Meet our Next Speaker

Derek Mitchell

February 13, 2023

Topic: Democracy and International Security

Derek Mitchell became president of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in 2018, returning over two decades after he departed the Institute in 1997, at the conclusion of nearly four years as Senior Program Officer for Asia and the former Soviet Union.

Since that time, Mitchell has had a distinguished career in and out of the U.S. government, in which he has witnessed the connection between democracy and international security.

From 2012-2016, Mitchell served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma). He was America’s first ambassador to the country in 22 years. From 2011-12, he served as the U.S. Department of State’s first Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of ambassador.

Prior to this appointment, Mitchell served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (APSA), in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In that capacity, he spent six months as acting APSA Assistant Secretary of Defense, and was responsible for overseeing the Defense Department’s security policy in Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central Asia. For his service, he received the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Distinguished Public Service in August 2011.

From 2001 to 2009, Mitchell served as Senior Fellow and Director of the Asia Division of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). From 1997 to 2001, he served as Special Assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mitchell was the principal author of the Department of Defense’s 1998 East Asia Strategy Report, the last such report produced by DoD.

Mitchell began his work in Washington as a foreign policy assistant in the office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) from 1986-88. Most recently, Mitchell has been a senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as a lecturer for the Stanford-in-Washington program.

Mitchell has authored numerous books, articles, policy reports, and opinion pieces on international affairs. He is the coauthor of China: The Balance Sheet—What the World Needs to Know Now about the Emerging Superpower (2006), and China and the Developing World:  Beijing’s Strategy for the 21st Century (2007).

Mitchell received a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Virginia. He was a visiting scholar at Peking University in 2007.  He speaks Mandarin Chinese proficiently.

His wife Min is a former television journalist. They live in Washington, D.C., with their beloved dog Bernie.

Meetings open to members and members’ guests only.  Unless otherwise noted, all meetings take place at Elk Hall, 210 Rankin Street in Rockland.  Please plan on arriving by 11:30 AM for noon meetings.  The speaker begins promptly at noon and lunch is served from 1 PM.

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Upcoming Speakers

  • February 13, 2023
    Derek Mitchell
    Topic: Democracy and International Security
  • March 13, 2023
    Jon Wolfsthal
    Topic: ​Is a New Era of Nuclear Danger Upon Us?
  • April 17, 2023
    Susan Landau
    Topic: The International Status of Cybersecurity Efforts
  • May 8, 2023
    Christopher Costa
    Topic: Reflections on Counterterrorism and the Future Terrorism Threat
  • July 10, 2023
    Thomas Ricks
    Topic: First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

View all speakers past and present »

Articles

The revenge of history in Ukraine: year of war has shaken up world order

Posted on Friday December 30

By Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, December 26, 2022 The Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko recalls a quote attributed to Otto von Bismarck: “Wars are not won by generals, but by schoolteachers and parish priests.” It’s a country’s taught collective memory, its shared sense of its own history, that are the decisive instruments for mobilisation, and are […]

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Made with Bravery: the Story of Ukrainian Startup Resilience

Posted on Friday December 30

Produced and Directed by Dan Herman, Go To Jupiter Productions Inc., November 2, 2022 From coffee shops to bomb shelters, work-life balance to work-war balance, “Made with Bravery: the Story of Ukrainian Startup Resilience” profiles how Ukraine’s startup ecosystem has reacted and adapted to life amidst over 200 days of full-scale Russian invasion, and how […]

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Dan Golden: Op-ed, NYT book review, and book excerpt

Posted on Monday December 5

Below you will find an op-ed written by Dan Golden as well as a New York Times book review of and except from his recent book on cybercrime. Dan thought these readings would provide a helpful background for his December 2022 presentation. “Why the F.B.I. Is So Far Behind on Cybercrime,” by Dan Golden, The New […]

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Would Putin Roll the Nuclear Dice?

