorts of elements important and at play. But I also think it’s important to make sure that there are multiple channels for this communication to happen. That there’s one thing to talk about formal board seats, and those are obviously important to have people at the table for these pandemic financing facilities through the World Bank and other sorts of organizations. But also make sure there are other opportunities, because new organizations may pop up. They may change. Depending on the particular circumstance or the particular outbreak that we’re talking about, there may be other groups that are being mobilized and being affected by this. And so, there needs to be a certain level of nimbleness that needs to go into this. I think it’s also something that puts a lot of—we need to put pressure on our leaders to really put their promises into action, to make sure that this isn’t just something that we have as a tick box exercise. Oh, yes, equity is important, we need to address this. But actually, that there is this ongoing pressure and this sort of check of what are we actually doing here? Are we reaching out to these communities that are being affected? How can we better do this? And so I—again, there’s an interesting moment right now that we can hopefully seize to make sure that this is something that really does get instantiated within these systems. And I hope we don’t let that moment pass. I hope we don’t decide to just we’ll go back to existing systems. Because that’s the other thing that goes along with this. It does challenge the status quo. It does challenge the sorts of standard operating procedures that we have in these organizations. And that can be challenging. That can be a difficult sort of conversation to have. And we have to be willing within our international organizations and other sorts of responses, we have to be willing to have those conversations. We have to be willing to challenge ourselves and to criticize ourselves, and to then make changes that are going to be effective. LAGON: Thank you. DASKALAKIS: I don’t have almost anything to add to what Jeremy said. I think there really—again, the political will is important. And just we’ve all experienced that U-shaped curve of concern, right, where when things are very exciting everyone is very worried and engaged, and then when it fades away, resources fade away. And what that means is the infectious disease comes back. And so it’s really—whether it’s the same or a different infectious disease, sort of keeping that momentum and having it really come both from the political piece, from organization, but also from the side of advocates and activists is really critical to keep the—to keep the energy moving and the momentum moving. We have to make sure that we come to a better place. Every event, you learn more. And so I think that even if we take a quantum leap in what preparedness looks like, whatever the next event will challenge that level of preparedness and will require us to then—to really develop systems that are—that are updated based on the experience. So I think moving the needle anywhere, but moving it in a coordinated way because of that will and that strategy is the most we could hope for and the most we should expect. Or the least that we should expect, the minimum, of being able to move to a place where we have something that is better than how we found it, and potentially more resilient in terms of a—monkeypox is minor compared to COVID, after COVID. NUZZO: Yeah. I mean, I think the more we have these events the more we learn, though it does feel to me a little bit like the more we have these events, the more we learn the same things over and over again. (Laughs.) And particularly when we’re talking about these inequities. And Jeremy pointed out about the stark inequities in terms of who’s able to access vaccines in the globe. And that was clearly something that we saw throughout much of COVID-19, still see it today. We saw it during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, in terms of who had vaccines and who didn’t. So I guess the question—and I recognize that we have just about ten minutes left, and the CFR rule is we always end on time. So I’m going to—(laughs)—I’m going to be aggressive about that. But just on that point what do we need, I think, to put into place? We talked about how there’s a pandemic fund now, which is important. But aside from money, and maybe it’s just money, what else do we need to kind of create structures to address these inequities globally? Given, Jeremy, you also made the important point about—I’ve been struck by how hard it’s been to contain monkeypox here in the U.S. But let’s say we’re successful, we’re still going to have challenges as the virus continues to circulate. So we need to make progress globally. And we need to have systems in place such that every time these emergencies happen, we don’t keep learning these same lessons over. So maybe just two or three minute each, your takeaways on what you would do to fix these problems if you were deemed in charge of the world. YOUDE: A little new world, just like that. Money is obviously important. The amount of money that we spend on development assistance for health has gone up dramatically since the early 1990s, but it still pales in comparison to the level of need. So there is just a basic resource need. The second is that we need to make sure that systems that we are building are not for specific diseases, but are things that can be flexible, things that can be adapted. We don’t want to just say: Now we’re going to set up all these monkeypox surveillance systems, when that may or may not be what is going to be the next big outbreak. So we need to have things that are going to be able to be flexible like that. Third, we need to have—we need to have a better sense of just our—I guess our international community’s willingness to engage with global health. We have the international health regulations. So we do have an international treaty that’s supposed to govern how states respond to infectious diseases and their outbreaks. But the willingness of states to abide by that varies quite dramatically. And so we need to have a big of a come-to-Jesus moment about what are we actually willing to do, when push comes to shove? And then last thing I’ll say is that I do think we need to have a conversation around access to pharmaceuticals and vaccines and other sorts of medical interventions like that. Because we know that there are inequities, and we know that oftentimes the communities that have the least access are the communities that have the highest rates of incidence or are in the most need of these sorts of things. And our structures are not really well designed for getting people access. Even though there are things like COVAX, even though there are things like PEPFAR, and all these other sorts of programs, which have done tremendous work, they are still falling short. And so we need to—we need to have a better sense of what—how do we actually put these sorts of things into practice? How do we actually make sure that these scientific breakthroughs that are so invaluable are reaching all the people that need to be reached? DASKALAKIS: Ditto, I’ll start off. So that makes my job a little bit easier, because I think what Jeremy said is really important. I’ll say again, I think in my hierarchy the first and most important thing is consistent political will, because I think that that then drives a lot of what happens beyond that. So I think that that really jives really well with what Jeremy said, in terms of that sort of commitment. Money is very important, I think, but it is not the only thing that drives us into preparedness. So I think that having that commitment. I also would like to think about that investing the money in things that keep the system warm. So I’ll go back to that sort of statement, or like thinking about investing in the diseases that we still haven’t finished. We still are working—we’ve got HIV, we have hepatitis, malaria internationally that we’re worried about. There are a lot of areas that we could invest to create systems that are infrastructures that keep it warm for operation for pandemic. I cannot say it loud enough that what Jeremy said about flexibility is right. You can’t really build the infrastructure on chronic disease if it’s not flexible to move to another acute event. So it needs to be something that is both creates and maintains the infrastructure, but also has the ability—everyone’s favorite word today—to pivot into the emergency response zone. So very important. I think also workforce and data. I think that it is important to remember that we talk about giving patients trauma-informed care, but we need to give our workforce trauma-informed care. COVID has been hard. Monkeypox has been hard. Our next challenge will be hard. And sort of how can we support the workforce and then also continue to mentor it to be able to do the work? Data also is so important. A commitment to share data, and to have data that is accessible for decisions, even if it is imperfect. And then finally, the realization—and it goes back full circle, Jennifer, to your first question—about our—or, maybe second question—about the social determinants. There’s only so much that public health can do. There is an all-of-society need to address the core drivers of so many of the inequities. We can’t solve everything through public health. We can get closer to health equity, but ultimately the goal is that as you access is really to go into social justice, which is not just public health but really an all-of-society endeavor to try to improve the environment so that we don’t have fertile ground for these pandemics to blossom and grow. NUZZO: Thank you. There’s a question that just popped up in the Q&A box. And we just have a few minutes. It’s about the privilege of good information and how we address misinformation and disinformation, which likely leads to fragmentation. I will just chime in, having done a lot of communication over the past two years, I think that this is not a problem that public health can solve. I actually think the drivers of this are much, much larger. And I think we need an all-of-government approach to this that includes the potential regulation of the platforms. But I’m curious if you all have any quick comments to add to that. DASKALAKIS: I mean, I just agree with you. (Laughs.) It’s definitely much bigger. There are things we can do, like monitor social media and make sure that our messaging is one way. But ultimately this is an issue that’s bigger, that requires not just the public health lens to address. YOUDE: And, at the same time, we also can recognize that those trusted outlets, those can be really important tools. So, churches in sub-Saharan Africa played a really crucial role in many parts of helping to decrease HIV stigma, helping to get access and information out there about testing, about protection, about these sorts of things. I mean, that can also be the flipside, though. If you got these trusted sources that are peddling this misinformation, then it becomes this much bigger issue that goes beyond what public health can do. So I guess it’s—part of it is just figuring out where those allies exist, be they in government or outside of the government, and what sorts of connections they might have with populations. DASKALAKIS: And to your earlier point about building those connections prior to events, so those relationships exist and you’re not trying to forge them in the midst of a crisis. NUZZO: Well, really, thank you both. I wish I could appoint you both in charge of the world, because if I was asked who should be in charge of the world you would both be on the top of my list. But I am very glad that you continue to do the work that you do and contribute in important ways. And have both been really guiding voices as we continue to experience these events. So thank you very much for that, and really thank you to our participants for attending and the thoughtful questions. FASKIANOS: I second that. Thank you all. And we appreciate your taking the time to do this. I hope you will all follow their work. For Dr. Daskalakis, you can follow him at @dr_demetre. Dr. Youde is at @jeremyyoude. And Dr. Nuzzo is at @jennifernuzzo. Pretty easy. So we also encourage you to follow CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Program on Twitter at @CFR_religion and write to us at [email protected] with any suggestions or questions. We want to help support the work that you all are doing. And we hope you will join us for our next Religion and Foreign Policy Webinar on the Politics of Religion and Gender in West Africa, on Tuesday October 11 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time. So thank you all again for being with us, and thank you for your public service. We appreciate it.
