For many, President Obama’s foreign policy will be defined by its accomplishments: killing Osama bin Laden, disengaging from unwinnable fights in the Middle East, defusing the threat of a nuclear Iran, and refocusing our attention and resources to Asia. But for others, it has been marked by what they see as missteps and retreat: pulling back where action and leadership was needed and presiding over policies that strengthened our adversaries and disheartened our friends. As his time in office comes to a close, has Obama’s foreign policy succeeded? On Tuesday, November 29, the “fantastic” (The New Yorker) nonpartisan debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. will address this question with a debate on the motion “Obama’s Foreign Policy Is a Failure.”


Four members of the Obama and Bush administrations will debate this motion. Debating in support of the motion are Eliot Cohen, former State Department counselor, and Kirsten Silverberg, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and assistant secretary of state. Debating against the motion are Derek Chollet, former assistant secretary of defense and author of The Long Game, and Vikram Singh, former deputy assistant secretary of defense.


Recently featured in a long article in The New Yorker and on CNN, Intelligence Squared U.S. has held over 120 debates across the country as it enters its tenth anniversary next year. This latest debate will be held at NYC’s Kaufman Center and stream live online, then air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Intelligence Squared U.S.” On November 29, online viewers can tune in at IQ2US’s new website (


WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “Obama’s Foreign Policy Is a Failure”

WHEN: Tuesday, November 29, 2016/ Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:15 PM

WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023

TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ ID). To purchase, visit


Arguing for the motion:

* Eliot Cohen: Professor of Strategic Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University

Eliot Cohen is Robert E. Osgood Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He directs the strategic studies program and the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, which he founded. From 2007 to 2009 he served as counselor of the Department of State. He has also served as an officer in the United States Army Reserve, and as a member of the Defense Policy Advisory Board of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as other government advisory bodies. Cohen’s books include Conquered into Liberty: Two Centuries of Battles Along the Great Warpath That Made the American Way of War and The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power & the Necessity of Military Force (January 2017).

* Kristen Silverberg: Former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union

Kristen Silverberg served as U.S. ambassador to the European Union from 2008 to 2009 and as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 2005 to 2008. Prior to her time at the State Department, she held a number of senior positions at the White House, including deputy assistant to the president and advisor to the chief of staff. She served in 2003 in Baghdad, Iraq for which she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service. Silverberg formerly served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.


Arguing against the motion:

* Derek Chollet: Former Undersecretary of Defense & Counselor, German Marshall Fund

Derek Chollet served in senior positions during the Obama administration at the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, most recently as the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. He is currently a counselor and senior advisor at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. His books include The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America’s Role in the World, America Between Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, coauthored with James Goldgeier, and The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World, coedited with Samantha Power.

* Vikram Singh: Vice President, National Security and International Policy, American Progress

Vikram J. Singh is the vice president for national security and international policy at American Progress. Previously, he served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia at the Pentagon, where he advised senior leadership on all policy matters pertaining to development and implementation of defense strategies and plans for the region. Until November 2011, Singh was the deputy special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State. He has also served in the U.S. Department of Defense as a senior advisor on Afghanistan and Pakistan and as a senior advisor responsible for the department’s post-2014 strategic approach to South and Central Asia.



A non-partisan, nonprofit organization, Intelligence Squared U.S. was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. The award-winning debate series reaches over 30 million American households through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts, interactive digital content, and on-demand apps on Roku and Apple TV. With over 120 debates and counting, Intelligence Squared U.S. has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated IQ2US since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

For more information on Intelligence Squared U.S., please contact Ray Padgett ( or Mark Satlof ( at Shore Fire Media.


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