Foreign Policy for All Conference – Workshop Descriptions


FP4A Logo.500Foreign Policy for All Conference

Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Workshop Descriptions

Enter your Workshop Selections here


A Foreign Policy for All in Asia/Pacific: Dangers and Opportunities in the U.S.-China-Japan Triangle

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room 34-304

Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee

Duncan McFarland, United for Justice with Peace

Fumi Inoue, PhD candidate, Boston College

U.S.-Chinese relations have been described as competitive interdependence. With its “Pivot” to Asia and the Pacific and the campaign to complete negotiations for a “Trans-Pacific Partnership” free trade agreement excluding China, the U.S. seeks manage China’s rise at considerable risk. While the economic integration of the world’s three biggest economies continues apace, Japan’s reinterpretation of what formerly was its “Peace Constitution” and the revision of U.S.-Japanese “defense guidelines” are transforming U.S.-Japanese relations into a global alliance.  China  is responding to this increased pressure with a military buildup of its own along with proposing a new type of “win/win” major power relationship. With resource and territorial competition in the East and South China Seas, unresolved “history” issues, and growing nationalism, there is the danger of  miscalculations leading to calamitous great power war.

Joseph Gerson, Duncan McFarland and Fumi Inoue will explore these dynamics and point to alternative policies that can create foundations for common and shared security and mutual prosperity for these three powers and for other Asia-Pacific nations.?

War in the 21st Century: Drones, Space Weapons and Cyber Wars

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room 4-153

Subrata Ghoshroy, MIT Working Group on Science, Technology and Global Security

Ann Wright, author and lecturer; former U.S. diplomat and military officer

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US became the sole superpower in the world. This gave rise to a reckless foreign policy dominated by military interventions with little regard to morality and international humanitarian law.  The new wars and US foreign policy are based on the assumption of an overwhelming technological superiority over the enemy. The buzzwords of the war theology are “Full Spectrum Dominance” and “Revolution in Military Affairs,” for instance.  The battlefield, which would look very different from the ones in the previous century, will feature massive precision-guided ammunitions, a highly militarized space, cyber weapons, and autonomous killer drones, for example.

The speakers will review the recent history of US military interventions and the role of high tech weapons in such operations. The dangerous legal, moral, and practical consequences of assassin drones will be examined in detail drawing examples from the CIA drone operations in Pakistan and Yemen.

Attendees will learn about the military basis of our foreign policy and the linkages to the university. The workshop will serve as an outreach and an organizing tool for communities and campuses.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also served 16 years as a US diplomat and resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to talk with families of US assassin drones. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

Subrata Ghoshroy is a Research Affiliate at MIT. Prior to joining MIT, he was a Senior Defense Analyst with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), where he became the first whistleblower in the 90-year history of the agency. Earlier he served in the US Congress as a professional staff member of the House Armed Services Committee.  Mr. Ghoshroy was originally trained as an engineer and worked for 20 years in the U.S. defense industry. He was born in India and grew up in Calcutta. His primary research interests are military-industrial complex, and nuclear arms control. He is also an expert on South Asian affairs and is a co-author of South Asia at a Crossroads published in 2010.

Nuclear Disarmament

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room 34-304

Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee

Elaine Scarry, professor, Harvard University

Sofia Wolman, American Friends Service Committee

Foreign Policy for All Quick Links


Conference Main Page



Workshop Descriptions

Logistics and Map

Workshop Selection

Working Paper

Foreign Policy for All project overview

The dangers of nuclear war did not end with the Cold War. Since 1989 the U.S., China, Russia, France, India and Pakistan have each threatened to initiate nuclear war. More than 16,000 nuclear weapons remain in the nuclear powers’ arsenals – more than 90% possessed by the U.S. and Russia. As few as 50-100 nuclear weapons, for example by India and Pakistan, could cause “global cooling,” resulting in a global famine that would claim an estimated two billion lives.  Meanwhile all of the nuclear powers are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems, with the U.S. committed to spend as much as $1 trillion in its preparations for nuclear cataclysm.

