• Pell Center Announces Inaugural Nuala Pell Fellowships

    12 Salve Regina University Students Selected for Leadership Program named for Mrs. Nuala Pell

    Newport, RI—The Pell Center has named the inaugural class of Nuala Pell Fellows—members of the Salve Regina University class of 2017 who have been selected from a highly competitive pool of applicants to receive leadership development training over the course of their sophomore year at the University.Nuala Pell Honors Scholars

    Salve Regina University President Sister Jane Gerety, RSM, praised the students for their commitment to leadership and service. “We are called by our mission and our vision for this institution to prepare students for lives of distinction in service to others,” said Sister Jane.   “These young men and women have embraced that call and we are so very proud of them.”

    The Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service is named for long-time Salve trustee Nuala Pell who was also the wife of Senator Claiborne Pell. Through her own service and leadership, she made important contributions to her community with a humility and grace all too rare today. Although Mrs. Pell passed away earlier this spring, last summer she helped design and create the program which now bears her name.

    As Nuala Pell Fellows, the students selected from the class of 2017 will participate in nearly 60 hours of seminar instruction on leadership and the complex challenges facing effective leaders today. They will also undertake a community service project and turn their attention to public issues with an understanding about how their voices can change the conversation.

    The program will be delivered by the core staff of the Pell Center and members of the University faculty. Seminars will be leavened with outside speakers whose personal experience or story of leadership will educate and inspire.

    “The Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service is intended to be a transformative experience for its participants,” said Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes, Ph.D. “This generation of young Americans will have to address a long list of challenges—from a changed climate to demographic and resource shifts that will challenge the familiar and the comfortable. As a nation we will need leaders committed to service to meet these challenges head-on. We’re thrilled that the Pell Center can honor Mrs. Pell while at the same time contributing to the public good for years to come.”

    “Anyone who was blessed to know Nuala knows the gentleness of her spirit and the dignity with which she treated everyone she met,” continued Sr. Jane. “We believe the grace she embodied in her life is essential to effective leaders today and we’re delighted that the Pell Center is home to this initiative.”

    About the Pell Center

    The Pell Center is a multi-disciplinary research center—or think-tank—on the campus of Salve Regina University. Named for former-Senator Claiborne Pell, the center promotes and studies good governance, public engagement, and effective leadership at home and abroad.

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  • Pell Center and Naval War College to host “An Evening with Senator John McCain”

    Senator John McCain

    Senator John McCain

    NEWPORT, RI ̶ On Thursday, June 12, 2014 the Pell Center and the U.S. Naval War College will host “An Evening with Senator John McCain.” The Arizona Senator and 2008 Republican Party nominee for President will speak in Spruance Auditorium at the Naval War College from 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM.

    Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes welcomed the opportunity to host a national hero, saying, “We are delighted to work with our colleagues at the Naval War College to host Senator McCain. His legacy of faithful service to the United States is an inspiration and we are eager to welcome him to Newport.”

    “We also owe a debt of gratitude,” continued Ludes, “to Rhode Island’s own Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for bringing us all together for what promises to be a very special night.”

    Senator John McCain entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954. He served in the United States Navy as a pilot until 1981 and received numerous awards, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Flying Cross. He graduated from the National War College in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

    Senator McCain was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and elected to the United States Senate in 1986. Some of the key issues Senator McCain focuses on include agriculture; budget, taxes and economy; defense and national security; education and healthcare.

    Limited seating is available. To register, please click here.

    Date: Thursday, June 12, 2014

    Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 pm

    Place:  Spruance Auditorium

    U.S. Naval War College

    686 Cushing Road

    Newport, RI


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  • Pell Center receives RI Foundation Grant to Support Innovation in RI Cities and Towns

    Cohort 1 of Leadership Matters includes leaders from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as Salve Regina University.

    Cohort 1 of Leadership Matters includes leaders from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as Salve Regina University.

