Melissa De Witte
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This story was originally reported by Melissa De Witte for Stanford News.

For those who remember Sept. 11, 2001, details of the day – the confusion, chaos and collective grief – are as clear now as they were 20 years ago when the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred.

But many college students today have no memories of 19 al-Qaida operatives hijacking four commercial airplanes and killing nearly 3,000 people in a terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Teaching this next generation about the passion and the intensity that defined that pivotal moment is difficult, says Condoleezza Rice, who was the U.S. National Security Advisor at the time of the attacks.

For the new generation of students, 9/11 is now a part of history. “It would be like people trying to convey the intensity of World War II to me,” said Rice, who went on to serve as the 66th secretary of state of the United States under President George W. Bush before returning to her professorship at Stanford in 2009.

Rice, now the Tad and Dianne Taube Director of the Hoover Institution, was in the White House on that Tuesday morning of Sept 11. When she discusses the attacks with her students, her experiences on that day inevitably come up.

She is candid in her recounting. “That helps to vivify it because it’s a personal story,” Rice said.

Condoleezza Rice with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Chief of Staff Andy Card and Special Agent Carl Truscott of the U.S. Secret Service in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center of the White House.
Condoleezza Rice with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Chief of Staff Andy Card and Special Agent Carl Truscott of the U.S. Secret Service in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center of the White House. Getty Images

Rice shares how, when the first plane hit the North Tower at the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., she and others were uncertain about the cause of the crash. She remembers wondering whether it could have been an accident. But when the second hijacked plane hit the remaining South Tower 17 minutes later, Rice knew it had to be a terrorist attack on the United States.

Then there was the short period when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could not be reached because the Pentagon was also hit that morning, Rice said. She, along with other senior government leaders, were ushered into the White House bunker. She tells students that around noon that day, oxygen levels started to drop because too many people were crammed into the fortified space. “So the Secret Service was going around saying, ‘You have to leave, you are not essential; you have to leave, you are not essential.’ You would never plan for such a thing as that,” she said.

I try to help them understand how we are still living the effects of 9/11. It isn’t an event that happened one day and then was over, but everything from the way that you go through an airport to something called ‘homeland security,’ which you didn’t have before 9/11.
Condoleezza Rice
Tad and Dianne Taube Director of the Hoover Institution

Inevitably, a student will ask her if she was afraid. Rice was so taken aback the first time she faced that question that she actually paused to think about it – and then concluded that she wasn’t. “I didn’t have time to be scared,” Rice recalled. “You can fear for your loved ones, but you are not allowed to feel personal fear. You don’t think about that in the moment.”

Rice also emphasized the importance of talking to students about how 9/11 transformed the world and that what seems routine today – such as additional airport screenings and the formation of new government institutions – didn’t even exist before the attacks.

“I try to help them understand how we are still living the effects of 9/11,” said Rice. “It isn’t an event that happened one day and then was over, but everything from the way that you go through an airport to something called ‘homeland security,’ which you didn’t have before 9/11.”

Teaching 9/11 Since 9/11

The attacks also introduced into the wider vernacular new places – like Afghanistan – and people – like Osama bin Laden – that students 20 years ago knew very little or nothing about.

Stanford scholars Amy Zegart and Martha Crenshaw experienced this firsthand on the day of the attacks when they found themselves in the surreal situation of teaching about 9/11 on 9/11. Both were so shocked by the unfolding events that they were unable to do anything except the one thing they were supposed to do that day, which was teach.

When they showed up to their respective classrooms – at the time, Crenshaw was at Wesleyan University teaching a course on decision making and foreign policy; Zegart at UCLA – they found them packed. There were more students in the lecture hall for Crenshaw’s course than were enrolled.

Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, has written extensively on the issue of political terrorism; her first article, "The Concept of Revolutionary Terrorism," was published in 1972. L.A. Cicero

Students – horrified and trying to make sense of what was happening – sought clarity and comfort from their teachers, who just happened to be experts on the issues that would come to define the next two decades of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

“When something that shocking happens, our natural inclination is to make sense of what’s going on together, right now,” said Zegart, who is a leading scholar on national security and the Central Intelligence Agency and is now a senior scholar at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Students wanted to know more about the terms and names they were hearing for the first time that day, like jihadism and the Taliban. Over the months that followed came more complex challenges to explain: the global war on terror, torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is the world that today’s students have inherited. Even the current generation’s media, as Zegart’s research has shown, has become increasingly saturated with a proliferation of “spytainment”: movies and TV shows depicting, often inaccurately, the clandestine world of intelligence and counterterrorism operations.

