Student Blog – Julien Teel | Mexican Energy Reform: Insights & Perspectives

In partnership with the Maguire Energy Institute, the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies had the privilege to bring Congressman Javier Treviño Cantú from Mexico to Dallas last Friday. Congressman Treviño is an elected official of the Mexican Federal Congress for the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), and has been well involved in Mexico’s recent energy reformation process. His appearance gave scholars, government officials, business professionals, and even students some unique insights on the prospects and implications regarding the energy reform.

Congressman Treviño opened his discussion by analyzing three vital aspects:  the current predicaments and objectives that the government of Mexico is aggressively addressing, the purpose and future of the new constitutional amendments that have been ratified, and energy trends that led to the necessity of implementing a novel energy reform. Specifics of the energy reform itself were also meticulously explained, showing that Mexico indeed has a viable plan for revitalizing the nation and entering the world economy as a major energy player.

Despite opposition from political actors and interests groups who wish to retain Mexico’s old policy on energy, Congressman Treviño remains optimistic that the citizens of Mexico, and indeed the international community, will come to see these reforms as progressive and economically beneficial. Much thought and effort has been put into these reforms to ensure Mexico’s future is secured, all while promoting transparency and anti-corruption policies. Although it is still early to feel the effects of the reforms, this feat has the opportunity to transform North America into an energy powerhouse. Indeed, the future is beginning to look much brighter for Mexico.

– Julien Teel, 2013 Tower Center Vaughn Intern

Teel, JulienJulien Teel recently graduated from SMU in December 2013 with a degree in Political Science and International Studies. His research encompasses security and defense issues in East Asia, as well as analyzing the trilateral relationship between the U.S., Japan, and China. Currently, Julien is in the process of applying for Officer Candidate School in the Navy with the intention of entering as an Intelligence Officer. He eventually hopes to become a Foreign Area Officer in the Navy, formulating and promoting American foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Tower Center Fellows & Associates | Fall 2013 Highlights

Tower Center fellows and associates include a wide range of scholars, public intellectuals, and policy practitioners. Here is a selection of their recent publications, speaking events, and other notable accomplishments.

Sabri Ates, Associate

Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary, 1843–1914 (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Mark A. Chancey, Associate

“Public School Bible Courses in Historical Perspective: North Carolina as a Case Study,” Religion & Education 40:3 (2013): 253-269.

Jeffrey Kahn, Fellow

Appointment, O’Brien Fellow-in-Residence, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism in the Faculty of Law, McGill University, Fall 2013.

Testimony, “Ibrahim v. Dep’t of Homeland Security, et al.” United States District Court for the Northern District of California, December 2-6, 2013, San Francisco

Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists (University of Michigan Press, 2013) (reviewed by Nina C. Ayoub, The Talented Mrs. Shipley, The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013)

Op-ed, Human rights in Russia: In Putin’s Russia, Shooting the Messenger, N.Y. Times, Feb. 25, 2013 (online); International Herald Tribune, Feb. 27, 2013, at 8 (print)

Citation by European Court of Human Rights (Khodorkovskiy & Lebedev v. Russia, App. Nos. 11082/06 & 13772/05, July 25, 2013, at ¶¶ 362 & 890) of joint report submitted to and at the request of the Council of the President of the Russian Federation for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.

Sheri Kunovich, Fellow

Presenter, “Women’s Political Participation in Poland,” Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw Poland, October 2013.

Harold Stanley, Senior Fellow

Vital Statistics on American Politics 2013-2014 (CQ Press, 2013) (with Richard G. Niemi).

Hiroki Takeuchi, Fellow

“Survival Strategies of Township Governments in Rural China: From Predatory Taxation to Land Trade,” Journal of Contemporary China, Volume 22, Number 83 (September 2013): pp. 755-772.

Speaker, “US-China Relations,” Teacher Workshop at Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX, October 19, 2013.

Speaker, “Did You Hear about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?” New Outlooks on Great Decisions Discussion Group by Emeritus plus 50 Program, Dallas, TX, October 22, 2013.

Speaker, “China Today” Talk at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX, November 22, 2013.

Jenia Iontcheva Turner, Associate

Presenter, “Legal Ethics in International Practice,” Nuts and Bolts of International Law Seminar, International Law Section, State Bar of Texas, Dallas, TX, Oct. 18, 2013.

