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  • Former Senator Chuck Hagel speaks to the crowd at Macky...

    Marty Caivano

    Former Senator Chuck Hagel speaks to the crowd at Macky Auditorium at the kick-off to the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs on the University of Colorado Boulder Campus Monday morning. Photo by Marty Caivano/April 6, 2009

  • CWA director Jim Palmer celebrates seven decades of the conference...

    Marty Caivano

    CWA director Jim Palmer celebrates seven decades of the conference at Macky Auditorium before the crowd gathered to hear keynote speaker Chuck Hagel, which kicked off the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs on the University of Colorado Boulder Campus Monday morning. Photo by Marty Caivano/April 6, 2009

  • Film Critic Roger Ebert reacts to an acquaintance's comment at...

    Marty Caivano

    Film Critic Roger Ebert reacts to an acquaintance's comment at Macky Auditorium at the kick-off to the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs on the University of Colorado Boulder Campus Monday morning. Photo by Marty Caivano/April 6, 2009

  • Stefan Quan helps to arrange flags along the sidewalk leading...

    Marty Caivano

    Stefan Quan helps to arrange flags along the sidewalk leading to the University of Colorado's Macky Auditorium on Monday morning to kick off the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs.

  • The procession to Macky Auditorium and kick-off to the 61st...

    Marty Caivano

    The procession to Macky Auditorium and kick-off to the 61st Annual Conference on World Affairs included, left to right, University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, conference co-chair Juli Steinhauer, Former Senator Chuck Hagel, co-chair Jane Butcher, film critic Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert on the Boulder campus Monday morning. Photo by Marty Caivano/April 6, 2009

  • Ralph Ritter, at left, and Marlene Ritter listen in to...

    Ralph Ritter, at left, and Marlene Ritter listen in to the Bush/Cheney: Forgive and Forget panel on the first day of the CWA on the CU campus Monday morning.The Ritters were strongly moved by the panel discussion which dealt with the Bush administration and the problems left over from the last 8 years. The Ritters are volunteers with the CWA. Photo by: RACHEL HANSEN / For the Camera

  • Chuck Hagel

    Chuck Hagel

  • Robert Kaufman, political scientist and author, addresses the audience during...

    Robert Kaufman, political scientist and author, addresses the audience during the Bush/Cheney: Forgive and Forget panel the first day at the Conference of World Affairs on the CU campus Monday morning. Photo by: RACHEL HANSEN / For the Camera



Camera reporter Ryan Morgan will be blogging from the Conference on World Affairs on the University of Colorado’s campus today. Here are highlights from a few of the dozen panels being hosted today.

3:35 p.m. Panel: Congress: What They Should Have Learned in Kindergarten

Panelists are diving head-first into the metaphor for this panel: That federal elected officials aren’t living up to the standards they’d expect from 5-year-olds.

“I love Congress. It’s the first branch of government,” says Lorelei Kelly, who directs the national security program for the American Progressive Caucus Policy Foundation. “We have damaged it terribly over the last couple of decades.”

Kelly says Congress has always had problem â but she says it truly began to decline with the Republican victories in the fall of 1997. When then-Rep. Newt Gingrich took power, she says, he demolished even useful, non-partisan committees that did meaningful, “grown-up” work.

Gordon Adams, professor of international relations at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C., uses the theme to take a swipe at former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, who delivered the conference’s keynote address earlier today.

“Be quiet if you have nothing to say â that’s a good rule,” he says. “I know a former member of the Senate who could have remembered that rule today.”

3:25 p.m. Panel: Now That We’re Out, How Do We Get In?

Panelist Susan Love warns that gay-rights advocates should be too complacent. For professionals, for people in upper socio-economic ranks, being gay isn’t much of an issue.

“But social class trumps sexual orientation every day,” she says. “If you’re a doctor or a lawyer, you’re okay… people will accept you much easier than if you’re in a lower sexual group.”

That became very clear with the passage of Proposition 8 in California last fall, which banned gay marriage.

“We thought everybody was pro-gay until Prop. 8,” she says. “To find out that the majority of people in the state still didn’t think we were equal and deserved civil rights was a big wake-up call. It makes you realize that the west side of L.A. or San Francisco is not like the whole state, or the rest of the country.”

3:15 p.m. Panel: Now That We’re Out, How Do We Get In?

Fintan Steele, like other panelists, says it’s a strange time to be a part of the gay community. In so much of the country, he says, being gay is no longer a big deal.

“We joked about calling this panel, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, you’re used to it,'” he said.