The vast majority of the world’s nations are pressing the nuclear weapons states to honor their Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and humanitarian law obligations to begin negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to create a nuclear weapons-free world. The Marshall Islands, whose people endured 67 U.S. nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands, with the equivalent explosive power of one-and-a-half Hiroshima bombs between 1946-1958, have taken the nuclear power to court, in the International Court of Justice and national courts, with John Burroughs as a lead attorney.

Joseph Gerson and Elaine Scarry of Harvard will review this history, the international focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, and U.S. and international campaigning for nuclear weapons abolition, with a focus on the mobilization for the NPT Review Conference in April, 2015.   (John Burroughs unfortunately could not attend)

Nourishing Resistance: Food and Foreign Policy

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room 26-142

Elizabeth Rucker, Northeast Field Organizer for Real Food Challenge

In this workshop, we’ll produce mind maps of the connections between food, agriculture, domestic and international food/trade policies, and the military-industrial complex. Elizabeth will introduce historical context linking US agricultural surplus (created by commodity crop subsidies, fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, and unjust trade regulations) to food aid as a weapon of US imperialism. Specifically, she will explore the role of the Food for Peace Program, domestic agricultural policy, and free trade agreements and institutions in undermining food security and political stability.  We’ll open up the floor to discussion about what a “foreign policy for all” would say about food and agriculture. Elizabeth (and other potential speakers) will introduce the work Real Food Challenge, and other youth movements, are doing to rectify injustice both in the US and internationally.

Building the Foreign Policy for All on Campus

Time: 3:30 to 4:45 pm                 Location:  Room 4-145 ** New Time & Location **

Alina Michelewicz, Campus Organizer, Massachusetts Peace Action; M.A. candidate, Clark University

Sofia Wolman, American Friends Service Committee

The presenters will explore the history of student activism on campuses as well as the current atmosphere of student activism. There are many student groups who touch on the issues of foreign policy but how can we create a cohesive movement for the Foreign Policy for All? The workshop leaders will facilitate a discussion of what we can do as students to move forward towards a Foreign Policy for All. We will discuss the issues of how we can tap into what is already going on on campuses and how we can get students interested in working towards the Foreign Policy for All. Please join us for this discussion of how we can build student power to create a more just and peaceful world.

Changing U.S. foreign and military climate policy

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room 26-168

Rosalie Anders, Massachusetts Peace Action and 350 Massachusetts

Paul Shannon, American Friends Service Committee

Gordon Thompson, executive director, Institute for Resource & Security Studies (IRSS)

The U.S. response to climate change on the international level has been a failure.    The military has wreaked havoc, and treaty negotiations have languished.

Environmental destruction is one of the casualties of war, both in battles and their aftermath and in preparations for war. The U.S. military is the biggest greenhouse gas-producing institution on the planet, and its role in ensuring access to fossil fuels has been disastrous. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has held many conferences of the parties (COP) sessions, which have achieved little.   The COP in Paris in 2015 is unlikely to accomplish anything without significant rethinking and a major shift in U.S. policy. 

How will we deal with the climate-exacerbated crises ahead?  Will the military continue to protect oil reserves? As climate disasters worsen, how can we promote alternatives to assuming a fortress mentality within the United States and abroad?

A cooperative approach to climate change with all stakeholders at the table could help promote both non-military responses to crises and a better outcome for international negotiations. We will discuss proposals for creating a framework of international cooperation that includes dealing with issues of equity and developing nations in light of the huge reductions in emissions that are needed.

Media and Manufacturing of Consent

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room 4-153

Subrata Ghoshroy, MIT Working Group on Science, Technology and Global Security

Jason Pramas, Open Media Boston

The media plays an extremely powerful role in shaping and marketing the interventionist foreign policy. The media works in collaboration with current and former government officials, Members of Congress, Washington-based policy analysts, retired military officers, and think tanks around the country to propagate the current thinking of the foreign policy elite. Contrary opinions find almost no space on the mainstream TV or radio. Thus, American public is fed a completely one-sided view on any conflict. This is a huge challenge faced by the progressive movement attempting to bring about a change.