    Newport, RI—Investing in the human capital so important to Rhode Island’s cities and towns, the Rhode Island Foundation awarded a $45,000 grant to the Pell Center at Salve Regina University to support Leadership Matters—a multi-community leadership development initiative in its first year.

    Leadership Matters is a three-phase program for public leaders in Rhode Island. In the first phase, teams from Middletown, Newport, and Pawtucket, as well as one from Salve Regina University, received 64 hours of professional development training in facilitation practices for public leaders; systems thinking; negotiation; and strategic alignment for high performance. In the second phase, the three participating communities are adopting innovation projects with mentored support made possible by the RI Foundation’s grant. In the third phase, participants will gather at the end of this year for a lessons-learned conference—an important step in creating a culture of shared learning across communities.

    “The Rhode Island Foundation is a vital institutional pillar in Rhode Island,” said Pell Center Executive Director Dr. Jim Ludes. “We’re grateful for the support and the confidence they’ve placed in us to deliver a program that will help some of the state’s most dedicated public servants achieve more for their constituents.”

    In developing Leadership Matters, the Pell Center has partnered with the Public Sector Consortium (PSC), a Cambridge, Massachusetts non-profit with an extensive track-record in providing leadership programs to public-sector audiences. The PSC’s president, Georgianna Bishop, praised the Rhode Island leaders already involved in the program. “I’ve worked with public leaders across the United States,” said Bishop, “and the people we’re working with in Rhode Island are truly exceptional for their talent and their desire to serve the public’s interest. We are thrilled to be a part of this effort and grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for their support.”

    “The fiscal challenges facing Rhode Island municipalities make it more important than ever to invest in developing public sector leaders who can do more with less,” said Jessica David, the Rhode Island Foundation’s vice president for strategy and community investments. “We hope the Pell Center will be able to leverage our support to expand the circle of sponsors as the program delivers innovation in our cities and towns.”

    Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said, “The mentored support, made possible by the grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, is helping my team work better in Pawtucket.  That’s why we all signed up for this program—to help us serve our communities better—and we’re doing just that.”

    “This is real work,” said Jane Howington City Manager in Newport. “My team has taken this and begun to apply the lessons to the way the city delivers services. It’s investing everyone in the outcome, and we’re beginning to see results.”

    “This second phase is critical to the design of the program,” continued Dr. Ludes. “We built it to provide communities with support so they could tackle big issues. It’s the practical application of theory—and it would not have been possible without the support of the Rhode Island Foundation.”

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  • Podcast: Carolyn Deady on Incarceration in the U.S. and Abroad

  • Pell Center pays tribute to Jennifer Cook, Member of its Story Board

    Newport, RI –Pell Center director Jim Ludes released the following statement regarding the loss of Rhode Island College professor Jennifer Cook:

    “We are heartbroken by the passing of Jennifer Cook in a tragic accident this past weekend.  We had only just begun to work with Jennifer, but know how gifted she was as a teacher and as a storyteller. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, and also her colleagues at Rhode Island College.”

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  • $1,000 available for high school, college student producers in short film contest

    NEWPORT, R.I. – High school and undergraduate college students are being challenged to address the pressing issue of childhood poverty in a filmmaking contest. The competition is part of Story in the Public Square, a joint initiative of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University and The Providence Journal.

    The maker (or makers) of the winning film will receive $1,000 and two other films will be selected for honorable mention.

    All three will be honored during this year’s Story Day conference, April 11, 2014, when participants will explore the theme of Moving Images: Public storytelling in film, video, TV and animation. Winning productions will be published online by the Pell Center.

    Winners also will have the chance to meet and share the stage with Danny Strong, the 2014 Pell Prize winner and keynote speaker. The Emmy Award-winning actor, producer and screenwriter Strong’s script credits include Recount, Game Change, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and Mockingjay, the two-part Hunger Games finale, set for release later this year and in 2015.

