Tag Archives: Politics and Activism

Scholars’ Circle – Private Military Corporations and State responsibilities – July 14, 2024

Private Military Corporations have become a growing element of the warfighting landscape. States have historically had a monopoly on the use of military force. But private corporations challenge this monopoly. How much do they increase the lethality and likelihood of war? How much can private corporations be regulated? And what are the challenges to regulation? We explore the political, military, legal, and socioeconomic implications of private military corporations. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This interview was recorded in July 2023.

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – When democracies prosecute corruptions of its former political leaders – July 7, 2024

The criminal indictments of former President Trump have created a political crisis in their unprecedented nature. Historically, U.S. presidents have not faced criminal charges, even in cases where there is a high likelihood of guilt, in large part due to respect for the office. Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon embodies this norm.

What can the U.S. learn from other countries that have prosecuted former presidents? And what can we learn from American history about the prosecutions of political figures? Is the prosecution of former heads of state simply the weaponization of justice mechanisms? And how common is this political charge? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This interview was recorded August, 2023.

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – How Christian Nationalism affects elections in US ; Faith based Communities, a study – June 30, 2024

The rise of the religious right or Christian Nationalism aided in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and has been a significant voting bloc ever since. How much is this movement driving American politics? How organized are the groups that comprise the movement? And what exactly is its political agenda? [ dur: 35mins. ]

Book cover : Faith and Community by Rebecca Glazier

Churches and congregations are facing decreased attendance and low enthusiasm from younger populations. How has civic engagement built their numbers? Doug Becker explores with the author of a new book – Faith and Community: How Engagement Strengthens Members, Places of Worship, and Society.on the topic. [dur: 23mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Book Author interviews: Presidential Vetoes an historical view; Paradox of Free Speech – June 23, 2024

We discuss with John Vile his book Encyclopedia of Presidential Vetoes from Washington through to Biden – History, Subjects, and Procedures. [ dur: 29mins. ]

Book cover : Encyclopedia of Presidential Vetoes
Book Cover of Civil War by Other Means has an red X on the title of the book

What are its legal, social, and political limitations of free speech? How does the advent of social media and concerns over misinformation have an impact on the exercise of free speech? And how do the new developments of free speech and its limits have an impact on the First Amendment protections? We discuss a new book You Can’t Always Say What You Want: The Paradox of Free Speech with its author Dennis Baron. [ dur: 29mins. ]

  • Dennis Baron is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a frequent commentator on language issues in the national media and has written a number of popular books, including What’s Your Pronoun? (2020).

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Votes counted in India, Mexico and South Africa – June 16, 2024

While much of the world is in a democratic backslide, some nations’ democracies are thriving. What do the elections in Mexico, South Africa, and India portend? We will examine the election of these three leading Global South nations, the impact of dominant parties losing some support, and the general state of democracy in each nation. How might the policies change? What was the impact of leadership personalities in the democratic developments in Mexico, South Africa and India? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Trump’s conviction of Felony charges affect his candidacy for President in 2024 – June 9, 2024

For the first time since the nations founding a former President was convicted of a felony. What does the criminal conviction mean for Trumps ability to run for President and to govern if he wins? And why does the US have such a challenge in prosecuting former Presidents, when it has a history of prosecuting other former office holders? What does the term lawfare mean? And does this conviction make the US democracy more fragile or stronger? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Iran Presidential election, for whom does it matter. – June 2, 2024

What challenges and crises are the sudden death of Iran’s president and his succession revealing? What’s happening inside the country? What’s happening with Iran internationally?
We speak with four Iranian scholars on Iran’s political system, internal politics, social and political repression and alienation between state and society. How much of Iran’s foreign policy is driven by domestic issues and how much of it is a reaction to external actors, most notably the United States? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Insights into student protests at university campuses – May 26, 2024

With massive protests on university campuses over the war in Gaza, universities have chosen to aggressively and violently break up the protests putting student protesters at risk. How does non-violent protest turn to violence at the hands of the police? How have national politics driven the responses to student protests? As university space has become more contested, particularly by political forces on the right, what do violent responses to protests mean for university values of free speech?

We speak with three university professors and one student about their experiences at their respective campuses. [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Politics and Elections in India – May 19, 2024

With its 1.4 billion population and a billion registered voters, India stands as the world’s largest democracy and 5th largest economy. India is holding national elections, which will decide its leaders for the next five years. What are the role of its institutions in supporting democracy and how are their elections conducted? What is the state of India’s democracy and what are its big challenges? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Armenias have taken legal action against Azerbaijan claiming genocide and numerous violations of international law – May 12, 2024

Since 2020, Azerbaijan has attacked the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh, and in September 2023 ethnically cleansed them from their historic homeland.

Armenia has taken legal action against Azerbaijan claiming numerous violations of international law. What legal actions have been taken at both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. What are the causes of action and what might the consequences and impacts of these legal actions be?

Armenia is under intense pressure to negotiate a permanent peace with Azerbaijan. How could this normalize and legitimize Azerbaijan’s aggression? And what does it signal to aggressors internationally about the likelihood of punishment for this aggression? [ dur: 58mins. ]

  • Tamara Voskanian is a cofounder of the Center for Truth and Justice (CFTJ), a nonprofit organization that documents atrocities and uses the evidence to bring perpetrators to justice. Last month Tamara represented CFTJ at the UN Committee Against Torture.
  • Talin Hitik is an international human rights advocate focused on seeking accountability for war crimes and human rights violations. She also has worked as a legal officer at the Hague Conference on Private International Law and the Permanent Court of Arbitration and has served at the Ministry of Justice of Armenia, managing the European Court of Human Rights litigation department. She was a professor of international human rights and humanitarian law at American University of Armenia and Yerevan State University and most recently, was an Academic Affiliate at the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Steve Swerdlow, esq. is Associate Professor of the Practice of Human Rights in the Department of Political and International Relations at the University of Southern California. He writes extensively as a human rights monitor for Human Right Watch in both the Central Asian region and in the Caucuses.

This program is produced by Doug Becker, Ankine Aghassian, Maria Armoudian and Sudd Dongre.