Monthly Archives: February 2017

Security & Climate Change: A West Coast Perspective

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a one-day symposium put on by The Center for Climate and Security, The San Diego Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund.  The goal of the session was to raise awareness and build a community of practice around climate security issues as they affect the West Coast, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific.  This was interesting for me as the Foundation has convened similar gatherings of experts and public officials here in Puget Sound, which shares with San Diego a strong military presence, an awareness of the closeness of Asia, and an enduring commitment to the environment and climate.  The Jackson Foundation has been working to highlight the voices of our nation’s military – which recognizes that its mission is threatened by a climate changed future – in the ongoing discussions at the political level about climate risks regionally and globally.

This forum also featured high-profile military experts such as General Ron Keys (USAF-Ret) , Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey (Commander, Navy Region Southwest), Rear Admiral Leendert Hering Sr. (USN-Ret) and others who spoke to the importance of managing climate change risk for U.S. national security.  “We are mission driven,” in General Keys words.  “The military needs to respond to the known and likely risks we face.”  The climate concerns have a tremendous capacity to impact our nation’s national security, from contributing to sea level rise at U.S. military installations, to threatening food and water security at home and abroad, to displacing populations in harm’s way from extreme climate events.

In a panel that I moderated, we were joined by Congressman Scott Peters, U.S. House of Representatives 52nd Congressional District, who emphasized that he believes that concern for climate is a bipartisan issue and should be one where consensus can be reached for the good of the nation.  He also underlined the impact on his own district of climate issues happening now as well as in the years ahead.  “For San Diego, climate issues are real and are impacting us today.  We can’t afford to be complacent,” Congressman Peters said.  He is working closely with regional leaders, including Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor of San Diego, who opened the forum.

The value of sessions such as these – be they in San Diego, Washington, DC or Seattle – is that they have the power and leverage to inform a broad audience of political leaders, community nonprofits, government agencies and military personnel  on the need to address strategic climate risks at a regional as well as a national level.  They also get at the very real challenges facing the U.S. military at our Pacific-facing military installations and communities up and down the West Coast.

The Jackson Foundation plans to continue these discussions in order to highlight climate and national security ties with an eye to helping shape federal, regional and local responses to climate risk and resilience opportunities in the decade ahead. Senator Jackson was prescient in his time in foreseeing security challenges to the U.S. that encompassed energy and environmental concerns.  This work continues squarely in that vein, in that it represents the best of the Jackson tradition of being in the vanguard on critical environmental and national security policy.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

The Jackson Foundation Reflects

We recently had a productive Annual Board meeting of the Foundation’s Board of Governors.  We took the opportunity to reflect on the year’s achievements as well as the challenges before us.

The values Senator Jackson stood for and cherished throughout his career underlie the entirety of the Foundation’s work.  These ideas have been woven into the fabric of our daily efforts – into decision making around our large strategic initiatives, choosing local organizations as partners for our smaller program grants, supporting students through academic fellowships at the University of Washington, and training the young professionals who serve as our Jackson Leadership Fellows.

While Senator Jackson’s core values still hold true today, in some corners they seem wholly forgotten.  The lack of trust in facts, as well as in government and civic institutions pervades many people’s thinking.  Yet at the Foundation, we continue to shine a light on Senator Jackson’s important and fundamental ideas.

All of the nonprofits with whom we work are reassessing their strategies, goals, impacts and focus in light of the November election.  Our conversation at the Annual Board meeting reminded us about what we believe to be urgent and important, as well as identified questions that might warrant more in-depth discussion later.

As always, we face some challenges when measuring the impact of our work.  In philanthropy, impact is always difficult to quantify and attribute, partly because of its frequent role as a marginal player in a large game.  The ultimate goal of philanthropy is leverage – the exercise of power indirectly through investment but also influence.