    “Nearly a quarter of American children live in poverty today,” said G. Wayne Miller, who directs Story in the Public Square. “In a recent speech to Rhode Island Kids Count in Providence, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and director of the Children’s Defense Fund, said ‘If we don’t stand for ending poverty in the richest nation on earth, we don’t stand for anything.’

    “So, we challenge students to tell a story through a short video, film or animation that would enlighten viewers about childhood poverty – and move people to take action individually, collectively or through public policy.”

    Contest Rules:

    * All entries must be uploaded to YouTube no later than 11:59:59 p.m. Sunday, March 30, 2014. Early entries are strongly encouraged.

    * After successful upload, send your YouTube URL/link, along with your name(s), your school’s name(s) and a valid email address, to: [email protected] with “2014 contest” in the subject field.

    * All productions must be the original work of the maker(s). If a team wins, members will divide prize proceeds. By submitting your entry, you agree to have your film published by the Pell Center.

    * Productions must be no longer than 3 minutes (3:00).

    * Productions may be either fiction or non-fiction, but they must address childhood poverty.

    * All contestants must be enrolled as a high school or undergraduate student at an accredited U.S. school, college or university at the time of the contest and provide proof of enrollment prior to award.

    * All awards will be decided by a committee of judges. The committee reserves the right in its sole discretion to make no award if judging criteria have not been met. The decisions of the committee are final.

    Rules are available online at: http://www.salve.edu/pellCenter/projects/publicSquare/studentContest.aspx

    Criteria for Judging:

    * Does the production address childhood poverty?

    * Could it inspire action?

    * Is it well done?

    To learn more about the conference and to register, visit www.publicstory.org.

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  • New Report: Incarceration and Recidivism: Lessons from Abroad

    Incarceration NEWPORT, R.I. Locking up the same people over and over again points to failures in the American penal system. In a compelling study released today by the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, fellow Carolyn Deady explores why America’s prison population is so large and looks to other countries for clues to a smarter approach.

    “The U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other countries. As responsible citizens we have to ask why,” said Deady. “What is so different about our society and our sense of justice that we lock-up more than 10 percent of our adult population? The answer tells us a lot about our values.”

    The U.S. criminal justice system needs to shift its focus from punishment to rehabilitation, particularly for non-violent offenders, argues Deady. The study, “Incarceration and Recidivism: Lessons from Abroad,” highlights the disparity between the American criminal justice system and those of other industrial nations. “The U.S. rate of incarceration exceeds that of the rest of the world, and costs the public about $80 billion annually. As one final point of comparison,” Deady noted, “the United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population yet it accounts for about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

    The United States compares so poorly to other nations for a variety of reasons discussed in the study. Foremost, however, Deady’s analysis points to mandatory sentencing rules, the decades-long war on drugs, and an approach to justice that emphasizes punishment over rehabilitation.

    “Incarceration and Recidivism: Lessons from Abroad” is the first study in the Pell Center’s Global Challenges initiative. “We know the United States faces big challenges on a broad sweep of issues,” said Jim Ludes, Pell Center executive director. “This project is going to pivot the perspective and look at pressing social issues in the United States from abroad.  Carolyn Deady, with her background in international programming at C-SPAN, is the perfect person to lead this effort.”

    The full report is available for download here.

    Listen to Jim Ludes’s interview with Carolyn Deady here.

  • Watching Ukraine, Thinking about 1956 & U.S. Strategy

    Hole_in_flag_-_Budapest_1956In the summer of 1956, riots broke out in Poznan, Poland, inspired, primarily, by grievances over wage reductions.  The forces of dissent however grew beyond those economic grievances to express discontent with a range of issues, most notably the influence of the Soviet Union and the presence of Soviet forces in Poland.  These local issues were swept up into the Cold War along with the process of de-Stalinization and the idea of “nationalist communism.”  In the end, the new regime in Poland convinced officials in Moscow that Poland sought no accommodation with the West, but rather sought to better provide for its citizens and thereby become a better ally of the Soviet Union.

