Although the LEAP Ambassadors have attended many events sponsored by the World Affairs Council, this was our first event at the Glade Gallery, an art gallery in The Woodlands.
Gregory Gause, a professor at the Bush School at Texas A&M University, spoke to the attendees about the tragic events of 9/11, the relationships and origins that preceded the attack, and how those relationships have evolved since the attack.
After we reconnected and caught up with the wonderful WAC Staff, we began to make our way around the Glade Gallery. Never missing an opportunity to fine new favorite pieces, we began maneuvering around the gallery taking notice of all the contemporary art.
Sandija Bayot, the WAC’s Chief Development Officer, informed the crowd about several upcoming events and then surprised everyone with a pop quiz!
Sandija then asked five questions about upcoming events and handed out books as prizes to those that got the answers correct. Heather Noman correctly answered the capital of Yemen, and Morgan named the fourth Ambassador joining WAC for a luncheon the next day. Congratulations LEAP Ambassadors!
Ray Cunningham, WAC’s Executive in Residence in The Woodlands…
introduced the guest speaker of the night, Dr. Gregory Gause.
Dr. Gause is the Department Head and Professor of International Affairs at the Bush School in College Station. Professor Gause described some of the threads that converged in 2001 to lead to the 9-11 attacks, including the US supporting the anti-Soviet forces in the Middle East–some of whom evolved in to more overtly terrorist organizations.
Following quick success in retaliating against the 9-11 attacks, groups such as ISIS emerged as more powerful, and Iran has gained visibility and influence in the region. As ISIS gained power and Iran showed little inclination in curbing such power, the early US success in Iraq and Afghanistan eroded, culminating in President Biden’s decision to withdraw last year. Gause notes that there is little to no support to go back in. People’s experiences influence their willingness to support policies, and military action is no exception.
Near the end of the lecture, Dr. Gause answered a couple of questions from the crowd.
The questions were excellent, with several posted by local professors and other knowledgeable attendees. Gause focused on each question….
…and responded at length. Inevitably, questions turned to Russia and Ukraine, a direction that really brought home the relevance of our policies in response to aggression. While there was some agreement that China may be a longer-term threat than Russia, there was also acknowledgement that much suffering was likely to result from this invasion and, anytime you are dealing with a country that has control of nuclear weapons, even larger conflagrations are of great concern.
Following the event, we spent time with staff along with a couple of professors from the Bush School, who proved very interesting.
We also posed for a group photo with students from some high schools and the always-friendly, always-professional staff of the WAC.
And, of course, we took a minute to pose for a group photo in the midst of the beautiful gallery.
Following the event, we headed to Genghis Grill (the only nonbar, it seems, that stays open past 9pm in The Woodlands) and had an enjoyable dinner, while also reflecting on the discussion, and contemplating the implications of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.