Presenter, “Effective Remedies for Ineffective Assistance,” Southwest Criminal Law Workshop, UC Davis Law School, Sept. 7, 2013

Presenter, “The Search for Truth in Criminal Procedure: A Comparative View,” SMU Dedman School of Law, Faculty Forum, Aug. 28, 2013

Matthew Wilson, Fellow

Politics and Religion in the United States (Routledge, 2013) (with Julia Corbett-Hemeyer).

Presenter,”Religion in American Public Life,” Faith and Politics Conference, Churchill College, Cambridge.

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Joshua Rovner – Reckless Reforms

Tower Chair Joshua Rovner wrote an op-ed on the NSA in Foreign Policy magazine.

Reckless Reforms
Why the Obama administration should ignore recommendations from the panel it established to review NSA surveillance.

This news story first appeared on January 2, 2014. For more information click here.

By Joshua Rovner, Austin Long, Foreign Policy; January 2, 2014

In mid-December, the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies released its findings to great fanfare. The panel, established to evaluate government surveillance activities, joined a growing chorus of critics of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Obama administration’s aggressive approach to intelligence. Yet the group’s report is seriously flawed. It reflects a misunderstanding of the function of foreign intelligence activities and offers some recommendations that are likely to harm these activities, while also doing little to nothing to protect individual rights.

The review group’s report calls for an end to bulk collection of metadata – information about when one person called another, but not the content of their conversation — as well as new steps to protect Americans against what panelists fear is unjustified government surveillance. The panelists recognize the tricky tradeoff between better intelligence and civil liberties, especially in an era of rapid technological change. Yet the unmistakable theme in their report is that policymakers and intelligence officials have gone too far in the direction of security. Now is the time to put the brakes on programs the panel believes create “risks to public trust, personal privacy, and civil liberty.”

The report also calls for more stringent criteria about when the NSA can intercept the communications of foreign individuals. This recommendation is a response to news that the NSA listened in on cell-phone conversations of world leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Policymakers and intelligence officials, we are told, should be much more careful about whom they target and how much they data collect.

Already, the report has prompted criticism from those who see it as threatening the capabilities of the intelligence community. One of the report’s authors, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, has recently attempted to rebut this criticism. He notes in a Dec. 27 Washington Post op-ed that the report does not say the NSA’s collection of metadata “is not important to national security, which is why we did not recommend its elimination.”

Morell is right that the report did not find the metadata program worthless (and it is noteworthy that he goes on to argue that the program would have prevented the 9/11 attacks). Yet his argument that the review group did not recommend the program’s elimination is either disingenuous or backpedaling away from the report itself.

In its executive summary, the report clearly calls for an end to “government collection and storage of mass, undigested, non-public personal information about U.S. persons for the purpose of enabling future queries and data-mining for foreign intelligence purposes.” Instead, the report calls for such information to be held by a third party, such as a private contractor. This outsources a large part of the NSA’s core business of signals intelligence. If not exactly elimination, this plan is quite close, preserving just some elements of the program in private hands.

More important than whether the plan constitutes an end to metadata collection, however, is the fact that it is perhaps the worst of all possible worlds. A public-private metadata-sharing protocol would face serious practical and legal obstacles, which is one reason both intelligence officials and industry leaders are opposed to the idea. At the same time, it would increase the risk of future leaks because more individuals (public and private sector alike) would have to be involved in sharing information. After the Snowden affair, it is bizarre that the review group finds putting more information in the hands of contractors comforting.

In addition, the review proposes two additional reforms that could inflict grave harm on U.S. intelligence collection, neither of which is mentioned by Morell in his op-ed. First, the panelists call for extending the protections enjoyed by American citizens and those living in the United States, such as the Privacy Act of 1974, to foreign citizens living abroad. The Privacy Act sharply restricts the government’s ability to collect data on Americans, while giving people the right to access whatever information the government does have on them. The report notes that the Department of Homeland Security already accords these protections to non-U.S. citizens and that the intelligence community is already bound by the Privacy Act in matters like background investigations it conducts on employees. By extension, the report asserts that it would not be too much for the intelligence community to extend similar protections to non-U.S. citizens outside our borders.