    In October 1956, similar pressures broke free in Budapest, Hungary.  Mob action spread and the Soviet-backed regime teetered on the verge of collapse.  Soviet forces stationed in the country since the end of World War II attacked Hungarian demonstrators and then withdrew from the capital.  Over several drama filled days, the disturbances in Hungary began to promise true reform and the re-emergence of the post-war democratic parties that had been outlawed for more than a decade.

    The United States signaled it sought no military advantage in Hungarian independence.  Soviet leaders proclaimed their respect for the independence of socialist regimes.  Negotiations began about the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Hungary.  Yet developments quickly took a different course than those in Poland just a few months earlier.  After days of promise and tension, Imre Nagy—Hungary’s revolutionary premier—expressed his country’s desire to leave the Warsaw Pact, proclaimed Hungary’s neutrality, and requested UN recognition.  By then, Soviet leaders had already reached a decision and rushed troops in to seize control and install a regime more loyal to Moscow.

    The conduct of U.S. policy in those critical months of 1956 is best described as a balancing act.  On one side, the United States did not want to be seen as encouraging the Hungarian revolutionaries, but on the other, they did not want to abandon them, either.  Within the administration, opinions differed at all levels over what course of action the United States should take.  Secretary of State John Foster Dulles expressed a keen desire to act, confiding to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge at the United Nations that he was “worried that it will be said that here are the great moments and when they came and these fellows were ready to stand up and die, we were caught napping and doing nothing.”

    In contrast, President Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated remarkable patience in letting events develop.  He was firmly realistic in his assessment of the West’s ability to alter events in Eastern Europe.  The real source of anxiety for him in those months was the Suez Canal crisis.

    At lower levels, a whole range of options were considered, including offers of armed assistance, covert support, humanitarian assistance, and expanded propaganda.  That autumn, the National Security Council (NSC) in the White House began work on a revised policy statement in light of events in Poland and Hungary.  The draft document included the instruction to “undertake a study of the situation in other European satellites to formulate plans and determine U.S. courses of action in the event of future revolutionary actions or uprisings, whether successful or unsuccessful, in those countries which indicate a movement away from control by the USSR.”

    In a word, the Eisenhower administration was surprised.  They had no pre-packaged plans for an event which seemed to signal a new period in which regimes might want to move away from the Soviet Union.

    When the United States finally did take action, it came in the form of a series of diplomatic maneuvers in the United Nations designed to pressure the Soviets to refrain from violent action in Hungary.  The tactic failed.  On the morning of November 4, 1956, more than 200,000 Soviet troops and almost 6,000 Soviet tanks moved to put down the Hungarian uprising.

    Critics, then and since, condemned the Eisenhower administration’s failure to confront the Soviet Union more directly over Hungary.  Many explanations of U.S. policy have been offered since 1956.  But the truth can be distilled to two simple concepts.

    First, avoid actions that may lead to general war.  Eisenhower understood that U.S. action in Eastern Europe would be viewed by the Soviets as a threat to their national security.  Such moves were flatly rejected by the NSC in its planning, just as surely as they would have been if proposed to the president.  Other ideas, such as a CIA-advocated plan to employ tactical nuclear weapons against the major rail-lines running into Hungary as a means of disrupting the Soviet invasion, or air-dropping supplies to the rebels, were quickly dismissed.  Accordingly, the administration signaled the Soviets on several different occasions that the United States would not intervene militarily in the region.

    Dulles, despite his early advocacy for action, was one of several public voices about American intentions.  He signaled the Soviet Union that the United States sought no military advantage from freedom of the Eastern European satellites.  While Dulles praised “the heroic people of Hungary,” and condemned “the murderous fire of Red Army tanks,” Dulles was very direct about U.S. interests in the region.  He said “we do not look upon these nations as potential military allies.  We see them as friends and as part of a new and friendly and no longer divided Europe.  We are confident that their independence, if promptly accorded, will contribute immensely to stabilize peace throughout all of Europe, West and East.”  Subsequently, Charles Bohlen, the American ambassador in Moscow, was instructed to bring this passage from Dulles to the attention of Soviet leaders.