  • United States

    Christopher M. Tuttle, senior fellow and director of the Renewing America initiative at CFR, leads the conversation on the U.S. midterm elections and beyond. FASKIANOS: Thank you, and welcome, all, to today’s session of the Fall 2022 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record. The video and transcript will be available on our website at, and as always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Christopher Tuttle with us today to talk about the U.S. midterm elections and beyond. Mr. Tuttle is senior fellow and director of the Renewing America initiative at CFR. He’s also a managing director of CFR’s Corporate Affairs Program and a senior adviser for the Council’s external affairs efforts in Washington. From 2015 to 2019, Mr. Tuttle served as policy director of the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations under Chairman Bob Corker, and prior to that, he was director of CFR’s Washington Program and Independent Task Force Program. So, Chris, thank you very much for being with us today. It would be great if you could talk a little bit about the Renewing America initiative, and also, talk a little bit about the midterm elections. We are about forty days and a few hours out from the elections on November 8, and we would love to hear from you your analysis of the lay of the land and what it portends for governance in the U.S., as well as how we will be viewed in the world. TUTTLE: Absolutely. Thanks, Irina. It’s great to be here. Great to be speaking with you all today. As Irina mentioned, I’m Chris Tuttle, and before digging in on today’s specific topic, I would like, as Irina mentioned, to begin with a plug for the program I run at CFR, the Renewing America initiative. But you all know the Council on Foreign Relations is obviously a foreign policy organization, but we have a keen understanding of the reality that U.S. power, our place in the world, and our upward trajectory over the past century have been powered by our domestic strengths. And right now, some of our most important national security threats come not from without, but from within. So we’re looking at nine specific domestic issues that underpin our strength and our power in the world—and really the future of the United States in the twenty-first century—and the future of how the world’s going to look in the twenty-first century with a strong U.S., hopefully, still leading the way. So the nine issues are democracy and governance, education, energy and climate, the future of work, immigration, infrastructure, social justice and equity, and trade and finance. And I’d commend to you our website, please check it out. We’ve got a Twitter feed as well that just went up yesterday, actually, so please follow us on Twitter. And we’re going to post the website to the chat, or you can just google, CFR Renewing America. So thanks, Irina, for indulging that pitch and now onto today’s topic, the midterm congressional elections and beyond. I thought I’d start with the House of Representatives. Right now, the partisan balance in the House is 221 to 212—that’s 221 Democrats to 212 Republicans. That’s a very tight—very tight—very tight margin, and that’s not much of a majority, historically speaking, in terms of party breakdown. What that means, though, for midterms is that Republicans need to gain only six seats to take control of the House, and Democrats are facing some pretty heavy headwinds, which I’m sure you’ve been reading about, as people have been covering, sort of, the horse race. The first headwind is structural. On average over the past seventy years or so, a sitting president’s party has lost an average of more than two dozen house seats during the midterms. On top of that, inflation has been at forty-year highs. The economy has had two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, and certainly related to this, President Biden’s job approval rating right now is at a pretty dismal 43 percent. Also, many Democrats are retiring leaving open seats that are always more difficult to defend than if an incumbent were still running. But interestingly, it’s not just national issues as a factor coming into play this year. Many voters are also concerned about local issues. Crime, the way COVID and other issues have been handled in the school districts are a couple of examples, and those are also likely to weigh on the Democrats in a way similar to the dynamic that put Glenn Youngkin into office as governor of Virginia last year. But for the Democrats, it’s not all bad news. Biden’s approval rating, though still pretty problematic, is actually up about six points from where it stood in July, and there are indications that abortion, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, may be a more significant factor than many prognosticators first guessed. For the House, this all adds up to basically kind of the following: the red wave that everybody was talking about during the summer—saying that the Republicans were going to be swept into control of the House with a twenty-five- to thirty-five-seat pickup—may not, in fact, materialize. Regardless, however, the numbers are still not great for Nancy Pelosi’s hopes for her House team. Right now, The Cook Political Report, which I commend to you—if you follow elections closely you may already be aware of it—but The Cook Political Report right now rates 192 seats as solidly, likely, or leaning Democratic. Conversely, it rates 212 seats as solidly, likely, or leaning Republican. That leaves 31 seats as toss-ups. Assuming those numbers hold, Republicans only need to get six of those seats to gain control, which is a pretty likely scenario. Moving onto the Senate, it’s a little bit different story. As you all know, the Senate is split right now fifty-fifty. Senate races tend to be more candidate-based than House races, which are often more party or national dynamics-based. In the—if you want to do the math on this, Democrats are defending fourteen seats this year and two are rated as toss-ups—that’s Rafael Warnock in Georgia—and he’s currently leading well within the margin of error about 0.3 percent over Herschel Walker—and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, where the Republican is leading just by 1.7 points. Republicans are defending twenty-one seats in the Senate. One of those is rated as a toss-up—that’s Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, and he’s ahead just slightly 1.5 percent—that’s based on the RealClearPolitics polling average. And one of the Republican seats is rated to lean Democratic. So that’s the seat in Pennsylvania where Senator Pat Toomey retired. And right now, you’re probably seeing Dr. Oz and Fetterman going at it regularly. Right now, Fetterman is up by about 4.7 percent. So you can game out all the possibilities alike based on that, but it’s going to be a dog fight for the Senate, and we could very well end up exactly where we are today at fifty-fifty when all is said and done. So one note about the rest of this Congress, you know, it’s—time is growing short, and the Congress is about to go home to spend time with their constituents as the election approaches. But there is an order of business that may actually end up getting done that’s pretty important before the end of this year. It may—it, likely, will not be before the election. It will likely be in a lame duck session after the elections. But I think that it’s worth mentioning— probably the most important couple of pieces of legislation, I think, that could move in this Congress are a couple that reform presidential elections and transitions. As I mentioned, they’re just about done for this two years, but they’ve got a couple of bills pending to change current statutes to prevent what happened in late 2020 and early 2021, where we came close to the invalidation of a presidential election, which would have created a full on constitutional crisis. The House passed its version of this legislation last week, and the Senate has similar legislation that was—it was negotiated on a much more bipartisan basis in the House, but it’s very similar. The cosponsors in the Senate are wide ideological range. Chris Murphy of Connecticut sort of on the left to Lindsay Graham of South Carolina on the right, and this just—Mitch McConnell just signaled his support for this legislation, as did Chuck Schumer, yesterday. And it passed the Senate Rules and Administration Committee yesterday by a wide bipartisan margin. So this will likely—the Senate version—also known as the Electoral Count Reform Act—will likely pass during the lame duck session that’ll be held probably sometime in November, early December, and then, it will mean—because the House has passed its version; the Senate will pass its version—they’ll have to get together in a conference committee to come up with a compromise version, but it’s actually something that can move. And I’d be happy to go into further detail about that, but it’s a very important piece of legislation. You may have read—I wrote a piece on this. I think it was in the read ahead, but I encourage you to follow this because it really is an important piece of reform legislation that’s got bipartisan support, and it can actually move the ball forward. And it is potentially an existential issue for the country. So moving onto the Congress yet, we’re just getting ready to conclude the 117th Congress. We’re going to be going into the 118th Congress in January. What’s in store? I thought I’d start—because we’re the Council on Foreign Relations—with foreign and international policy. If you are a fan of bipartisanship, there is a lot to like about the incoming Congress and about this current Congress. When you look at issues—when it comes to China, when it comes to Russia/Ukraine—there is wide bipartisan agreement on how to handle those issues. On trade, there’s wide bipartisan agreement. Now those of you who might be supportive of freer trade may not like what that bipartisan agreement is, but right now we’ve got both parties who are pretty—they have pretty skeptical views of trade, and that’s anomalous. In the past you’ve had Democrats, who have been in Congress anyway, broadly pretty skeptical of trade. You’ve had Republicans who have been more supportive of free trade agreements. That all changed with the onset of sort of the new Republicans, Donald Trump, that kind of thing. So there’s widespread skepticism on trade, and I’d be happy to talk about that during the Q&A. Bipartisanship, for better or for worse, is alive and well in foreign policy, and there are some notable exceptions. You can—we can roll through those if you would like. But really, on the great big issues that are confronting the United States, there’s widespread agreement. So assuming we have a Republican House, legislatively there’s not much in the realm of what might get done. Republicans are likely going to pass Republican bills like those proposed in their newly released Commitment to America, which Kevin McCarthy introduced last week. It’s sort of their agenda for Republican control—their legislative agenda. But they’re likely to pass Republican bills, bipartisan majorities, and they’ll die in the Senate. Even if Republicans do win the Senate, they won’t have sixty votes to overcome a legislative filibuster that would be by the Democrats. One can also expect with the Republican House takeover a multitude of congressional investigations into the COVID pandemic, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the FBI’s handling of recent matters, among many others. Senate Democrats, should they keep their majority, will continue to face an uphill climb to get much of anything through. Not only will they not have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster—or even if they are able to go nuclear and eliminate the legislative filibuster entirely, which is unlikely, most legislation they pass will not move in the House. Even using the budget reconciliation process, which requires only fifty votes in the Senate, Democratic moderates like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona may not be supportive. As far as the political dynamics are concerned—so what is this sort of portend for our politics? I’m afraid they’re unlikely to improve any time soon. I’ve written about this. If you’d like, you can go to, again, Renewing America. I think they’re likely to get worse. I think that Republicans may take from these midterm elections the message that Trumpism remains their path to victory. And some Democrats, in the wake of losses, may push for the party to live its values and go further left. Similar to the way that we saw on the Republican side, when Republicans who were losing elections—say after 2012 when Mitt Romney lost—a lot of Republicans said, well, we just didn’t run far enough to the right. We need to go further to the right in the future in order to win. So you may see a similar dynamic emerging more and more. The nascent sort of harder left edge within the Democratic Party could actually take on more power, and that will probably be a pretty tough dynamic because you’ve got Trumpy Republicans and a further left Democratic Party. So the clashes will continue and are likely to get worse. So if you combine this with what likely will be actions by the president to try and do by executive fiat what he probably won’t be able to do legislatively, and the reality that the presidential campaign will begin de-facto the day after the midterms conclude—and we have a recipe for a pretty tough time ahead, I’m afraid. So with that, I’d be happy to talk about any of these issues and beyond, and would also be pleased to provide advice on Washington careers, political work, anything else you’d like to discuss. So thank you. FASKIANOS: Great. And I do think we should take you up on that at the end of this, but we will first go to questions. Thank you, Chris, for that overview—I think, a little depressing—just the conflict will continue, but good news that there’s bipartisanship on foreign policy issues, for sure. So, to all of you now, if you can click the raised hand icon on your screen to ask a question on your iPad, or you click the more button to access the raised hand feature. So when you’re called upon, accept the unmute prompt, and please state your name and affiliation followed by your question. You can also write your question in the Q&A box. If you do that, please include your affiliations so it gives us context as to where you are in the world. OK, so I’m going to go first to a written question from David Caputo, who is the president emeritus of Pace University. Please comment on the apparent under polling of uneducated white males and what it means for the races you’ve cited. TUTTLE: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think that there is a dynamic within certain parts of the polling public, where they just don’t want to talk to pollsters, you know. They watch cable news. They think, boy, these people do not understand me, and I don’t want—there’s a certain social stigma attached to some of what they may think about certain issues. So I think that that is a potentially real issue out there. Polling has become enormously more complicated than it used to be. It’s tough to reach people. The proliferation of cell phones and getting rid of landlines, it has become harder and harder to poll, and I do think that that is potentially a real issue—where you could see some surprises based on that under polling of those populations, where, actually, the numbers that I read off earlier in some of the close races and some of the others could actually turn out being some surprises—probably more likely for the Democrats. The Democrats would probably be more likely to be surprised. Republicans are talking about this as a potential factor—that there is under polling of certain populations that tend to vote more Republican. So that would be my comment on that. