Humanitarian Dilemmas: Debating Interventions in Africa and the Middle East

The Center for NATO and European Union Studies at Kent State University, along with the Department of History, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Pan-African Studies, and the College of Arts and Sciences, welcomes you to a special mini-conference designed to explore humanitarian intervention, a major foreign policy issue facing the United States and the global community today.   

This conference will explore how the recent NATO intervention in Libya creates the possibility of further international military deployments in Africa and the Middle East. China and Russia's veto of the United Nations Security Council Resolution on the current crisis in Syria and President Obama's recent commitment of U.S. military forces in Uganda raise the possibility of expanded humanitarian interventions in the Middle East and Africa. The scholars participating in this conference will explore this particularly important conjuncture where military humanitarian interventions are increasingly seen as a way to back up the "responsibility to protect" United Nations' mandate.   

Thursday, April 5th 

Kent State Campus, Oscar Ritchie Hall, Room 250   

12:45 pm: Opening Remarks from Dean Timothy Moerland, College of Arts and Sciences  

12:45-2:00 pm: Libya: NATO's endgame? 

Our first task will be to situate NATO's Libya Operations in recent history as well as a potential precedent for further operations.  Hailed as a successful humanitarian intervention to stop possible genocide or ethnic cleansing, U.S. and NATO operations in Libya in 2011 have helped bring legitimacy to humanitarian military operations in Africa and elsewhere. Others suggest the Libyan Operation signals difficult times ahead for the alliance.

  • Clara O'Donnell, Brookings Institution
    Clara Marina O'Donnell is a Fulbright Schuman visiting scholar. She is an expert on EU foreign policy, European defense, and the transatlantic defense market. She is a frequent media commentator, including for the BBC, The New York Times and The Financial Times. Upon finishing her fellowship at Brookings, she will return to the Centre for European Reform, a leading European think tank based in London. 
  • Lawrence S. Kaplan, Georgetown University, Kent State University Professor emeritus
    Professor Kaplan established the Lemnitzer Center for NATO studies at Kent State in 1979. He has written numerous books and articles on the history of NATO and mentored many of today's NATO experts. 
  • Timothy Scarnecchia, Kent State University, moderator
    An Associate Professor of History, Timothy Scarnecchia is Director of the NATO and EU Studies Center, He specializes in African history and US-Africa diplomatic history. He is the author of The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe: Harare and Highfield, 1940-1964 (University of Rochester Press, 2008).  

2:15-3:30 pm: Evolution of Humanitarian Intervention: Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan   

Libya was not the first attempt by NATO and the U.S. to carry out humanitarian military operations. This panel will compare some of these earlier operations with Libya, and discuss the possible lessons learned. 

  • Kyriakos Nalmpantis, Kent State University
    Dr. Nalmpantis, recent KSU Department of History Ph.D., won the 2011 John O. Iatrides Best Dissertation Prize of the Modern Greek Studies Association. His dissertation is entitled "Time on the Mountain: The Office of Strategic Services in Axis-Occupied Greece, 1943-1944." He teaches the history of NATO course and has mentored the Model NATO team at KSU and elsewhere for many years.
  • Steven Hook, Kent State University, moderator
    Steven W. Hook is professor and chair of the Political Science Department at Kent State University. He is the author of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Paradox of World Power (2nd ed., 2008) and National Interest and Foreign Aid (1995). He is a co-author, with John Spanier, of American Foreign Policy since World War II (18th ed., 2010); and editor of Democratic Peace in Theory and Practice (2010). 
  • Sarah O'Keeffe Žabić, Kent State University
    Sarah  Žabić specializes in modern European history and social movement analysis. Her dissertation will examine the formation and evolution of the political culture of protest among dissident communist intellectuals, students, and artists in Yugoslavia as part of the European New Left during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Janet Klein, University of Akron
    Professor Klein teaches Middle Eastern history and is an expert on minority group politics in the Middle East. She is the author of The Margins of Empire Kurdish Militias in the Ottoman Tribal Zone (Stanford University Press, 2011). 
  • Steven Oluic, Dean of Social Sciences & Public Service Technologies, Lakeland Community College
    Dr. Steven Oluic is a recently retired Army officer who has taught geography courses at the U.S. Military Academy and Kent State University. He is the Dean of Social Sciences and Public Service Technologies at Lakeland Community College. His expertise is in political geography and especially the regional geography of the Balkans. During his 27-year military career, he has served overseas tours in Iraq, Korea, Germany, and Bosnia. 