The workshop will examine the media’s role in shaping the message, in Chomsky’s words “the manufacture of consent,” and the reasons why it plays such a role – corporate ownership, racism, ideology, etc. More importantly, it will assess the potential of the social media in breaking the monopoly. We will hear from the experts how the movement is already using these tools and what more can be done.

Budgets, Values and Militarism: the Outlook for the Mass. Budget for All Campaign

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room 26-168

Paul Shannon, American Friends Service Committee

Judith Leblanc, national field director, Peace Action

Mike Prokosch, national coordinator, New Priorities Network

Michael Kane, executive director, Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants

Doug Hall, executive director, National Priorities Project

This workshop will start with an overview of the Federal Budget, the complex budget deliberations in Washington, the impact of the sequester on different parts of the budget (especially the parts of the budget devoted to low income groups), possibilities for the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ alternative budget this fiscal year, and what our budget strategy in the Budget for All Coalition might be after the election.

We will then zero in specifically on the military budget, the climate in congress concerning military spending, the impact of the sequester on military spending, how the new wars in Syria and Iraq might impact the debate around military spending, and openings the Budget for All campaign might have to cut Pentagon spending. In addition we will spend a few minutes on budget literacy (e.g., discretionary vs. mandatory spending) and zero in on the size of the present and projected Pentagon budgets and the proportions of the total and discretionary budgets devoted to the Pentagon.

We will look at the tradeoffs: what could have been accomplished by spending the money devoted to particular weapons systems on teachers, student aid, etc. The workshop will close with a quick examination of the relationship between military spending and jobs with the presentation of a case study of defense industry transition: grassroots organizing in WI to end dependency on military contracts for good paying jobs.

A Foreign Policy for All in the Middle East and North Africa: Foreign Intervention, Jihadism, and Alternatives

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room 56-114

Val Moghadam, Professor of International Affairs and Sociology, Northeastern University; author of Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East (2013) and Globalization and Social Movements: Islamism, Feminism, and the Global Justice Movement (2013)

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC; author of Before & After: US Foreign Policy and the War on Terror (2003)

Reese Ehrlich, journalist and author of Inside Syria: The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect (Random House, 2014)

What would an appropriate U.S. foreign policy on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) look like? It would not look like what has taken place thus far, which during the Cold War consisted mainly of various forms of intervention with the objective of expanding or maintaining the U.S. sphere of influence in the region, access to oil reserves, and the alliance with Israel, as well as checking any Soviet influence and helping to eliminate regional left-wing forces. After the Cold War, the chief U.S. objective was to ensure military sales and the flow of oil, albeit behind the fig leaf of encouraging political liberalization and democratization. From the early 1990s until the early years of the new century, the European Union (EU) and the USA seemed to hold divergent views on the Middle East, with far more genuine support from the EU for Palestinian statehood and infrastructural development and far less support for regional conflicts and war (e.g., the first Gulf War and the US-UK invasion of Iraq in 2003). Afterwards, however, and with the coming to power of more right-wing governments in Europe, a convergence began to take place between many EU member-states and the US on Middle East policy, in line also with EU and NATO enlargement. This became eminently clear with the decision to attack Libya in 2011 and to support the Syrian opposition. The U.S. obsession with Iran’s nuclear capability (while having turned a blind eye to the building of nuclear weaponry in Israel and Pakistan) has helped to reinforce the Sunni-Shia divide in the region.  

The Western powers have had a hand in the region since the 19th century colonial invasions of North Africa by France and the 1908 discovery of oil in Masjed-e Soleiman, Iran, and have always been driven by self-interest. The various “mandates” after the two world wars were part of the imperial design in a capitalist world-system then dominated by Great Britain. From the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement and the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the 1956 attacks on Egypt following Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal, European powers sought to maintain their own sphere of influence and to entrench their ally Israel. But by this time the U.S. was beginning to replace Britain as the world’s hegemon, albeit with a major rival, the Soviet Union.

