Thursday, November 29, 2012

From Triad to Dyad: Rationalizing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Delivery Systems

One of the big areas of contention during the presidential election was the issue of military spending. How much should the U.S. be spending on the military? Where does the military fall on the list of priorities for the United States?

Christopher A. Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and an expert on military spending, writes extensively about this issue and how the government should address it. His publications include The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe.

In an excerpt from his blog, Preble calls for a more in depth and transparent discussion of the costs of the U.S. nuclear weapons program. He asserts that the costs are largely unknown, and because of this, it is difficult to manage spending on the program. Preble’s lecture on December 6th will focus on rationalizing the U.S. nuclear weapons delivery systems.

To read Christopher’s Preble blog about nuclear spending, visit the following link:

For more information about Christopher Preble’s lecture, visit the event page on our website.

Please note that this lecture is at 6:00 p.m. at the Anchorage Museum. You can RSVP by calling us at (907)276-8038 or emailing us at All payment for admission will be at the door is $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mikkal Herberg: Asia Energy Expert

Although written a little more than a year ago, in June 2011, Mikkal Herberg’s editorial “China’s Energy Rise and the Future of U.S.-China Energy Relations” couldn’t be more relevant. Herberg points out the capacity that China has to completely reshape the global energy landscape and the challenges that poses to the United States. How should the U.S. approach the situation?

After a very in-depth analysis of the factors surrounding the U.S.-China energy relationship, Herberg concludes, “Stronger cooperation between China and the U.S. on global energy issues is vital to addressing our key global energy challenges, most importantly our common energy security dilemma. ... The issue is not cooperation on better U.S.-China relations for its own sake but cooperation that addresses our vital and common interests in energy security on a global basis.” To achieve this, Herberg suggests that the Obama administration focus on both short and medium term goals, and he encourages the creation of more multilateral institutions to manage energy security.

To read Mikkal Herberg’s full article, visit the New America Foundation.

Mikkal Herberg will speak to the Alaska World Affairs Council on Wednesday, November 28, at noon at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel. To pay in advance, click here.
To RSVP and pay at the door, call us at (907)276-8038 or email us at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Iranian Politics and Policies

Farideh Farhi is an independent scholar and expert on Iranian politics and comparative revolutions. Currently, she is a graduate faculty member in the political science department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. An engaging and informed speaker, Farhi be speaking to the Alaska World Affairs Council on November 16th, and she is not to be missed.

As we prepare to elect the next President of the United States, foreign policy has moved to the forefront of the national discourse. One of the many questions we must consider is how the next president will confront the issue of Iran's nuclear policy, as Iran's actions will inevitably affect our own nuclear and foreign policy decisions. To make things more complicated, understanding Iran's policies is difficult, particularly because at its heart is a " basic contradiction …  seeking to be a respected member of the international community while also loudly challenging international codes of conduct," as Farhi points out in her blog.

To gain a better understanding of Iranian politics, and its nuclear policies in particular, come hear from Farideh Farhi on November 16th.

To read more of Farhi's blog click here
For more information about Farhi's lecture, visit our website.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dr. Margo Thorning

On Friday, October 26th, Dr. Margo Thorning spoke to a full house about how U.S. tax and energy policy is affecting Alaska’s economy. Her lecture included in-depth analysis and statistics related directly to Alaska’s industries and circumstances. Her lecture sparked so much discussion that many attendees stayed well past the scheduled end of her lecture.

One suggestion, in particular was that Alaska might try broadening it’s tax base, in lieu of relying on heavily taxing oil companies to supply state revenue. Dr. Thorning argued that this would allow the state to ease up on taxing oil companies, which would in turn encourage more investment in the state on the part of oil companies.

To hear more of Dr. Thorning’s suggestions and analyses, listen to the podcast of her lecture, which will be available for streaming or download on KSKA's website shortly.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

KSKA Fundraising Drive!

AKWorld Board Members Pamela Orme, Anne Lovejoy, Robert Artwohl, and AKWorld Staff Lise Falskow, Kari Gardey, Alyssa Bish, and Meneka Thiru, and a student from the UAA club Volunteers Around the World volunteered to help with KSKA’s fundraising campaign by answering phone calls at APTI early (to the tune of 6 a.m.) Friday morning. With a little coffee and friendly competition to fuel us, we met our goal of donations with ease! Check out some photos from the day!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Chris Abani

“The point of the purposeful narrative, of the ethical narrative is to draw all of the courage, kindness, goodness, and hope from world and all the darkness and hate and pain and death into the open where we can all share it.”

