Our speaker next Tuesday, December 5, will be Raj Acharya, dean of the School of Informatics, Computer Science, and Engineering. He will be talking about IU’s new Intelligent Systems Engineering program.
Dean Acharya leads a multi-campus school of nearly 175 faculty members and 4,000 students on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses.
Before coming to IU, he was founding director and head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Penn State. He was previously a research scientist at General Electric (Thomson) CSF Laboratory, Paris, France, and has been a research fellow at various NASA and Department of Defense labs. He is on the board of Videomining and Technology Collaborative, a technology-based economic development organization.
He also works as part of a multidisciplinary international team on an NSF-United Nations Digital Government Surveillance project involving Hot Spot Bio-Geo Informatics. His work has been profiled in publications such as Businessweek, Science Daily, and The Scientist, among others.
The meeting will be in the Georgian Room of the Indiana Memorial Union at noon.
This Week’s News
It’s time to get your ho ho ho on.
Bloomington Rotary Club will have its annual holiday party in the Frangipani Room on Tuesday, December 12. The cash bar opens at 6 p.m., and the dinner buffet begins at 6:15 p.m. The price is $30 per person. We will not meet for our regular luncheon meeting that day. Please complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XL23DZM by Tuesday, December 5, to RSVP.
Make your shopping count for Teachers Warehouse
Did you know you could support Teachers Warehouse just by shopping at Kroger? It’s easy when you enroll in Kroger Community Rewards. To get started, sign up with your Plus Card and select Teachers Warehouse. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll earn cash for Teachers Warehouse every time you shop and use your Plus Card.
Here is how it works. First, you need a Kroger Plus Card. If you don’t already have one, just stop by the service desk and ask for one. Or call 800-576-4377 and select option 4 to get a Kroger Plus card number. Once you have a Kroger Plus Card, go to krogercommunityrewards.com to register your card and specify Teachers Warehouse as your non-profit choice for community rewards. (The Teachers Warehouse NPO number is 38711)
After that, you simply swipe your Kroger Plus Card or provide your phone number when checking out.
Sign up to help at Teachers Warehouse
Teachers Warehouse needs volunteers for Saturday afternoon, December 2, to help move books into its new book room. The time slots are 1 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m., and the link to the online signup is below. Needed are about 35 people to help the move go smoothly and efficiently. Please sign up to volunteer at this link: http://signup.com/go/9ZkPXW . Click on the “view” button. You can sign up for one or both two-hour shifts, preferably for both.
Salvation Army bells need ringing
The Bloomington Rotary Club has a long history helping others in need to have a joyous holiday season by volunteering to ring bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. Rotary Ringers are still needed for Dec. 16 and 23 in College Mall. Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b094ba9ae2fa64-salvation2
Please contact Steve Moberly if you have any questions about this opportunity to serve.
Rotary Centennial Gala is coming in May. Sign up NOW.
It is time to sign up for the May 10 Rotary Gala, celebrating 100 years of the Bloomington Rotary Club. Here’s the link: http://www.ismyrotaryclub.org/register4/index.cfm?EventID=77355561
Susie Graham in the news
Rotarian Susie Graham, executive director of development at Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus, told the Herald Times this week that Ivy Tech will offer free eye exams and glasses to people in need next spring. Circle of Ivy, a women’s philanthropic organization, has committed money to serve 25 people. Susie hopes to increase that to 50 with a Giving Tuesday campaign. Circle of Ivy picked seven projects to fund, and Ivy Tech’s Optometric Week of Sight 2018 is one of them.
NOVEMBER 21 PRESENTATION
Banai: Trump approach to Iran stirs panic among diplomats
Six months ago American diplomats were still hopeful for improved Iranian-American relations.
But not today.
Today among diplomats in Washington, there is panic, Hussein Banai told Rotarians. The State Department’s Iran desk, carefully constructed under Secretary of State John Kerry, has been gutted, the number of Foreign Service personnel is being reduced by half, and undersecretary positions are being left unfilled. Foreign policy, particularly as related to Iran, is shifting from a thoughtful process of regional review to a non-process of incoherent prejudicial attitudes. The White House now largely bypasses the State Department, leaving most Iran matters in the hands of Stephen Miller, the President’s senior adviser on foreign policy, and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, said Banai, who is a professor in IU’s School of Global and International Studies.
Since Trump has assumed office, two key distinctive characteristics of the administration have emerged to distinguish Trump’s administration from previous ones, he said: first, a lack of careful policy review and, second, a displacement of diplomatic process by rhetoric and grandstanding. These are characteristics that put American interests at risk, he said, characteristics that enable allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel to largely dictate U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and characteristics that make Iran less stable.
In previous administrations, he said, careful, behind-the-scenes diplomacy with Iran mattered. It was President George W. Bush who, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, opened a back-door diplomatic channel with Iran through Oman and then handed it off to President Barack Obama. It was through this channel that work first began on a nuclear arms deal with Iran.
That deal happened, Banai said, because diplomats knew to separate the goal of freezing nuclear arms from other things America wanted. The United States risked very little by putting a nuclear threat in a box for 10 years. Iran certainly benefited by having economic sanctions lifted, but it also risked making itself vulnerable to increasing demands from citizens and criticism from anti-American leaders.
Today, however, President Trump, who calls the Iran deal terrible for America, risks making the United States irrelevant. Since the administration has moved away from the agreement, the Europeans have embraced it more tightly, Banai said. They plan to keep it alive because they are reaching for a broader, more liberal international order, which may move the Iranians closer to European interests.
The shift in the Trump administration’s attitude on foreign policy and diplomatic process is disheartening because political science research during the past decade has uncovered much about the human psychology of enemy relations, about how ideas are internalized, and how political leaders are influenced by self-interest and careerism. For years, political scholars, including Banai, have systematically used a research technique called Critical Oral History to bring former enemies together to discuss and reflect on how and why decisions are made.
That research has mattered in the practical world because it was part of the Iran nuclear arms deal. The Obama administration drew on this expertise by bringing scholars to Washington to discuss what they were learning and how it might aid the diplomatic process. With Iran, what works? What doesn’t?
Obama’s diplomats understood the paranoia in Iran, Banai said. They understood why Iran was meddling in Iraq. They knew the value of the secret channel President Bush created for them. They listened as experts explained the logic of why a landmark nuclear deal on arms control, even one that explicitly left out other things they wanted, was important. They listened to what the research said, the psychology of bringing an enemy into a first successful negotiation before engaging him on other issues.
It is disheartening because all that now is at risk and gives the Iranians an excuse – bad faith by the Americans – to ignore future diplomatic efforts to protect American interests.
Banai, a native of Tehran, immigrated to Toronto at 15. He earned a B.A. in Political Science at York University in Toronto in 2003, a Master of Science degree in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2005, and a Ph.D. in political science at Brown University in 2012. Before coming to Indiana, he was an assistant professor in diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles and a research affiliate at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He became an American citizen earlier this year.
Banai’s research focuses on Iran’s political development and on American-Iranian relations. He has been a co-convener of the oral history project on American-Iranian relations since 2007.
OUR NOVEMBER 28 MEETING
Loren Snyder led the meeting in the absence of President Mike Baker.
David Meyer greeted Rotarians and guests and Owen Johnson led the pledge and reflection. Reflecting on the history of the Bloomington Rotary Club as it prepares to celebrate its centenary, Owen remembered that in 1918 Bloomington was one of the smallest, if not the smallest, communities to have a Rotary Club.
“What I find amazing,” he said, “is how international the focus of the Bloomington club was already from its founding, at least judging from the programs in our archives during the club’s first year in 1918 – 1919.”
On May 23, 1918, barely a month after our founding, the speaker was Ed Toner, an IU alumnus, who spoke about his trip to France to observe the work of the American Red Cross at the request of Indiana Gov. James P. Goodrich. In July, one of the speakers was Edgar J. Banks, formerly American Consul to Baghdad and Private Secretary to the U.S. Minister to Turkey. Later that month the speaker was Rotarian Lester Smith, who had recently returned from Canada where he investigated what was called the re-education of disabled soldiers. On July 25, the speaker was a Lieutenant (Bruno) Roselli from the Italian Embassy in Washington. On Jan. 16, 1919, the speaker was Paul Milson from Tarsus in Turkey, to speak about Turkish massacres of Armenians.
“Not surprisingly,” Owen said, “our speaker today (Hussein Banai to talk about Iran-American relations) is part of that tradition.”
Susie Graham collected Happy Dollars for Teachers Warehouse.
Byron Bangert introduced our guest speaker, Professor Hussein Banai.
Glen Inman introduced our guests: Efrat Feferman, guest of Liz Feitl; Peter Dorfman, guest of Earon Davis; and Gary Taylor, a visiting Rotarian from the Indianapolis Northeast Club.
Membership Anniversaries This Week
Nancy Krueger – 10 years
Michael Shermis – 6 years
Kay Leach – 29 years
Keith Klein – 32 years
Scott Walters – 29 years
Bryan Price – 27 years
Time to pay for those centennial trees
All who took the survey for planting trees, including an extra tree, please make sure the club has your payment by end of the year. $120 each. If you did not take the survey but want to sponsor a tree or partial tree, just have Pam add it to your statement. You may write a check directly to Bloomington Rotary Foundation or ask Pam to add the contribution to your quarterly bill.
Jon Dilts, Reporter