13 May 2015

In the spring semester of 2015, the Strauss Center welcomed a number of distinguished speakers as part of its ongoing International Security Speaker Series (ISSS). ISSS hosts academics, practitioners, and government officials to discuss topics related to U.S. foreign policy, security, law, terrorism, and history. Below are several highlights from the 2015 spring line-up.

In February, Dr. Julian Zelizer joined the Strauss Center to discuss his new book The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.

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The book asserts that the former President was driven by his ambition to push through a second New Deal and that LBJ’s understanding of the limits of his own power and the enormity of Congressional power allowed him to take advantage of the larger sociopolitical climate in the U.S. to pass enduring legislation.

In partnership with the British Consulate-General and UT’s Energy Institute, Strauss Center Associate Director Ashley Moran moderated a March panel exploring the national and international security implications of climate change.

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The panelists included Lt General Ken Eickmann, USAF (Ret.), and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, British Royal navy (ret.), discussing actions undertaken by policymakers both in the United States and United Kingdom on the wide range of security implications of climate change impacts.

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Also in March, the Strauss Center and UT’s Institute for Israel Studies welcomed Dr. Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Center for Security at Georgetown University, who presented his new book Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947.

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During the discussion, Dr. Hoffman argued that, while terrorism was a central—and successful—tactic in shaping Britain’s decision making regarding Palestine, the creation of Israel resulted from a broader combination of diplomacy, negotiation, civil disobedience, and terrorist tactics.

The Intelligence Studies Project at the Strauss Center and the Clements Center for History, Strategy, and Statecraft welcomed former Islamabad CIA Station Chief Bob Grenier to discuss his most recent book 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary.

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In his book, Grenier, who is considered to be one of the most distinguished and respected operations officers of his generation, tells the story of the initial days following 9/11 in Afghanistan and chronicles the fall of Kandahar and the rise of Hamid Karzi.

In April, Brookings Senior Fellow and Lawfare co-founder Ben Wittes presented his new book The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones.


Wittes discussed the impact that rapidly changing technology has on the nature of violence, particularly as powerful technologies become increasingly available to the public. He asserted that, as technology makes both security threats and responses more distributed and individualized, the relationship between security, liberty, and privacy needs to be reevaluated.

The concluding ISSS event for the spring semester was hosted by the Strauss Center, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the School of Journalism at the University of Texas, welcoming Puliter-prize winning author and The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright to discuss his new book Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David.

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In his talk, Wright discussed the biblical concept of the Promised Land, the three main characters of his book, and the lessons to be learned from these thirteen days in September. He also shared with the audience surprising anecdotes from his interactions with the Carter family during his research for the book.

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Other topics covered this spring include emerging technologies and the future of war, Brent Scowcroft and national security, the creation and future of the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S.-China relationship in an increasingly multinodal world. For a full list of past Strauss Center events, visit our event archive.