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Let’s go to Babak Salimitari, who has a raised hand. Q: Hello, can you hear me? TUTTLE: Hi, Babak. FASKIANOS: We can, Babak. Please state your affiliation. Q: Hi. My name is Babak. I’m from UCI. I’m a master’s student there now. My question is pertaining to immigration and the situation at the border right now, and what affect that would have on congressional races in the border states like Arizona and Texas? Right now, there’s, like, 8,000 illegals crossing the border every day, and the Democratic Party has been pretty mum about this situation until, say, like, Ron DeSantis buses them over to Martha’s Vineyard, and then that’s when the headlines come out on MSNBC and whatnot over the situation at the border. Why isn’t the party taking a stronger stance on confronting this situation and preventing people from crossing the border illegally? TUTTLE: Let’s see. As far as why the party isn’t taking a stronger stand, they’re in a tough spot. They’ve got, I think, broad swaths of Democratic base voters who think that the Republicans are overdoing the illegal immigration thing and are generally supportive of immigrant communities that make up a sizeable chunk of not necessarily their voters, but a sizeable constituency for their—for Democratic base voters. So in other words, Democratic base voters, the people who are going to turn out during midterm elections, tend to be more concentrated, and they tend to be more to the left. And they have pretty much been reluctant to take actions that they view as unfair to various people who are coming to the United States to seek asylum, that kind of thing. It’s a big motivator for Republican voters, particularly in voter states—or in border states. They see—they see illegal immigration as a real problem. You could see that during the Trump era. That was a big issue for Republican voters. But I think that the Democrats are in a tough spot when they’ve got a lot of their base voters and a lot of their members of Congress who think that U.S. immigration controls have been too stringent, I think, in the past, and sympathize with a lot of the folks who are crossing the border illegally. That’s sort of my take on it. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Amalia Frommelt, who is a graduate student at NYU—New York University. In the context of the most recent attempt to overturn the presidential election and also recognizing America’s historical disenfranchisement of voters that are not white men, what is the greatest threat to the future of free and fair American elections? And have these historical and contemporary events influenced these threats? TUTTLE: Yeah, I think they have influenced these threats. My concern—my biggest concern is that we’ve got not just sizeable, but a majority of Republicans who still think that the election was invalid. But we also have, on the flip side—and you saw this in 2016—significant parts of the Democratic Party in 2016 said that Donald Trump was not a legitimate reelected president. And I do have concerns that this fall may see the same with—the Democrats have been very, very concerned and very public about some of the different laws that have been passed in different states when it comes to voting, and ballot access, and that type of thing. I am not convinced that that will have a major—that those will play a major role in the midterm elections, but that won’t, I don’t think, stop some within the Democratic Party claiming that the elections this fall are not legitimate. So the biggest threat I see is that you have potentially both major political parties claiming illegitimate elections, and once you start claiming illegitimate elections, people—it’s less surprising when people use undemocratic means to accomplish their ends. And that’s enormously problematic for the United States. There has been a lot of talk about potential civil war and that kind of thing. I don’t think we’re there, but I do think that these elections stand to continue not just sort of the political discord, but also for people to sort of step out of the margins of political discourse in a way that is potentially quite dangerous for the United States. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Michael Leong, a graduate student at the University of Arizona who has his hand up. Q: Hi, there. TUTTLE: (Inaudible)—your profile picture. Q: Oh, sorry about that. TUTTLE: No, it’s OK. Q: All right, so hi there. So I just have a question because, as you discussed, with the Republican Party taking that message that Trump is and remains their path to victory, and because of that, potentially Democrats moving further to the left, that means the polarization is going to become more severe. But is there going to be a path for both parties where basically American political—the political sphere to move back towards the center where it’s not so polarized? TUTTLE: Yeah, so I’m hopeful on that front. I wouldn’t call myself optimistic, but I am hopeful. There are signs within the Republican Party that maybe the Trump era is just beginning to sunset. There are some indications of that. For example, if you look in New Hampshire, there was a sort of more moderate—I wouldn’t even say more moderate because I don’t think the Trump phenomenon is necessarily political so much as it is rhetorical and personality based. But you had a Republican who was not a Trump Republican; in fact, you had several in the primary, and what occurred was Trump—one of the candidates was very pro-Trump, and if you took the candidates who were not, you know, Trumpy candidates and you added up all their numbers, they actually—if it had been a single sort of non-Trump Republican, that person would have won. The leading non-Trump Republican also received a lot of funds from various Democratic senatorial—or Democratic committees to—or excuse me—the leading non-Trump candidate was sort of torn down by an ad campaign by some of the Democratic committees, and that put the Trump person in the best place to win. So, in other words, those two bits of sort of—those two problems where you had several non-Trump candidates plus the Democratic Party acting to try and get—to knock down the leading non-Trump candidate in order to get—to be able to run against the Trump candidate. So I think there are signs. That’s kind of a long way of getting to I think there are signs within the Republican Party. And you saw this in some other areas as well. You saw it in Maryland where the Democratic Party, the various Democratic entities were supportive of the—in one way or another, supportive of a Trump candidate getting the nomination because, you know, politics—you knew that person is easier to run against. I don’t think we’re there yet, though, on the Republican side. On the Democratic side, I think it’s a little bit tougher. It is, I think, hard to see a Democratic Party that doesn’t continue moving leftward, and you—I think that Joe Biden, although he ran very much as sort of a moderate, uniting figure, that governance has not really been that way. And I think that he is having to cater to his left flank pretty often. So he has sort of become an outsider, I think, within the base of the Democratic Party, and I see that as continuing to be a rising force within the Democratic Party. Younger voters, if you look at polling, tend to be more supportive of the issue set of sort of the hard left, and the sort of Democratic Party of prior administrations. If you look at sort of some of the economic policy, you look at some of the former Treasury secretaries, for example, in the Democratic Party; their style of sort of governance, their style of managing the economy, that kind of thing, are going away in favor of a more left-trending line. So I think there are signs of hope on the Republican side—small signs—of getting sort of out of the Trump era. But I think the Democratic Party is probably, for the next several years, going to continue to trend leftward. FASKIANOS: Thank you. A question from Todd Barry, who is an adjunct professor at Hudson County Community College in New Jersey. What is the likelihood that Republicans, in control of Congress, would cut off funding for Ukraine, and that this would lead to a peace agreement? TUTTLE: Great question. I actually think—and this speaks to my bipartisanship question in terms of Russia-Ukraine. You are seeing signs among some of the sort of harder right members of Congress to pull funding from Ukraine and not support—not continue to support Ukraine. They are not within sort of the mainstream foreign policy leaders within the—with the Republican Party. I don’t think they are going to get much in the way of traction. If you look at those who are really sort of foreign policy leaders within the party and have influence on sort of the party—the party leadership in the House and in the Senate, I don’t see that happening any time soon. Mitch McConnell, I think, is committed to continuing funding for Ukraine. Jim Risch—there was just a hearing this morning where he’s the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—is all in favor of continuing to support Ukraine. And like I said, foreign policy leaders in the House—folks like Mike Gallagher—very much are supportive of continued funding for Ukraine. So I think there are signs of that, but I think it’s premature to think that there is going to be any massive erosion of Republican support for Ukraine and continuing to stick it to Russia. That’s an excellent question. FASKIANOS: Great. Next question, I’m going to go Isaac Alston-Voyticky, who is a graduate student at CUNY School of Law. Q: Hello. So I already—I already had my introduction. My question is how do you feel the delegitimization of election results immediately prior to and during the election process will have an effect on election turnout for the two major political parties in the upcoming midterms as well as the current tertiary parties? TUTTLE: So give me a little bit more on that. Q: So a good example was the—in California, probably the most prominent one. He called it like twenty-four hours that he was—that he—because he knew he was going to lose, so he said, oh, the election result, it was fake, right? Obviously, this is, you know, like a fraudulent election, and the—the tempo out there is that when that happens on a consistent basis, it effects the electoral—kind of election results because like in turnout it says, well, if it’s already fraud, why am I going? TUTTLE: Yeah, yeah. So I think it remains to be seen, Isaac. I don’t know that there’s a—and we’ll need some empirical data, I think, to really be able to judge that. I will say that there is a lot more absentee, and a lot more early voting than there has been in the past. That certainly weighs in favor of it having a lesser effect. But without empirical data, it’s hard to know. Those are individual decisions that people are going to—to be making, and I would hesitate to sort of weigh in on that without a closer look at—a closer specific look at that dynamic. FASKIANOS: Great. So we have a written question from Mike Nelson who is an affiliate adjunct professor at Georgetown University who is noting that digital technologies have transformed our elections over the past fifteen years. Obama beat Hillary by using MeetUp to organize at the grassroots. Trump weaponized Twitter. Biden used Zoom from his basement. (Laughs.) I like that characterization. And what’s new this year, do you think? What will it be? Will it be disinformation? TV—will TV be a critical factor? Are you hearing anything on that front? TUTTLE: I’m not—not specifically. I mean, TV is always a critical factor in elections. I think that you can look at—I remember looking at polling numbers for various members of Congress I’ve worked for, and you can actually see, if we do a line, of when they went up on TV and the numbers go way up. So I think TV continues to be powerful. And I think social media—that’s probably, I’m guessing—the trend of the line is downward for TV; more for various social media—type stuff that you mentioned. I don’t know that there is anything particularly new for the midterms, but social media is always evolving. It’s always seemingly gaining more and more influence, but it’s also becoming more diffuse. So the platform of yesterday is no longer the platform of today because it has been—you know, there are two or three more platforms. So I’m not aware of anything