    On the evening of October 31, Eisenhower delivered a nationally televised address to the nation.  While he reminded his audience of the country’s bipartisan policy to end Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, he also noted the very real limitations on U.S. policy.  He said, “We could not, of course, carry out this policy by resort to force.  Such force would have been contrary both to the best interests of the Eastern European peoples and to the abiding principles of the United Nations.”

    In short, Eisenhower refused to take any action that might lead to general war with the Soviet Union.  That calculation had guided the administration’s conduct of national security policy from the very beginning of Ike’s presidency, and it guided the president’s conduct in the autumn of 1956 as well.  In an interview almost a decade later, Theodore Streibert, who served as director of the U.S. Information Agency in the first Eisenhower administration made clear that from the earliest days of the administration, policy makers had known, “that you could never send American boys across the curtain there to help liberate these countries, that you couldn’t spill any American blood in the process of liberation.”  The limits on U.S. policy in the autumn of 1956 were well defined and long-understood by officials.  Policy was not wholly improvised, even if specific developments in the Soviet sphere were unanticipated.

    In his memoirs, Eisenhower wrote that the president “learns to live with the frustrating fact that many issues on which he is required to work have no immediate, and sometimes not even a satisfactory future, solution.”

    Second, U.S. strategy in the Cold War was bigger than Hungary—and events there, no matter the specific outcome, could further U.S. interests.  The Eisenhower administration’s conception of the Cold War was a long-term political and economic struggle between the Soviet Union and the West, led by the United States.  Accordingly, the administration relied on non-military, primarily political, means to advance the interests of the United States.  This required a robust organization for political warfare and a willingness to use it.

    During the disturbances in Eastern Europe, the political warriors in the administration sought to use developments there to advance their cause in key target audiences, not in Eastern Europe, but particularly in Western Europe, Asia and Africa.  For example, Soviet action in Hungary, reported Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, “had reduced Soviet prestige in Western Europe to its lowest point in many years.”  These global political-psychological efforts were horribly undermined by Anglo-French conduct in the Suez Canal crisis, but the Hungarian uprising  provided useful political material to help draw the west back together given the immediate example of Soviet ruthlessness.

    The peril of general war and the promise of political warfare to advance U.S. interests short of the use of force were the first points Eisenhower emphasized when he met with the bipartisan legislative leadership on November 9, 1956.  The meeting notes record the president’s consistency:

    As a backdrop to this discussion, the President said, it was necessary to remember that this is the age of the atom and that the world has to find a solution—either we achieve peace or we face extinction. . . . The President wanted to note particularly that Hungarian developments have served throughout most of the world to convict the Soviet of brutal imperialism.  This was the opposite of the old situation when neutral nations would never view Russia as being guilty of either colonialism or imperialism, and when Russia would never be disbelieved and we would never be believed.  Further, the Hungarian situation warns us again that the Soviet is capable of changing its face almost instantly.

    In other words, the Hungarian and Polish uprisings provided ammunition for the Cold War.  In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s intervention in Hungary, Eisenhower noted in his diary that there were several tasks before him.  The first item, in his judgment, was to share with the world the facts—in both word and moving picture—of Soviet actions in Hungary.  “We must make certain,” the president opined in his diary, “that every weak country understands what can be in store for it once it falls under the domination of the Soviets.”

    Elsewhere, Eisenhower recorded in his own hand the significance of what he termed the “Hungarian Tragedy.”  The events in Hungary, Eisenhower believed, “convicts [the] Soviets before the world of the most brutal imperialism,” and “warns us of no change in purpose” in the Soviet regime.  Propaganda gains were also found in the subsequent defection of the Hungarian Olympians “en masse,” the boycott of Soviet goods sponsored by international labor, and the brutality of Soviet actions against Hungarian civilians.