Steele, who lives in Massachusetts, said that for he and his friends, gay and straight, form a community that’s no longer defined solely by sexuality.

“Somehow the adversity that kept us closeted â it’s dissipated, and we’re just like everybody else out in Medford, worrying about the garden and sending kids to school,” he says. “It’s pretty fascinating to me that this community that’s been defined by who you have sex with â when that’s not an issue any more, it’s not different.”

2:10 p.m. Panel: Civil liberties: What, me worry?

Panelist Chip Berlet says the PATRIOT act that followed the terror attacks of Sept. 11 â much reviled by civil libertarians â was not the first instance of repression in the United States.

“There is a repressive streak throughout U.S. history,” he says, referring to the Alien and Sedition Acts of the late 18th century, which persecuted dissent. “We have had an obsession with subversion in this country ever since.”

And, Berlet says, political persecution has gone both ways. Before the McCarthy “witch-hunts” of the 1950s that pursued suspected Communists, he said, there was the “brown scare,” in which right-wingers were hunted down prior to World War II.

“We always look the other way when our enemies are targeted,” he says. “And it’s a bad idea, because we’re always next.”

1:50 p.m. Panel: Profits of War, Profits of Peace

Ike Wilson, an Army officer and fellow with the U.S. Military Academy, says the United States needs to reassess whether typical warfare is even the right way to address the security problems of the 21st century, such as terrorism.

“The nature of the compound security threats… defy any individual nation-state’s power and capacity to muster to solve for these dilemmas,” he says. “That factor alone should give us great pause in considering unilateral military operations as a viable alternative. It simply can’t be done.”

Wilson says the United States and its allies need to rethink how they address those kinds of problems â and they need to do it cooperatively, not by unilateral invasions.

“The dawn of multilateralism, whether we like it or not, is here to stay,” he says. “Not only can military power not solve these kinds of compound dilemmas â they never have.”

1:40 p.m. Panel: Civil liberties: What, me worry?

Panelist Jurek Martin talks about South Africa’s history, post-Apartheid, to emphasize what he calls the importance of bringing “people who were outside the law back inside the law.”

When Nelson Mandela took over after leading a successful resistance for years, Martin says, he reached out to people in power â people who had helped keep apartheid in place for decades.

He successfully won over reluctant South African whites by engaging in “rugby diplomacy.” And, when the time came, Martin said, Mandela was able to assemble a “truth and reconciliation” committee in which both victims and perpetrators of torture and other oppressive tactics spoke candidly about what they’d done.

“Civil liberties must be accorded to all, even to those who least deserve them,” he says.

1:35 p.m. Panel: Civil liberties: What, me worry?

Panelist Chip Berlet, who works on civil liberties issues for Political Research Associates in Somerville, Mass, begins by criticizing efforts underway in the war on terrorism.

Berlet says it’s particularly important to question some of the premises that undergird strategies being undertaken in the war on terror. For example, he said, proponents of surveillance say it’s necessary to keep a close eye on movements threatening to mount a “leaderless resistance.”

The problem with that concept, Berlet says, is that it’s completely wrong. Right-wing groups who carried out terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s â like the Oklahoma City Bombing â were very up-front about their hatred of the government.

“Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had a business selling militia materials to militia people at gun shows,” Berlet says.. This isn’t underground. It’s not subtle.”

And that’s a problem, he says.

“The entire operation is flawed, and we’re not protected, because they’re not looking for the right groups of people and the right networks,” he says.

1:20 p.m. Panel: Profits of War, Profits of Peace

Jim Smith, a former brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force who now works for Raytheon, kicks off the discussion about “profits” of war and peace by discussing the United States’ military spending compared to that of other countries.

“We spend more on our military than the next 25 militaries combined,” Smith says. “Our USN has 283 combat warships today. That’s more than the next 13 navies combined, and 11 of those are allies. We are in a unique situation where 5 percent of the world’s population accounts for 50 percent of defense budgets.”

That leads to a natural question, Smith says: “What the hell are we doing? Most of the challenges facing this great nation have nothing to do with large militaries.”

Smith and other panelists say part of what accounts for out-of-control spending isn’t just the traditional tanks, planes and guns â it’s also contractors, like Blackwater. One in ten of the American personnel in Iraq today is a contractor, Smith said.

“I want to argue that the problem is strategic overreach on the part of the U.S. government and decision-makers,” Smith says, who have to rely on contractors to take on duties the conventional military isn’t prepared to handle.

