AUSPC 2012: Welcome and Introductions
21st Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference – AUSPC 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS
Mr. John Mulholland - Chairman, Board of Directors, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
Dr. John Duke Anthony - Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and author, inter alia, of Arab States of the Lower Gulf: People, Politics, Petroleum; Historical and Cultural Dictionary of the Sultanate of Oman and the Emirates of Eastern Arabia; and The United Arab Emirates: Dynamics of State Formation.
Mr. Don Battle - Acting Manager of the International Trade Center, U.S. General Services Administration.
[Remarks as delivered]
[Don Battle] Good morning and welcome to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. My name is Don Battle and I manage the Trade Center on behalf of the US General Services Administration.
I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome today’s esteemed speakers, dignitaries, sponsors and members of business, government and development communities. Through a public partnership with Trade Center management associates our center is a mixed-use facility, along with our special events and hospitality services we pride ourselves on being an active hub for US trade policy, global engagement, national export initiatives and a forum for diverse programming.
In addition to serving as the World Trade Center of Washington, D.C. the Office for Trade Promotion works to fulfill our trade promotion mandate by collaborating with an extended network of public and private sector organizations. Our partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce, various chambers and think tanks, members of the diplomatic community who convene a rich mixture of signature events such as today’s, which foster international dialogue, generate business opportunities and educate the public.
We’ve had the great pleasure of working with Dr. Anthony, Pat Mancino and their team for the past seven years to host the dynamic array of programming featuring world leaders some of whom have included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ambassador Adel al Jubeir, Prince Turki and many more.
To learn more about our events and trade programming please visit our information table located near the foyer area.
In closing this is the seventh year that we have had the pleasure of serving as home to the Policymakers conference. This year’s theme is on transition and implications for American and Arab interests in the Middle East and how they can further educate us on the evolution of the Arab region. I am certain the next two days will be thought provoking for many of us and again we are very pleased to host you here at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and we commend the National Council on US Arab Relations for once again organizing what I am sure will be a fantastic program and congratulations to the Council on their 21st anniversary. I would now like to turn the show over to Dr. John Duke Anthony.
Thank you very much.
[John Duke Anthony] Actually I’m following the next speaker who is John Mulholland the Chairman of the Board of the National Council on US-Arab Relations.
[John Mulholland] Thank you John. [Greeting in Arabic] Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, students and alumni of the National Council, friends in the diplomatic community, representatives of our Armed Forces, and our legislative and executive branches of government and our colleagues and friends from the Arab world and the Middle East. Welcome. Welcome indeed to the 21st Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference.
My name is John Mulholland and it’s my privilege to be the Chairman of the Board of the National Council on US-Arab Relations. I wish to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors. You’ll see a list of them in your program brochure and they are here behind me on the podium. This conference as so many of our other programs could not exist without your support and we thank you and thank you again.
Let me also take this opportunity for some administrative business. We request when you want to have personal conversations that you exit the hall in the back not only in the entrance but if you could go outside. Those of you who have been with us in past years know that the conversations, unfortunately the acoustics are such that they invade the space here. So if I could request your cooperation to exit completely outside for having your conversations, which I understand are a very important part of the this meeting here.
Nearly three decades ago when I was President of the American Businessmen of Jeddah I led a delegation to Washington to present our issues to the various branches of the US government. On that occasion I met a gentleman from Virginia who spoke with knowledge and a decisiveness on the Arab world that until then I had never encountered.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all know whom I’m speaking about. Please help me welcome the founder, the President and CEO of the National Council, the moderator of this conference, and I am proud to say my friend and mentor, Dr. John Duke Anthony.
[Dr. John Duke Anthony] I thank you John, thank you Mr. Battle whose last name is perhaps appropriate given the existence and themes of this particular conference, his name being “Battle” synonymous with the challenges that we face.
I do second the administrative aspects of what Mr. Mulholland said that it’s natural after any of the speakers, for their friends and long time acquaintances to rush forward to say hello again or give them their cards. But this is not fair to the next group that’s to speak, and it’s not fair also to the C-SPAN people who have for six out of the last seven years elected to choose this event to film.
They have been an embarrassment of riches to choose from on each day and in terms of any number of institutions that would like C-SPAN to film and record for posterity their event. We are talking about in the thousands of opportunities that they have, but they only chose four and they chose those four only at the last minute, the day before the event. That they have chosen to do this one for six out of seven years is something that we feel blessed by because while there will be 48 media representatives here, magazines, newspapers, radio, print media and the like, satellite television. CSPAN’s airing of it allows additional millions to hear, see and benefit from these proceedings. So the quicker the speakers can go to the rear after their session and those who want to speak with them do not rush forward, meet them in the back as Mr. Mulholland said.
We are proud to open this session with one of our most distinguished and oft demanded speakers who has many challenges and claims to his time, but he will forgive me if I just mention briefly to those who are here for the first time that this is but one event, one program, one activity that the National Council hosts and administers each year.
We are 29 years old. This particular program is 21 years old. Why do we exist? We exist for two reasons. We have a vision. We have a mission.
Our vision is to place the US Arab relationship on a firmer foundation than it has been, than it is and is likely to be unless enough good people on both sides work to accomplish that goal. These things do not occur by accident or by coincidence. They happen on the shoulders of those who have gone before us and those who are here with us, and the emerging generation of tomorrow’s leaders who will manage this Arab-US relationship, hopefully in a more mutually beneficial way, hopefully in a more reciprocally more rewarding way, hopefully in a more reciprocally respectful way of each others’ traditions and values and norms and ideals and principals and the lasting effects of their rich cultures. And this too is not done by accident.
How we see this firmer foundation closer in the realm of strategic dialogues, economic dialogues, political dialogues, commercial trade and investment dialogues, defense cooperation dialogues and of course people to people soft power dialogues between our two cultures and countries and peoples.
Our mission is but one word: education. And we go at it through seven different ways.
We’ve taken more than 225 Members of Congress and their chiefs of staff and their defense and foreign policy advisors to 12 Arab countries where we put them right in the middle of a bilateral Arab-US relationship. Let them see and learn and hear for themselves what the nature and the extent and the pace and the results and assessments of that relationship is and has been, and what they can do to improve it.
We have briefings on the Hill with corporate sponsors and briefings as well with the educational community, my statistics are I hope not wrong, that 2,200 colleges and universities in the United States, we have a professor inside of 800 of them who we have taken to one of or more of these 12 Arab countries.
We have had a secondary school program taking juniors in high school to Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, that has been blessed by several of the White House’s as being in keeping with the Youth Leadership Initiatives of the President of the United States.
But our most profitable and least expensive and our most productive program is that of the Model Arab League. It’s just like the model United Nations except instead of 193 countries we focus on 22 and we teach the young people to debate in 30 seconds, one minute three minutes and five minutes. We teach them to write under atrocious deadlines, we teach them to master parliamentary procedure both orally as well as in writing of resolutions. We teach them to chair meetings and to devise agendas and to agree on the prioritization of the items on the agenda and how to complete an agenda on time and effectively as much as possible.
And from those we have 83 scholarships that go to the most outstanding ones that in recent years have been going to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman as well as to Morocco. We have others amongst them that come here for a ten-week intensive work-study program in the nation’s capital. We put 35,000 young Americans through this program and they are in every walk of American life and international life as well. So that’s what we do, try to do and are able to make some progress towards those goals through your help.