    The administration was especially interested in emphasizing the Soviet Union’s brutality in the non-aligned world, particularly in India.  Eisenhower speculated events in Hungary might encourage Nehru to distance himself from the Communists and suggested to John Foster Dulles that in asking for Nehru’s counsel in this matter, the United States might draw India closer to the West.

    On the most basic tactical level, U.S. propaganda outlets focused on the publication of a “White Book” of Soviet offensives and news reels documenting the attack on Hungary.  When in January of 1957, the United Nations noted the urgent need for grain in Hungary to stave off starvation, American cold warriors were quick to contrast that with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s boasting of a bumper crop that year.

    These rather paltry moves by the administration, especially given the criticism that the United States had incited the Hungarian uprising, gave fodder to administration critics.  Eisenhower, however, was frustrated by that dynamic.  He felt the United States had done all it could do.  NSC minutes reflected his frustration:

    The President said that this was indeed a bitter pill for us to swallow.  We say we are at the end of our patience, but what can we do that is really constructive?  Should we break off diplomatic relations with the USSR?  What would be gained by this action?  The Soviets don’t care.  The whole business was shocking to the point of being unbelievable.  And yet many people seemed unconvinced.

    The conversation in the NSC meeting turned to how to better convince the rest of the world.  Eisenhower, for example, wondered aloud how any country—Syria, in his example—could still consider fostering better relations with the Soviet Union in light of events in Hungary.  “It is for this reason, the president continued, “that we must go on playing up the situation in Hungary to the absolute maximum, so the whole world will see and understand.”

    Despite his frustrations, however, the president, more than anyone else in his inner-circle, retained a dispassionate approach to the crisis.  It was a crisis of incredible human tragedy, full of the frustration that arises when leadership is wedded to impotence.  But Eisenhower understood it was but one crisis; a crisis about which the United States could do little more than protest, condemn, and offer humanitarian assistance to the victims.

    The Cold War was bigger than Hungary and bigger than Poland, and the overall U.S. strategy for waging cold war recognized this.  In the passions of the moment, Eisenhower held true to this insight and acted with his long-term vision of the Cold War in mind.  He was angry and disturbed by the use of Soviet force against civilians seeking freedom and democracy.  But he was not willing to upset the larger, more favorable strategic setting his administration had gained.

    Ukraine 2014

    A little more than 57 years later, and almost twenty-five years since the end of the Cold War, we find ourselves at a moment when leaders in Moscow have decided, again, to use force against a European neighbor whose people have chosen a different political path than Moscow prefers.  As of this writing, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops into Crimea, a peninsula in the south of Ukraine.  The American secretary of state has called the Russian action “an invasion.”  The new government in Kiev has mobilized its military reserves.  Emergency meetings of the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Council are underway.

    Russian actions in Ukraine pose the greatest threat to European peace and security since the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, and, like Eisenhower, President Obama finds he has few immediate options to alter the reality on the ground in Ukraine short of the use of force.  No different from the Cold War, the United States is not going to risk war with Russia over Ukraine.  Vladimir Putin knows that and so Ukraine will suffer the curse of geography—so far from God, and so close to Russia.

    Eisenhower had one advantage that Obama lacks.  In the first year of his Presidency, Eisenhower developed a national security strategy that both reflected and helped strengthen a bipartisan consensus about American national interests, the nature of the international system, and the means to prevail in the Cold War.  For example, U.S. policy in the autumn of 1956, focused on the exploitation of Soviet sins in Eastern Europe for propaganda value.  Ultimately, U.S. policy sought American security and prosperity as a result of a stable and free international political and economic order, embodied in the United Nations and protected by strong political and military alliances of free people around the world.  Soviet actions in Hungary, if nothing else, helped strengthen the bonds between the western democracies.