Like Rice, Crenshaw has also found herself having to explain that none of this was normal before 9/11.

“I have to go back and say, ‘All this wasn’t always here before 9/11.’ I have to trace the trajectory of policy changes,” said Crenshaw, a senior fellow at FSI and the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Shifts in Emotion

In the first decade after the attacks, Zegart said her students were incredibly emotional about 9/11 and its aftermath, including the expansion of U.S. conflict abroad. A few years after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, Zegart remembers one of her students, a recently returned veteran, telling her that he was taking her intelligence class because he wanted to learn more about why he had gone to Iraq, and what his friend who had deployed with him had died fighting for.

“It was a really raw, personal experience for students studying foreign policy in the first decade after 9/11 because they were living with war and uncertainty,” said Zegart. She had to push them be more analytical and objective in their class discussions of what a post 9/11 world entailed.

As the years progressed, though, 9/11 increasingly became less personal for the next generation of students. Perceptions began to shift. So much so that Zegart now finds herself in the opposite predicament: How to insert those feelings back in.

“Because they didn’t live through it, they look at it distantly and dispassionately,” Zegart said. “The challenge is, how do you help students better understand the context in which decisions were made and the raw emotion that unavoidably affects how we perceive threats and how we deal with policy responses.”

Teaching the Emotions of the Day

To evoke a visceral response to 9/11, Zegart shows a 4-minute montage of news clips. Students get a sense of how the day unfolded, from the breaking reports of the first tower being struck to a reporter’s on-air reaction as the second plane crashes live into the remaining tower. There are also scenes of people fleeing lower Manhattan amid dust, smoke and debris.

“You just cannot convey that day in a normal lecture or a book,” Zegart said. The video is effective; her students are often left with a sense of the sadness, horror and anguish that defined 9/11.

Amy Zegart and Condoleezza Rice co-teaching.
In 2018, Stanford scholars Amy Zegart and Condoleezza Rice co-taught the course POLECON 584: Managing Global Political Risk. Rod Searcey

Zegart then asks her students to imagine they are policymakers at the White House and have to decide what to do next. “We often teach U.S. foreign policymaking as a sterile, Spock-like process where people weigh the pros and cons of options and make dispassionate decisions,” Zegart said. “But human emotion and searing national experiences are important and hard to convey. A key part of understanding history is empathy, and thinking about what it was like to live through something rather than only looking at an event through the distance of time. 9/11 looks inevitable in hindsight, but it was unimaginable on September 10.”

Through the exercise, students get a sense of the urgency that policymakers, like Rice, have to grapple with while making decisions amid a national emergency.

“In retrospect, everything looks quite orderly,” said Rice, who co-taught a class on global risk with Zegart at the Graduate School Business. “It looks like ‘of course that decision led to that decision.’ Political scientists are always talking about the options that were put before the president. That’s not how crisis decision making unfolds. You are dealing with really incomplete information, you are dealing with the need to act now, and you are often reacting from instinct because you don’t have time to think through things.”

Viewing the Attacks from All Sides

When political scientist Lisa Blaydes teaches 9/11 to her students, she tries to give an international perspective of the issues, particularly on how grievances can arise – both legitimately or falsely constructed – in countries abroad and how that can lead to extremism and political violence. For example, in her course Political Science 149: Middle Eastern Politics, several classes are dedicated to examining anti-American attitudes in the Islamic world and the conditions under which individuals become radicalized.

“I try to make sure that students understand both the individual motivations associated with the radicalization of political thought as well as the global context that empowers radicalized individuals to undertake violent action,” said Blaydes, a professor of political science in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow at FSI. She asks students to read Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower, which picks up on themes Blaydes covers in the course, particularly those dealing with how authoritarian regimes in the Arab world provided a backdrop for the rise of al-Qaida.

