Hope College will feature the address “Afghanistan: to Fight… or Run?” by Ronald E. Neumann, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and currently president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, on Monday, March 13, at 1 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall through the Great Decisions Global Discussion Series of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series highlights the most critical global topics facing Americans for the year as chosen by the Foreign Policy Association in New York City.  The council brings experts to West Michigan to discuss the topics, with presentations at Hope in the afternoon and at Aquinas College in the evening.

Formerly a deputy assistant secretary of state, Neumann served three times as ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s political/military liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.

Prior to working in Iraq, he was ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004); deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula; and ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994).

Earlier in his career, he was deputy chief of mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sanaa in Yemen; principal officer in Tabriz, Iran; and economic/commercial officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments include service as Jordan Desk officer, staff assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau; and political officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.

Neumann is the author of “The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan” (Potomac Press, 2009), a book on his time in Afghanistan. He has returned to Afghanistan repeatedly and is the author of a number of monographs, articles and editorials. His writings have focused most heavily on Afghanistan, stabilization and Bahrain.

At the academy, he has focused particularly on efforts to expand State and USAID personnel and upgrade their professional formation to enable the institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Neumann is on the Advisory Committee of a non-profit working in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA). He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council.

Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Vietnam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal.

He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

Hope is an educational partner of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan (worldmichigan.org), which is dedicated to educating people in western Michigan about other countries and cultures of the world, as well as providing a forum for discussion of critical foreign policy issues.  In existence since 1949, the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is a non-partisan, non-advocacy educational non-profit organization.  With 60 member companies and almost 3,000 members, it is considered one of the best councils in the national network of 100 World Affairs Councils.

The council’s Great Decisions Global Discussion Series will feature a total of eight addresses on Mondays between February 6 and April 3, with additional topics including nuclear proliferation, and the complexity of U.S.-Saudi and U.S.-China relations.  Six of the events will take place at Hope, and all eight will take place at Aquinas College.  There is a $10 admission charge for the events at Aquinas.

More information about the presentations at Hope is available at hope.edu/greatdecisions.  More information and about the Great Decisions Global Discussion Series as a whole is available at worldmichigan.org/great-decisions-2017.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.  The Aquinas College Performing Arts Center is located at 1703 Robinson Rd. SE in Grand Rapids.