3:45-5:15 pm: Why Not Syria?   

The increasing death toll in Syria over the past year has raised calls for a similar military humanitarian intervention there, but the United Nations and regional powers have not worked together as they had with Libya to accept the need for humanitarian intervention. This panel will examine why that is the case. 

  • Andrew Barnes, Kent State University
    Professor Barnes's interests are politics of post-communist states, politics of democratization and marketization, comparative politics, research methods, international political economy, and international relations. He is author of Owning Russia: The Struggle Over Factories, Farms, and Power (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006). 
  • Pete Moore, Case Western Reserve University
    Professor Moore is an editor of the influential Middle East Report.  His research covers such areas as economic development and state-society relations in the Middle East and Africa.  Specifically, he examines Gulf Arab States and Levant; business-state relations, privatization, and decentralization; and sub-state conflict and regional security. 
  • Joshua Stacher, Kent State University, moderator
    Professor Stacher is author of Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria (Stanford University Press, 2012). During 2012-13, Stacher will be a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. 
  • Jacob Mundy, Colgate University
    Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Jacob Mundy's research interests include civil wars, new wars, armed conflict, mass violence, humanitarian intervention, and responsibility to protect. His fieldwork has taken him to Northwest Africa, and the Sahara-Sahel region. He is the co-author with Stephen Zunes of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010).   

7:30 pm: Keynote Debate, Bowman Hall, Lecture Room 133 

"The Limits of Humanitarian Interventionism"   

  • Juan Cole, University of Michigan
    Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He has been a regular guest on PBS's News Hour, and appeared on ABC Nightly News, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now!, and many others.  
  • Sean Kay, Ohio Wesleyan University
    Sean Kay is a Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Ohio Wesleyan University specializing in international politics, international security, international organizations, and U.S. foreign and defense policy. He is also the Chair of the International Studies Program and holds the Libuse L. Reed Endowed Professorship. Sean Kay is a Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State University and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Eisenhower Institute in Washington, D.C. specializing in international security. 

Friday, April 6th

Kent State Campus, Governance Chambers, KSU Student Center   

9:30 -11:30 am: Why Africa? 

Friday morning's panel will examine growing concerns over the activities of Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other security issues in the Sahelian regions of Africa. The recent military coup in Mali will be discussed in relation to the Libyan situation and the growing threats to democratic rule in Mali and neighboring states. 

  • Leonardo A. Villalón, University of Florida
    Villalón is Associate Professor of Political Science and African Studies at the University of Florida. From 2002-2011 he served as Director of UF's Center for African Studies, a Title VI comprehensive National Resource Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources.He is the author of Islamic Society and State Power in Senegal (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and co-editor of The African State at a Critical Juncture: Between Disintegration and Reconfiguration (Lynne Rienner publishers, 1998) and The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments: Elites and Institutions (Indiana University Press, 2005).   
  • Wendy Wilson-Fall, Kent State University
    Wendy Wilson-Fall is Chair and Associate Professor in Pan African Studies and Adjunct in Anthropology at Kent State University.  Before moving to Kent, Ohio, Dr. Wilson-Fall was Director of the West African Research Center, where she served for five years. She has published articles on Fulani pastoralists and herding, monographs on various rural development issues, and other works on themes of identity, culture, local histories and social space. Dr. Wilson-Fall is a participant in the WARA project "The Sahara Crossroads Initiative" which seeks to examine current paradigms on studies of Saharan socio-economic history and culture. 
  • Jacob Mundy, Colgate University   

Conference Organizers

Dr. Timothy Scarnecchia, Director, Kent State Center for NATO and EU Studies, and Associate Professor of History, Kent State University, tscarnec@kent.edu
Department of History Graduate Students: Mathew Brundage, Emily Wicks, and SarahO'Keeffe Žabić
Department of History Graduate Student Volunteers: Mike Goodnough, Michael Hawkins, Jeffrey O'Leary, Aaron Pride, Edd Koltonski, Bill Casale, Emily Hager Kasecamp  

The conference is coordinated by the KSU Center for NATO and EU Studies and made possible by generous funding and support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of History, the Department of Pan-African Studies, and the Department of Political Science. Thanks as well to Ken Bindas, Chair of the History Department; Dr. Laura Davis of the Department of English; and Carla Weber and Kay Dennis in the Department of History office.

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