In recent years, Blaydes has found her students showing an increased interest in learning more about radical groups like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and how they have terrorized communities across the Middle East. “While Sept. 11 made terrorism a salient threat for Americans living in U.S. cities, both terrorism and state-sponsored violence are unfortunately a trauma shared by people around the world,” she said.

A key part of understanding history is empathy, and thinking about what it was like to live through something rather than only looking at an event through the distance of time. 9/11 looks inevitable in hindsight, but it was unimaginable on September 10.
Amy Zegart
FSI Senior Fellow at CISAC

Similarly, Crenshaw said, it is important to explain to students the conditions that lead to such extremist views. But, she added, explaining motives should not be mistaken as justifying them. “We are not trying to excuse it; we are trying to understand why something happened,” she said.

With her students, Crenshaw has also looked at how terrorism has been used across history. In the aftermath of 9/11, terrorism almost exclusively became associated with a particular ideology and religion. But there are other examples throughout history of how it has been used as a form of political violence, she said.

“As an instructor, one of my goals was always to show students that 9/11 was something extraordinary, but there are other instances of terrorism and it can be associated with any ideology,” Crenshaw said.

Given its elasticity, terrorism is a confusing and contentious term with no standard definition, Crenshaw said. Thus, as both the term and the acts associated with terrorism have evolved over the past two decades, so has her teaching of it. “The phenomenon that you are trying to teach is changing over time as well, so it’s really a very dynamic subject requiring constant adjustment to take into account the vast outpouring of writing on terrorism but changing terrorism and counterterrorism as well,” she said.

In addition to situating 9/11 against a global and historical backdrop, teaching the attacks also requires a critical look at the domestic challenges that led up to it, including the shortcomings in U.S. intelligence. Zegart assigns students an article she wrote about the failures within the U.S. intelligence communities to adapt to the threat of terrorism, as well as a critique against her piece. “There’s no one perfect view, and if students can realize that their professor is part of an argument and people can disagree, that’s really important,” she said.

Zegart and Crenshaw have also assigned students the 9/11 Commission Report, the official report of the events that led up to the attacks and detailed account of the circumstances surrounding it.

‘Still Hard’

Even though 20 years have passed since 9/11, it does not mean that teaching about the attacks has gotten easier.

“I still have a hard time,” Zegart said. “For years, my screensaver was a picture of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. It was important to me not to forget. I’ve spent my career researching why our intelligence agencies failed to stop 9/11 and how they can better meet threats in the future. I think about that day every day.”

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On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, four Stanford scholars and leading experts in national security, terrorism and contemporary conflict – Condoleezza Rice, Amy Zegart, Martha Crenshaw and Lisa Blaydes – reflect on how their teaching of the terrorist attacks has evolved.

Sharon Driscoll
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This Q&A with Allen S. Weiner was originally published on the Stanford Law School website.

As the Taliban’s forces closed in on Kabul on Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani left his country, the acting U.S. ambassador was evacuated, the American flag on the embassy in the country’s capital lowered—and the Biden administration’s plans for an orderly withdrawal of troops, diplomats, and Afghan aids and translators by the anniversary of 9/11 dashed as a scramble for the door becomes more chaotic. After twenty years, 2 trillion dollars, and the lives of almost 2,500 American personnel lost, President Biden said it was time to let the Afghan government and military stand on its own. Here, Stanford Law national security law expert Allen Weiner, who is a research affiliate at FSI’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and the Center for International Security and Cooperation, discusses the U.S. mission to Afghanistan, its withdrawal, and potential consequences.

What was the American/NATO objective when we invaded Afghanistan almost twenty years ago?

The immediate United States objective at the time of the 2001 invasion was to destroy Al Qaeda’s base of operations in Afghanistan and to kill or capture senior Al Qaeda leaders there.  As those of us who are old enough to remember will recall, the invasion (“Operation Enduring Freedom”) was the U.S.-led response to the 9/11 attacks against World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon that were carried out by Al Qaeda. Because the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had a symbiotic relationship with—and provided a safe haven to—Al Qaeda on Afghanistan’s territory, the U.S. and its NATO allies also sought to drive the Taliban from power. At the time, the Taliban was fighting a civil war in Afghanistan and by October 2001 had achieved effective control over most of the country. President Bush and others quickly began to emphasize an additional objective for overthrowing the Taliban— to liberate the Afghan people from the regime’s repressive practices. We sought to promote basic human rights and to end the Taliban’s oppression of women.

