The Rumi Forum presented “The Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy: Is It What Was Expected?” with Stuart J. D. Schwartzstein, Independent Consultant

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On March 31, 2009, during the Rumi Forum Luncheon Series, independent consultant, Stuart J. D. Schwartzstein, gave a timely lecture which discussed President Obama’s present and future dealings with American Foreign Policy. With the end of the Bush administration came enormous expectations as to how President Obama would carry out foreign policy with the rest of the world. Schwartzstein noted that the “Bush Doctrine” dealt with the rest of the world in a manner that was considered disrespectful and arrogant, especially with the Middle East. Thus far, President Obama has taken a new angle on carrying out foreign policy.

Mr. Schwartzstein discussed how Obama is handling relations with countries such as China, Afghanistan, Iran, and Russia and also the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. In addition, he is hopeful that President Obama will be able to mend fences between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim World partially due to his connection to Indonesia, the world’s most populated Muslim country. Schwartzstein also spoke of the president’s attempts to re-establish diplomatic ties with countries such as Cuba, Syria, and Iran. When asked to rate the president on a scale of 1-10 in relation to Obama’s foreign policy dealings thus far, Schwartzstein gave Obama the high rating of an 8 or 9. Overall, Schwartzstein believes that Obama will approach foreign policy pragmatically through establishing and maintaining alliances. The talk was ended with a sense of hope for the next era of American Foreign Policy.

Stuart J. D. Schwartzstein has worked as a foreign-affairs professional for more than 30 years, having served in the Defense and State Departments in a wide range of capacities, including as a diplomat, an analyst, negotiator, advisor and planner. He has also held positions in several think-tanks, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS) in Washington D.C. His work has ranged broadly, both geographically and in subject matter, including defense industrial cooperation with European allies, technology transfer and export control issues, “information revolution” issues, encryption policy, international science and technology policy, chemical and biological weapons issues, refugee policy, Horn of Africa issues, relations with European allies, ASEAN countries and the Middle East. While at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (1992-96), he did a good deal of work on Iraq issues, particularly focusing on human rights violations by Saddam Hussein and his regime. In 2004, he served in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad as an advisor to the Minister for Science & Technology and to the president of the Iraqi National Academy of Sciences. He has continued to follow events in Iraq and has maintained contact with a number of Iraqi friends, including several in senior Iraqi government positions, as well as officials and experts in the US. Mr Schwartzstein is currently an independent consultant based in Washington, D.C.

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Mr. Tariq Shafi, CPA, has over twenty-five years of accounting and tax experience in the Washington metro area and London, England. He was a tax and accounting manager for six years at a prestigious firm in Old Town Alexandria before venturing out on his own in 1995. Since then, his practice has grown steadily as word has spread about his firm’s high reputation for quality service at a reasonable cost. Mr. Shafi and his staff believe strongly that building ties with the community involve giving their time and effort to worthwhile causes and they are active participants in local charitable and educational institutions.