    Since the end of the Cold War, however, the United States has lacked a defining strategic framework.  The only true bipartisan consensus to emerge in those years has been the interventionist nexus between neo-conservatives and progressive internationalists—both of whom believe that the problems of the world are best managed by the imposition of American military power: look for examples of their work to the Kosovo Campaign in the 1990s and the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.  In both of those cases, however, the United States failed to receive United Nations Security Council authorization to use force.  Yet the President of the United States determined action was necessary and so American forces went to war.  Like it or not, the Russian president has done the same thing in Ukraine.

    At the end of the Cold War, reflecting on the robust international response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, President George H. W. Bush heralded a “new world order” in which the world’s global institutions worked as their designers intended.  Those institutions, built largely to protect a stable world order that greatly benefited the United States, have been ignored by presidents of both parties since then.  Those men, and the American public more broadly, seduced by the “unipolar moment” and convinced of America’s benevolence, power, and even righteousness, have let the United States repeatedly undermine the norms of international behavior that our diplomats now cite to Russia.

    “In the twenty-first century,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on March 2nd, “countries have been working to establish a different kind of behavior as the norm.”  Had the United States spent the last quarter-century since Kuwait building on George H. W. Bush’s vision of international peace and cooperation—a vision wholly one with Eisenhower’s view of success in the Cold War—Secretary Kerry’s remarks might resonate differently.  Instead, American political leaders in both parties have undermined the power of the United Nations to arbitrate issues of war and peace by ignoring the world body whenever it would not support the U.S. position.  Some might say that prerogative comes with great power, but the result now is that President Obama finds his administration, like Ike’s in 1956, in a position of leadership wedded to impotence.

    With or without an overarching ideological foe, the long-term interests of the United States lie in the creation and preservation of an international system of sovereign states, inviolable borders, free trade, and global institutions that reinforce and protect that system.  To be truly effective, such a system should be self-sustaining, and not simply the responsibility of the United States to preserve.  But for such a system to work, the United States, because of its power, must not just apply the norms of that system to others, it must live by them itself.  The alternative, as we have seen, is empty rhetoric in times of crisis and too many deployments of American troops acting as the world’s policemen.

    Russia has invaded Ukraine.  They are sure to seize Crimea.  Whether they move against the rest of Ukraine remains to be seen.  The question for Americans today is whether our response will be tactical—responding only to the immediate crisis in Ukraine—or if we will take from this moment the inspiration to commit ourselves more fully to the creation and preservation of an international system that better protects American security, and the security and freedom of people around the world.

    The United States does not have the power to impose its will everywhere around the globe.  We’re better served by an international system that reflects our will and protects our interests.  We’re a long way from there today.

    Note: Dr. Jim Ludes is Executive Director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.  From 2002 to 2006 he advised then Senator John Kerry on matters of defense and foreign policy.  From 2006 to 2011 he was Executive Director of the American Security Project, a Washington-based think tank.  During 2008-2009 he served on President Obama’s transition team in the Pentagon.

  • Danny Strong to be awarded University’s Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square

    Emmy Winning Screenwriter Danny Strong to be honored by Pell Center

    Emmy Winning Screenwriter Danny Strong to be honored by Pell Center

    NEWPORT, R.I. – Emmy-winning screenwriter, producer and actor Danny Strong will be honored April 11 at Salve Regina University when he receives the second annual Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square, an award recognizing a contemporary storyteller whose work has had a significant impact on the public dialogue.

    Strong — whose screenwriting credits include Recount, Game Change, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and Mockingjay, the two-part Hunger Games finale — will also be the keynote speaker during the second Story in the Public Square conference, a partnership of Salve Regina’s Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The public is invited to attend.

    “I am delighted to be receiving the 2014 Pell Center Prize,” Strong said. “I think it’s wonderful that Story in the Public Square recognizes storytelling that explores public policy and social justice. It’s never easy getting this kind of material produced, so honoring it is a public service of its own as it will hopefully lead to more films and TV shows that examine the pressing social issues facing our country today.”