Journalist Josh Rushing, who’s covered military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, tells the audience about the massive mess-halls he’s visited in both of those countries, filled with thousands of contractors.

“We don’t deploy the military anymore,” he says. “We deploy entire cities.”

12:50 p.mComing up: Civil liberties and “profits of war”

Hagel’s keynote speech has wrapped up, and the crowd is heading toward more panels at the University Memorial Center. Starting at 1 p.m., highlights from two panels “Profits of War, Profits of Peace,” and “Civil Liberties: What, Me Worry?”

This afternoon will also see panels dedicated to energy conservation â “Energy Conservation Is a Waste of Time,” at 1 p.m. at the Wolf Law Building, and a session devoted to the Grand Old Party: “Rebranding Republicans: Don’t Misunderestimate Us,” also at 1 p.m. in Room 225 of the University Memorial Center.

12:25 p.mKEYNOTE Twenty-first Century International Relations

Hagel says he believes the United States has made enormous contributions to making the world a better place. But, he said, the country in the last few years has stopped leading by example.

“Where we’ve gone off-course is we’ve somehow veered away from reaching to our allies, to our friends, and others, to form a joint alliance of leadership,” he says. “Rather than imposing our standards, imposing our values, dictating how we want it â invading, occupying â we need to reverse those optics.”

And those mistakes have cost the United States enormously in the court of world opinion, he says.

“America’s standing in the world by any measure is the lowest, by far, since we started taking measures by sophisticated polling data,” Hagel says. “In Turkey, our indispensable ally â only 9 percent of Turkish people have a positive feeling about the United States of America. That’s astounding…. We have to do better in this dangerous world.”

12:15 p.mKEYNOTE Twenty-first Century International Relations

Hagel praises the world leaders who, following the devastation of World War II, met to put together a world order.

It wasn’t perfect, Hagel said â it was even “raggedy.” But, he said, the greatest fear of several leaders â all-out nuclear war â didn’t happen. And during that relatively peaceful time, he said, much of the developed world enjoyed an unprecedented boom in prosperity and scientific progress.

Now, Hagel says, the time is to help those parts of the world “that have been left behind.” And that’s not going to happen just with military might, he said.

“We’re not going to fix Afghanistan or Pakistan by sending more Marines or more infantryman,” Hagel says, to cheers and applause.

12 p.mKEYNOTE Twenty-first Century International Relations

Hagel, who represented Nebraska in the U.S. Senate for a decade, opens by drily noting the absence of that state’s flag among the dozens outside on the CU campus.

The theme of Hagel’s talk is “engagement.” He discusses historian Arnold Toynbee’s historical concept of “challenge, and response.”

That’s the situation the U.S. faces today, he said â and the right response is meaningful dialogue with the rest of the world.

“Engagement is not appeasement,” he said. “There’s some thinking in our country that somehow if you engage, you’re weak. If you engage, you appease the other side. I have never believed that, and I don’t think history bears that out.”

Instead, Hagel said, it’s a failure to engage that hurts countries.

“If one does not engage on a person level, a professional level… then the outcome is fairly predictable,” he said. “What you will do, intentionally or unintentionally, is walk yourself into a cul de sac that you can’t get out of.”

11:40 a.m.KEYNOTE Twenty-first Century International Relations

Each one of Macky Auditorium’s 2,047 seats is full, as people of all ages â ranging from CU students to older Boulder residents â sit fanning themselves, waiting to hear the keynote address from former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Jim Palmer, who heads the conference, is about to introduce CU President Bruce Benson, who will bring on Hagel. But first, he says a few words about the conference itself, and opens with a joke about Sherlock Holmes and his trusty, pedestrian sidekick, John Watson.

The two go on a camping trip, and Holmes asks Watson for his thoughts on the stars they see above them, prompting a long discourse on astronomy, astrology and man’s place in the cosmos.

When it’s Holmes’ turn, he cuts to the chase: “It’s elementary, my dear Watson. Some bastard has stolen our tent.”

Palmer says his “heart and head” belong to Watson and the doctor’s sincere inquiry after the truth.

“Holmes solves the crimes, but Watson is the one who would be fascinated by the Conference on World Affairs,” Palmer says.

10:25 a.m. Conference on World Affairs: Next up: Chuck Hagel

The CWA panels have broken until 11:30 for lunch. Up next: Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel will deliver the keynote address at 11:30 in Macky Auditorium. The subject of the keynote is Twenty-first Century International Relations, and will be moderated by CU President Bruce Benson.