On October 5th, Chris Abani spoke to an intimate group at the University of Alaska Anchorage about narrative and its connection to humanity, and thus human rights. He shared with us one of his essays, called the Writer and the Goat. The evening was more conversation than lecture, more dialogue than monologue; Abani interacted with the audience, before, during, and after the lecture, welcoming questions and comments, and sharing his own experiences off the cuff.

If you missed Chris Abani, his lecture is now available on the KSKA website as a podcast.

Monday, October 8, 2012

U.S. Energy and Tax Policies: Implications for Alaska's Economy

Dr. Margo Thorning is an internationally recognized expert on tax, environmental, and competitiveness issues and has testified as an expert witness on capital formation and environmental issues before various U.S. congressional committees. Dr. Thorning is senior vice president and chief economist with the American Council for Capital Formation and director of research for its public policy think tank.

Dr. Thorning writes for numerous online and in print publications. Below is an excerpt from a piece she wrote for the National Journal:

“Without question, the U.S. needs to do everything it can to promote domestic energy, especially oil and gas, to help meet our future population demands. And don't forget that enhanced energy production means an enhanced job market. Energy-producing states including Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Nebraska are seeing impressive income and job growth gains mostly attributed to the growing demands for their robust commodities, including oil and gas. Allowing the Keystone Pipeline would also enhance our energy supply and create more jobs. We should also allow companies export our robust supplies of natural gas.

The private sector is already making strides in new business models that accommodate changes in climate and weather patterns through "no regrets" solutions (or changes that would be undertaken in the normal course of business). Examples of this might include companies that are developing more drought-resistant seeds or hardening coastal infrastructure at risk from sea level rise.

To promote more energy production and more "no regrets" business solutions, we need a tax code that retains robust capital cost recovery. Tax provisions including accelerated and bonus depreciation, Last In First Out (LIFO) and Section 199, and provisions utilized by the oil and gas industry which are all on the table as potential eliminations as a trade-off for reductions in lowering corporate tax rates should be preserved.

Finally, we need reductions in regulatory and permitting barriers that are often factors hindering U.S. companies from making investments to improve or expand their facilities. For example, in addition to permits to meet federal regulations there are often additional state and local permit requirements, which add time and cost to a project getting underway. Environmental regulations should meet a cost/benefit test--those that have minimal environmental impact but place a chokehold on businesses should be eliminated.”

Clearly, Dr. Thorning’s expertise and recommendations concerning tax and energy policy is extremely relevant to Alaska’s own energy and development issues. To learn more from Dr. Thorning in person about how the U.S. government’s tax and energy policies will be affecting Alaska’s economy, attend our luncheon on Friday, September 21st, at noon in the Anchorage Hilton Hotel.

If you are interested in attending, we strongly suggest that you RSVP to us by Wednesday October 24th. Admission is $23 for members, $26 for non-members if paid in advance, and $26 for members, $30 for non-members if paid at the door. All students are free, as are UAA staff and faculty. To pay in advance, click here.

If you would like to pay at the door, you can still RSVP by sending us an email ( or by giving us a call (907-276-8038).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stories of Struggle, Stories of Hope: Art, Politics, and Human Rights

A topic that is not often discussed at the Alaska World Affairs Council’s typical events is that of our common humanity. What, though, is more worldly and more related to our international relationships than that which unites us? In his TED Talk (which can be viewed below), Chris Abani discusses what makes up our humanity, and how the people he has known in his life have taught him the importance of the human relationship.


Chris Abani is a Nigerian poet and novelist. As a young man, Abani wrote a spy novel about a foiled coup that incidentally mirrored a real-life attempted coup against the Nigerian government. Accused of laying out the blueprint for the attempted coup, Abani was imprisoned in Nigeria at the age of 18. Although he was released, he was later arrested and tortured twice more. Abani directs his experiences into his writing, resulting in “searing poetry” and poignant novels, all the while maintaining an optimistic view on life.

During his lecture on October 5th, which is sponsored by UAA Student Activities, Chris Abani will be discussing human stories of struggle and hope, and how art, politics, and human rights intertwine. The lecture will be held on at 7:30 p.m. in the UAA Student Union Den. Admission is free for all, and there is no need to RSVP.

For more information, visit the event’s facebook page.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Is the End of Poverty in Sight?

