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Political analyst Zerlina Maxwell flies with President Obama to witness history in Selma

Zerlina Maxwell speakerZerlina Maxwell, a leading political analyst, travelled on Air Force One with President Obama on a trip to Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Writing about the experience for Essence Magazine, Zerlina notes that whilst some “cynics may declare that ‘nothing has changed,’ the sentiment didn’t seem to be consistent with reality as they flew to what used to be the heart of American racial terror.”

Although it is has been claimed that American racial progress is “especially tenuous,” with racial bias still embedded in their institutions, Zerlina goes on to remark that “one could not question that a seismic racial transformation happened in the last 50 years as we watched the nation’s first Black president’s motorcade ride through Selma.”

President Obama talked about the symbolism of that moment: “I think that there’s no doubt that my election was a significant moment in the country’s racial history. I say that with all humility. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been somebody else. But a barrier was broken…And I’d like to think that that will have a useful, lasting effect in terms of people’s attitudes about who can do what, and changes people’s images of what’s possible for any child in America.”

Click here to read the full article.

For more information on how to book Zerlina Maxwell as a keynote speaker for your conference or client event, please get in touch with Jeana Webster at or call on +1 972 385 1021.

John Hulsman, expert speaker on risk, outlines how Obama should respond to the Gaza crisis

John Hulsman speakerJohn Hulsman, an expert speaker on risk and the political economy of the Middle East, discusses what brought about the Gaza crisis and what Obama should (and crucially should not) do about it.

John describes how renewed upheaval in the region began when the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found dead, allegedly taken by low-level Hamas militants. In response, a Palestinian teenager was seized and burned alive by Israeli thugs. This back and forth game of “sickening logic” has continued to escalate, as torrents of rockets were exchanged between Israel and Gaza. As Israel threatens to broaden the campaign into a ground war, John argues that “the Middle East tragedy will become a catastrophe if Obama missteps now.”

John notes that, entirely correctly, the Obama administration has offered to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel to stop the needless bleeding. However in doing so, several rules of thumb ought to be strictly observed:

  1. Obama must reiterate the basic point that it is unlikely that Hamas wanted this conflict.
  2. A ceasefire backed by the Americans would give Hamas a face-saving way out of its present muddle.
  3. It is imperative that the White House opts for a limited, tactical deal; Obama must not try for more than this.

Click here to read the reasons why.

To find out more about John Hulsman, or to book him as a speaker, please contact Alex Hickman at or call +44 (0) 20 7792 8004.

Dennis Ross: Obama Needs to Soothe the Saudis

In a recent op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Dennis Ross, counsellor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, discussed President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia and what he needs to consider in order to affect Saudi behaviour.

Fundamentally, Dennis explains, the Saudis believe that America’s friends and interests are under threat, and the U.S. response has ranged from indifference to accommodation. Particular tensions have arisen because the Saudis claim that there is an Iranian effort to shift the balance of forces in the region dramatically in Tehran’s favour. Iran’s Quds Force encircling the surrounding region is thus perceived as an existential threat.

With regards to Iran’s nuclear disarmament, Dennis adds that Saudi leaders believe the U.S. is seeking détente with Iran and is turning a blind eye to Tehran’s troublemaking in the region. U.S. hesitancy in Syria, and the Saudis’ view of American policy toward Egypt adds to their sense of disquiet.

Dennis argues that none of this will mean that the Saudis will turn away from the United States; Saudi leaders know that only the U.S. can safeguard Saudi Arabia against external threats. However, as Dennis points out “insecurity often leads to self-destructive policies…given the depth of the Saudi doubts, the president will be unlikely to succeed if he offers only words of reassurance.”

Click here to read how Obama should tackle these concerns.

To find out more about Dennis Ross, or to book him as a geopolitical speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

US-China Bilaterial talks: a diplomatic milestone?

It has been an important week for China – US relations. Chinese leader, Xi Jingping visited the United States for bilaterial talks on areas such as: North Korea, the south-pacific and international institutions.

Before talks were underway Victor Gao published a thoughtful op-ed on CNN underlining how close the $500 billion in annual trade have brought the two countries. As Chinese growth continues Victor underlined the need for greater trust between these two leaders.

Reactions since have focused on a number of areas:

  • The Washington post reports agreement toward banning the greenhouse pollutants, hydroflorocarbons (HFC’s)
  • The Guardian suggests talks hit a snag over cyber-security, given the revelation this week of the espionage program ‘PRISM’  
  • The BBC’s North America Editor, Mark Mardell, comments that developments may have made Obama ” a little less pious, and a bit more realistic”

Coverage widely reports that the talks were constructive and help bring optimism and momentum to diplomatic efforts between the two nations. Check out further comment from Victor Gao below:

CNN – “AmeriChina” looking for trust at the top.

Washington Post – Agreement to wind down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

The Guardian – “US-China summit ends with accord on all but cyber-espionage.”

The BBC – “Obama-Xi summit: Less piety, more realism?”

To find out more about Victor Gao, or to book him as a geopolitical speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

“Obama needs an Iran Strategy, and fast” warns Ed Luce

The global commentariat is awash with talk of progress (or not) on America’s fiscal cliff, and what the economic ramifications of a failure to deal with it would be. However, what more often goes unnoticed is the very real impact this focus on the cliff could have on issues beyond economics. This is the argument of Ed Luce, the FT’s Washington Bureau Chief. In today’s column he says there is a danger that the cliff is distracting the Obama administration from taking swift action on pressing foreign policy issues, in particular Iran. For him, delay and miscalculation on the Iran risks ruining the rest of Obama’s second-term agenda.

If he fails to quickly develop a diplomatic strategy to halt Iran’s nuclear programme before it crosses the red line of  weapons-grade plutonium, Mr Obama will likely find himself embroiled in the US’s third war with a Muslim country in a decade. Such a war would de-stabilise the region further and be very hard to win. But even if were succesful, it would only be likely to halt Iran’s programme temporarily, and it would almost certainly harden its resolve.

The fiscal cliff is not all Mr Obama and his aides should be worrying about, but at the moment it seems that that is the case.

To find out more about Ed Luce, or to book him as a speaker for your conference or event, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk at or call 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.


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