While this position is fashionably cosmopolitan, in practice, it would turn out to be either meaningless or extremely damaging to intelligence collection. The intelligence community would not be likely to collect significant data from non-U.S. citizens through voluntary means like background investigations. As the report itself notes, the Privacy Act does not apply to systems related to national security, such as networks used for storing and transmitting classified information; if this exemption were continued, in most cases, the information available to non-U.S. citizens would be trivial or nonexistent, as most intelligence is classified and would be held in systems that the Privacy Act does not cover.

On the other hand, if the intent is to make some information from national security systems available, then the impact would be devastating. The Privacy Act, for instance, permits “any individual to gain access to his record or to any information pertaining to him which is contained in the system.” If the intelligence community faithfully implemented the act, it would also have to allow a target of its espionage and “a person of his own choosing to accompany him, to review the record and have a copy made of all or any portion thereof in a form comprehensible to him.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, this would demolish the whole purpose of spying.

The second major flaw in the report that Morell does not address is its call to eschew in almost all instances the exploitation of so-called “Zero Day vulnerabilities” in software. A Zero Day vulnerability is one whose existence is not known and therefore has not been addressed by the developer in a patch. These vulnerabilities can be used to infiltrate computer systems to collect intelligence, inflict harm, or both. The report asserts, with very little supporting argument, that fixing these vulnerabilities is more important than intelligence collected by exploiting them in all but a handful of cases. Though not discussed specifically in the report, this policy approach would likely rule out programs like the alleged exploitation of Microsoft Windows error reporting by NSA’s Tailored Access Operations, used to gain insight into target systems.

Put simply, the exploitation of vulnerabilities is the core of intelligence. The panel’s recommendation is akin to arguing that if one discovered a highly placed official of a foreign government with a drinking and gambling problem, then rather than attempting to exploit that problem, the intelligence community should guide him into rehab. Certainly, if a Zero Day or other system vulnerability affects sensitive U.S. government systems, then the NSA should act to repair it, but a general policy of non-exploitation needlessly handicaps the intelligence community. It flies in the face of the sort of careful analysis of costs and benefits that the review group’s report calls for in other circumstances.

The root of these flaws in the report is the failure to distinguish between domestic law enforcement and foreign intelligence. Law enforcement, by definition, is meant to uphold the Constitution and protect the civil liberties of U.S. citizens. Policemen and prosecutors must obey strict guidelines on how they conduct surveillance on suspects and what kind of evidence they can use in court. Foreign intelligence, on the other hand, operates by breaking other countries’ laws. Human intelligence organizations like the CIA try to convince foreign nationals to pass secrets to the United States. And signals intelligence organizations like the NSA consciously and deliberately steal private communications abroad without the target individuals’ knowledge or consent.

The review group, however, recommends that the same criteria be used to determine when the government can collect information about U.S. citizens and foreign individuals on the grounds of protecting rights. In addition to recommending extending the Privacy Act to non-U.S. persons, it declares that intelligence agencies “must not target any non-United States person solely on that person’s political views or religious convictions.” While this is obviously crucial in terms of safeguarding the civil liberties of U.S. citizens, it makes no sense in the world of foreign intelligence. Intelligence agencies always collect information on foreign individuals because of their political views and other beliefs. Why else would they care about particular people, if not for the way they see and interact with the world?

Up to now, the debate about the NSA has focused on the balance between discovering information about terrorists and protecting the rights of citizens. This is understandable, as the legal basis for the NSA programs is the Patriot Act, and because the White House justifies metadata collection on the same grounds. But characterizing the issue as a choice between counterterrorism and civil liberties is simplistic and misleading. The review group admirably stresses that there are security concerns that go beyond terrorism, but it then fails to consider the value of metadata in addressing a host of challenges the intelligence community is facing. Efforts to combat state-sponsored industrial espionage, for example, require painstaking counterintelligence work. Efforts to break up transnational proliferation networks are also likely to benefit from metadata collection; this is a logical way to map the networks and see how they operate, which may be one reason why the Obama administration is fighting so hard to keep the NSA programs alive.

What’s more, despite some fears that the NSA could use metadata to create a “mosaic” of someone’s activities, in reality, this is a pretty inefficient way of encroaching on anyone’s privacy. In the past, when the intelligence community has violated civil liberties, it hasn’t bothered with such a roundabout approach. In the 1960s-1970s, for example, the CIA infiltrated various domestic political organizations, and the NSA intercepted the telegraphs of individual citizens. We have plenty of experience with intelligence agencies behaving badly, and they haven’t been very subtle about it. Collecting and storing metadata is thus very different from what we’ve seen in the past — and, in fact, Occam’s Razor suggests that it is not a violation of civil liberties at all.

Ultimately, while generated with an admirable desire to preserve people’s rights and privacy, the flawed recommendations in the review group’s report threaten to do more harm than good. As the Obama administration considers reforming the NSA, it would do well to ignore them.

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Shubha Ghosh – The Implementation of Exhaustion Policies

Tower Center Fellow, Professor Shubha Ghosh published following study in the ICTSD Programme on Innovation, Technology and Intellectual Property, Issue Paper 40. Click here to download the paper.

The concept of “exhaustion”, is the point at which an IPRs holder’s control over the good or service ceases. It is the subject of increased attention by policymakers and courts in different countries, particularly those that are designing intellectual property laws.

ghoshThis paper examines the exhaustion doctrine from a comparative perspective by presenting different regional and national experiences (the United States, the European Union, Brazil, China and India). In this regard, the paper finds that exhaustion regimes differ depending on the type of IPR (copyright, patents and trademarks) as well as across jurisdictions and industries.

It concludes that if properly tailored to specific contexts, the exhaustion doctrine can contribute towards promoting innovation, social well-being and development, in conjunction with other relevant measures and policy instruments.

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James F. Hollifield – Immigration and the ‘Republican’ Model in France

This news story first appeared on May 22, 2013. For more information click here.

To what extent is the French republican model still viable in debates over immigration and integration in France today?  Viewed from the perspective of the last thirty years, which saw the rise of a powerful anti-immigrant political movement, the Front National, one might conclude that immigration in postwar France has been raging out of control.  Yet despite the remarkable showing of the Front National in recent presidential elections, France has remained a relatively open immigration country, a tradition which dates from the middle of the nineteenth century.  Annual levels of immigration have not fallen much below 100,000 since the early 1950s, the right to asylum has been respected by every postwar government, and France has maintained what is arguably the most liberal naturalization policy in Western Europe.  How can we explain this continuity in the midst of crisis?  I argue that the continuity in the principles and outcomes of French immigration policy is closely linked to the power of the republican model and to the limits of control that are a function of rights-based politics.

To listen to the audio recorded lecture, click here.

21917D_068_HollifieldJames F. Hollifield is Ora Nixon Arnold Professor of International Political Economy in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He received his PhD in political science from Duke University in 1985. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he has worked as a consultant for a variety of governmental and intergovernmental organizations, and has published widely on international political and economic issues, including Immigrants, Markets, and States (Harvard UP, 1992), L’immigration et l’Etat Nation (L’Harmattan, 1997), Controlling Immigration (Stanford UP, 2nd Edition, 2004), Migration Theory: Talking Across Disciplines (Routledge, 2nd Edition, 2008), and International Political Economy: History, Theory and Policy (Cambridge UP, forthcoming) along with numerous other books and scientific articles. Hollifield has been the recipient of grants from private corporations and foundations as well as government agencies, including the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Social Science Research Council, the Sloan Foundation, the Raytheon Company, and the National Science Foundation. His current research looks at the rapidly evolving relationship between trade, migration, and development with a special focus on human capital and how states use migration for strategic gains. He sits on several boards and is currently Chairman of the Owens Foundation and the Dallas County Historical Foundation, the governing body of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.


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NSA Talks Privacy Concerns In Dallas

This news story first appeared on November 19, 2013. For more information click here.

By Lauren Silverman, KERA News; November 19, 2013

NSA Talks Privacy Concerns In Dallas

North Texans got to ask an official from the National Security Agency questions about privacy last night. In part, thanks to Edward Snowden. Since the former NSA contractor began leaking classified documents showing the agency’s vast reach, officials have been trying to make their case to the public. Tuesday night the director of compliance at NSA, John DeLong visited SMU.

This is John DeLong’s first visit to Texas on business – his grandparents are actually from Beaumont – and he received a warm welcome at SMU.

DeLong came to Dallas for a public conversation on the agency – and to defend the NSA. He says the negative headlines about a lack of controls and oversight are inaccurate –that the agency has been beefing up its self-surveillance over the past few years.

“We’ve actually quadrupled the number folks working in compliance,” he said, “to over 300 people. I don’t think people understand that. “This is serious oversight.”

Just this week, the NSA declassified hundreds of pages of documents, including a judge’s ruling that the government repeatedly exceeded its authority for collecting metadata from Americans’ emails.

That worries 28-year-old Ashley Carlisle. She came to ask the question on many Americans minds:

“What do you know about me?”

And while Carlisle didn’t find that out exactly, she says the conversation did shed some light on how the agency goes about obtaining a warrant to get more information on an individual.

“But I’d like to know more about it,” she says. “Hopefully they’ll have more debates like this.”

The NSA Goes Public

John Delong reassured the audience there will be more open conversations, and that the agency won’t just stand by until the controversy subsides.

“The confidence of the American people is very important to us,” he said. “We have lived in a world of secrecy. And we’re trying to get a lot more information out.”

DeLong points to a new website called IC On The Record, which features declassified surveillance documents, and says the agency is also working on an annual report to release to the public.

Finally, DeLong promised you’ll see more “NSAers” at open events like this one. The hope is that giving a human face to the agency will make it easier to trust.

– See more at:

– Learn more at:


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To Avoid Failure, You Must Recognize Success

This news story first appeared on May 8, 2013. For more information click here.

By Joshua Rovner, The Dallas Morning News; November 3, 2013

The Department of Defense is in for some serious belt-tightening.

It already lost $37 billion as a result of sequestration, and much deeper cuts are coming. The Budget Control Act of 2011, along with the end of war-related spending, may end up costing the Pentagon about a third of its budget. It will surely affect the thousands of Texans associated with the defense industry in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Defense officials hope for a political compromise that would help them avoid this fate, but the outlook is not promising, and both parties have shown that defense spending is no longer sacrosanct. Moreover, few lawmakers will take the political risk of cutting military pay and benefits, which account for most of the rise in defense spending, so shrinking budgets will mostly affect decisions about what to buy and how to use it.

For policymakers and military planners, strategy under budget austerity is the new normal.

How can leaders make strategic decisions under these conditions? Last week’s Tower Center Conference on National Security at Southern Methodist University put the question to a range of military officers and national security scholars.

One answer reflected traditional thinking about threat assessment. When faced with uncertainty, the best solution is to survey the world for new threats and focus on meeting them. This is a common-sense approach to dealing with a range of uncertain challenges. Done well, it can alert officials to new issues for which they are insufficiently prepared. But it can be taken too far: The constant search for new threats may cause officials to exaggerate the real danger to national security, turning small problems into large ones and making it difficult to set priorities.

To avoid these pitfalls, a different approach would look not to the uncertain future but to the known past. Instead of warily scanning for new threats, it would focus on evaluating the results of recent U.S. strategy. This would include a frank discussion of mistakes and missed opportunities, but also a recognition of U.S. victories. The ability to see success is not just a feel-good excuse for patriotic backslapping. If we are interested in making prudent decisions about future strategy and defense spending, it is essential to see what worked and why.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is not always able to see victory, even when evidence of success is clear and abundant. In the 1990s, for example, observers increasingly came to believe that while the U.S. had won the first Gulf War, it had lost the peace. They worried that Saddam Hussein would remain a threat as long as he was in power and that he would eventually crack the international coalition arrayed against him. This view was widely held in Washington, and by the end of the decade, regime change became stated U.S. policy.

But the U.S. was not losing the peace. In fact, it had already won it. It had demolished Iraq’s conventional forces in the war, and it was doing so much damage to Iraq’s economy that it would take decades to rebuild. U.S. forces and international inspectors eliminated Iraq’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and forced Saddam to mothball his nuclear program.

Most of all, they altered Saddam’s basic worldview. Before the war, he sought to be a regional hegemon and rejected any international criticism as an insult to Iraqi honor. After the war, he focused his attention inward, doing whatever he could to keep his domestic enemies at bay, while simultaneously allowing international weapons inspectors to run around the country. Saddam was still in charge, but Iraq was no longer a meaningful threat to the United States or anyone else.

The failure to realize the extent of its success was one major reason the U.S. invaded again in 2003. That war, and all the pain and frustration that followed, would not have been necessary had leaders recognized their earlier victory.

There have been other underappreciated success stories. Counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda, though controversial, have been extremely effective. After 9/11, the U.S. methodically dismantled the al-Qaeda that existed in the 1990s. That version of al-Qaeda was wealthy, well-organized and able to operate from a durable sanctuary in Afghanistan. Today, its leaders are mostly dead or in prison, its organization is shattered and its sanctuary is gone. While many terrorists still claim some association with al-Qaeda, none possess the capacity for spectacular violence that made the original version different. As a result, the U.S. can safely reduce its presence in Afghanistan and avoid another costly nation-building campaign.