Were those objectives met?

The U.S. and its NATO allies largely met those initial goals. Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan were destroyed, many of its leaders were killed and captured (although some, including Osama bin Laden, managed to escape at least initially), and its ability to plan, finance, and execute major global terrorist operations was severely diminished. U.S. and NATO forces drove the Taliban from power, and after a transitional period, a new government led by Hamid Karzai was established. Women and girls resumed participation in public life in Afghanistan, including education.

But those successes were fleeting?

As we know, the successes did not last. Although Al Qaeda never resumed significant operations in Afghanistan, the organization metastasized, and lethal variants of the organization arose in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and the Maghreb, among other places. Other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State and al Shabaab, either grew out of or have affiliations of varying degrees of intensity with Al Qaeda. We have also seen attacks carried out by homegrown terrorist organizations with only loose affiliations to Al Qaeda, sometimes only ideological affinities. So, while Operation Enduring Freedom significantly disrupted terrorist operations originating from Afghanistan, it cannot be said to have eliminated the threat of transnational terrorism.

And the Taliban continued to be a simmering problem in Afghanistan, didn’t it?

The goal of eradicating the Taliban, obviously, also was unmet. Although then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared an end to major combat operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in May 2003, a revitalized Taliban renewed an intense civil war in the summer of  2006. That civil war against the Afghanistan government—which appears now to have been won by the Taliban—continued with varying degrees of intensity until the past few days. And if another of the goals of the invasion was to improve the protection of human rights in Afghanistan, we must recognize that civilians suffered terribly during the civil war.

Are there any (hopefully) enduring successes from the twenty-year investment by the U.S. and NATO?

Afghanistan did make significant progress in terms of economic development and the realization of at least some civil and political rights. Per capita GDP rose dramatically in the decades after the U.S. invasion. The status of women and girls improved along many dimensions, including health, life expectancy, education levels, and participation in government institutions. The Taliban’s victory clearly imperils these gains.

The Trump Administration negotiated an agreement with Taliban in 2020 providing for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Afghanistan by May 2021, as part of which the Taliban promised not to deliberatively attack U.S. troops during the withdrawal period.  Since then, the Taliban has been steadily gaining control over provinces in the county, and civilian casualties have been rising. Was it pure fantasy that the US was maintaining the peace?

The Trump Administration’s February 2020 agreement with Taliban, in which the U.S. promised to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan in a little over a year, even though the Taliban did not agree to even a ceasefire, much less reach any political agreements with the government about ending the civil war, was the beginning of the end. It clearly signaled to both the Taliban and the government that the U.S. was now concerned only with the security of its own forces, and that the Afghan government was on its own. Given that the Taliban was making progress in gaining territory, at least in the countryside, even with U.S. troops present, many analysts—including the U.S. intelligence community—forecast the eventual overthrow of the Afghan government. It is only the shocking speed with which that happened that is a real surprise.

The fall of the Afghan government has taken many, including apparently some in the Biden administration, by surprise. Why did the collapse of the Afghan military happen so swiftly?  And what role did the Afghan police force and corruption play?

Many commentators who have been critical of the U.S. effort to build up the Afghan military have long expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), and many analysts predicted that the Taliban would ultimately prevail against the government after the U.S. and its NATO allies withdrew from Afghanistan. That said, I don’t think anyone predicted it would happen as swiftly as it did.

Multiple factors have been cited to explain how the Taliban—a force estimated to comprise some 75,000 fighters—defeated the 300,000-member strong ANDSF. First, despite the seeming superiority of the government forces, conditions for ANDSF soldiers were quite abysmal. Many reportedly went months without being paid. They lacked ammunition and even food. There are reports of incompetent leadership within the armed forces, leaving Afghan soldiers exposed in the middle of pitch battles, without reinforcements.

A second factor is the pervasive and corrosive corruption among Afghan government actors.  This helps explain why—despite the U.S. infusion of billions of dollars in military assistance— Afghan soldiers went without pay and lacked adequate ammunition.  It also explains why in some cases, after Afghan forces fighting alongside U.S. forces succeeded in clearing territory of Taliban insurgents, the Afghan government would fail to hold it. The notoriously corrupt and unprofessional Afghanistan police forces—who were in charge of security after territory had been cleared of Taliban fighters by the ANDSF—reportedly engaged in predatory practices targeting the local community or could be bought off by the insurgency to cede ground back.

Third, some critics of the U.S. effort to modernize the Afghan army have long argued that the ANDSF lacked resolve to aggressively engage the Taliban insurgency in the absence of active support from U.S. soldiers. Although there are many stories of Afghan soldiers fighting fiercely, there are anecdotal accounts of Afghan armed forces engaging in “mini non-aggression deals” with Taliban fighters in their area of responsibility in an effort to avoid armed engagement.

Fourth, the lack of motivation of Afghan armed forces was exacerbated in recent years by the unpopularity and perceived fecklessness of the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Re-elected in 2019 after an election with sharply disputed results, in which voter turnout was less than 20 percent, the Ghani government was widely seen as ineffective in addressing corruption, effectively managing the country, or confronting the growing security threat posed by the Taliban. It became a common refrain among Afghan soldiers that the Ghani government was not one worth fighting for.

Fifth, it appears that in at least some provinces in Afghanistan, the Taliban, in essence, offered government forces negotiated settlements to cede control of territory. In some cases, this involved offering payments to government soldiers to switch sides—a particularly attractive offer for soldiers who had not been paid in months. It is likely that the Taliban offered broader commitments, e.g., not to engage in retribution against government soldiers who abandoned the fight, although I have not yet seen reports of such deals.

Sixth, there a seasonal calendar to armed conflict in Afghanistan, and the Taliban has typically engaged in its major military operations during the spring and summer.  Delaying the U.S. withdrawal by six months, so that U.S. forces did not leave during the height of what is known in Afghanistan as “fighting season,” might have given the ANDSF more time to prepare to defend Afghanistan’s cities. Although given how swiftly Afghan government forces were swept aside, this now seems doubtful to me.

Finally, from an operational standpoint, the U.S. has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan to attempt to build up a military that functions in ways that resemble how a NATO army operates, with air power and advanced weaponry. Such a military depends on extremely complex behind-the-scenes logistics arrangements. In Afghanistan, these logistics systems depended heavily on U.S. contractors, who also began withdrawing from the country after President Biden announced the U.S. withdrawal. Many of the aircraft in Afghanistan’s air force, for instance, were grounded because they lacked parts needed for repairs or routine servicing. One of the lessons of the defeat of the ANDSF is that building a foreign country’s military also requires developing indigenous logistics capacity.

Troops had been drawn down to about 3,000 and negotiations that excluded the Afghan gov’t were conducted with the Taliban during the Trump administration. Could Biden, realistically, have rewound the clock–bringing more troops back? Was Biden pushed into a tough corner?

Although the withdrawal agreement the Trump Administration concluded with the Taliban in February 2020 may not have initiated the death spiral for the Afghanistan government and military, it certainly catalyzed it, as I noted above. It did put the Biden Administration in a tough position; the only option would have been to renege on the agreement, leave U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and to seek to renegotiate the agreement. That said, although that may have been a tough position, it was not an impossible one, as evidenced by the fact that the Biden Administration unilaterally changed the agreed upon date by which U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan from May to August.

I’m not a military strategist, so I can’t say whether maintaining a force of 3,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan would have changed the military situation on the ground. But I think if the U.S. had said that it would not withdraw the U.S. military presence until there was a ceasefire and the Taliban and the Afghan government have negotiated a power sharing agreement/end to the civil war, that might have changed the Taliban’s political assessment about how to proceed. I stress that this only “might” have changed the Taliban’s thinking. The fact that the Taliban has been fighting for twenty years suggests that the group was very determined to regain control of Afghanistan and re-establish its vision of life for the Afghan people.

I understand that Russia and other countries have negotiated agreements to ensure the safety of their embassies and diplomatic staff so that they can continue operations in Kabul. Have the Americans done the same? If not, how significant will that be for the future safety of the U.S and the threat of terrorism? Will we have “eyes on the ground” and intelligence sources?