On September 21st, Dr. John Hatch discussed FINCA,  the organization he founded, and the use of microfinance as a tool to end poverty. Dr. Hatch was optimistic, despite the great challenges that we face; although his talk was entitled “Ending Poverty by 2040,” Dr. Hatch strongly believes that the deadline is actually quite generous, and that at the rate that microfinance is growing, poverty could be ended as soon as 10 or 15 years from now. Currently, microfinance helps 160 million families, which translates to about 800 million individuals, and this number is growing by about 10% per year. As Dr. Hatch put it, microfinance is “too big to fail, and it’s run by the people themselves.”

During his talk, Dr. Hatch also emphasized the importance of the bottom-up (versus top-down) approach. When an initiative is created from the bottom up, it involves individuals and creates a greater sense of ownership and accountability. Consequently, many groups become self-sufficient and no longer rely on grants to continue their work. The sustainability and potential longevity of these programs means that they can have more long-lasting effects on individual clients.

For more information about our future events, visit our website at If you missed Dr. Hatch’s lecture, a podcast version should be available on the KSKA website shortly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The End of Poverty by 2040

Village Banking Group Africa
Photograph from

Dr. John Hatch has a PhD in Economic Development and is the founder of FINCA  (the Foundation for International Community Assistance), a micro-finance organization that uses village banking as its model. Dr. Hatch is credited with creating the village banking model, which has served as a example for micro-finance organizations all over the world. He also served as FINCA's president and director of research during his 22 years with the organization.

Below is an excerpt from FINCA’s website ( explaining the village banking model, which is unique because it promotes individual empowerment and encourages financial responsibility by emphasizing community relationships.

“The Village Banking method is the form of microlending that FINCA pioneered. It is economic democracy in action. A Village Banking group is a support group of 10-50 members—usually mothers—who meet weekly or biweekly to provide themselves with three essential services:
  • small self-employment loans-–as small as $50 or $100--to start or expand their own businesses
  • an incentive to save, and a means of accumulating savings
  • a community-based system that provides mutual support and encourages personal empowerment.
Village Banking group members guarantee each others’ loans and run a democratic organization. The group guarantee is important, since borrowers don’t have the kind of collateral a commercial bank would be seeking to lend them money. Groups represent grassroots democracy in action; members elect their own leaders, design their own bylaws, keep the books, manage the funds, and are fully responsible for loan supervision, including enforcing penalties for non-compliance.”

Dr. Hatch will be addressing how the village banking model and micro-finance in general can be used as a means to end poverty around the world. With his expertise and lifetime of experience, it is sure to be an enlightening luncheon.

For a full biography of Dr. John Hatch, please visit our website.

Dr. Hatch will be speaking on Friday, September 21st, from noon to 1p.m. If you are interested in attending, we strongly suggest that you RSVP to us by Wednesday, September 19th. Admission is $23 for members, $26 for non-members if paid in advance, and $26 for members, $30 for non-members if paid at the door.
To pay in advance, click here. If you would like to pay at the door, you can RSVP by sending us an email ( or giving us a call (907-276-8038). 

The session will be moderated by Eric McCullum, an Alaskan businessman.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Priya Guha: The Changing Face of the Diplomat

Traditionally, foreign representatives have fit a particular mold and seemingly come from similar backgrounds. This pattern is changing and opportunities for foreign service is widening as the face of the foreign diplomat diversifies. We heard about this last week, when Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, the Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S., shared his story with us. During his lecture, he told us  that his first job in the U.S. was as the janitor in the embassy where he would one day work as ambassador, but then he didn’t think it was possible. At that time, Indonesian ambassadors were required to have military rank, something Dr. Djalal lacked. However, because the opportunities and requirements changed, Dr. Djalal was able to rise to the position of ambassador.

Similarly, though perhaps less explicitly, the face of representation from the UK has conformed to a certain idea of the traditional diplomat. In an increasingly diverse world, however, this is changing. Priya Guha was appointed as the first woman Consul General of San Francisco in August 2011, changing the face of traditional British representation. Guha is also half Indian; she represents both the multi-generational British citizen as well as the second-generation daughter of an immigrant. Guha, on several different levels, knows what it means to be a diplomat representing a diverse society and personal background. 

From 2007 to 2011 Guha served as First Secretary for Political and Bilateral Affairs, leading on Indian politics and the UK-India bilateral relationship. As the Consul General in San Francisco, she represents the British government’s foreign policy interests in several states including northern California, Washington,Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

Priya Guha will be speaking on Friday, September 7th at noon at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel. Price for lunch if paid in advance is $23 for members, $26 for non-members. If paid at the door, lunch is $26 for members, $30 for non-members. You can register through our website: