Cameron Munter

“Ultimately when you are overseas you are dealing with people, and you’re trying to figure out what is it that lets them become human to you and what is it about you that allows you to become human to them.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter sits down with Zach and Shiv to discuss track-two diplomacy, cultural immersion, and his thoughts on success.

 

Biography:

Cameron Munter is President and CEO of the EastWest Institute (EWI) in New York. Ambassador Munter served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer for nearly three decades in some of the most conflict-ridden areas of the globe. He was Ambassador to Pakistan (2010-2012) guiding U.S.-Pakistani relations through a period of crisis, including the operation against Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad. He was Ambassador to Serbia (2007-2009), where he negotiated Serbia domestic consensus for European integration while managing the Kosovo independence crisis. He served twice in Iraq, leading the first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul in 2006 and then handling political-military affairs in Baghdad in 2009-2010. Munter graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University in 1976 and earned a doctoral degree in modern European history from the Johns Hopkins University in 1983. He was a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy in 1991. He also taught at Pomona College from 2013-2015.

 

Quotes Preview:

“Inflection points are not always sharp breaks that you recognize. There’s a trend you realize I’ve done something well enough for long enough and yet if I’m going to do the next step of what I’ve got to do I have got to realize that’s not enough.” (3:23)

“What can i do to where I can continue to learn and to adjust and to find different ways of thinking? And I was drawn towards diplomacy. Instead of being a break from academia, it was for me the only way I could continue to be intellectually curious in the way that I had been before.” (5:24)


“People in Europe, who I knew, who were cultural snobs, will say: “McDonalds, you get the same thing every time. How gross.” Poorer people in Europe, especially minorities in Europe, have always told me “What I love about McDonalds is that it’s not snobby. They treat me as Nigerian the same way they treat you as American. And that’s what I love about America. OK, now you see this, you see how food plays this incredible role in understanding people's sense of self-worth or humiliation or motivation in politics. And I’m using food or drink as an example, but there’s any number of things you can look at.” (9:44)


“There’s a new style with Trump, but I think the changes in diplomacy are much bigger than just the changes in administration.” (12:54)



“People become very enamored with the idea of getting to a certain place at a certain time--promotions in a military sense, moving ahead. And yet, I know this sounds very Californian, but I’m allowed as a native Claremont-er, I’m allowed to say you have to make that decision yourself what you want success to be. Look hard inside yourself. What do you like to do? What are you good at? What makes you happy? When you do that, you are much more likely to be successful.” (23:22)

Jack Pitney

Election Reflection: CMC's Professor Jack Pitney sat down with Kate and Zach on November 7 to discuss the following day's election, his predictions, and teaching politics in today's political climate.

Biography:

Professor Pitney is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American History and Politics at Claremont McKenna College, where he teaches courses on Congress, interest groups, political parties, and mass media. A leading expert on the structure and practice of American politics, Pitney is a widely published author or co-author of six books on American politics. Before he was a professor at Claremont McKenna, Professor Pitney was the acting director for the Research Department of the Republican National Committee and a Senior Domestic Policy Analyst for the U.S. House Republican Research Committee, among other important appointments.

John Yoo

“Sometimes lawyers confuse what they think is moral versus what the law says, and those are different things.”

Professor John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general in Bush’s first term, sat down with Kate and Skip to discuss his path to law school, clerking at the Supreme Court, and his role in the torture and war powers legal debate.

Biography:

John Yoo is the Emanuel Heller Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, where he has been on the faculty since 1993. Yoo received his B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from Harvard University. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he worked at the Yale Law Journal. Professor Yoo clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers.

Quote Preview:

"I think in law you still have a connection to the great debates and the great ideas you are introduced to in college.” (5:00)

“[Clerking on the Supreme Court] left me with the idea of how important it was that judges constrain their role, that they try not to become philosopher kings who think it's their job to make and remake society as they see fit.” (6:00)

“Just because something is politically hard doesn’t mean we have to rewrite the Constitution or our understanding to fix it.” (9:40)

“That doesn’t mean that because members of Congress are politically reluctant that we have to therefore decrease presidential power.” (10:40)

“Members of Congress like to see the President take all the responsibility for the tough decisions in war, so they’re going to fund the military maybe even if they don’t agree with it because they don’t want to have to take responsibility for it.” (11:15)

Jay Nordlinger

“In a liberal democracy like ours, I think there is such a thing as freedom from politics.”

National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger sat down with Zach and Bryn last week to discuss his "night job" as an music reviewer, new book on the children of dictators, and the role of politics and party affiliation in daily life.

Biography:

Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor at National Review and writes about topics ranging from politics to human rights to the arts. Originally from Michigan, Nordlinger attended the University of Michigan before relocating to New York. In addition to his journalism experience, Mr. Nordlinger hosts the Need to Know podcast and has written multiple books.