The Afghan war of the 1980s put an end to the Soviet Union, but not before the U.S. policy had helped spawn armed Islamists throughout South and Central Asia (including Pakistan), many of them jihadists from various Muslim-majority countries who then began to wreak havoc on both their countries of origin and certain Western countries (e.g., 9/11 in USA and bombings in Madrid, London, France). The U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq was not only illegal in terms of international law, but it had the effect of destroying key Iraqi institutions, fomenting a ferocious resistance that continues to this day, and perhaps permanently destabilizing a once-stable and sovereign country.   

The Arab Spring of 2011 could have been the opportunity Arabs were waiting for to become masters of their own destiny and to engage in regime change organically rather than through foreign intervention. Instead, the US, France and the UK, this time also supported by their regional allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey (as well as Israel), blatantly took sides, loudly calling for regime change in Libya and Syria (but not Bahrain), and casting their lot with the opposition groups there. That military support to non-state opposition groups is contrary to international law did not deter the U.S.-EU-Turkish-Qatar-Saudi alliance. As we know all too well, however, Libya after Gaddafi descended into chaos and Syria has had to endure a vicious internal conflict and massive refugee waves; both cases have had spillover effects on Mali, Lebanon, Tunisia, Iraq, and Jordan. And in every single case of foreign intervention, especially where the result has been the spread of Islamism, the rights and welfare of women, religious minorities, and secularists have been compromised if not destroyed. Is it any wonder that ISIS/ISIL/IS is the most recent outcome, furthering conflict and waves of refugees? And then there is the destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage, caught in the crossfire between the Syrian state’s fighting forces and the foreign-aided rebels. Such are the inglorious consequences of U.S. and Western policy in MENA.    

The workshop will examine the recent political history of the Middle East, with a focus on Israel/ Palestine, Iraq, and Syria, and offer elements of an alternative strategy. References to one bright spot, Tunisia, will provide some relief from an otherwise dismal picture.

A Foreign Policy for All and the struggle against Inequality and for Social and Economic Justice

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room 56-114 

John Ratliff, economic justice coordinator, Massachusetts Peace Action; Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Bill Fletcher, racial justice, international, and labor activist

Harris Gruman, executive director, Massachusetts SEIU State Council and a lead organizer of the RaiseUp coalition

The workshop will ask how campaigns for social and economic justice such as the RaiseUp Coalition’s recent victories in Massachusetts for a higher minimum wage and the Nov. 4 ballot question for earned paid sick days relate to the effort to win a Foreign Policy for All by challenging inequality.  What would be the goals and efforts of a foreign policy that serves the 99% regarding international labor rights, fair trade, implementation of the convention on social and economic rights, etc.?  The discussion might also touch on the implications for organizing in the face of the austerity campaigns and the evisceration of traditional business unions.


Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room  26-142

Nancy Wrenn, Massachusetts Peace Action and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom

Terry Greene, project director, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Gloria and Ken Williams, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

This workshop will draw from real-life experiences of dedicated peacemakers while encouraging participants to examine how they can be effective at engendering peace. The session will begin with describing the mission and activities of the organization September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, formed shortly after 9/11 to protest war as a response to the attacks. These families, who lost their loved ones on 9/11, sought to build bridges, rather than destroy them. Shared will be amazing connections made with those in the United States and from across the world; of all regions, races/ethnicities, and religions; who, having been affected by violence, seek peace and justice rather than revenge.

Seasoned peace activist Nancy Wrenn will then describe work in post-conflict areas of unarmed trained volunteers of the NonViolent Peaceforce  She will share how her life experiences have drawn her to a commitment to nonviolence as opposed to militarism.

We will discuss the fundamental building blocks for peace in our own communities. We will ask you for your experiences in your family, your community and other arenas where you can identify the importance of nonviolent strategies.