The United States is currently withdrawing all of its diplomatic personnel from Afghanistan and will presumably once again shutter its embassy in Kabul. The U.S. will face a difficult question about whether to recognize the new Taliban regime that will be installed in Afghanistan, and if so, whether to resume diplomatic relations and re-open its embassy. If the Taliban regime pursues the policies that characterized its period of rule in the late 1990s, particularly the severe repression of women and girls, I doubt the U.S. will re-establish relations. Even if the U.S. did re-establish diplomatic relations, it is inconceivable that the Taliban would permit the United States to maintain the large intelligence and security presence we have had in Afghanistan over the past two decades. So, we will not have the ability gather intelligence on the ground or to conduct military operations against any terrorist threats that emerge in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has pledged that it will not allow Afghanistan’s territory to be used by terrorist groups that seek to conduct hostile operations against foreign countries. Although the Taliban learned in 2001 about the potential costs to it of harboring such groups on Afghanistan’s territory—namely, being overthrown by the U.S. and its NATO allies—there are obviously reasons to question the Taliban’s promise.

Is there anything Biden can do now to minimize the damage?

The Biden administration does not have much leverage at this point. The administration will presumably signal to the Taliban that it will closely monitor its conduct with respect to preventing its territory from being used by terrorist groups and its performance on human rights issues, including the treatment of women and girls. Should the Taliban perform poorly on these issues, the U.S. could try to secure sanctions against the Taliban regime through the Security Council; after all, the Council had imposed sanctions on the Taliban in the 1990s in response to its providing a safe haven to Osama bin Laden and its violation of human rights, particularly discrimination against women and girls. Today, however, it is unclear whether Russia and China, which are likely to seek stable relations with the Taliban government, would support such sanctions. That means the U.S. would probably be limited to unilateral sanctions as a way of signaling disapproval of, and seeking to change the behavior of, a prospective Taliban government.

Allen S. Weiner

Allen S. Weiner

Affiliate at CDDRL and CISAC

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National security law expert Allen Weiner, a research affiliate at CDDRL and CISAC, discusses the U.S. mission to Afghanistan, its withdrawal and consequences moving forward.



The Iraqi government, the Peshmerga, the international coalition and a consortium of militia have been winning the war against ISIS in Iraq.  The concern moving forward is whether Iraq’s state institutions have what it takes to prevent ISIS from reemerging in a new, and more deadly form after the current conflict is over. What does recent history, the current military campaign, and the Donald Trump administration’s current trajectory tell us about Iraq’s prospects?



headshot 2
Zaid Al-Ali is the Senior Adviser on Constitution-Building for the Arab Region at International IDEA and an independent scholar.  In his work, Al-Ali focuses on constitutional developments throughout the Arab region, with a particular focus on Iraq and the wave of reforms that took place in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen following the start of popular uprisings in December 2010.  Al-Ali has published extensively on constitutional reform in the Arab region, including on process design issues and the impact of external influence.  He is the author of The Struggle for Iraq’s Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy (Yale University Press 2014).  Prior to joining International IDEA, Zaid worked as a legal adviser to the United Nations in Iraq, focusing on constitutional, parliamentary and judicial reform.  He also practiced international commercial arbitration law for 12 years, representing clients in investment and oil and gas disputes mainly as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling LLC in Paris and also as a sole practitioner.  He holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, a Maitrise en Droit from the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and an LL.B. from King’s College London.  He was a Law and Public Affairs Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University in 2015-2016.  He is the founder of the Arab Association of Constitutional Law and is a member of its executive committee.

Reuben Hills Conference Room
2nd Floor East Wing E207
Encina Hall
616 Serra Street
Stanford, California 94305

Zaid Al-Ali Senior Adviser International IDEA
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Max Fisher and Amanda Taub, in their New York Times column Interpreter from October 8, are exploring the idea that the United States of America are in a moral position to address the state of democracy in the world. CDDRL Mosbacher Director Francis Fukuyama said this began with America’s founding fathers, who “had this idea that the success of democracy in the world would depend on its success here.” Read the whole article here

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How do democratic societies respond to acts of terror? More precisely, what are the political consequences of the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks and the November 13 rampage in 2015 in Paris? Past research has examined the impact of threatening events on attitudes toward ethnic and religious minorities, as well as its influence on the endorsement of authoritarian policies. However, up until now, the impact of terrorist events on political participation has not been examined. This talk aims to assess the influence of fear and anger evoked by threat on the propensity to take part in various political activities, drawing on two representative surveys conducted in the aftermath of the January and November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Martial Foucault is a professor of political science at Sciences Po in Paris, director of the CEVIPOF (CNRS) and associate researcher within the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire d’Evaluation des Politiques Publiques (LIEPP).


