October 22, 2003 - IDS News: Turkey RPCV Author and Ambassador Robert Finn to lecture on Afghanistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Turkey: Peace Corps Turkey : The Peace Corps in Turkey: October 22, 2003 - IDS News: Turkey RPCV Author and Ambassador Robert Finn to lecture on Afghanistan

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Turkey RPCV Author and Ambassador Robert Finn to lecture on Afghanistan

Turkey RPCV Author and Ambassador Robert Finn to lecture on Afghanistan

Former diplomat to visit IU
Robert Finn, resigned U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, to lecture next month

By Daniel Castro

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Published Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Robert Finn will visit IU early next month to deliver a lecture on the changes in Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Finn, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan from March 2002 until recently resigning his post in August, will deliver the lecture Nov. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Frangipani Room at the Indiana Memorial Union.

Finn was the first U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in over 20 years and is currently the Ertegun Visiting Professor in the Near East Studies Department at Princeton University. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikstan from 1998 until July 2001, and has held diplomatic positions in Turkey, Pakistan and Croatia. He also opened the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1992.

Dr. Nazif Shahrani, chairman of the IU Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and well-respected scholar on Afghan issues, arranged the lecture while visiting Afghanistan this summer.

"I asked Ambassador Finn this past summer, shortly after he resigned his post as United States Ambassador in Kabul, if he would be willing to speak," Shahrani said. "He expressed his willingness to do so. I proposed his name to the Chancellor's Forum Committee as a speaker and they kindly agreed to my proposal."

The CFC was organized at IU after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to hold lectures relating to the chaotic situation in the Middle East and is headed by Moya Andrews, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean of the faculties.

"Past lectures have included everything from bioterrorism to airline security," said Cyndi Connelley of the dean of faculties office, where the CFC is based. "Our goal is to present students with educated sources on current issues."

Billions of U.S. dollars have been funneled into the ongoing mission in Afghanistan, including not only direct financial assistance, but military assistance as well. NATO's alliance operation in Afghanistan includes 5,500 troops from the United States, Britain and New Zealand. Separate from NATO, an additional 11,500 U.S. troops are presently involved in the task of fighting the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda forces.

"What is happening in Afghanistan can be instructive about what we should expect to happen in Iraq," Shahrani said. "This lecture should not be taken lightly, because the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq is worsening everyday and will have a strong impact for future of the United States involvement in this troubled region."

IU political science professor Jeffrey Hart said he is looking forward to the lecture.

"It is always interesting to see what a former ambassador says because they generally have a perspective that is different from ours and also from the media," Hart said. "The ambassador has access to a lot of information that none of us can get directly."

Finn was born in New York, and graduated with a bachelor of arts in American Literature and European History from St. John's University. He has two master's degree in Near Eastern Studies, one from Princeton University and the other from New York University. He also has a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton. He volunteered with the Peace Corps in Turkey from 1966-1969, and has published a book, "The Early Turkish Novel, 1872-1900." He speaks Turkish, Azerbaijani, Urdu, Tajik, Persian, French, German and Ottoman.

Shahrani said Finn resigned as ambassador in protest of recent U.S. activity in Afghanistan, making way for David Sedney, former director for Afghanistan at the National Security Council, to assume the role of ambassador.

"(Finn) was a trusted man among the Afghan people," Shahrani said. "He is a man of principle."

Shahrani said he hopes the former ambassador speaks his mind.

"I hope the real story of what the United States war on terrorism in Afghanistan has been like during the last two years is discussed."

-- Contact staff writer Daniel Castro at dacastro@indiana.edu.

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Story Source: IDS News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Turkey; COS - Afghanistan; Diplomacy; Writing - Turkey



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