COVID-19 disruption, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, significant leadership turnovers, and ongoing economic turbulence have created historic challenges that drive concerns about the stability, security, and strength of the global community. And before that? There were already signs of a shifting power balance developing in key corners of the world—China growing its role in global infrastructure efforts; Russia vying for increased power in key neighboring regions; domestic fires in the U.S. impacting its focus on defense, diplomatic and development efforts abroad.
Facing extraordinarily complex and dynamic circumstances, leaders have important decisions to make about America’s role in the world. Join American Public Square at Jewell and the International Relations Council (IRC) at the Kansas City Library – Plaza Branch for a conversation on U.S. international relations. A panel of diplomatic, military, and academic experts will examine the challenging circumstances America faces in maintaining global strength, while managing ongoing political, social, and economic tension at home.
Ambassador Francisco Seixas da Costa is a retired diplomat, working at present in the private sector, as a consultant and director of several companies. He works as a professor at the Universidade Autonoma in Lisboa.
With a degree in social and political sciences, he joined the Portuguese diplomatic service in 1975, having been posted to Oslo, Luanda and London. From 1995 to 2001, he served as Minister of European Affairs in the Portuguese Government. Between 2001 and 2013, he served as ambassador to the United Nations, the OSCE (Vienna), Brazil, France and UNESCO. In 2013/2014, he has worked as Executive Director of the North-South Centre, of the Council of Europe.
He is a regular commentator on EU and international matters at CNN Portugal.
Steven Simon is the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow in International Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He served as the National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton White House and for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama White House and in senior positions at the U.S. Department of State. Outside of government, he was a principal and senior advisor to Good Harbor LLC in Abu Dhabi and director of the Middle East office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama. Prior to this, he was deputy director of the IISS in London. He managed security-related projects at the RAND Corporation and was the Hasib Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has taught at Princeton, Dartmouth, Colby and Amherst and held fellowships at Brown, Oxford and the American Academy in Berlin.
Mr. Simon has published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Politico, New York Review of Books, Survival, and Haaretz, and has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, CNN and al Jazeera.
Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick served for over 38 years as a career diplomat in the U.S. ForeignService. Her high level assignments included: U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR); Chief of Staff for the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Ambassador Fitzpatrick held several leadership positions in the Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs as Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs (Turkey Greece and Cyprus) and as Director of the Office of Nordic and Baltic Affairs. She served as Political Counselor at U.S. Embassy Madrid, Political Officer at U.S. Embassy Moscow, and at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, as in her first assignment, as Vice Consul in Antwerp, Belgium.
Ambassador Fitzpatrick also served as Acting Office Director in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Political Officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs, Desk Officer in the Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau and in the Executive Secretariat and the State Department’s Operations Center.
Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi is the Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Professor in Global Strategic Studies and Professor of Central Eurasian Studies in the Indiana University Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, where he is also the founding director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East. He was previously professor of the practice of international law and diplomacy at the Maurer School of Law and the Hamilton Lugar School. From 2004 to 2010 he represented Iraq at the United Nations, having previously acted as legal advisor to the Iraqi Foreign Minister during the negotiations for U.N. Security Council resolution 1546 recognizing Iraq’s re-assertion of its sovereignty. In 2003-04, he was principal legal drafter of Iraq’s interim constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law, and was advisor on constitutional and legal affairs to Dr. Adnan Pachachi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council Presidency.
Ambassador al-Istrabadi is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He lectures frequently at universities and policy institutes and appears often in international and national media. Education: AB (Chemistry), JD (Indiana University Bloomington); LLM, SJD (Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law).
Moderator – Matthew Hughes joined the International Relations Council in Kansas City as executive director in July 2016.
Matthew’s professional experience bridges the education and nonprofit sectors. A K-12 teacher for six years and fluent in Spanish, he has worked with students ranging from age 4 through adult learners and has developed curricula, strategic plans, and trainings for schools and nonprofits. Matthew worked for three years with People to People International, supporting the development of international understanding in schools and communities around the world. He has served as board member and committee chair for a variety of organizations, including the World Affairs Councils of America, the Sister Cities Association of Kansas City, and the United Nations Association of Greater Kansas City.
A Certified Association Executive, Matthew holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts degree in Global & International Studies from the University of Kansas, where his thesis explored opportunities for global-competence education in secondary extracurricular programs. He has also completed a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management & Innovation from the University of Missouri–Kansas City.