Skip to content

Cunningham discusses Islamic extremism, receives SU alumni award

November 18, 2016

In September, Ambassador James B. Cunningham lectured at Maxwell on Afghanistan, Islamic extremism, and U.S. strategies; and was given Syracuse University’s George Arents Award.

On September 16, 2016, as part of Syracuse University’s Orange Central celebrations, the Maxwell School proudly welcomed distinguished alumnus Ambassador James B. Cunningham '74 BA (PSC/Psych) for a discussion Afghanistan, Violent Islamic Extremism, and America. Cunningham, who most recently served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Israel, and the UN, discussed challenges posed in the greater Middle East to the United States and international community. Reviewing mistakes made since 9/11, the Ambassador argued that—particularly in today's political atmosphere—America needs serious discussions that lead to a long-term, sustainable strategy in the region.

Read the Ambassador's remarks here.

In addition to calling for increased domestic participation in these complex international conversations, Cunningham also emphasized where he sees opportunity abroad. When discussing conflicts in the Middle East, Cunningham reminded the room that solutions will come from the Islamic world, and he stressed the importance of the coalitions that the U.S. has built and continues to prioritize. In Afghanistan, Cunningham cited the education of young people and the recognition of women’s rights as critical to the country’s future.

Ambassador Cunningham welcomed ample time for questions from the audience—which included faculty, staff, students, members of the Syracuse community, and alumni on campus for Orange Central homecoming, before the close of his speech.

Watch a video tribute celebrating the Ambassador's distinguished career in public service.

Later in the evening, Ambassador Cunningham was honored as a 2016 recipient of the George Arents Award, Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor presented annually to alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their chosen fields.

Ambassador Cunningham retired from government service in December 2014 with the rank of career minister. He joined the Atlantic Council in May 2015 as a senior fellow in the South Asia Center and the Khalilzad Chair, and in May 2016 became a non-resident senior fellow. 09/22/16

Communications and Media Relations Office
500 Maxwell Hall