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Last modified: Monday, April 15, 2013

IUPUI and IU Bloomington events ask: Can conflict with North Korea, Iran be avoided?

April 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With the world's attention focused on North Korea and Iran, a panel of international negotiation and engagement experts will gather at two IU campuses for a forum, a conference and meetings that will address a fundamental question: Can conflict be avoided?


A forum, "Engaging North Korea and Iran," will take place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, in the Wynne Courtroom, IU McKinney School of Law, 530 W. New York St., at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The following day at IU Bloomington, a daylong conference, "Engaging Enemies," will take place in the Walnut Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. The events are free and open to the public.

Support for the forum and conference comes from the East Asia Foundation, a South Korea-based foundation that promotes peace and prosperity in the region. The Australian National University-Indiana University Pan Asia Institute is the primary organizer.

Forum at IUPUI

The forum Thursday at IUPUI will feature a keynote address by Keith Luse, former East Asia foreign policy advisor to Sen. Richard Lugar on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

There also will be a panel discussion by Mel Gurtov, professor emeritus of political science at Portland State University; Andrei Lankov, professor of history, Kookmin University in South Korea; Jamsheed Choksy, IU professor of Central Eurasian studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and history; and Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul Istrabadi, University Scholar in International Law and Diplomacy in the IU Maurer School of Law and director of the IU Center for the Study of the Middle East.

The forum will be preceded by an event from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Confucius Institute at IUPUI, Room 129 of Cavanaugh Hall, 425 University Blvd. Gurtov, who is editor-in-chief of Asian Perspective and a former RAND Corp. staff member, will speak about the widespread view that China is on the way to rivaling or even displacing the U.S. as the dominant world power. He is the author of "Will This Be China's Century? A Skeptic's View."

Conference at IU Bloomington

The conference Friday at IU Bloomington will bring together theorists and practitioners who will delve deeply into a neglected but potentially crucial area of conflict prevention: engagement between enemy or rival states.

"In the vast literature on conflict, the overwhelming attention has been devoted to the causes of war, crisis management and ways to settle disputes. Relatively little systematic work has been done on conflict prevention, particularly prevention that may also help build peace," conference planners said. "In this international conference on 'engaging enemies,' we hope to contribute to developing a systematic understanding of engagement as a strategy for preventing conflict and moving relations between enemy or rival states onto a positive track.

"Northeast Asia will be the main geographical setting for this work, but the intention is to develop a keener, generalizable notion of the strategy of engagement. We aim to produce potentially testable lessons from actual cases, measurable ways to identify successes and failures of engagement, and the identification of the limitations as well as advantages of an engagement strategy."

It will open with a general discussion on logic, strategies and methods of engaging enemies, followed by sessions focused on North Korea, Iran and Burma.

Conference participants will include three people who have worked to encourage principled engagement with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Karin Lee, executive director of the National Committee on North Korea; Kun A. Namkung, an independent scholar and consultant with in-depth knowledge of North Korea's relations with the United States and other countries in Asia; and Luse.

Namkung has frequently served as a back channel between governments, traveling to North Korea more than 50 times in this capacity to pave the way for private visits by Americans. His most recent visit to North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, was in January, when he took Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico.

Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, will address questions regarding U.S. relations with Iran and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S.," which won the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award Silver Medal from the Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book is "A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama's Diplomacy with Iran."

Other presenters will include Andrei Lankov, professor of history at Kookmin University in Seoul and author of the new book "The Real North Korea" Oxford University Press; Walter Clemens, professor of political science at Boston University; Stephan Haggard, the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor at the University of California-San Diego; and Stuart Thorson, the Donald P. and Margaret Curry Gregg Professor at Syracuse University.

Additional funding and support have been provided by the IUPUI Office of International Affairs, the IU Center for the Study of the Middle East and the IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.