We believe that we have found leverage points in our work on climate and national security, in promoting democratic values and human rights in Russia, in supporting the Jackson School of International Studies and the development of a new generation of foreign policy scholars, and, finally, in our Jackson Leadership Fellows program, which actively promotes civil dialogue in the model of Senator Jackson.  Take a look at a short video we prepared which talks about our successes and looks ahead to how we are making a difference moving forward.

Thanks for your interest!

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

What Mr. Putin Wants from Mr. Trump

In a packed hall in downtown Seattle in late January, the Jackson Foundation and the World Affairs Council hosted a remarkably timely discussion on U.S.-Russian relations in the Trump era.  The Foundation had the opportunity to showcase Andrei Kozyrev, the former Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation.  In opening comments, I reminded the audience that Kozyrev was a historic figure in modern Russian political life,  who with President Boris Yeltsin helped to dismantle the USSR and worked to better relations with both the U.S. and Europe during the early 1990s.  Kozyrev had extraordinary hopes for Russia’s democratic evolution in those heady years.  In a lively conversation and question and answer session moderated by former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief and veteran Russia-watcher Jill Dougherty, Kozyrev indicated he remains hopeful about the essential spirit of the Russian people, despite having soured on Putin and his policies in the many years (17) Putin has been in control.  In response to a question as to whether the Russian people seek a strongman and gravitate to authoritarianism, Kozyrev said “I witnessed the protests of the Russian people at the Russian White House when tanks surrounded us.  I saw thousands of ordinary Russians who surrounded the building in a human wall against the tanks.  That was the Russian people speaking.”  Emphasizing that Russia’s poor relative wealth to the rest of Europe will inevitably take its toll, and stressing that Russians are in essence Europeans, he said that “I tend to believe that sooner or later the Russian people will want more.”

Kozyrev was upfront about what he thought Putin wanted from President Trump:  “Putin now has a sense of entitlement, wants President Trump to give him “payback” for his help in the election,” Kozyrev said, citing the champagne celebration in the Duma as reflecting the overall elation that greeted Trump’s victory in Russia.  And yet the former Foreign Minister was scathing in his assessment of Putin and his alleged political smarts:  “While Putin is perceived as a man of strategy and strength, it is not anywhere shown in his actions,” noting the bombing of Aleppo, which raises the discontent of Sunni Muslims worldwide, and particularly within Russia.  “Is that a smart strategy?” he asked rhetorically.  He also decried Putin’s policy in Eastern Ukraine, stressing that Russia will be “stuck there” indefinitely, as well as tied into federal subsidies in the Russian-grabbed territory of Crimea from now on.  He characterized both as “a total disaster, with no exit in sight in both places” (Ukraine and Syria).

Andrei Kozyrev and Jill Dougherty

Kozyrev also referred to Russia’s economic situation as very stretched and said that President Trump, in negotiating a new relationship with Russia or considering the lifting of economic sanctions, should take into account that Russia’s economy is 13 times smaller than the U.S. economy – and dwarfed by the economies of the U.S. and European allies taken as a whole.  “With an overextended foreign policy, two wars without any prospect of winning,” Putin doesn’t have much to bargain with.  Yes, they will find areas to cooperate on – citing Iran as a good example, and the space programs – but the Russians won’t bargain where they don’t see their own self-interest, he predicted.

Lara Iglitzin poses a question as Maria Denny, Foundation Board Member, (right) looks on.

The Seattle crowd seemed particularly moved by Kozyrev’s answer to a question as to why Boris Yeltsin had chosen Vladimir Putin to succeed him, so many years ago.  “Yeltsin was a limited political figure,” Kozyrev explained.  “While he used democratic slogans, his understanding of democracy was skin-deep.”  When Russia faced major challenges (such as oil prices as low as $10 barrel), Yeltsin fell back on who he was, which was a creature of the Soviet political structure.  And fellow democrats, Kozyrev included, could not come up with a younger, viable alternative political figure.  In that, “we failed,” Kozyrev concluded.  The audience appreciated Kozyrev’s candor on both current U.S.-Russia relations and the historical perspective.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director