2014: Diplomacy & Violent Jihad

Monticello Poster - Final

The conference Diplomacy and Violent Jihad is intended to define the long-term challenges to the United States in the face of jihad. Islamic extremists, dedicated to international violent jihad, are increasingly active in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Africa and Asia. The indiscriminate nature of their attacks against civilian targets, and the challenge of how to respond, strongly suggests that terrorism based on jihad is likely to be one of the defining policy issues for the U.S. over the next several decades. The declaration of an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq has added a new dimension to violent Jihad. The discussion will focus on several specific cases, with a view to developing a global focus on American anti-jihad policy and effective diplomatic responses.

This conference, co-hosted by the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Robert H Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, is intended to define the long-term challenges to the United States in the face of jihad.



 Diplomacy and Violent Jihad

A Discussion of American Diplomacy

October 25, 2014



9:30 a.m.              Registration at Monticello prior to bus boarding for Montalto

9:45 a.m.              Coffee at Repose House, Montalto


10:15 a.m.            Welcome

Leslie Greene Bowman, President, Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann (ret.), President, American Academy of Diplomacy

Andrew O’Shaughnessy, Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies


10:30 a.m.           Introduction

Ambassador Neumann will introduce the broad theme of the conference, the overarching challenge for America being how to design strategies that cope without losing sight of other national goals and values such as support for democracy, and how we judge the utility and effectiveness of authoritarian rules.  In fact, can one policy encompass the full challenge and what does having a policy mean to actual diplomatic work on the ground? This discussion will set the stage for the individual presentations to follow.


10:45 a.m.            The panel will look at the broad issues of policy and diplomacy in the context of three examples:

Russia and the Caucasus:  Violent extremism is not limited to the Middle East. It is now part of politics in Russia and its neighbors. But, are jihadist terrorist threats in the region directed solely at Moscow, or is the U.S. threatened as well?  How do we reconcile counterterrorist policy with other aspects of our relationship with Russia and does our response affect Russian willingness to cooperate with us?

Ambassador William Courtney

Yemen:  The Arab world is the epicenter of confrontation with violent jihadism. Yemen has had to confront this even as it struggles with the crisis of changing regimes. It is a case study where antiterrorism, development and support for democratic change are all in the mix.  How do we manage and prioritize our interests and our actions?

Ambassador Edmund Hull

Jihad in the Maghreb:  Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb is only one example of jihadist forces becoming transnational actors.  Is it a threat to American interests?  What policy actions are effective in dealing with the situation, and over what time frame?  How deeply should we become directly engaged?  To what extent do our European alliance relationships require support?

Ambassador Herman Cohen


11:45 a.m.            Q & A


12:15 p.m.            Break for Lunch


1:15 p.m.              Keynote Address:

Reflections on the Challenge of Jihad; In Syria and Iraq the issues of violent Jihad  have intertwined with political protests, ethnic splits, civil war and religious controversy.  Clearly, something more than a one dimensional policy response is required.

Ambassador Robert Stephen Ford


1:45 p.m.              Discussion: Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne and Ambassador Robert Ford


2:00 p.m.              Q & A


2:30 p.m.              Closing Remarks

Ambassador Ronald Neumann and Andrew O’Shaughnessy


2:45 p.m.              Conference adjourns