Archive for war

SIPA Events – Interdisciplinary Talks

SIPA is a very busy place.  Each week there are 10-15 events that feature interesting speakers and panels on a variety of topics.  The following entry was contributed by Erisha Suwal, a second year student at SIPA.  Erisha is working in our office this year and she, along with several other students, will be contributing posts throughout the year.


While having lunch over lamb and rice with hot and white sauce, my Pakistani friends encouraged me to join them for a talk titled “ Pakistan 2010: The most dangerous decade begins.” The talk was organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion (CDTR). It is a Center that was founded after SIPA won a competitive grant and its main objective is to examine religion’s role in politics and international relations. The title was very intriguing and only the day before I had had a discussion   on how Pakistan seems to be in a constant state of turmoil. More than any other country. Perhaps even more than Afghanistan.  I joined them.

Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at the Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown, was one of the panelists. She was speaking on ‘India and Pakistan in Afghanistan: Opportunities and Constraints.’  She argued that India had a strong interest in staying in Afghanistan especially to monitor Pakistan. She questioned why no one talks about India running intelligence operations in Afghanistan and why no one challenges India when it build schools very close to the Pakistani border. She claimed that the Pakistani Army personnel, particularly those in the lower ranks, want the U.S. out of Afghanistan because they believed that the American presence intensified Taliban presence in Afghanistan. Her talk led to a rich discussion on India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At the talk, I found out that Terry Eagleton was coming to speak the same evening   on “The New Atheism and the War on Terror.” Eagleton is an influential literary theorist and Distinguished Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, who has written more than forty books. He gave an entertaining and insightful talk. The poster said, seating was on first come first serve basis. Usually I do not follow these warnings, but I’m glad I did this time. The room filled up very quickly and I ran into some SIPA professors. I saw Mahmood Mamdani, who teaches Political identities, State and Civil Wars in Africa and Theory, History, and Practice of Human Rightsand Professor S. Akbar Zaidi was also present. He teaches Political Economy of Pakistan: State, Society, and Economy.

Eagleton started off asking, “Why are atheists obsessed with religion as Puritans are obsessed with sex?”  He commented that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, whom he dubbed Ditchkins, were engaged in anti-god diatribe with zero conception of faith and theology. He also argued that rise of Islamic fundamentalism was similar to “chickens coming home to roost.” Eagleton delivered provocative and controversial but witty statements and entertained his audience.

CDTR co-organized Terry Eagleton’s lecture with Heyman Center for the Humanities. I missed going to lectures outside of class. It is easy to immerse oneself in course-works and socializing, Wednesday’s two lectures reminded me of how being in Columbia exposes you to cutting edge discussions in whatever field it might be.

SIPA Veterans Association

Active duty military and veterans from around the world are important contributors to the ongoing debates that form the foundation of the SIPA learning experience.   From discussing the most effective relationship between humanitarian organizations and military units in a war zone to discussing best practices in serving populations during natural disasters, SIPA benefits greatly from the contributions of students, faculty and visiting speakers with military experience. SIPA thrives on the diversity of perspectives in its classrooms and counts among its student body military students from nations around the world.

Late last month the SIPA Veterans Association hosted the following event:

Lieutenant General “Pete” Osman, USMC(RET):

Reflections on US Military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a welcome to the

Columbia SIPA Veterans Association


Lieutenant General H.P “Pete” Osman

General Osman will share his thoughts on current events in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans in the classroom, the New GI Bill, and the future of the US military.  General Osman served on active duty in the US Marine Corps for 37 years.  During his service he fulfilled a variety of duties including commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Commanding Officer for Officers Candidate School, and Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.  General Osman also served as Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for manpower and reserve affairs.  He is veteran of both the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

Columbia SIPA Veterans Association

Please join Lieutenant General “Pete” Osman as he welcomes the Columbia SIPA Veterans Association (CSVA) to campus.  The CSVA will endeavor to assist transitioning SIPA veterans assimilate to student life, provide venues for the discussion of relevant military and veteran issues, and help SIPA Veteran Alumni stay connected with current SIPA students.

Monday, November 23, 2009

7:00pm – 9:00pm

Room 1512, 15th Floor

School of International and Public Affairs
420 West 118th Street, New York City

In Memory of Major Mike Weston, USMCR

SIPA Professor Awarded Charles Merriam Award

We are pleased to announce that SIPA Professor Michael Doyle has won the 2009 American Political Science Association (APSA) Charles Merriam Award. This award recognizes “a person whose published work and career represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research.”

md2221Professor Doyle is the Harold Brown Professor of United States Foreign and Security Policy at SIPA and holds joint appointments in the Columbia School of Law and the Political Science Department. His recent publications include Making War and Building Peace: United Nations Peace Operations, with Nicholas Sambanis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006) and Striking First: Preemption and Prevention in International Conflict (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).

Professor Doyle has appeared on this blog before when in January he was  appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to a new term as Chair of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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