October 28, 2011
Colloquium Speaker: John R. Schmidt
John R. Schmidt is a professorial lecturer at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. During a 30-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service he served in senior positions at the Department of State and National Security Council, including as political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad in the three years leading up to 9/11. He has written extensively for leading foreign policy journals and online news magazines including Survival, National Interest, Washington Quarterly, American Interest, Orbis, and Daily Beast. The Unraveling: Pakistan in the Age of Jihad (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Press, 2011) is his first book.
Pakistan―a nation founded as a homeland for South Asian Muslims, most of whom follow a tolerant, nonthreatening form of Islam―has become a haven for al-Qaeda and domestic jihadist and sectarian groups. Who is to blame for this? The army generals and feudal politicians who run Pakistan fear the consequences of going after these groups and are hopeful that they can still be used to advance the state’s interests. Can these leaders save their country or will Pakistan become the first nuclear-armed jihadist state?