Nancy Wrenn has taken courses at the School for International Training in conflict transformation, observed UN peacebuilding on the Island of Cyprus, participated with the Cambridge-Yerevan Sister City Association in building a relationship with the former Soviet state of Armenia, and worked with the UNESCO Chair of Human Rights at the University of Connecticut in developing international intergenerational conferences, one of which was held in Rwanda, scene of an horrendous genocide.  She is currently focused on criminal justice reform in Massachusetts with the hope of transforming the paradigm of punishment to restoration.

Terry Greene’s brother, Donald Freeman Greene, was among the passengers aboard United Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after passengers retook control of the flight. Don was a hero to those in his family long before 9/11 in the way he lovingly took care of his children, wife, and the rest of his family and community with such tremendous joy. Terry joined Peaceful Tomorrows to assure a safe world for her son and Don’s children.

Gloria and Ken Williams lost Ken’s brother, Fire Fighter Vernon Cherry, who was killed in the WTC on September 11th, 2001. Ms. Willams serves as member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows Steering Committee and is Co-Chair of The Islamophobia Committee. Her husband, Ken Williams is also a member, a performer, and a veteran who speaks regularly on his experiences confronting racism within the military. They reside in the Bronx, New York.

September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace. By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, we hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging our common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, we work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.

The U.N. and International Law: Can They Help with Global Crises?

Time: 11:30 am to 12:45 pm                 Location:  Room  56-180

Valerie Epps, Professor of Law, Suffolk University.  Prof. Epps teaches International Law and The Laws of War. She is the author of the 4 star textbook, International Law, now in its fourth edition. 

Winston Langley, Provost and Vice Chancellor, University of Massachusetts at Boston; former professor of political science and international affairs.  A professor of political science and international relations since 1982,  Dr. Langley’s scholarly interests include human rights, alternative models of world order, religion, and politics. His research has focused on the inadequacy of the nation-state system, the weakness of intergovernmental organizations (including the United Nations), nongovernmental organizations’ expanding power and influence, and the paucity of alternative models for global ordering. He is the author of Encyclopedia of Human Rights Issues Since 1945 and editor of Human Rights: The Major Global Instruments.

Prof. Epps will lead a discussion, beginning with a review of the mechanisms of international law.  She will remind us of the U.S. record of compliance with these laws, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court and the many international treaties which we have not signed, or like the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) failed to respect.  We will look at “the responsibility to protect” and examine its uses and abuses. 

Provost Langley will move us into a discussion of the United Nations: its structure and built-in weaknesses, particularly the Security Council, but also the General Assembly and other institutions. We intend to expand the lens with which we envision the UN’s potential.  

We will consider the reforms which are needed to address the crises of this moment: ISIS, Russia and Ukraine, and Ebola.  We will also look at proposals for a global governmental structure capable of maintaining peace.

A Foreign Policy for All in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room 56-180 

John Ratliff, Massachusetts Peace Action and Jobs with Justice

Mark Solomon, professor emeritus, Simmons College

Gilbert Doctorow, research fellow of the American University in Moscow

The workshop will ask what the unfolding crisis in the Ukraine demonstrates about U.S. foreign policy and its risks.  What difference would a foreign policy for the 99% make?

Human Security: Lessons From Ebola

Time: 3:15 to 4:30 pm                 Location:  Room  4-159

Gordon Thompson, executive director, Institute for Resource & Security Studies (IRSS)

Phil Martin, PhD Ccandidate in political science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Ebola crisis is generating international cooperation on a scale not seen since the end of World War II, says David Nabarro, UN coordinator for Ebola.  Thus, the crisis provides lessons for dealing with a range of global challenges, in public health and other areas.  The concept of Human Security, first articulated by the UN Development Program in 1994, provides a framework for learning and applying those lessons.
The resource people will provide a brief history of the Human Security concept, and will present some ideas about how the concept could be used over the coming years.  Those ideas are intended to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion at the workshop about the future role of Human Security.