10:20 a.m. Panel: Electrifying Detroit: Where are we going with Transportation?

Responding to a question from the audience, several panelists criticized the decline of manufacturing in developed Western countries.

“Wall Street said the money was in the service economy,” said Reinert, the Toyota executive. “How’s that working out for you?”

Mahajan, of MIT, was similarly critical. An economy that doesn’t make anything, he said, is going to be weak.

“You open the door for me, and I’ll give you $5, and I’ll open the door for you, and you’ll give me $5, and we’ll have $10 of GDP,” he said. “But what have we really created there?”

10:10 a.m. Panel: Electrifying Detroit: Where are we going with Transportation?

Panelists are discussing technology that’s already here â like the tiny, super-efficient Smart Car. The problem, they agreed, is that people worry about safety â and about whether those cars would be useful.

“The problem is the CostCo runs,” panelist Collins said. “It’s our culture that doesn’t allow a lot of this to happen… I wonder if we can make a change where we put a Costco basket on the back.”

10 a.m. Panel: Electrifying Detroit: Where are we going with Transportation?

Responding to a question from the audience about whether motorists could soon see hybrids that function well in bad weather, Reinert, the Toyota executive, said hope is on the way.

“We’re looking at the Prius as a platform to small to moderate-sized cars,” he said. “The four-wheel drive will be an electric motor in the back that comes on in traction control.”

But, he warned, the new hybrids won’t be designed for serious off-road driving. And he suggested a short-term solution.

“If you want better tires on your Prius, take off those eco-tires and put some damn snow tires on,” he said.

9:55 a.m. Panel: Electrifying Detroit: Where are we going with Transportation?

In the central ballroom of the University Memorial Center, panelists are debating the future of transportation and oil.

Several bemoan the lack of good alternatives to driving. Sanjoy Mahajan, an engineering and computer science lecturer at MIT, said changing infrastructure takes a long time â which means economies aren’t good at responding to increased oil prices, for example.

“People live too far away from work to change their mode of transport,” he said. “They can’t take the train, because there is no train. It takes a long time for those to change â and now would be a good time to start.”

Greg Collins, the Shanghai-based the Lakeline Group, said he was frightened last summer as gas prices hit more than $4 a gallon. People didn’t cut back on their driving or consumption nearly as much as some experts predicted, he said.

“What’s our breaking point, in terms of the price of oil?” he asked. “It’s quite scary if we don’t have an alternative.”

But Bill Reinert, national manager of advanced technologies for Toyota USA, said he disagreed. In the auto industry, he said, there was plenty of evidence that people were responding to high oil prices.

“Trying to sell an SUV was like trying to sell a tumor at the local market,” he said. “You couldn’t do it.”

9:27 a.m. Panel: Bush/Cheney: Forgive and Forget?

Robert Kaufman, the author of “In Defense of the Bush Doctrine,” makes his argument before a skeptical crowd.

“When I get the list of panel topics â this one confirmed it â I’ve always speculated that the panel topics are chosen at some type of Grateful Dead reunion,” he said, to laughter.

“Everything you’ve heard I disagree with completely,” he said, referring to Wright’s condemnation of the Bush administration’s policies in the War on Terror.”When the dust settles, and historians evaluate President Bush dispassionately, with the passage of time… Mark my words: President Bush will go down as a great foreign policy president.”

His announcement was greeted with laughter â and a couple of gasps.

9:18 a.m. Panel: Bush/Cheney: Forgive and Forget?

Jeanne Bucci is sitting near the back of the room with her daughter, 8-month-old Annika, to take in one of the Conference on World Affairs’ first panels: Bush/Cheney: Forgive and Forget?

For Bucci, the answer to that question is a resounding “No.”

“I’m concerned about the erosion of our civil rights that happened under the Bush administration,” she said. “I’m concerned about a lot of the things that we did that goes against who we are as a country.”

The panel, which runs until 10:20, is being held in the Wittemyer Courtroom in the Wolf Law Building on the University of Colorado campus.

Bucci and Annika have lots of company: The lecture room is nearly full. But Annika’s the youngest one here.

“All this talk about soccer moms â sometimes we’re really political, too,” Bucci said.

Panelist Ann Wright, a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in protest over the invasion of Iraq in 2003, kicks off the discussion with a succinct statement of where she stands: “I say, it’s Bush/Cheney: Remember and hold accountable,” she said, to applause.

That point of view will likely be challenged later, as one of the panelists, Robert Kaufman, is the author of “In Defense of the Bush Doctrine.”

