Three Upcoming Conferences (Updated)

There are two three upcoming conferences this week that might interest you.  All should be interesting.  Hopefully at least one of them will be useful. 

The first conference is Stability Operations and State Building: Continuities and Contingencies in Tennessee February 13-15, 2008.  This part of the conference description threw me:

…we will look at theoretical, intellectual, and moral foundations of state-building as derived from the Age of Enlightenment, ethical norms, and religious values from various societies… we will examine contemporary practices as related to us by serving military officers.

This sounds like a colonial mindset even when throwing in "various societies."   Will they truly look at the socio-political-economic structures of target territories and will local systems take primacy over our "superior" systems? 

That said, a friend is presenting at paper at the conference.  Read it and read a discussion about it at Small Wars Journal. 

Tom Barnett and John Robb will be bookending the Valentine’s Day session with Tom in the morning, 8-9:30a, and John in the evening, 8-8:40p.

The second conference is The Challenges of Integrating Islam: Comparative Experiences of Europe and the Middle East at GWU’s Elliott School in DC.  Friend of MountainRunner Marc Lynch announced this event on his blog today:

The morning panel looks at the headscarf issue in Turkey, while the lunch address is being given by Jakob Skovgaard-Peterson, director of the Danish-Egypt Dialogue Institute (which must be one of the most thankless jobs in the world, but one which must offer some interesting perspectives on inter-faith relations).  Two outstanding anthropologists are slated to speak as well:  Jon Anderson (American University) and John Bowen (Washington University – St. Louis).   I’ll be rushing over from a morning workshop across town to speak at the 1:45 panel.  I was slated to talk about "The social and the political: Islamist views of reform", but now I’m planning to work up some remarks on the fascinating controversy which has erupted in the UK over remarks by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, over the application of sharia law in Great Britain. Stay tuned.  

The third conference is Public Diplomacy: Reinvigorating America’s Strategic Communications Policy at the Heritage Foundation tomorrow, February 13, noon – 1:30p.

Strategic communication has long been essential to furthering American foreign policy goals, especially during times of war. Recently, the government has taken numerous steps to improve its wartime strategic communication capacity. However, it is evident that the current system is not working as well as during the Cold War, and the United States still lacks an integrated public diplomacy strategy capable of bolstering America’s image overseas. This panel will address the efficacy of the current administration’s strategy and give recommendations for the next administration, whether it is Democrat or Republican.

I won’t be at any of these.  If you go, I’d appreciate sharing your thoughts on the events.