No one wants to underestimate threats, and no politician wants to be blamed for letting his or her guard down if something terrible happens later. But leaders must be willing to recognize victory. The alternative — ignoring past triumphs and assuming persistent insecurity — will be a recipe for failure in an age of austerity.

Joshua Rovner is the John Goodwin Tower distinguished chair in international politics and national security at SMU.

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Kenneth Pollack | Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy


Kenneth Pollack, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution discussed his new book, Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy on October 7, 2013 at the SMU Tower Center.

“The Tower Center’s relevant and interesting roundtable discussion was perfectly timed. On the heels of Iranian President Rouhani’s visit to the UN General Assembly, we were able to hear from the author about U.S. policy towards Iran, as well as discuss several other policy puzzles in the Middle East.

I think we all left better informed and with an improved understanding of the region, which we can now share with our SMU students.”

- Diana Newton, Senior Fellow, Tower Center

pollackKenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other nations of the Persian Gulf region. He is currently a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as the director of the Saban Center from 2009 to 2012, and its director of research from 2002 to 2009. His most recent book isUnthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy. Pollack received his B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His dissertation was titled The Influence of Arab Culture on Arab Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991.


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Peña Nieto’s Debut: The First Days of the Mexican President


Another successful program at the SMU Tower Center for Political Studies featuring two prominent Mexico scholars and intellectuals on September 12th, 2013 – former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, the Honorable Antonio O. Garza, and Director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, Dr. Duncan Wood. The program was moderated by Tower Center Senior Fellow, Lee Cullum, noted international journalist, and offered a dynamic discussion about the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and his reforms.

The discussion focused on a couple of major topics: energy and fiscal reform, the Pacto por Mexico, and the return of the PRI to power. Both speakers were candid about the problems and opportunities facing México and left the audience hopeful that the country is moving in the right direction with a more open economy and a more transparent political process. The current President is spearheading efforts to improve sectors of the Mexican economy, such as energy, telecommunications, … that were lagging but rule of law and corruption continue to hamper reform efforts.

– Luisa del Rosal, Program Director, SMU Tower Center


“What a first rate program!  I scrambled to find my note pad and record the information and anecdotes the speakers shared. (And what they were hesitant to share, Lee managed to extract!) Well done, Tower Center!” — Pia Orrenius, Senior Fellow, SMU Tower Center

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Student Fellow Presentation | Julien Teel: Territorial Disputes in the East China Sea

Julien Teel, senior SMU student and student fellow at the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies, gave a presentation on “Territorial Disputes in the East China Sea and Its Implications on the China-Japan-U.S. Triangular Relationship” at the Tower Center boardroom on September 17, 2013.  More than 20 students, faculty, and Tower Center members attended and had a lively discussion.

teel presentationTerritorial disputes in the East China Sea are complex, involving many different interests and issues—which made it the perfect subject for Julien to study considering his deep interest in national security, and maritime security in particular.  In addition to building on his studies at SMU these past years, his internship at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. this past summer also allowed him to work with scholars from Japan who are experts on security and foreign policy in Asia and to attend events at various research organizations in the national capital.  Having just 30 minutes to talk about a highly complex issue and to an audience beyond his peers in a typical classroom setting made him a little nervous at first.

teel presentation2Feedback from the audience indicates he did a fantastic job.  Julien said he learned a lot from this experience: from thinking critically about how to present information and analysis to gaining confidence in public speak and skills in interacting with audiences.  He urges other students to seize opportunities to present their research to broader audiences, and hope the Tower Center and other forums will give students more opportunities to showcase their research.


– Anny Wong, Tower Center Fellow

* This activity benefitted from the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Public Education for Peacebuilding Support Initiative.

Teel, JulienJulien Teel is a senior majoring in Political Science and International Studies, while also minoring in Chinese and Asian Studies. His research encompasses security and defense issues in East Asia, as well as analyzing the trilateral relationship between the U.S., Japan, and China. Currently, Julien is in the process of applying for Officer Candidate School in the Navy with the intention of entering as an Intelligence Officer. He eventually hopes to become a Foreign Area Officer in the Navy, formulating and promoting American foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.

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