The Perry Center wrapped up the 2019 Washington Security and Defense Seminar (WSDS) on Friday, November 8.
The seminar serves as a "US Government 401" in that it explores the branches and processes of the USG at the highest levels. Senior representatives from the Departments of State, Defense, and the National Security Council, among others, spoke to the participants. The seminar is designed to provide a political orientation for the members of the Washington diplomatic community from the nearly three dozen Latin American and Caribbean embassies in town. Among the participants were ambassadors, First Secretaries, Political Officers, and senior military attachés, many of who have recently arrived in Washington, DC for their assignments. Likewise, the seminar provides the US government a chance to clarify policy issues with its important partners, a really critical opportunity during a period of political uncertainty in Washington.
The participants heard the perspectives from scholars on a variety of topics: US foreign policy, US military strategy (particularly with regard to China, Russia, and the conflicts in the Middle East), the budget problems to include the deficit and the continuing resolutions (CR), security cooperation and foreign aid, and how the U.S. coordinates across multiple government agencies, among others.
Among the scholars who participated was Dr. Hal Brands, author of American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump (2018) and lead writer for the Commission on the National Defense Strategy for the United States; Dr. Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights from 2014 to 2017; and Dr. Patrick Cronin, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and former Director of Research at the US Institute of Peace.