    “Danny Strong is a master storyteller whose work prompts us to more deeply examine our political system and society,” said Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center. “We are privileged—and frankly, thrilled—to welcome him to campus.”

    Said Story in the Public Square director G. Wayne Miller, “Film has a unique power to place vital issues center stage in the public dialogue. On a personal level, one cannot watch Danny Strong’s movies and not reflect on inequality, racism, politics and other pressing themes of our time.”

    Strong’s Game Change, the 2012 HBO production about the 2008 presidential election, won a Golden Globe, a primetime Emmy, a Writers Guild of America Award, and a Producers Guild of America Award. His 2008 HBO film Recount, about the 2000 presidential election, won a Primetime Emmy. Part I of the Mockingjay Hunger Games finale will be released this fall. Part II is currently in production. Strong recently signed to script the remake of Guys and Dolls.

    Strong is also an accomplished Hollywood actor, having played roles in the TV series Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls and, early in his career, the character Jonathan Levinson in the hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He also acted as a producer on many of his projects, including Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Game Change and Recount.

    “Moving Images” is the theme of the April 11 conference. The day will include screenings and discussions by four local storytellers from the worlds of TV, animation, feature-length documentary filmmaking, and short documentary/video. The audience will have the chance to make short films of their own. The day concludes with an evening screening of Strong’s Game Change at the historic Jane Pickens theater in downtown Newport.

    Dana Priest, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer, was the 2013 winner of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square at last year’s inaugural Story Day conference.

    The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy is a research center on the campus of Salve Regina University.  The center is named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell, statesman, creator of the Pell Grants, and father of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. Pell lived in Newport.

    Early registration for this year’s conference is recommended. Register through the link at  www.publicstory.org.  The $25 fee includes lunch and the evening screening at Jane Pickens Theater.

    Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StoryInThePublicSquare

    Follow us on Twitter: @pubstory

    The hashtag for the April 11 conference is #publicstory.

  • Story of the Year 2013: National Security Agency Digital Spying

    Newport, RI–Pell Center Executive Director Jim Ludes and G. Wayne Miller, director of Story in the Public Square, released a video announcing the first winner of Story of the Year today:

    Ludes and Miller also released the following statement announcing Story of the Year 2013:

    We are pleased to announce our pick for the first annual Story of the Year – that one narrative—or story–from the last 12 months that we believe has most significantly affected American public dialogue and policy.

    There was plenty of competition: the botched rollout of Obamacare, the federal shutdown, the continuing impasse on immigration reform, the agreements on Syrian chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program, even the election of Pope Francis. All of these stories held our attention.

    But for story of the year, 2013, we have chosen disclosure of the National Security Agency’s massive digital spying operation.

    The story broke in June, when newspapers in the United States and England began publishing stories based on up to 200,000 documents stolen from the national security agency by Edward Snowden, a former contractor to the agency.

    The first reports described NSA collection of phone call data from U.S. customers of Verizon. As more documents were published, it was clear that the NSA was monitoring email and other information, some obtained from Aol, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

    The revelations led to denials, confirmations, congressional hearings, proposed legislation, international backlash – and growing public unease that contemporary America had taken on an Orwellian mask. For their part, the president, the NSA and others defended the surveillance programs as authorized by congress, reviewed by the courts, and deemed necessary by the commander-in-chief for security in the post-9/11 world.

    As 2013 draws to a close, the story is still unfolding and the debate is really just beginning. Americans are questioning their government – and pondering anew the meaning of privacy in the digital age. America’s allies are asking questions, too. And you can be sure that America’s adversaries are changing the way they operate as well.

    This is a vital story that will be with us for years—and one that we believe is worthy of our pick as the Pell Center’s 2013 story of the year.

    We encourage you to visit www.publicstory.org, where you can join the discussion about government spying and where you can learn more about story in the public square, a program open to all. And please visit our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/StoryInThePublicSquare — and follows us on Twitter: @pubstory.

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