October 17, 2008
Colloquium Speaker: Robin Wright
Robin Wright has reported from more than a 140 countries on six continents for The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Sunday Times of London, CBS News and The Christian Science Monitor. She has also written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and others. Her foreign tours include the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and several years as a roving foreign correspondent. She has covered a dozen wars and several revolutions. She most recently covered U.S. foreign policy for The Washington Post. Among several awards, Wright received the U.N. Correspondents Gold Medal, the National Magazine Award for reportage from Iran in The New Yorker, and the Overseas Press Club Award for "best reporting in any medium requiring exceptional courage and initiative" for coverage of African wars. She was named journalist of the year by the American Academy of Diplomacy, and won the National Press Club Award and the Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting. Wright has also been the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant. As an author, Ms. Wright has been a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, Yale University, Duke University, Stanford University, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. She lectures extensively around the United States and has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and PBS programs, including “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” “This Week,” “Nightline,” the “Newshour,” “Frontline,” and "Larry King Live.” Among her books, The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran was selected as one of the 25 most memorable books of the year 2000. She is also the author of Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World, and In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade.
Despite the media coverage and the flood of commentary on events in the Middle East and what seems to be a general recognition that the region is in a period of historic transition, the direction and nature of the changes occurring there remain difficult for most people to comprehend. And, despite the disproportionate share of the headlines accorded the tiny minority ready to kill, something very different is happening now. These countries are learning that the hard-liners can only destroy; they can’t provide positive change or progress. Journalist Robin Wright has covered the Middle East for more than 30 years for a number of distinguished publications. She has visited every Muslim country plus Israel multiple times, covered every Arab-Israeli conflict, plus the Beirut Embassy bombing in 1983 and the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon. She has interviewed Revolutionary Guards in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; she has visited inspiring activists in Egypt and Morocco; and she has talked with the reformers risking their lives in Syria and Iran. Contrary to popular stereotyping of Middle East populations, there are profound differences from society to society and often within individual groups. Thus, as it happens, change “will have many faces,” and may have troubling as well as positive consequences. Robin Wright will elaborate on these issues as described in her book, Dreams and Shadows: the Future of the Middle East.