Posted on Tuesday November 1

By Steven Pifer, Time, October 18, 2022 Since Russia launched its most recent invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has threatened—sometimes subtly, other times explicitly—nuclear escalation should the war not go its way. Ukraine and the West have to take such threats seriously. But the Kremlin also needs to take their probable responses seriously and […]

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We can’t afford US Congress wavering in its support for Ukraine

Posted on Tuesday November 1

By Steven Pifer, The Guardian, October 27, 2022 On 24 October, 30 members of the House Democratic Progressive Caucus released a letter to Joe Biden calling for a “proactive diplomatic push” on Kyiv to work toward a ceasefire and “direct [US] engagement” with Moscow to end the Russia-Ukraine war. One week earlier, Republican House leader Kevin […]

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Taliban facing backlash after U.S. drone strike against al-Qaeda leader

Posted on Monday October 3

By Pamela Constable, The Washington Post, August 2, 2022 KABUL — The U.S. drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri here early Sunday also struck a humiliating blow against the Taliban regime, which had secretly hosted the aging extremist in the heart of the Afghan capital for months but failed to keep him safe. […]

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Beneath Kabul’s surprising veneer of normalcy, a precarious balancing act

Posted on Monday October 3

By Pamela Constable, The Washington Post, August 11, 2022 KABUL — An uneasy calm has settled over the Afghan capital this summer, a wary detente between the country’s stern religious rulers and a deflated, worried populace that is struggling to survive but also relieved that the punishing 20-year war involving foreign troops is over. Both […]

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Restore Reagan’s Military ‘Margin of Safety’

Posted on Wednesday September 7

By Roger Zakheim, The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2022  The U.S. faces the most daunting security landscape in 45 years. That’s no coincidence. Earlier this year Russia launched the bloodiest armed conflict in Europe since World War II, and this summer China publicly displayed plans to strangle or swallow the free people of Taiwan. Leaders […]

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Collapse of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces: An Assessment of the Factors That Led to Its Demise

Posted on Monday June 27

By the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), May 2022 Since 2002, the United States has allocated nearly $90 billion in security sector assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), with the goal of developing an independent, self-sustaining force capable of combating both internal and external threats. Yet, in August 2021, […]

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The big emerging question: How to finance the net-zero transition in emerging markets

Posted on Monday June 13

By Paul Bodnar, Jean Boivin, and Isabelle Mateos y Lago, Black Rock Investment Institute, October 2021 Climate change is a global crisis that requires a global response. Without a successful green transition everywhere, climate risk is unmanageable anywhere. Reaching the globally agreed climate goals requires speed – notably a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030, […]

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USAID Development Assistance Counter Terrorism: A Guide to Programming

Posted on Friday May 6

Below you will find the USAID document that Stacia George thought would provide a helpful background in advance of her May 2022 presentation on counter terrorism. USAID Development Assistance Counter Terrorism: A Guide to Programming. October 2009. This guide discusses the implications for practitioners pursuing development objectives in the context of counter-extremism (CE). Because programming […]

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Understanding Central Asia’s Cautious Approach to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Posted on Friday April 1

By Bruce Pannier, Foreign Policy Research Institute, March 25, 2022 The governments in Central Asia are treading cautiously in their remarks about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Central Asia, too, was part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, and, when some in Central Asia see the news from Ukraine, they might wonder if they are […]

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Ambassador Laura Kennedy: Article, Podcast, and Video

Posted on Friday April 1

Below you will find an article, podcast, and video that Ambassador Laura Kennedy thought would provide a helpful background on the “Stans” in advance of her April 2022 presentation. Dealing with Kazakhstan’s Nuclear Inheritance, Foreign Service Journal, March 30,2022. Ambassador Kennedy’s book review of Atomic Steppe: How Kazakhstan gave up the bomb by Togzhan Kassenova. To […]

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Trump and Obama: The odd couple who broke ‘extended deterrence’ for the Indo-Pacific

Posted on Thursday March 3

By David Cooper in The Hill on February 24, 2021  If there is an upside to nuclear weapons it is extended deterrence. This term refers to the “nuclear umbrella” that the United States promises to extend over its closest allies in Asia and Europe to protect against hostile nuclear powers who otherwise might be tempted to […]

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A Nuclear Cruise Missile Could Be Vital For Arms Control And Nonproliferation Efforts

Posted on Thursday March 3

By David Cooper in Breaking Defense on September 7, 2021 A simmering debate over the fate of the new intermediate-range nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM-N), initiated by the Trump administration, has centered on whether the weapon is needed to strengthen deterrence in the face of escalating geostrategic competition with China and Russia. Because then-candidate Joe […]

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