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The Trustees of the


Cordially Invite You to an Address by




Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
Elliott School of International Affairs
 George Washington University


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reception: 5:15 p.m. Address: 6:00 p.m.


Members: Free of Charge

 Guest of a Member: $10.00 Non-Member: $25.00

“United States Strategy for Syria, Iraq, and the Islamic State”

Seldom are so many of our nation’s interests, so many threads of policy, and so many diverse actors interwoven in a particular regional conflict.  The chaos of Iraq and Syria has created a flow of refugees and opportunists which threatens the very fabric of Europe as we have known it, our nation’s progenitor and closest global friend.  ISIS with the considerable sympathy for it across the Muslim world and the momentum for its cause gained from occupying territory, is at the very least, worrisome. Russia, hopefully moved by limited imperialism, seeks to conserve its regional foothold through the Assad regime; but by using uninhibited forcefulness, including targeting American trained local forces, risks serious misunderstandings.  Iran uses regional instability to move toward regional hegemony, which our traditional Gulf allies work to avoid. The various goals of the multitude of factions seeking to unseat Assad range from democracy to a caliphate.  Kurds defend their space and dream of unifying its people.  Turkey, concerned with Kurds at home, attacks anti-ISIS Kurds within Syria, and is willing to allow commerce with ISIS.  Now, with wide recognition of the unacceptable costs of the conflict, even the desired path to peace collides with the goal of many, Assad’s demise.


It takes an extraordinary student of the region, of warfare and diplomacy, to systematically unwind its complexity, analyze the context, and then articulate a reasonable strategy for the United States.  Professor Stephen D. Biddle is willing to take on this task to our great benefit.


Dr. Biddle holds A.B., M.P.P, and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.  In his career, he has sought to bridge the divide between policy and scholarship. He has held research and teaching positions at the Institute for Defense Analyses, Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the U.S. Army War College.  He has served on General Petraeus's Joint Strategic Assessment Team, General McChrystal’s Initial Strategic Assessment Team, and as a Senior Advisor to General Petraeus's Central Command Assessment Team in Washington.  Professor Biddle was a Senior Research Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations before joining the faculty at George Washington University in 2012.


His book Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle won four major awards.  Other publications have appeared in the most highest respected journals and media outlets. He also has written numerous reports for the Institute of Defense Analyses, the Army War College, and NATO.


We have every expectation that his address will be illuminating, a great help as one seriously reflects on the Middle East Crises of the moment and their several threats to international order.


It is a great pleasure to welcome Professor Stephen D. Biddle to the Council.


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