International Affairs

Kelli Andresen / UIPPC

In this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer co-moderates a discussion with Lynn Hicks of the Des Moines Register. The conversation features a panel of guests with expertise in U.S. China relations. The event, "China, Iowa and Diplomacy in the Trump Administration," was sponsored by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center, IPR and the Des Moines Register, and came just a day after Governor Terry Branstad faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to China.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

News that Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, is being removed from the National Security Council is a signal the NSC is being transformed back to a more traditional structure, according to two Iowa political scientists.

During this hour of River to River, Jim McCormick and Wayne Moyer join host Ben Kieffer. 

"I see it as moving away from more of a populist approach to foreign policy and much more towards a traditional security approach to foreign policy," says Moyer, who is Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

Larry Koester

Russia has received a lot of attention in America recently, due to evidence of Russia meddling in the last U.S. presidential election, news of Donald Trump aides’ contact with Russian officials, and military moves including an intelligence ship spotted cruising just off the East Coast and a cruise missile test that may violate a 1987 arms treaty.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned Monday, after admitting he did not provide Vice President Mike Pence with complete information about phone conversations held with Russian intelligence during the Trump administration's transition.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University about the resignation and the likelihood of a congressional investigation.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's invitation to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Jonathan Hassid, an assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, says that gives Branstad a chance to capitalize on years of relationship building. Branstad has had a relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping since Branstad's first term in office. 

Hudson Institute / Flickr

As a boy he lived in a refugee camp in his native Afghanistan. As a teenager he fled from the Taliban to England. Now, in his early thirties, Hamdullah Mohib serves as an ambassador to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Sarah Boden/IPR

More than a dozen contracts were signed today in downtown Des Moines between Chinese food companies and U.S. soybean producers. The signatures cement the purchase of $2.1 billion worth of soybeans, which will go to feeding Chinese livestock. 

Iowa is currently the top U.S. producer of soybeans. Gov. Terry Branstad says the state’s relationship with China is very important, since the country is the world's largest soybean consumer. 

Flickr / Alpha

Gov. Terry Branstad is slated for a trade mission Japan and China next month to promote Iowa beef and pork products. Representatives of both industries, who will travel with the governor, say the two Asian countries present significant economic opportunities.

A former Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush and current President of the non-partisan, not for profit International Republican Institute says America's role in the world should be one of engagement.

Ambassador Mark Green was in Iowa this week to speak to the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations. He told host Ben Kieffer on River to River that America needs to stand with its allies and help them achieve their goals, stabilize the world, and address conditions like destitution and absolute poverty that can be exploited by extremists.

Freepik

As with most issues, republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton see the U.S. role in the world very differently. In this edition of River to River, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College about the foreign policy challenges likely facing the next President of the United States.

Flickr / Shane Clements

Two central Iowa veterans were awarded Purple Heart medals on Tuesday. The honor is for service members who are wounded or killed in combat. 

Don Coderre of West Des Moines served in the Army as a combat infantryman from 2004 to 2007. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Corderre was injured while clearing explosives from highways.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with four young professionals from Sub-Saharan Africa in Iowa this summer as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. 

This summer, each of the fellows is developing business skills they will be able to take back home, and they are also forming connections with one another - an important aspect of the program, according to Dimy Doresca, director of the UI Institute for International Business.

University of Iowa student Emily Roberts met a 19 year old who lives in Afghanistan online, through a language learning exchange. The two became fast friends. 

"Sultana and I were talking and I was asking her questions so she could practice her English. I asked her what her perfect day was," Roberts says. "She said, 'well, I would wake up in the morning and study physics all day.' I thought that sounded like a terrible day, but that's when I knew I had to try to get her here." 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Hundreds of lawsuits against seed company Syngenta could develop into a major class-action potentially involving almost every corn farmer in the country.

In 2013, China rejected certain American imports because they contained corn grown from Viptera seeds, a Syngenta product with a new genetically engineered trait. The trait was approved for sale in the United States, but China's regulators had not yet approved it, though they have since.

Courtesy Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

The U.S. is formally part of the biggest global trade partnership in history after the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership symbolically signed the deal in New Zealand. For President Obama, now comes the hard work.  

 

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

About 50 people rallied outside the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon, in response to Gov. Terry Branstad’s order blocking Syrian refugees from settling in Iowa.

"Mr. Branstad I ask you to find it in your heart, to find the courage, and to stop being afraid of people that are different from you," said Samantha Thomas, the one of the rally's organizers and executive director of Global Arts Therapy, which does work with youth and refugees.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

Iowa clergy submitted a letter to Gov. Terry Branstad’s office Monday afternoon, condemning what they call discrimination against Syrian refugees “on the basis of religion," and to "reject fear and cruelty" by welcoming them to the state.

Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday opened the door to the possibility of settling Syrian refugees in Iowa if a bill before Congress to tighten screening procedures becomes law.  

The bill would require that the director of the FBI and other top security officials approve all applicants from Syria and Iraq and assure they pose no threat.   

Otherwise, Branstad says letting the refugees in is not safe.

“If instead we're working as a country I'd feel much safer and more willing to do that,” Branstad says. 

More than 120 people are dead in Paris after a string of terrorist attacks late last week, including one American. The attackers have been identified as Muslim extremists, and one of the terrorists is said to have gotten into France by posing as a refugee.

Reese Erlich

There are interviews you spend hours sweating over, and then there are situations like the one faced by award-winning foreign correspondent Reese Erlich on a recent trip to Jordan. That's where he interviewed Abu Qatada, once described as Osama Bin Laden's right-hand-man in Europe before he was deported from the UK to Jordan in 2013.

Erlich says he had 20 minutes to prepare. The interview was hastily arranged by another of Al Qaeda's top leaders. Erlich says Qatada wanted to talk about human rights violations by the Assad regime in Syria, and by the U.S.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District / Flickr

Lt. Col. James Fielder was in Afghanistan from October 2013 to December 2014. A senior intelligence officer and air intelligence advisor for the 438 Air Expeditionary Advisory Group, part of his job was to apply political science to real-life scenarios. 

"I used a political communication model. Understanding noise inside of communication is very important if you want to successfully transmit a message to a sender to a receiver and back. And part of noise can be cultural, language differences, time differences."

Wikimedia Commons

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, is speaking out against Pentagon contractors who, he says, have too much say in U.S. foreign policy.

"Corporate influence in general--big oil, big pharma, big food--all exercise insidious power over presidential decision making, over what this country does, both domestically and internationally," he says. 

Photo by Frank Morris for Harvest Public Media

China's rapid industrialization and economic expansion over the past few decades has been a boon for U.S. farmers — especially soybean farmers. But China's economy is slowing down, leaving American farmers exposed to the downside of being tied to the world's second largest economy.

With tall stands of corn and green soybean fields stretching for miles, the river bottom land around Langdon, Mo., seems a long, long way from Beijing. In an economic sense, though, it's practically right next door. 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

After years of work, U.S. negotiators on Monday announced agreement on a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations that is expected to expand export opportunities for U.S. farmers.

The 11 countries included in the deal, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, already import some 42 percent of U.S. agricultural exports at a value of $63 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Matt Brooks/NET News file photo

China will buy 13-point-eight metric tons of U.S soybeans this year, worth about $5.3 million.  Twenty-four contracts making that official were signed today in downtown Des Moines. 

This year’s Iowa soybean harvest is expected to be strong, and Laura Foell welcomes this news.  She and her husband farm 900 acres near the Sac county town of Schaller. She’s also the chairwoman of the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Eisenhower Presidential Library & Museum

The United State's new deal with Iran about its nuclear program is just the latest in a story that stretches back more than 50 years.

During this hour on River to River, NPR’s Steven Inskeep talks about the history of Iran’s nuclear program and its connection with the United States, which starts with a nuclear reactor that was built on the campus of Tehran University in 1957.

Dr. Dan Murphy

Dr. Dan Murphy has spent the past seventeen years working in East Timor, a Southeast Asian nation which gained independence from Indonesia. He grew up in Alton, Iowa and received his medical degree from the University of Iowa but realized his help was needed outside the U.S.

In the last 20 years, he's traveled to Mozambique, Laos, and Nicaragua but found East Timor most in need.

  “East Timor was kicked around worse than any other country I can think of… and it’s a place that cried out for attention.”

John Pemple/IPR file photo

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley was one of the Republicans who spoke out against the Iran Nuclear Agreement on the Senate floor Thursday. Iowa’s senior senator says the agreement threatens the security of the U.S., Israel and other western European allies, as it doesn’t go far enough to limit Iran’s access to nuclear capability.

One of Grassley’s complaints is that the deal makes international inspectors wait up to 24 days before having access to certain sites. Grassley says Iran will use this time to “hide prohibited activities.”

Joyce Russell/IPR file

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says he is not joining the calls for President Obama to cancel an upcoming state visit by the President of China.  Republican Presidential candidates Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Carly Fiorina are among those saying Obama should cancel Xi Jinping’s state visit next month because of what they call China’s efforts to undermine U.S. interests.  On Friday, Branstad said President Xi is an old friend and that relationship has been good for Iowa.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, remains hopeful after two disappointing recent events. The spring outbreak of avian influenza devastated Iowa’s poultry industry and then this past week talks on the 12-national trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Grassley has strongly supported, broke down.

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