While the fall of the Berlin Wall is now celebrated as a symbol of the end of the Cold War, the immediate aftermath was a tumultuous period which could easily have resulted in chaos and conflict. The remarkable diplomatic efforts that reunified Germany offered a blueprint for nations to pursue a shared vision of a Europe whole and free and at peace with Russia as a partner, not an adversary. Together, the leaders of the United States, Germany, Russia and other European friends and allies were able to navigate safely the treacherous path to a post-Cold War world. Essential to that transition was the personal relationship of trust between President George H. W. Bush and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Together with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, they ushered in the dawn of a new age with the security and foreign policy challenges we are still grappling with today.

On January 28, USIP honored the 30th anniversary of German reunification with the establishment of “Reconciliation Hall” in the Institute’s George H. W. Bush Peace Education Center. This virtual event, featuring preeminent figures in the U.S.-German partnership, looked back at the lessons German reunification provides to peacebuilders around the world, and explored why continued cooperation between the two nations will be as essential to meeting the challenges of this century as they were in meeting the challenges of the 20th.

Continue the conversation with #ReunificationRevisited

Welcome and Introductions

  • Stephen J. Hadley
    Chair, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Emily Haber
    German Ambassador to the United States
  • Lise Grande 
    President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Panel 1:  Lessons of Reunification for Peacebuilding

  • James A. Baker, III
    61st U.S. Secretary of State
  • Horst Köhler
    Former Federal President of Germany 
  • Jon Meacham, moderator
    Presidential Historian

Panel 2:  Reunification Revisited and What the Future Holds

  • Condoleezza Rice
    66th U.S. Secretary of State
  • Horst Teltschik
    Former National Security Adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl
  • David Ignatius, moderator
    Columnist, The Washington Post

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Taliban Seek Recognition, But Offer Few Concessions to International Concerns

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Since taking power in August, the Taliban have repeatedly expressed the expectation that the international community will recognize their authority as the new government of Afghanistan and have taken several procedural steps to pursue recognition. But the group has done very little to demonstrate a willingness to meet the conditions put forward by Western powers and some regional states. USIP’s Andrew Watkins, Richard Olson, Asfandyar Mir and Kate Bateman assess the latest Taliban efforts to win international recognition, the position of Pakistan and other key regional players and options for U.S. policy to shape Taliban behavior and the engagement decisions of other international partners.

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Friday, August 20, 2021

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Since Myanmar’s military illegally deposed the country’s elected government on February 1, it has killed more than 1,000 people and is actively undermining efforts to manage the COVID pandemic by arresting volunteer doctors, blocking imports of medical supplies and hoarding and stealing oxygen. The military’s inhumanity and daily atrocities have created a common enemy for a divided society and a rare opportunity for the Myanmar people to initiate a much-needed nation-building process. The opposition is a loose group of organizations largely held together by a shared hatred for the military. If it is to decisively shift the trajectory of this conflict and end the military’s 70-year stranglehold on power, it will need to unify through a transformative reconciliation process.

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Healing the Wounds of War with the Vietnam Wartime Accounting Initiative

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Nearly 50 years after the end of the Vietnam War, new collaboration between the United States and Vietnam this month is strengthening the former enemies’ friendship and consolidating what has become a model reconciliation process, Vietnamese officials say. Vietnam’s deputy defense minister and its ambassador to the United States welcomed U.S. steps in recent days to help Vietnam locate its hundreds of thousands of citizens still missing from the war. With U.S. officials, they spoke in a USIP forum on that progress — and on urgent steps still to be taken to heal the wounds of that war.

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