VIDEO: Beatboxing workshop at the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado


Conference on World Affairs (CWA)

Conference on World Affairs

The 61st annual Conference on World Affairs runs Monday through Friday on the University of Colorado campus.

For more news on the CWA, see’s Special Section and Archive.

For a full schedule of events and participant bios, visit

Archived comments

I love the CMA, I hear that Carrie Underwood is going to sing.I did expect to see better fashions, Ebert looks like a muppet.


4/6/2009 1:36:17 PM

that is really not a cool thing to say about Roger Ebert. Yes, he looks different because of having to do surgery and the cancer treatment, but saying he looks like a “muppet”, is really out of line.


4/6/2009 1:50:16 PM

Yeehoo!!! The annual liberal love fest back for another season. Baarrffff!

“Conservative” Chuck Hagel?

Your kidding, right?(no pun intended)


4/6/2009 2:05:03 PM

“I’m concerned about the erosion of our civil rights that happened under the Bush administration,” she said. “I’m concerned about a lot of the things that we did that goes against who we are as a country.”

Hey Jeanne, but now that Obama is president you have NO concerns? How could you not be concerned about this-

or this-

Too far over your head or do you only understand it when your governmnet does somethingperceived as torture by pouring water in some terrorist face to get information to prevent another 9/11 from happening?

Wake up America!


4/6/2009 2:29:25 PM

One week after being found guilty of violating the civil rights of one of their own, the next week they are hosting a conference on preserving them.Ought to change the name of the conference to Hypocrisy in Action.Some things speak louder than words…


4/6/2009 2:35:14 PM

tiredofchoirpreachers: “Conservative” Chuck Hagel?

Your kidding, right?(no pun intended)”

Why, because he believes in small government and protection against constitutional abuses while the rest of the party has migrated far, far away from that?PL-eaze!


4/6/2009 2:40:12 PM

All you need to know-

“Hagel’s wife, Lilibet, endorsed the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama and was a guest of Michelle Obama during a debate at Hofstra University. Hagel never publicly endorsed the Democrat, but there was talk after the election that Obama was considering Hagel for a cabinet position.”

Never “publicly” endorsed? What does that mean?

Obama is EASILY the most liberal president this country has ever had and your “conservative” Chuck Hagel couldn’t distance himself from him any more than that?


4/6/2009 2:52:43 PM

I guess ole Chuckie was wrong-

Hagel: Barack Best to Unite Country-

Partisan Gap in Obama Job Approval Widest in Modern Era-


4/6/2009 3:17:47 PM

Please join us at the Denver Capital Building 4/15/09 for the tax day tea party!


4/6/2009 4:05:55 PM

Cynicism and Condemnations Miss the Point!

Geez, the whole idea of the CWA is to solicit conflicting ideas about public policy. What’s with all this unconstructive gripping?

Here is what I posted on Daily Kos and Huffington Post about the first day:

Where Left, Right, and Center Collide in Civility

A bunch of clueless mainstream media scribes want you to believe that a handful of centrist Democrats have just devised a way that political discussions over thorny issues can involve progressives and conservatives seeking common ground.


Its propaganda peddled by centrist Democratic Party spin doctors looking for the votes of conservative evangelicals and using backpeddling on women’s rights and gay rights as bait.

In fact, meetings involving progressives and conservatives seeking common ground have been going on for decades.

This week, the 61st annual Conference on World Affairs is being held in Boulder, Colorado. Over 100 speakers sit on panels covering scores of subjects over five days. The panelists represent a broad range of ideological viewpoint, from the Heritage Foundation to the Communist Party, USA. It is an amazing event.

My first panel yesterday was titled “The purpose of the Universe is to create God.” Conference organizers have a penchant for crafting tricky titles. Religious, spiritual, and non-spiritual panelists juggled an array of inter-related ideas in a lively yet respectful way.We never agreed on an answer, but all came away with new insights.

There was more agreement on the next panel on which I sat, “Civil Liberties: What Me Worry?” chaired by Cathy Hazouri who leads the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. I covered the left flank, while Malou Innocent of the libertarian Cato Foundation staked out what I consider a form of right-wing economic theory. Innocent disagrees. No matter.all the panelists agreed that everyone has a stake in defending civil liberties, that erode under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

So if you are interested in the high stakes poker of intellectual discussions where disagreement is encouraged while civility is respected, drop in on the week-long Conference on World Affairs:


4/7/2009 9:44:01 AM

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