Quote Preview:

“I think you’re allowed to be an individual, and vote for the candidates of your choice, [and] argue for whatever position strikes you as best. You don’t need to be a member of a party. I must say I liked being a member of a party.” (2:30)

“Journalism gives you a license to be nosy and to act on your nosiness.” (8:50)

“Why do people do this? I’ve interviewed many, many dissidents - former political prisoners, political prisoners to be. Why do they stick their neck out this way; why do they risk so much? They usually can’t tell you. They just feel compelled. Why do they do things that they know will lead to their imprisonment and torture and possibly murder? Why? They can’t tell you. They feel compelled. They also think, 'If I don’t do it, who will?' They’re a special breed." (12:50)

“I’m for less politics on campus rather than more, myself. I think colleges should be places of learning, growing, discovery; there’s plenty of time for politics later. I don’t think there has to be politics on campus, and I say that as someone who is a political nut!” (15:20)

 

Robert Sapolsky

“I would also dart and anesthetize my baboons using blow gun systems, and there's a bunch of people in DC where I would love to put a big hefty dart in their rears, and maybe put in some ear tags and find out what's going on with their hormone levels.” | Professor Robert Sapolsky, biologist and neuroscientist, on the natural processes behind today’s decision-makers.

Sapolsky sat down with Shiv and Wes to discuss his path to neuroscience, human compassion, and effective strategies for talking about science in political and social terms.

Biography:

One of the preeminent neurobiologists in the world, Robert Sapolsky is a professor at Stanford University where he holds joint appointments in the Biological Sciences, Neurology & Neurological Sciences, and Neurosurgery departments. After being raised in Brooklyn, he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelors in Biological Anthropology and later went on to get his PhD from Rockefeller University in Neuroendocrinology. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship genius grant in 1987 and the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. For decades he has been traveling to Africa every year to observe a group of baboons as part of his work on stress and gene degeneration.

Quote Preview:

“A large percentage of social mammals can be divided into what’s called pair-bonded species: they mate for life, males do a lot of child-care, females choose males who are good partners, there’s not a whole lot of aggression. Or tournament species: males are much bigger than females, and big sharp canines, ornamentation, they fight tons…. So what about humans? By every measure you could come up with from cultural anthropology to literally what sort of genetic diseases we have, we are halfway in between… and this explains like 90% of poetry and divorces... We are incredibly confused species in that regard.” (9:30)

“People have a lot of trouble imagining that whatever it is right now is going to change as much in the next ten years as whatever it was ten years ago.” (12:59)

“We have to not only not despair, but do everything possible to hasten the end of the political regime that was about to come in.” (13:50)

“If Donald Trump does not destroy the planet with some of his plans, he certainly is going to destroy research and science and a lot of medical work. I think that the cuts that he is proposing, the hostility he has to things like global warming, the hostility that he has to fact, to cause and effect, basically I think puts us all in great danger. But if you happen to be somebody that happens to traffic in truth and facts for a living, particularly so.” (14:02)

“We do weird things like invent sheepishness about status, or being embarrassed about the wealth we come from, or things like that.” (16:00)

“At a place like this, with really smart and really privileged people, who are gonna have all sort of options down the line, I guess the clearest thing I wish I had had hammered into me more is: get a really good sense if you can of what you’re gonna have to give up for your ambition, and is it worth it?” (18:39)

Sam Quinones

"I think opiates elected Donald Trump," opines award-winning journalist Sam Quinones (22:40). Sam chatted with Skip and Kate, covering his career path in journalism, the opioid epidemic, Trump’s election and presidency, and border security.

Biography:
Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic. Dreamland was selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by publications including the Seattle Times, Boston Globe, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Before writing Dreamland, Quinones was a reporter with the L.A. Times from 2004-2014 focusing on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, and the border.

Quote preview: 
“One day I find a series of stories over six months of people dying of black tar heroin in the town of Huntington, WV. That pushed a number of buttons. First of all, black tar heroin is only made in Mexico, and it...doesn’t cross the Mississippi river…[West Virginia] has the lowest percentage of foreign-born people of any state in the union, so what is all this black tar heroin doing in a state with no Mexicans in quantities large enough to kill a dozen people in six months when they’d had one overdose in ten years?” (11:30)

“And then [law enforcement] says: “and [all the drug dealers are] from the same town.” And I come forward in my chair and I go “really? Which one?” I had this overwhelming surge of knowledge that there was a small town somewhere in Mexico where everybody came to Columbus, OH to sell heroin like pizza. It was just a matter of finding it.” (12:45)

“I think Opiates elected Donald Trump. One of the major facts of life in (the areas Trump won) is opioid addiction...Opiates bring with them a fatalism, a negativity...they create a feeling that things are falling apart....There is a dread of the future [in these areas]...he won because those counties swung the states they were in.” (22:10)

Maria Trujillo

“The kind of climate that is being created in our country right now, I think, is going to negatively affect in terms of people coming forward and reporting those [human trafficking-related] crimes.”

