European Forum 2005-06 Year Update

Hitchens1.jpg

Author Christopher Hitchens
Photo credit: 
Rod Searcey

The European Forum at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University had an eventful and exciting 2005-06 academic year. We organized almost thirty seminars, workshops and other events on cultural, economic and political issues affecting Europe, its relations with the United States and its role in the world.

We hosted several prominent politicians and diplomats during the academic year. In October John Bruton, European Union Ambassador to the United States and former Prime Minister of Ireland (1994-97), presented his views on Europe and the United States as global partners. Earlier during the Fall we were honored to welcome Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Artis Pabriks. He gave a lecture on Latvia's current challenges in foreign policy and homeland security.

During the Winter term Estonian President Arnold Rüütel visited Stanford. In his talk he addressed such issues as Estonia's relations with the United States, the European Union and Russia. Andras Simonyi, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, also visited the European Forum. He presented a fascinating lecture on the political and economic situation in Hungary two years into its EU membership. Three more diplomats gave talks during the Winter Quarter. Kurt Volker, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, spoke about the United States, Europe and the broader Middle East. Dominic Martin, Counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington, talked about the United Kingdom and its current challenges and opportunities in world politics. Richard Morningstar, former United States Ambassador to the European Union, Lecturer at the Stanford Law School and European Forum Research Affiliate, presented his insights into the cooperation between the United States and the European Union in counter-terrorism. This last seminar was part of a series of events the European Forum organized on the manners in which European countries and institutions are dealing with the threat of terrorism, following the attacks in Madrid and London.

The War on Terror was also among the issues addressed by Joschka Fischer, former German Foreign Minister (1998-2005). He visited the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies in April and gave a 2006 Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecture for a standing room only crowd at the Bechtel Conference Center at Encina Hall. He talked about Europe's prospects in a globalized world and the future of transatlantic relations. British Ambassador Sir David Manning gave an equally well-attended and equally impressive 2006 Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecture on energy as a burning issue in foreign policy.

Other events organized on the topic of counter-terrorism included a round-table discussion on anti-terrorism finance, by Jacob Shapiro, Laura Donohue and Khalid Medani, all affiliated to Stanford University, and a lecture on the French experience of counter-terrorism by Jeremy Shapiro from the Brookings Institution. The series of events culminated with a lecture and a seminar by prolific author and columnist Christopher Hitchens. During a visit to the European Forum in May he presented his fascinating and thought-provoking views on the war on terror, and the situation in Iraq and Iran. The series of events on terrorism is to continue during the next academic year and will culminate with a Thinking Terrorism conference in late 2007.

Furthermore, we organized a number of events on other political issues. German sociologist Heinz Bude, from the University of Kassel, presented his views on the most recent German elections from a broad, societal and historical perspective, paying attention to the 1968 student uprisings and their long-term impact on German society. Christian Deubner, from the CEPII research center in Paris, shared his opinions on current developments in French politics, with a focus on the French rejection of the EU Constitution earlier this year and its impact on France's position in the EU. German author Peter Schneider offered his reflections on the cultural differences between Europe and the United States. He compared the relationship between the two continents to a marriage that has its ups and downs, but endures. Josef Joffe, Editor of the German newspaper Die Zeit, pointed at cultural, demographic, political and economic reasons to argue that the European Union is not about to become a new superpower.

Ken Kollman, from the University of Michigan, presented a political-economic model of leadership in federations and applied it to the EU. Bert Martens, an economist at the EU Commission in Brussels, presented an analysis of the EU's export of political and economic institutions to its neighboring countries, and the incentives it provides for regime change. Markus Hadler, a sociologist at the University of Graz and visiting professor at the European Forum during the past academic year, offered an appraisal of democracy in Europe.

Simon Hug, from the University of Zürich, presented a political-economic model of the negotiations for an EU constitution. Yaron Deckel, from the European Broadcasting Service, talked about the most recent Israeli Elections. Cas Mudde, from the University of Antwerp, presented a talk on immigration and the success of populist parties in the Low Countries. Piet Jan Slot, from Leiden University, gave a seminar on the EU's plans for an internal market for services.

We also organized a number of seminars dealing with various aspects of World War II and its aftermath. There was a talk on the effects of the Europeanization of the holocaust on the attitudes toward Jews, by Werner Bergmann from the Technische Universität Berlin. Monica Siegel, from California State University, Sacramento, gave a presentation on memory and reconciliation in France and Germany. Richard Evans, from Cambridge University, talked about coercion and consent in Nazi Germany. Wolfgang Eichwede, from the University of Bremen, gave a seminar on the dissident movement and Samizdat culture in Eastern Europe. Holocaust survivor Leopold Engleitner and his biographer Bernhard Rammerstorfer talked about surviving Buchenwald as a Jehova's Witness. Martina Pottek, from Bonn University, gave a presentation about artistic concepts to commemorate the holocaust.

Andreas Dorschel, Professor at the University of Graz, and Visiting Austrian Chair Professor at the European Forum during the past academic year, presented a lecture on Bruckner and the 19th century fates of origin.

As the next academic year draws near, we anticipate many more prominent speakers to visit the European Forum. Included in our schedule is the Europe Now lecture featuring Daniel Cohn-Bendit in November 2006.