particularly new. You may be, and I’d be happy to talk about that. But I don’t have any sense of what sort of the new thing is, the thing that we’re going to refer to as sort of the big thing in 2022—what was able to move a particular election. And I think 2024, it remains to be seen. It’s possible that there is a social media platform out there that I haven’t heard of that may actually be the next big thing. And right now, it’s not much, but two years from now it might be the next big thing. FASKIANOS: Right. Is there concern about interference from Russia, China in the midterms? TUTTLE: There’s always concern about that. We have, I think, done a reasonably good job with our intelligence agencies, with different efforts that have been undertaken to protect our elections. It’s still tough, though, because you have elections that are administered not just at the state level, but at the local level. Now that makes it tough for us to sort of harden our targets because they are so diffuse. But it also makes it harder for the other side because the targets are so diffuse. But I think that’s always a concern. It will continue to be a concern, and it’s not just Russia and China; it’s the Iranians, the North Koreans. There are any number of state threats out there, and if you put a state threat up against a county clerk in Wausau County, Wisconsin, that is—or Marathon County, Wisconsin—excuse me—that’s pretty asymmetric. The question is whether or not they can do that wholesale, and the question also is how much are we digitalized, and how much do we rely on internet for our elections. And that is why paper ballots are still important because they are really hard to—they are really hard to mess with if you are a state actor. So I think those are critical questions and one that our intelligence agencies and FBI, and others, and state officials in particular are—and state and county officials are looking at very carefully and working hard to harden themselves against potential attacks. FASKIANOS: Thanks. I’m going to go next to Fordham University. I don’t know who has the raised hand, so please announce yourself. Q: Yes, good afternoon. My name is Javier Mendez. I’m from Fordham University. I’m a first-year undergraduate studying business administration. And my question would be regarding the impact that the natural disasters had on the Caribbean Basin, for example Hurricane Fiona’s devastation in Puerto Rico—and the subsequent congressional debates regarding an amendment to the Jones Act, and the near future of—twelve hours—Hurricane Ian’s impact on the west coast of Florida, and the subsequent government reaction to that devastation. How would that affect the results of the upcoming midterms, specifically in these states and regions where the Hispanic population is so great and they tend to—(inaudible)? TUTTLE: Right. So the question is how will the—the more specific question or the more current question is what effect might the natural disaster that’s heading toward Florida right now have on the midterms? Q: Yes, and—between that and the debate regarding an amendment to the Jones Act stemming from Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico. TUTTLE: OK. So on the hurricane that’s heading toward Florida right now, I think that, obviously, the response is going to be critical. We saw the reaction during the hurricane that hit New Orleans back in 2005 that that provoked a lot of sort of—that provoked people to take action politically—basically saying the Bush administration had mishandled it. The story was a lot more complicated than that; I mean, any federal disaster is going to be the responsibility of the federal government, but primarily the state and local governments. But I think that if it is perceived as being mishandled, and there is sort of a blame game on what happens there, it could potentially have some marginal impact on the midterm elections. I’m not as familiar with the Puerto Rico case, so I’m a little reluctant to weigh in on that and the Jones Act. But I’d be happy to look into it if you wanted to send me a note. My email is on the CFR website. I’d be happy to look into it further. But I’m sorry that I don’t have a great answer for you at the moment. FASKIANOS: But I would note that we are seeing cooperation between—at the federal and obviously the state and local level with President Biden and Governor DeSantis. I think that they are working together on this issue. TUTTLE: Yeah, it appears—it appears that way, so, that will—but if things really go south, sometimes the blame game commences, and you could see some potential political conflict come from that. FASKIANOS: Yes. So the next written question from Hannah-Grace Henson, who is an undergrad student at Drexel. If the Supreme Court rules that election results can be overturned by state electors, what do you see happening during the next presidential election in 2024? TUTTLE: Good question. (Pause.) I think it is—it’s an—it’s an open question. The answer is I don’t know. I think that over the past—even during the Trump period when it came down to it, there weren’t state officials who were willing to bite the bullet and send forward electors who were not reflective of the popular vote. I think that is likely to hold with maybe an anomaly or two, but I don’t—from my vantage point, I don’t see state officials who will be willing to do that. Trump—the Trump in 2020 worked mightily on state officials to do so, and they did not. And when they didn’t, Trump and his supporters tried to put forth slates of alternate electors. That’s one of the things that is addressed in the Electoral Count Reform Act and the legislation that’s moving through the House. But I actually am not as worried about that as some. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Arjun Chawla. Please pronounce your name for us since I did not do so correctly. Q: So are you able to hear me? FASKIANOS: Yes. TUTTLE: Yes. Q: Thank you both for the time. My name is Arjun Chawla. I’m a graduate student at Georgetown University. My question is I’d love to get your thoughts on—and if you look back at 2016, there was potential for an interference in the United States presidential election, and then ahead to the 2020 presidential election, there was potential news coming out about Hunter Biden, and that was not announced until after the election if—whatever those investigation findings were. Now coming up to the midterms—still this is not a presidential election—there is the lawsuit against—well, New York against Trump as well as the January 6 hearing going on. I’m curious. I know this is not a presidential election but in regards to the midterm, what effects do you think both of these events would have on the midterms? TUTTLE: Yeah, so on the Hunter Biden stuff and—wait, what was the second you mentioned? Q: The Trump lawsuit from New York— TUTTLE: You’re talking about the lawsuits as well as the January 6. Q: And the—sorry, and the— FASKIANOS: Right, the New York State— Q: Correct, in relation— TUTTLE: The Letitia James, right, yeah. Q: Exactly. Ahead of the midterms. TUTTLE: So, yeah. So I think that it may have some marginal impact, but I don’t think—I think a lot of the people who are voting in midterm elections have already sort of—are already part of a camp, OK? So if you are part of the Republican camp, you are seeing this Hunter Biden stuff, and it may intensify your feelings about how this wasn’t reported, and you are concerned about what’s on the laptop. If you are part of the Democratic camp, you see the January 6 stuff, and you see the January 6 committee hearings as well as the Letitia James actions up in New York, and you are already in that Democratic camp, and it may harden—it may intensify your feelings. How much effect that actually has on the independent voters that vote in midterms, and they’re typically—it’s typically a smaller number than would vote in a presidential election, I think it’s hard to say. I think that of those three, I think the January 6 committee, for those who are paying attention to it and to news surrounding it, is probably the most persuasive in terms of changing your opinion, one way or another. But it may have just changed your opinion on Trump. And part of the effectiveness of those hearings was you had a lot of people testifying who were long-term Republicans who had been staff for Donald Trump. And so it wasn’t necessarily—it was harder to make the case that this was entirely cooked up by the Democratic Party because you did have all these Republicans testify. So the question is, how much January 6—the January 6 committee and their actions might actually be able to steer independent voters? I think it remains to be seen. I think the numbers are probably fairly small. Q: Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Mark Diamond, who’s a senior lecturer at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Do you see any shifts in voting patterns of faith-based communities such as Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslim-Americans, and others? TUTTLE: What were the groups? FASKIANOS: I think— Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Jews, Muslim-Americans, and others, so really just faith-based communities. I think those were examples. TUTTLE: Yeah. I have not seen numbers on this. My guess is of those groups the one most likely in a midterm to shift a bit I think may be the Evangelicals. I think that there are some probably—like I said, I don’t have polling numbers on this, but anecdotally speaking, I think that Evangelicals in some cases have been increasingly skeptical of Trump and I think everybody on my side of the aisle—I was a longtime Republican staffer—were quite surprised when the Evangelical community turned out pretty strongly for Trump. So the question is, is that population moving? My guess is there are signs of that. And the other question is, does it affect their vote in midterm elections? I think probably in a lot of cases—Trump is not on the ballot and Evangelicals tend to vote pretty widely for Republicans, so they’re going to probably continue to vote for Republicans. So I don’t think it’s going to necessarily change their voting patterns during a midterm election, but I could see potentially some shifts when it comes to a general election and a primary in two years, for the Republican presidential primary. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go to Derek Kubacki. TUTTLE: Hey, Derek. Q: Good afternoon, sir. How are you doing? TUTTLE: I’m OK. How are you? Q: All righty. Derek Kubacki, academic adviser at UTSA, coming back for another master’s as well, in global affairs this time around. Question is—it goes back to—it’s not necessarily with the midterms themselves but it goes back to what you talked about with the Electoral Count Act that they’re looking at doing. The House side include provisions for up to one-third of both chambers. The Senate bill is one-fifth, or essentially twenty senators. When we look at the likelihood of any potential challenge to a future election, which could conceivably come from either side of the spectrum, are those numbers really worthwhile? Do they really mean a thing when you’re going to have some sort of majority that’s going to be able to hit that threshold—I believe it’s eighty-seven in the House and twenty in the Senate—or is this simply just a speed bump or—to potentially looking for an amendment to the Constitution to outright abolish the Electoral College? TUTTLE: Yeah. So I think that changing the Electoral College, for a wide variety of reasons, is not in the cards, so I would set that aside. I will say that the House version does have that higher threshold of one-third; the Senate has a one-fifth threshold. I don’t have any inside information on this but they knew that they were going to have to go to a conference committee and it’s awfully convenient—(laughs)—that there’s one-fifth and there’s one-third; meeting in the middle might mean a quarter, OK? So I think that it’s going to be enormously challenging. I don’t think it’s a speed bump, but I think it’s going to be very challenging to get those kinds of numbers to object to the certification of a state’s results. There was only—basically there were two objections I think that were raised—I think it was Arizona and Georgia in 2021—and the pressure was huge. You saw it—you’ve seen different efforts both in the House and in the Senate to object, but they haven’t been able to find a partner, and that’s just with one to one. The last time I think was Barbara Boxer who objected to Ohio’s results and she had a variety of Democrats in the House who were willing to go along with that. But I think that’s a—it’s a pretty heavy threshold. I think it’s much more—even at a quarter, it’s a pretty high threshold, and I don’t think you get there. I think it makes it significantly more difficult to object. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I want to take another question from Todd Barry on—again, from Hudson County Community College. Will the Republicans craft a stimulus bill for the economy? TUTTLE: Unlikely. It remains to be seen what’s going to happen with the economy generally, if we are going to tip further into a recession. Now I know there’s a question about whether or not we’re actually in a recession. Traditionally, the definition has been two consecutive quarters—the traditional shorthand definition has been two consecutive quarters with negative economic growth, but I think it remains to be seen how much the economy is going to slow down based on the Fed’s necessary actions to curb inflation. With inflation numbers being what they are, and with Republicans having stated over and over and over again that the COVID stimulus was—and not just Republicans; some Democrats too saying that COVID stimulus was actually enormously problematic in terms of the current inflation picture. I think it’s going to be pretty challenging for Republicans to say we need economic stimulus. Inflation is still, I believe, above 8 percent. It’s hard to see how Republicans who are big believers that additional government spending can be inflationary, it’s hard to see them being supportive of some sort of stimulus package. FASKIANOS: So we are almost out of time, Chris, and I just wanted to draw upon your time working in the Senate. You mentioned that it’s unlikely for much to get done with the filibuster in place. Can you talk a little bit, from your perspective having been there, how important it is to have that sixty-vote threshold, and just having worked there back in the teens and now we’re in the 2020s, just the comparison of where we are now—(laughs)—and life in Congress from a staffer perspective, and any advice you want to give to students about public service, given this partisan environment that we’re in. (Laughs.) TUTTLE: Sure. Well, we have two minutes so I think on the filibuster, the filibuster is a long story, but if you want to take a short snippet of that long story: In 2005, it was Republicans who wanted to get rid of the filibuster in order to get federal judges through, and then in—and that was stopped; there was a bipartisan gang that stopped that effort. In 2013, Harry Reid, because Democratic judges weren’t getting through, actually did away with the filibuster for those judges, and then in 2017, Mitch McConnell, previously a strong supporter of the filibuster—Harry Reid had previously been a strong supporter of the filibuster—changed it for Supreme Court nominees. Mitch McConnell and the Republicans changed it for Supreme Court nominees. And now we’ve got—and during the Trump administration he was constantly calling up Mitch McConnell saying, why can’t you get rid of the legislative filibuster? I want to get things done. So the rogues’ gallery of people who had been supportive or opposed the filibuster over time has changed based largely on who happens to be in power. I would say that I think the filibuster is an enormously important and positive thing for the country; a lot of people disagree with me. But I think that it is important to consider that we right now have a country that’s roughly split fifty-fifty and if you start passing legislation wholesale that 50 percent of the country disagrees with firmly and then it switches to a new Senate and that legislation is then repealed and different legislation is put in, we’re going to be whipsawed not just in terms of what laws are on the books but also you’ll have the other half of the country dissatisfied with something that’s being passed. So I think it’s an important moderating influence. I think that a lot of my Democratic friends would have preferred that the filibuster still be in place when Brett Kavanaugh was nominated. So I think that the filibuster—it’s a really important part of moderating the actions of government to have more consistency and more incremental change, which ultimately turns out to be more durable and easier to live under for the American people. And I think we’re out of time but I’d be happy to talk a little bit about Washington careers. FASKIANOS: Just give us a couple minutes on Washington careers. TUTTLE: Sure. So I would say, in terms of Washington careers, they can be enormously helpful, enormously beneficial not just for you but for the United States. And I think one of the best places to start—and I’m, of course, biased—is in Congress because Congress forces you to work together with folks from the other side. And I don’t think there’s enough of that in our culture these days. There’s not enough—there are not enough Democrats with Republican friends, there are not enough Republicans with Democratic friends. You’re forced in Congress to know people and work with people from the other side. The other thing is you’re also forced in Congress to deal with people from all over and—I mean your constituents. So if you work for a member of Congress in a good office, the single most important stakeholder, the single most important person is your customer, the constituent. And being in a congressional office and talking to people who are living their lives is really important for connecting our government to the American people. It doesn’t sound glamorous to be sitting on the phone listening to somebody tell you about how their Social Security check was $24 short last month and can you help them, but it gives you a really good perspective on why democratic governance is so important. So I would encourage those of you—you have a small window to work on Capitol Hill. Nobody wants to be a thirty-year-old, thirty-five-year-old staff assistant answering phones and writing constituent mail. So you have a narrow window between sort of college graduation, maybe twenty-six, twenty-seven, to get your start on the Hill. So I’d encourage you to take a look at that as a career path. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Well, I’m sorry we went over a few minutes, but I wanted to close with that, give some people some career advice. So, Chris Tuttle, thank you very much for this hour, and to all of you for your questions and comments. We put in the chat there the link to the landing page for Renewing America; it’s, and the Twitter is at @RenewingAmerica. So you should follow the work that Chris is doing there on the very important nine pillars of what we need to focus on here at home. And again, I hope you will join us for our next academic webinar on Wednesday, October 12, at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) with Mary Elise Sarotte, who is the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Distinguished Professor of Historical Studies at Johns Hopkins, on Russia’s global influence. You can also follow us @CFR_Academic. Visit,, and for research and analysis on global issues. Again, Chris Tuttle, thank you very much for this conversation; we really appreciate it. TUTTLE: Thanks, Irina. Always a pleasure. Good luck to everyone. FASKIANOS: Thank you. (END)
  • Turkey

    Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discusses Türkiye’s foreign policy and U.S.-Turkish relations.
  • Lebanon

    Foreign Minister Abdallah BouHabib discusses the relationship between Lebanon and the West, especially in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine, global humanitarian issues including refugees and food insecurity, and the future of Lebanon’s economy.
  • Greece

    Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis discusses the role of Greece in the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the economic and physical security of Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the relationship between Greece and the United States.
  • Pakistan

    Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari discusses seventy-five years of Pakistan-U.S. relations, as well as the challenges of climate change, including the recent flooding in Pakistan.
  • Climate Change

    Adil Najam, professor and dean emeritus of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, leads the conversation on climate justice. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Welcome to today’s session of the Fall 2022 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Adil Najam with us to talk about climate justice. Dr. Najam is professor of international relations and Earth and environment and dean emeritus of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Previously he served as vice chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan, and as a director of the Boston University Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future. He has also taught at MIT and Tufts University and served on the UN Committee on Development and on Pakistan’s Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs. Dr. Najam was a coauthor for the Third and Fourth Assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, and has served on various boards and written over a hundred scholarly papers and book chapters. So, Dr. Najam, thank you for being with us today to talk about this very important topic. Can you talk a little bit about what climate justice is, and why it is so important for international relations? NAJAM: Thank you. Thank you, Irina. It’s wonderful to be here. It’s wonderful to see a lot of participants here. So I’m looking forward to this conversation. I want to just maybe sort of frame a few ideas in the next ten, fifteen minutes on global climate justice. And I purposely added the “global” to it. I am very happy, and I hope we will have a discussion also and questions on domestic climate justice, because climate justice is not simply a global issue. It is a live issue in many countries—all countries, actually, including in the United States. I want to focus on the global aspect partly because I think we in recent years don’t focus enough on it, and because I think it’s about to hit the ceiling. I think we will hear a lot about it in the coming months in this year and going forward, including because of Pakistan, which is where I’m from and where I was literally sort of two days ago. And this background you see behind me is Lahore University of Management Sciences. And I say that because of the massive floods that you and your viewers have been reading about. In many ways, that has brought not only for Pakistan but for the world this issue of global climate justice back into focus, as the UN secretary-general came to Pakistan, and all that. If you allow me to just share a few slides to say a bit about what climate justice is, I’m hoping you see a black screen now, and you see my name sort of coming up. If people are seeing that and they are seeing my slides. I won’t go into the details of sort of who I am. You have done that. But I wanted to use this to contextualize a couple of questions around this. And the first one of this is about what I was just saying, which is we are beginning to sort to think again about what the climate is telling us. Not want we want from the climate, but we are now at a point in climate change reality where the climate is giving us signals, and it is giving us signals about justice. The second is, just to raise a few questions and thoughts about what I call the age of adaptation, which essentially—I’m assuming all your viewers know the difference between mitigation and adaptation. We have been fixated, as we should have been, about mitigation, which is what can we do to keep climate change from happening. The fact is, we have failed. The fact is, we are now in what I call the age of adaptation where, at least by my calculation, about 2.5 billion—2 ½ billion people—are now having to adapt to global climate change, including, for example, the thirty million Pakistanis who were displaced in these recent floods. And what that means for climate justice is that in the age of climate adaptation, justice becomes much more of an issue. Because let’s just put it up there to think about what that means as individual countries, beginning developing countries now, the impacts are happening on the people who have very little and sometimes nothing to do with causing the problem. And then the argument becomes, well, you have a fingerprint. You live in Boston. You have been emitting many times more than, for example, your brother living in Pakistan. And yet, the impacts there are happening to people who have got nothing to do with it, and that’s the justice argument, right? And that leads to what we call sort of talks of reparation. That leads to loss and damage, which is a language that you hear a lot about. And finally, this question of why is climate now and in the future essentially a justice issue? And I would add, you know, essentially is the key thing that I mention there. It is good to see people on Zoom, though Zoom is not essentially my favorite medium. I think the only good thing it does is we can change our backgrounds. That was me teaching my class on sustainable development last year. But that’s not the point. The point I want to come to about climate justice is the following: That, as I said, we are coming to a head. I think you have done this literally at the point when we are coming to a head. And the reason we are coming to a head is, A, the age of adaptation I talked about and, B, sort of where we are in this post-Paris, the climate agreement, world. And there were two essential things that came out of that. One was this number. And if you count the zeros there, I don’t know how many of the people sort of, find it easy when there are that many zeros, but that’s 100 billion. That’s the number that came out of Paris, saying that’s the amount that will be invested in developing countries in particular, per year, on climate adaptation as well as mitigation. I’ll only put the point out there, why this is a climate issue. It hasn’t materialized. The last couple of climate negotiations were entirely about that. And therefore, you have a lot of countries that are now beginning to face the impacts saying: We in good faith went and started doing something about this issue that wasn’t even of our making on this agreement that the world would come together. And the world hasn’t come together. The reality of climate is even more stark. These two numbers that you’re all familiar with, 1.5 and two (degrees). The fact of the matter is, I know of no science at this point where 1.5 (degrees) can actually be achieved. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I think we cling to the hope, but just from a reality perspective 1.5 (degrees) is nearly out of the game. And two (degrees) may be very closely coming to the game. And that is making a lot of countries very scared. If you remember why 1.5 (degrees) came, it is that Paris actually wanted a two-degree target. And then the small, especially island, states said: By two degrees we aren’t there. It’s existential for us. We are underwater, or nearly underwater. So what I’m trying to set up here is that there’s a moment that we are in global affairs where this issue of climate justice is just boiling. If I—if you will allow me just a bit—you know, we often talk about 2020 because of COVID as a year like no other. Let me remind us what else was happening other than COVID in that year. Why it was really a year like no other. January 2020, hottest January ever—ever recorded since we started recording. February, second hottest ever recorded. March, second hottest. April, second hottest ever. May, hottest ever. You see the pattern here, right? And you remember seeing these. You might have tweeted about it. By July, no one was tweeting about it because the cat was more interesting—the dancing cat. And we had started getting used to this, you know, just barrage of climate data coming every month. Eight out of those twelve, as far as I can tell, records have been broken since then. Why am I putting this as climate justice? Again, you have a lot of places in the world—floods in Pakistan being one, heat in India being another, floods in Bangladesh being another—all across the world who are now seeing that impact in the age of adaptation. I’ll give you just two very quick other pictures, and then come to the climate—sort of, you know, open up very soon. And why I mean—why I state that we are in the age of adaptation, right? I hope people can see this. I some years ago decided I’m not going to put future data on climate. This is recorded, past data for every month ever since we started keeping climate records. So this is not about what will happen. This is about what has happened. And this ends around 2016. You can take it to 2022 now. And it starts touching 1.5 (degrees) even more. Touching 1.5 (degrees) doesn’t really mean that the barrier has been crossed because sort of, you know, that’s the way sort of it’s counted. But you see the pattern again. And you see, again, for a lot of countries—and it’s not just countries. For the poorest people in the countries. This is true about the Pakistan floods, for example. If you look at the floods, it’s not the affluent in Pakistan whose homes get sort of blown away. It is the poorest. So essentially what we are seeing is that the poorest people, the most vulnerable people around the world, are paying the cost of our inaction—my inaction, other—(inaudible)—inaction, right? Now, you might be saying, that’s fine, but I don’t live on the planet. I live in a particular place. So choose your place. Same data. For every point on Earth that we have data for, ever since we have data on climate. So what I’m trying to say is the age of adaptation is here. Just look at that picture. Choose the place you are interested in, and you start seeing that pattern. And if we are in the age of adaptation, once people start seeing impacts, right, they’re starting to see impacts. As soon as you start seeing impacts, you start demanding a very different sort of action. And that’s where—that’s where climate justice comes. Let me show a quick map. This is actually an old map, 2014. But the interesting thing—the reason I still use is it’s from Standard & Poor’s. It’s from a rating agency of risk. And if you look at that map, and you look at the red countries where the impacts are the most immediate, and you start thinking about where the emissions are coming from, this tells you what the climate justice argument globally is. One very last—one very last point, and then I move to you. That while it is a global issue, it is also a domestic issue. And again, we think of climate justice by linking it to other justice issues, as we should. I’m only putting one picture here. What happened in the age of adaptation that makes it a justice issue? One of the things that happens is it immediately changes from an energy issue—a primarily energy issue, to a predominantly water issue. When you’re thinking about mitigation, right—mostly when we talk about the climate, we talk about how we can reduce emissions. And as soon as you talk emissions, you’re essentially talking energy. You’re essentially carbon management, right? You’re bringing down carbon emission. Most of them are in energy. And therefore, a lot of our policy is about that. As soon as you start talking age of adaptation, a lot of it is about water. What do I mean by that? Think about impacts. When you think about what’s happened, not just in Pakistan. I’m using the Pakistan example because I’ve just come from there but think about wherever you are. A lot of the immediate impacts are about water. Water rises, sea-level rise. Water melts, glaciers. Water disappears, drought. Water falls from the sky like no one’s business, extreme events. That’s what a flood looks like in a country like Pakistan, but it’s not just Pakistan. It’s many other countries. And again, if it becomes water, it immediately becomes something that affects the poorest people, the most vulnerable people, the most marginalized people, and those who have historically been least responsible. To give you just a picture of what a flood like this means in Pakistan, this is from 2010. But if you look at that blue squiggle, that’s the area covered by the flood. That blue, the dark blue and light blue, is the severe and very severe. I put that on a map to scale of the U.S. to give a sense of what is covered like what you see in that picture. It’s up from Vermont down to Florida. I put it on the map of Japan, it covers the whole country. I put it on a map of Europe, Denmark to France. And the point of that is now you are in this moment that I’m talking about where it becomes a justice issue because within developing countries there is this immense pressure of climate being see as a reality, right? And that pressure then starts pushing domestic politics, and domestic politics start pushing international politics. So that’s my context of climate justice, as we see it. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for that sobering overview. And I think the slides that you showed really bring it to life and make it so much—you see it really so starkly. So thank you for that. So now we want to go to all of you for your questions. (Gives queuing instructions.) So now I’m just going to go to questions and see—we have several raised hands. OK. So I’m going to take the first question from Fordham University. I don’t know who’s asking the question, so please let us know who you are. Q: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for the discussion. My name is (inaudible), representing the International Political and Economic Development—I’m part of that program. And my question is just in regards to what we’re currently seeing. So I’m originally from South Africa and the just transition was a very topical point when it came to climate change and climate adaptation. And there was a push for the emerging markets to actually adopt renewable energy, moving away from coal. However, we see that recently, with the Russian and Ukrainian war, there has been an increase in demand and exports from Africa to the northern regions for coal. And you see that certain regions, such as Germany, has started powering up their coal-powered station, due to the lack of energy that they’ll see from the Russian nation. So my question is, what is the impact of what we see with this event being the war, and the impact on the increase in coal? And what does this mean for climate adaptation? Especially from regions from Europe, where African regions will be looking to them to actually see them adapting this change in climate and energy, I guess. NAJAM: Irina, do you want to take a few questions and then come back, or? Whichever way you want. FASKIANOS: I think we should just go—let’s go through them one at a time. NAJAM: Sure. Sure. Thank you for that question. It has many layers. I’ll pick up on a few. And the first one is that you are exactly right. In a world that is crisis prone, in a world that is turbulent—we saw that with COVID, we are seeing that with the economic turmoil of COVID that still continues in all sorts of ways, and we’ve seen that with the war in Ukraine—climate comes as this sort of—you know, we used to say climate is a threat multiplier. And now I think climate is the threat, and everything else is multiplied. And so we should expect that climate is going to be exacerbated by all these other things, and these other things are going to be exacerbated by climate. So what you are talking about in terms of energy is one issue, but as I talked to my friends in Africa, it is not just energy. Food, for example, is going to be hit equally hard. So in terms of energy, in terms of the Ukraine war, we see that not just in Africa but in other parts of the world. We see it in some places in coal. We see it all places in oil prices. But what is—what is hitting Africa particularly hard, for example, is food. Now, what does that have to do with climate adaptation? What it has to do with climate adaptation is that it comes at a time when the stress on food production—because, for example, water stress is already there, right? So that’s the multiplier thing. One of the most difficult things I find in my work for policymakers is that they want clarity. And I keep telling them, there isn’t clarity. There isn’t going to be clarity. This is why the floods, for example, were important. Immediately the question is, but how do we know this is because of climate? We’ve had floods before, right? Or we have had droughts before. And what is now becoming increasingly clear is it’s not like climate is going to give you a new set of issues. It is going to take the issues and do two things. One, the magnitude increases. And two, the frequency goes berserk, because whatever you thought was a twenty-year flood or a fifteen-year drought, now you have no way of doing it. And that creates an uncertainty for developing countries. But the justice question really—the justice question is that whose fingerprint is on it? And that’s the one that I would say you should keep—it is not going to be made for good politics. What I say is coming, I am very scared, because the politics it leads to is the politics of division. Till now we’ve had the politics on climate mostly—you know, even if it’s ineffective—it’s about mostly in the form of let’s all come together, it’s a common problem. What you saw in these floods—and the reason I keep mentioning it—one important thing is the UN secretary-general goes to Pakistan and for the first time clearly says: This is because of climate. That means, you know, this is coming from the top. You hear it at the top, and that is going to lead to a divisive politics. FASKIANOS: So there’s a written question from Mark Hallim, who’s a doctoral student, global security student, at the American Military University. How can climate change be achieved without leadership, political will, and development by nation-state leaders? NAJAM: (Laughs.) Not easily. Not easily. (Laughter.) Not easily. The fact, Mark, you said, right? FASKIANOS: Mark, yes. NAJAM: Mark. The fact, Mark, is that we have been kicking this one down the road. And that’s why we are confronting it. Till now—you know, I’ve been on this thing for at least thirty years. I was at Rio in 1992. I’ve been following the climate for nearly at every COP, at least until Copenhagen. And it’s not that the issue is new. We knew this from the beginning. The hope, the hope—because those of us who work on climate are essentially optimists. We want this problem to be licked. The hope was that we won’t come to the age of adaptation. The hope was that we would do enough on mitigation, right? What is adaptation? It’s the failure of mitigation. We would do enough that we wouldn’t come to this point of finger pointing. And therefore, it is going to become more and more difficult. Now, interestingly, again, if—the most important thing that’s happened in climate justice, to answer your question, this last week—I still haven’t read the exact document. But for the first time a country, in this case Denmark, has said that they are going to acknowledge the principle of loss and damage. Now, this is huge. For those of us who study—so, I’m assuming all of our audience are people who study this. Loss and damage, what’s loss and damage? You know, it’s just words. But it is more than words, if you take it seriously. Loss and damage means that if there is loss to someone or damage to someone, those who are responsible for it will somehow pay for it. We don’t do international relations like that. There are nearly no other areas in which we have things like that. I think what Denmark is trying, to answer Mark’s question, is saying: Let us restart, rethinking how we do climate assistance and climate aid, to address loss and damage. The challenge—the reason I’m scared about this is, imagine—you know, not even imagine. You don’t have to imagine. Just remember what happened in the summer. You had about twenty countries that had potentially climatically induced massive events—whether they were of heat, whether they were of fire, whether they were of drought, right? You get a planet where you see more and more of these things happening. It is not just the appetite for assistance. It is simply the capacity for assistance that will go. One last line, because I want to hear from others. And at the same time you have climate justice issues within developing countries, right? Now you have to choose between climate justice within the U.S. and countries elsewhere also pushing. That is why I’m insisting that it doesn’t make for pretty politics. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Isaac Alston-Voyticky, who has raised your hand. Q: Thank you very much. Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: Yes. NAJAM: Yes. Q: Great. So I’m actually a CUNY law student. And I am working on kind of the intersection between technology and environmental change. And I have kind of a combination question. First, what are your predictions for the combination of sea level rise and tides for mean higher high-water levels? For example, can we predict that higher sea level will actually have an effect on tidal highs and lows outside of the traditional modeling? And then, as a follow up to that, are there any models or maps out there which illustrate combination climate data. One of the most annoying things I find in my research is that, for example, NOAA’s sea level rise and tidal flooding can’t be compounded on its interactive map. They don’t show what will happen when sea level rises and tides also happen. So I don’t know if there’s anything out there. NAJAM: Isaac, I’ll be honest. I don’t know the answer to that, to the technical part of that. But the question is very, very good from a policy side. And I’m particularly happy that you’re coming from a law direction to this. So what policymakers often want, and they are also disturbed, just like you are, they want clear answers, right? I’ve been working on this for years. And they say, well, tell us what climate will do to my agriculture. I say, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish I could tell you it will be ten times worse, this or that. Because then at least you would have something to plan with. The thing about climate change is not just the climate, it is the change. What makes it scary is that we don’t know what the change will be. But let me—let me, in not answering your question—not knowing the answer to the technical part—I have not seen those maps either. And I do not know what the combination is. There are many people I know who are as worried about that combination as you are, particularly in small island states. Because what people are realizing is that it’s not going to be one thing at one time. You get here, and you get hit there, and then you get hit in the face again, right? And again, just because of what—where I’m coming from, I’ll give you the Pakistan example. These floods that you’ve been hearing about, actually, the flood isn’t that bad. Pakistan is used to floods, and it isn’t that bad. Something happened there which was in some ways synonymous to what you are talking about. What happened is that six weeks before the floods, there was massive heat and near drought, which means you essentially get a clay soil, right, that has been totally depleted. Three weeks before what we call the floods, there was massive rain—monsoon which was seven times the expected normal—seven times. And those were the first pictures that came. And again, that is clearly because of climate. Seven times doesn’t happen. You know, and they came. And what that meant was on totally dry land they created this sort of lake effect, the type of picture you saw. And then came a flood which was higher than usual, but would have been manageable. Why am I giving you this example? That’s the one punch, two punch, three punch, much like your tides. Now, if you are a small island country, that’s what you are worried about. You are worried about that even if sea level rise on its own you can deal with in adaptation, you can prepare for. What happens when that happens, and the tidal change happens? It is the uncertainty—what makes climate particularly unpredictable is the uncertainty of what we are seeing, not simply the magnitude of the change. Now, and this is particularly true for sea level rise. I am an optimist still. I think we are a wise enough species, particularly for sea level rise. We are able to change our life patterns and where we live. We have technology in many places to deal with it. But the reason we worry about is not because sort of—you know, it’s not like Hollywood, where New York will be half underwater. I really don’t think that will happen. I think we will get—come to our senses well before that. But it is this one-two-three punch of multiple climatic events happening together. Sorry I don’t have a technical answer to your question, but it is a very good question. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Molly O’Brien, who’s at George Mason University. Climate change demonstrates the complex ways in which food, energy, and water are interconnected systems. What are the most promising approaches you’ve seen to addressing climate change from a nexus perspective, rather than addressing distinct aspects of food, energy, and water individually? NAJAM: Thank you for that. I have seen some promising discussion, even if not fully implemented yet. You know, I’ve talked about—and I’m glad you talk about this. So as I’ve talked about this age of adaptation, there is a—I don’t know if it’s an opportunity—but there is—there is a hidden opportunity in that. And the hidden opportunity is that adaptation is essentially development. Show me any adaptation activity, and I will show you a development activity. I’m particularly talking about developing countries. And it is particularly about food, water—in particular about food and water. Food, in many ways, is nature’s way of packaging water. And so that’s—the nexus is the answer. Now, one of the things—I’ll give you one example of work that I had done many years—a few years ago. Again, in Pakistan, where we looked at potential climatic impacts on agriculture. This is a mostly agriculture country. And what we found—we were only looking at certain crops and certain parts of the country. So it’s not for the entire—but still for a country that majorly depends on this. The finding—I may be slightly off on the numbers, but I’m trying to recall—was that yield could go down by about 12 percent, right? Twelve percent is huge, if countries’ economies are depending on something. The interesting thing is not that. As I said, the number may be slightly off, somewhere in that range. What was interesting was that with adaptation interventions, good management, agricultural management, water management, better water use efficiency, better use of various technologies and so on and so forth, there could be a net benefit, even after accounting for climate change. And what that means is that there may be an opportunity around the world, if we take the nexus approach—and this is why sort of moving simply from carbon management to what you’re calling the nexus approach is not only a good answer, it is the only answer. And again, we see this not only in developing countries. We see this as countries think about net zero. I want to come to net zero again, because I’m not fully a fan of it. But the good thing about net zero is that it says: What can we do as a system rather than as a one-point lever on carbon going up and down? So short answer to your question is, what you’re calling the nexus approach is the only approach to adaptation. And in fact, having the most vulnerable countries start focusing on that food-water nexus, rather than only on emissions, is a good thing. You know, Bangladesh can bring its emissions down to zero. World emissions aren’t going to see much of a dent, right? But if Bangladesh starts focusing on food and water, it can make an actual difference on the type of impacts that 200 million people will face. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question, raised hand, from Evaristus Obinyan. Q: Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: Yes. Tell us your affiliation, please. Q: I’m Dr. Evaristus Obinyan. I’m a criminologist. (Laughs.) As you can see, I’m not in the science field, but I’m very interested in this particular issue. I’m a professor at the Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. Now, I—listening to you intently, I thought I heard you say stop it from happening. But after I’ve seen the digitized presentations, I realized that you were—you wanted to use it—it’s sort of happening or deteriorating. Because you are saying that to stop the—this from happening—you know, absolutely, it’s already happening—to stop it from deteriorating. Now, some say, like myself—I said nothing works. This is just the story of the planet. It has to go through this major evolution. How, then, can we stop the deterioration? Maybe, actually, it won’t matter really, or maybe we can use science and technology to manage or attempt to mitigate the natural planet evolution. FASKIANOS: Thank you. NAJAM: I hope I got the gist. I think I did, but if I failed—if I missed something, my apologies. There are two central points I want to pick up from that. I am not as pessimistic as you seem to be. I do think things work. I think—first of all, you’re right. You’re right, what we are seeing is a deterioration. Our efforts to try to mitigate have not yielded. And despite the fact that we have much higher interest in climate, and despite the fact that people sort of want to do the right thing, the fact of the matter is that line about emissions is just going upward, and upward, and upward. So that’s a reality. You are exactly right. But I am not going to extrapolate that into the belief that we can’t do anything. I think we have been reluctant to change lifestyle. And despite the fact—you know, we are an amazing generation. We are—my generation was amongst the first generation in the world which had more food than the world needed. And yet, people were hungry. We have more technology, better science than ever before. And we had more money, and yet people were sleeping poor. So the question is not of the ability to do it. The question is of willingness to do it. I mean, I have—I have faith in our species. I believe that it is a race between human knowledge and human wisdom. I think we have the knowledge to lick the problem, without creating lifestyles that are extremely uncomfortable. I’m not sure we have the wisdom to do it in time. We keep seeing that again. So I’m not willing to give up and say, well, this is inevitable. This is not inevitable. This is a choice. We make the choice. And I hope we can make an alternative choice. Now, the question then is, how will we do that? And I know it’s going to sound glib, I think at least theoretically the answer is what we've had for a number of years, which is sustainable development. But we need to look at this growth model again, that growth for its own sake as a goal keeps too fixated on this constant growth pattern, as opposed to moving towards a lifestyle that is comfortable and yet that doesn’t kill the planet that has given you this amazing sort of set of resources. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. I’m going to take Ivan Ramirez’s question, from the University of Colorado, Denver. And he’s originally from Ecuador. When I think about and discuss climate justice, I focus or relate it to health, existing disparities, and how climate exacerbates inequities. From your perspective, how is health being leveraged in the climate negotiations, as it relates to climate justice? NAJAM: On that last part, unfortunately it’s not. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s a beautiful question. Thank you very much for asking that. And health is just one of the areas, like many that, you know, the first question pointed out about that, about—from South Africa. This is the nature of not just climate, but of the development. That once one thing goes wrong, there is a cycle of other things unraveling. Again, since today I’ve been talking about floods in Pakistan, right now the biggest issue in Pakistan is actually not water. It is dengue. It is the mosquito. It is health, right? So that is one way in which climate events trigger. The other and more important way to answer this is, you know, you’ve noticed that I talk about ourselves as a species. I hope other people do too. I think it is useful to think of ourselves as a species, amongst many, on this planet. If you think about that, one of the things that happens is you realize we’re not the only species adapting to climate change. That’s why dengue is happening in Pakistan, even in the north, next to the Himalayas. It shouldn’t. It’s a tropical disease. So the mosquito also changes when the climate changes. And that is what’s called vector-borne disease. So amongst the scariest things in the science, and amongst the things that we actually know much less about—because we’ve been focused on carbon—is what is going to happen on vector disease? But just about all climate scientists are worried about if the climate changes, it is not just what happens to humans or, you know, the big sexy species like panda bears and polar bears. But what is going to happen to disease vectors? And disease starts moving to places where it wasn’t endemic. Which means those places are not ready for it. And again, we are still struggling to come out of COVID. Now, COVID wasn’t because of this, but people who study Ebola have been—started worrying about that, that disease vectors move. Dengue is probably amongst the one that is talked about the most, because here is a tropical, maybe equatorial disease, that has been moving upwards, both in South Asia and the Mediterranean. So the health impacts are, in fact, one of those big ones, though they have not been talked about as much as climate change. Which is not to say that people are not interested in it, it is just that we don’t know enough about it. But people are worried about it. The justice issue of all of these things—I don’t want us to lose the justice aspect. The justice aspect essentially comes from the fact that those who are most vulnerable, those who are most likely to see the impacts, are not the ones who are most responsible for creating this. That’s the dynamic that creates that divisive politics of injustice. FASKIANOS: Let me go next to Gary Prevost, who’s raised his hand. And if you could—there we go. Q: Gary Prevost, College of St. Benedict in Minnesota. As I understand it, you’re basically suggesting that the resource allocation in the coming years needs to be much more on the side of adaptation than mitigation, especially in the global south. Does this mean that, say, the $100 billion a year, if it could be achieved, that would be used in the global south would be primarily more traditional development aid for the—in all of the fields that we’ve talked about, and not so much to create green energy in the—in the south? And that in the north it would still continue to be the focus on mitigation, since we’re the ones creating the carbon footprint. Am I understanding your basic argument that way? And then finally, if it is going to be traditional—more traditional development aid, do you think that’s going to make it easier or harder to achieve it politically from the global north countries? NAJAM: Gary, that’s a brilliant question. And you’ve really sort of unwrapped what I’m saying, what I was saying politely you have said more bluntly. And you’ve also highlighted, very, very politely and diplomatically, why it is very, very difficult. So the easiest part of your question is the last part, will it make it easier or more difficult? Clearly, more difficult. Will it even be