Skip and Zach sat down Maria Trujillo, CMC alumna and Human Trafficking Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Safety, about her experiences abroad and the fight against human trafficking today.

Biography:

Maria A. Trujillo ’01 serves as the Human Trafficking Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Safety in the Division of Criminal Justice, specifically the Office for Victims Programs. In this role, Trujillo coordinates the efforts of the Colorado Human Trafficking Council. Trujillo spent the previous six years in Houston as the executive director of the non-profit organization United Against Human Trafficking, whose mission is to prevent and confront human trafficking by raising public awareness, training front-line professionals and empowering the community to take action. Trujillo graduated as an International Relations major from Claremont McKenna College in 2001. She obtained her master’s degree in International Communications from American University.

Quote Preview:

"Fear over immigration status) is a big way in which traffickers keep people under their control...” (6:00)

“People want to be heard and they want to know that you’re trying to appreciate their perspective and find solutions together.” (7:00)

“A shift in policy and administration doesn’t necessarily change that individual that you have a relationship with--they’re still the person that you can talk to and work out these issues with. It’s not them; it’s policy.” (13:23)

Amy Whitaker

“Art and business are central to democracy. What does that mean?”

Author, artist, and entrepreneur Amy Whitaker sat down with Zach and Jackie to talk about the intersections of art, life, creativity, and democracy.

Biography:

Amy Whitaker is an author, artist, and entrepreneur who is currently an assistant professor of Visual Arts Management at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She teaches at the intersection of business, creativity, and everyday life and thinks that art and business are both vital to democracy.

Quote Preview:

“The whole idea that art has to be big and bold, to me, is part of the myth of artistic genius.” (5:10)

“Everyone was dealing with what I was dealing with, just in a different way… Most people had a duty-bound sense of being practical but also a creative life” (8:36)

“I basically explained the conceptual basis of the market economy to my classmates (at an art school).” (10:40)

“You go to college, you have to invest a lot in your education, you’re thinking about getting your money’s worth and a job after college, and I’m trying to say to people, you know what, all of us, our education, our careers, our lives - they’re all art projects. Like it or not, we’re inventing Point B all the time.” (12:35)

“If Leonardo da Vinci were alive today, what do you think he’d be doing?” (17:11)

Larry Rosin

“The polling industry is one of the most collegial. Like everything to do with 2016, there were conspiracy theories galore, and I can tell you because I know all these people, they were just trying their best to get things right. The idea that they were spinning the results to try to hurt or help a candidate is just ludicrous.”

Polling expert Larry Rosin sits down with Wes and Skip to discuss the nature of the polling industry and its role in the 2016 election.

Biography:

Larry Rosin is the president of Edison Research, which he co-founded in 1994. Edison is best known as the company that performs exit polls for all U.S. Elections for the National Election Pool (a consortium of ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC and the Associated Press). Rosin has been a primary force in building the company into one of the world’s most respected survey research companies, with a particular specialization in media and election polling. Rosin is a graduate of Princeton University, where he majored in Public and International Affairs, and received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Quote Preview:

“If you think of voting behavior, it’s not that different than picking the toothpaste you prefer off the shelf or picking any kind of consumer product...Maybe the import of what you’re picking is different and at a higher level, but ultimately what makes someone pick choice A over choice B, I’d say that’s very similar, even if it feels wrong to compare it to choosing between packaged goods.” (4:30)

“On election day, we had a very strong sense by noon that it was going to be extremely close and [Trump] had a very good chance to win. No one else outside of the quarantine we set up would have known that early. ... After the data started coming in, we had Clinton winning Minnesota by 2, and we knew that she was in trouble in Michigan and Wisconsin.” (9:50)

“The other big factor about this election is that both of these candidates were extremely unpopular. Going back to the consumer goods example, if Coke tasted like swill and Pepsi tasted like poison, you would just not drink that stuff. But we had a huge number of people who did go out to vote despite disliking both candidates and that creates a certain level of volatility that is difficult for pollsters to nail down.” (13:50)

“There are these conspiracy theories that [pollsters] are somehow part of the fix. If we were, I wouldn’t be here with you guys today. I would sell out democracy, but my price would be so high that I wouldn’t be here, I’d be living on my private island somewhere.” (18:00)

Fran Moore

“The agency had no problem having me working 12- or 13- or 14-hour shifts as an analyst, but would not allow me the opportunities to lead, because ‘my loyalties would be divided [as a mother]’.”

Fran Moore, a retired CIA senior officer, spoke with FF4T about her experience cracking the glass ceiling in the CIA, sorting though vast amounts of data in the internet age, and her personal definition of success.

