Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates America-Saudi Arabia Special Relationship in NYC and Livestreamed, | Shore Fire Media

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24 January, 2017Print

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates America-Saudi Arabia Special Relationship in NYC and Livestreamed,

Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates America-Saudi Arabia Special Relationship in NYC and Livestreamed, February 8

For seventy years, the United States and Saudi Arabia have had what's been termed a "special relationship." But as a new administration takes over, some question whether this relationship has run its course. They argue that we are less dependent on the country's oil than we once were, that the country funds religious extremists, and that it is increasingly difficult to ignore their human rights record. Others counter that Saudi Arabia remains an important ally holding together an unstable region and a crucial partner in the fight against terrorism. On Wednesday, February 8, the "fantastic" (The New Yorker) debate series Intelligence Squared U.S. will investigate these issues with a debate on the motion "The Special U.S.-Saudi Relationship Has Outlived Its Usefulness."


Debating for the motion are Mark P. Lagon, a former U.S. Anti-Human Trafficking Ambassador, and Madawi Al-Rasheed, visiting professor at LSE and leading authority on Saudi Arabia’s history and politics. Debating against the motion are James Jeffrey, a former ambassador to Turkey and Iran and one of the nation's most senior diplomats, and head of the International Affairs Department at Texas A&M F. Gregory Gause.


The 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 February 8, online viewers can tune in at IQ2US's new website ( ).


WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates "The Special U.S.-Saudi Relationship Has Outlived Its Usefulness"

WHEN: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:30 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:

* Madawi Al-Rasheed: Visiting Professor, London School of Economics 

Madawi Al-Rasheed is a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and former research fellow at the Open Society Foundation. She was a professor of anthropology of Religion at King’s College, London between 1994 and 2013. Previously, she was Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. Al-Rasheed is the author of A Most Masculine State: Gender, Politics and Religion Saudi Arabia, Kingdom Without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious, and Media Frontiers, and Contesting the Saudi State: Islamic Voices from a New Generation.

* Mark P. Lagon: Centennial Fellow & Distinguished Senior Scholar, Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service 

Mark P. Lagon is a Centennial Fellow and Distinguished Senior Scholar in the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University and is the former president of Freedom House. From 2007 to 2009, he served as ambassador-at-large, directing the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State. Lagon also served in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the U.S. Department of State as deputy assistant secretary. In this capacity, he had lead responsibility for United Nations-related human rights and humanitarian issues, UN reform, and outreach. Lagon also served as a member of the Secretary of State Colin Powell's policy planning staff, where he focused on the UN, democracy and human rights. Prior to that, was on the senior staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


Arguing against the motion:

* F. Gregory Gause: John H. Lindsey Chair & Head of the International Affairs Department, Texas A&M University 

F. Gregory Gause, III is the John H. Lindsey Chair, professor of international affairs and head of the International Affairs Department at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. He is the author of three books and numerous articles on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. Gause was previously on the faculties of the University of Vermont and Columbia University and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

* James Jeffrey: Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow, Washington Institute & Former Ambassador to Ankara and Baghdad Ambassador 

James F. Jeffrey is the Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute where he focuses on U.S. diplomatic and military strategy in the Middle East, with emphasis on Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. One of the nation's most senior diplomats, Ambassador Jeffrey has held a series of highly sensitive posts in Washington D.C. and abroad. In addition to his service as ambassador in Ankara and Baghdad, he served as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration, with a special focus on Iran. He previously served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State, where his responsibilities included leading the Iran policy team and coordinating public diplomacy.



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 130 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.