RSVP to Minjia Zhong at mzhong2@stanford.edu by Monday April 11.

For more information contact Cécile Alduy at alduy@stanford.edu

This lecture is co-sponsored by the French and Italian Department, The Europe Center, Stanford University Library, the France-Stanford Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.


German Library, Room 252
Building 260

Martial Foucault Professor of Political Science speaker Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po), Paris


Under Secretary Sewall will deliver remarks on Countering Violent Extremism, the U.S. Government’s comprehensive approach for preventing the spread of ISIL and emergence of new terrorist threats. The Under Secretary will describe how the evolution of violent extremism since the 9/11 attacks necessitates a “whole of society” approach to prevent people from aligning with terrorist movements and ideologies in the first place. Drawing on recent travel to Indonesia, India, and Egypt, the Under Secretary will describe the vital role of actors outside government in this approach, including women, youth, religious leaders, businesses, and researchers. She will also elaborate on new steps the U.S. Government is taking to intensify its CVE efforts around the world. The Under Secretary will also take questions from the audience.

Speaker bio

sarah sewall

Dr. Sarah Sewall is the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. State Department, and is a longtime advocate for advancing civilian security and human rights around the world. Dr. Sewall was sworn in on February 20, 2014. She serves concurrently as the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Over the previous decade, Dr. Sewall taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she served as Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and directed the Program on National Security and Human Rights.

Dr. Sewall has extensive experience partnering with the U.S. armed forces around civilian security. At the Kennedy School, she launched the MARO (Mass Atrocities Response Operations Project) to assist the U.S. military with contingency planning to protect civilians from large-scale violence. She was a member of the Defense Policy Board and served as the Minerva Chair at the Naval War College in 2012. She also led several research studies of U.S. military operations for the Department of Defense and served as the inaugural Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance in the Clinton Administration. Prior joining the executive branch, Dr. Sewall served for six years as the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to U.S. Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell and earned a Ph.D at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

This event is co-sponsored by Stanford in Government and CISAC


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Dr. Sarah Sewall Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights U. S. State Department
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In a piece in The Atlantic, FSI Senior Fellow Larry Diamond argues that to defeat ISIS, America must unite and revisit the core principles of freedom from which it was created. With a surge of illiberal populism spreading throughout the US and Europe, Diamond urges American leaders to reexamine the country's sense of purpose and not degrade freedom in the pursuit for security. 

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A day after President Obama's address on the San Bernardino shootings, FSI Senior Fellow Larry Diamond speaks with Michael Krasny of NPR News on the U.S. response to global terrorist threats. In addition to a unified, international coalition, Diamond believes one of the keys to defeating ISIS lies with empowerment of the people of Iraq and Syria, addressing the need for political change in the region. Diamond was accompanied by Jessica Stern, research professor at Boston University and Shibley Telhami, senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

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On November 17, CDDRL’s Program on Arab Reform and Democracy (ARD) hosted Lina Khatib, a senior research associate with the Arab Reform Initiative, for a special talk on the Syrian crisis. Khatib was a co-founder of the ARD Program and managed its research agenda for four years before leaving CDDRL to lead the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

After conducting extensive fieldwork on the Syrian-Turkish border, Khatib provided a detailed analysis of ISIS’ origins and how they are benefitting from the unresolved crisis in Syria. Khatib also weighed in on the refugee crisis, as well as the regional rivalries that are using Syria as a proxy to exert themselves militarily. Khatib argued that a military solution to solving the ISIS problem is not the right approach, and encouraged the international community to begin engaging different members of the Syrian opposition, and rethinking their approach to international diplomatic negotiations.


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