Biography:

Fran Moore is a retired Central Intelligence Agency senior officer with 32 years of leadership and intelligence analysis experience. She served in a number of senior positions at the agency, including most recently as Director for Intelligence from 2010 to 2014. Fran now runs FPM Consulting, LLC, and serves on the board of Threat Deterrence Capital, guiding businesses that support US intelligence, security, and law enforcement needs.

Quote Preview:

“I was told, 'We think your loyalties will be divided between home and family and work, and we’d rather have someone who we know can give 100%.'” (2:10)

“If you think about how hard national security challenges are for the US, if you don’t have the smartest mind regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or creed at the table, you’re not actually going to be able to solve those hard problems” (7:45)

“The agency was out ahead in some respect for technologies that would allow us to sort through that data and bin it so that the most important information rose to the top. ... [However,] the deluge of volume [of information] has always outpaced our brilliance at those concept maps [for organization] to pull the most information forward.” (16:45)

“If you’re an expert on Russia or China, you know enormous amounts. Sifting all of that big head, that big brain, into the tiny thimble-full of the most important things you want to put in front of a busy policy maker that’s relevant and useful to the decisions they are making is tough.” (17:00)

“In business it’s all about mitigating risk and exploiting opportunity, well what intelligence analysis does is that tradeoff for policy rather than for the bottom line.” (18:10)

Spencer Wells

“When [one guy we tested] got these results he literally started crying. He said, “Now I know why I feel connected to these different groups. It really gives me a sense of belonging.’”

Spencer Wells, population geneticist and former explorer in residence for National Geographic, wants to create an app for people to discover their genetic makeup. Hear Wells’ thoughts on DNA sequencing, his Emmy award, and the future of consumer genomics.

Biography:

Wells is a population geneticist and former explorer in residence for National Geographic. He directed the Genographic Project, which tells the story and tracks the movement of humans since their origin. His other titles include adjunct professor at UT Austin, author, and entrepreneur: using his expertise to help and found consumer genomic companies.

Quote Preview:

“We’re so diverse as a species, different skin colors and hair types, and shapes of our noses and all these things. How did those differences arise? How do they connect us in some way?” (10:00)

“My latest company is called Insitome. We’re involved in trying to build what will become the app store for consumer genomics. The idea is that very soon everybody is going to have their DNA sequenced and it’s going to live up in a vault, but we don’t know everything about what all that material means yet."

“I remember we tested a guy who was originally from Colombia a few years ago but he was adopted by a Dutch family living in New York and had grown up in New York with a Dutch name. He knew essentially nothing about his background except for Colombia so we tested him. He had ancestry, of course from Native Americans in South America, but also European ancestry from several places, Spain and Italy, he had a Y Chromosome that was all likelihood from an Ashkenazi Jewish person, he had sub-Saharan African ancestry, and when he got these results he literally started crying. He said, ‘Now I know why I feel connected to these different groups it really gives me a sense of belonging.’”

Adotei Akwei

Amnesty International’s Adotei Akwei sat down with Melissa and Shiv to discuss making human rights about human beings, the power of “click activism,” and his life path.

Biography:

Adotei Akwei is managing director of government relations for Amnesty International USA. Since 1988, he has worked with a focus on human rights and U.S. foreign policy toward Africa, working at CARE USA, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the American Committee on Africa, and The Africa Fund.

Description:

How can activists personalize human rights abuses to garner the attention of the world? Akwei discusses the influence of Nelson Mandela on his life path, the role of journalism and social media in exposing truth, the role of NGOs and government, and his personal definitions of success. He touches upon universal trends in human rights work as well as Trump's Muslim ban and the role of social media activism in this round of cabinet nominations.

Quote Previews:

“The power of journalism to make things very immediate is incredibly important. We at Amnesty do something like that. When the organization was founded in 1961, it was found to fight for the rights of individuals, and it wasn’t just that individuals were having their rights abused but it was also that it humanized human rights. Up until then, human rights were the work of governments - governments sign treaties, governments adhere to treaties, governments broke treaties - and the rest of us were just casual observers. And what Amnesty did, which is the most significant, was it made human rights about human beings - about individuals. And it made it very personal. “ (6:40)

“Social media, particularly Twitter, is the realm of engagement. May not be a good thing, but we can’t ignore it.” (10:40)

“This is where both the NGOs and the governments are failing: is that they see themselves as adversaries and I think that’s something we got to try to figure out how to get by, to get beyond.” (18:10)

 

Lee Jussim

In a “post-truth” era, how can we make sure to rely on credible information grounded in empirical evidence? Dr. Lee Jussim sits down with Zach and Wes to discuss the dangers of relying on unsubstantiated claims -- for example, how do we know that stereotypes really are inaccurate? -- and his journey from public housing in Brooklyn to the forefront of social psychology research.