possible? Probably not. So when I say that’s what—if I think that’s what should happen, that doesn’t mean that I think it will happen. Because we don’t have any models of massive reparations or, you know, international affairs doesn’t work on your fault, you pay me. There isn’t an international environmental court, or any court, that is going to do this. So how is this going to happen, except through goodwill? And at the scale, that goodwill there is no evidence we will be seeing. But let me first come to your question, because your—the way you framed it, which is—which is kind of right. Kind of right. So I do think that going to the old essential principle that no one else talks about these days, but which was part of the original UN agreements on climate, et cetera, which is common but differentiated responsibility. I wish we had taken it more seriously. The idea of common but differentiated responsibility was: Global climate change is all of our responsibility, but it is a differentiated responsibility. Those who have had high emissions already have a high responsibility to bring them down. Those who have low emissions now have a responsibility to try to keep it lower and not go on that same trajectory by using better technology, et cetera. And those who have historical high responsibility for emissions should help create the conditions that whatever impacts happen are not catastrophic. So which meant that all countries should do something, but different countries should do differently. In a way, if you are a developing country person, as I am, one of the arguments that comes to mind, and many people say it out loud, is that the north, if you will, the industrialized countries, have been pushing developing countries to do what they were supposed to do. We aren’t really cutting our emissions that much, but why don’t you do it, Bangladesh? Bangladesh, you do EV policy. Bangladesh, you do solar policy. Or Pakistan. Or Papua New Guinea, or Burkina Faso, or whatever. I do think that it will be better, rather than pushing them only on emissions—because, you know, their emissions aren’t that much—so it is to bend the curve so that their future emissions are restricted, I understand that, right? But it’s not really solving the problem. Now that we have adaptation looming at us, I do think it is the right policy to have countries, especially with large vulnerabilities and large populations, get ready for the hit that is coming, that is already there. I don’t see that easily happening, but I do think that that is the right thing. Now, you have rightly exactly pointed out the argument from my climate friends usually is: But that’s not climate. That’s just development. That’s what they wanted to do anyhow, right? And the argument is, you’re trying to divert our climate money to your traditional development agenda. I understand the argument. I don’t agree with it, because, A, I hope it is not traditional. So let’s take a country that’s not a developing countries, the Netherlands. If there’s any country in the world that is historically prepared for climate impacts, past climate impacts, it is the Netherlands. How did it do that? Infrastructure. So I understand a lot of adaptation investment will be infrastructure. A lot of adaptation expenditure will look like traditional development. But I hope it is not traditional development. I hope it is sustainable development. And you are exactly right. I think one of the reasons we haven’t gone back—(audio break)—that route is because my old friends, people like myself maybe, who come to the climate side look at adaptation as somehow a dilution, even stealing climate money for development. And that is why—Irina has heard me say this before—climate is not, must not be, cannot be seen as the opposite of development. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to combine two written questions from Leda Barnett at Our Lady of the Lake University, who says: You’ve discussed insights on shared governance via COP and the shortcomings of multilateral diplomacy. We should continue that, of course, but do you think approaches like sanctions or smart power would be effective? Are there examples of this being used effectively? And then Diamond Bolden, who’s an undergraduate at Xavier University of Louisiana: U.S. is not impacted as much as other countries. However, we contribute to it. What policy can we implement to progress on environmental justice? Or I guess, she meant to help progress on environmental justice. NAJAM: You know, because of, again, the recent events, I see a lot of anger in a number of developing countries. That’s what I’m trying to bring here that, you know, there’s something growing out there. And a lot of it, you’ve seen that in major newspapers, New York Times, Washington Post, sort of, you know, people from developing countries are writing op-eds about reparations, about—some compare it to slavery and payments have to be made, and all that. Logically, I partly sympathize with that. But I am a realist enough to recognize that’s not how politics happens. So sanctions on who, right? (Laughs.) Are we going to put sanctions on floods? The flood isn’t going to—just because I tell it to stop, going to stop. So I’m sure you don’t mean that. Are we seeing sanctions on rich countries or rich people to pay? That sort of power dynamic, I don’t know any example in history where the weak can impose sanctions on the rich, on the strong. Now, one of the things, by the way no one has pushed me on this. You should. I keep talking north and south, but it’s not just north and south. It’s not rich countries, poor countries. It’s rich people, poor people. The same flood in Pakistan, you know, people ask me, is your family safe? Yes, they are. I come from middle class, affluent enough. The flood impacts the poorest people in Pakistan. And the richest people in Pakistan also have high emissions, right? So it’s not as stark as that. And this goes back to the last part of the second question you asked. Yes, the U.S. has higher emissions but, again, the question that hasn’t come, the U.S. has serious environmental injustice questions of its own. It doesn’t mean that all of the U.S. is equally responsible. And as the climate changes, it is the poorest and most vulnerable in the U.S. who are going to be impacted. Again, the reason I keep saying I am particularly worried about this is as that happens whatever will there might be amongst my U.S. friends to talk about global climate justice, they are going to be distracted immediately by the most real, much more close, much more visible impacts of climate justice within the country. I’ll take a slight detour, Irina, but I think it’s a relevant one. This is from Professor Bullard’s work many, many—thirty years ago. You know, when he used to point out—this is not about climate, but it’s very much related—take a map of the U.S. And on that map, put a pin on wherever a superfund, most hazardous waste dumps are. And what you have just created is a map of the poorest African American communities in the U.S. OK, that’s the environmental justice question here. So just—it hasn’t come up, but I don’t want to sound as if this is simply a north-south issue. Within the south, within the north, and then within the north-south, because climate is not looking at those borders. Those are our creations, not the climate’s. FASKIANOS: Yes. I’m going to take the next question from Keith Baker, who has a raised hand. Q: Can you hear me? FASKIANOS: We can. Q: Hey, yeah. I’m Keith Baker. I work for Dallas College. I teach accounting and finance. One of the things I’ve noticed of the last several years is that rural water systems in the United States are deteriorating at a very rapid rate. As a matter of fact, some ones I’m personally aware of, because I have some friends who work in the education industry for teaching water treatment plant people, is that they’re sending out notices to very large populations of people that says it’s not safe to drink this water. It’s not safe to bathe in this water. Do not get this water in your eyes. Oh, by the way, extended exposure to this water in taking a shower might give you cancer. Now, if that’s happening in rural America, that means that some of the other infrastructure problems that we have, like in the Dallas area where I live where we’ve had these what I call downpours that have increased in intensity in the last several years, where our water runoff system has been overwhelmed. And neighborhoods that are a good hundred feet above the normal floodplains coming from creeks are having waters back up from the storm sewer system being overwhelmed, and starting to see some houses flooded that you would have never seen flooded twenty years ago or thirty years ago. NAJAM: So, Keith, this goes back to my previous point that climate doesn’t discriminate, in this sense. Now, the map I showed there is greater vulnerability in certain parts of the world, but all parts are vulnerable. The distinction also is that if you are in a richer country, you at least theoretically have the ability to deal with it. Like hurricanes, I mean, the same hurricane comes to Haiti and then to Florida. We here in the U.S. have a greater ability to—to just to be able to buy our way out of the impacts. We can build better. We can move people. We have the resources. And therefore, one of the things you always notice about with hurricanes is that when they hit the Caribbean the headlines are about how many lives lost. And when they hit our shores, the headlines are usually about the economic cost of that. That’s a good thing. I hope for every country it’s only an economic loss, right? But you are exactly right, now the—again, from a political point of view, as these things that you are describing in rural America, and some of it very scary from what you say, as that happens countries are going to find it more and more difficult. They’re already not inclined to support other countries for environmental justice, for climate justice. And if the pressure from within their country is higher, they’re going to be less and less inclined. And this relates, for those of you who study geopolitics, not even climate, what that means is that another fault line in a very fractured world appears. So you already have a world, in terms of geopolitics, that seems to be fracturing in various ways, and you have various pulls and pushes. In comes climate, just like we saw in COVID, right, when we thought vaccine diplomacy from different countries. That reaction is also going to exacerbate. But that’s the multiplier. FASKIANOS: So I’m going to take the next question from Jeanie Bukowski, who is at Bradley University, and sitting in now with her undergraduate class. Thirty-four students, science and politics of global climate change. Could you talk a little more about how individuals, especially young people, can take action on climate justice? NAJAM: I hope I’m amongst friends. (Laughs.) I’ll tell you what I tell my students and what I tell my kids. The good news is that we have now the type of—particularly in the U.S., but all across the world, actually—all across the world, all across the world, particularly in the young, there is a very heightened sense that this issue is real and that something has to be done. A lot of that has been channeled at you guys, meaning my generation, haven’t done what you were supposed to do, which is exactly correct. But not enough—as, you know, my grandmother used to say, point one finger at someone and at least three point back at you. Not enough is being spent on what we are doing with our own lifestyle. And I think sort of that—the reason why we keep talking more about it but the graph on actual emissions doesn’t shift we need to interrogate, right? And some of those easy answers don’t really work. So, for example, and I hope I am among friends so I’ll be blunt. It is—it is nice not to have a car and say, OK, because I don’t have a car therefore I don’t have emissions. But if you’re using a lot of Uber, those are your emissions. Those are not the emissions of that car—the Uber driver. When you get UberEats to deliver food, those are not the emissions of the restaurant. Those are your emissions. When I get Amazon packages three times delivered to my home, the world’s statistics might count them as China’s emissions, because something was created in China, but those are my emissions, right? And ultimately, it is this question of lifestyle. And what I was saying earlier about we are—we have the technology. We have the knowledge. I am not sure we have the wisdom. And ultimately, that wisdom will come individually. I do not see scientifically any way—absolutely we are running out of time. I’ll be absolutely blunt. We are still living the dream that somehow I won’t change anything I do, but by corporations doing it or governments doing it there will be a magic wand by which this will be solved. I just do not see the math. And therefore, responsibility does begin with the letter I, me. FASKIANOS: I think that is a perfect place to end this discussion. So thank you for that. Adil Najam, this was a terrific hour. And there are so many questions—good questions and comments, both raised hands and in the Q&A, I regret that we could not get to all of them. But we’ll just have to have you back. So thank you very much. Appreciate it. NAJAM: Thank you for having me. Good luck to the planet, everyone. FASKIANOS: Yes, exactly. We all—we all have to think about the “I” of what we are doing, for sure. The next Academic Webinar will be on Wednesday, September 28, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. We are hosting Christopher Tuttle, who is the senior fellow and director of the Renewing America initiative here at CFR. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to follow CFR at @CFR_Academic. And you can visit,, and for research and analysis on global issues. Thank you all, again, for being with us today. And we look forward to you joining us again next week on September 28. So thank you, again. And thank you, Dr. Najam, for this hour. NAJAM: Thank you all. (END)
  • Infrastructure

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