"Ukraine at the Forefront" with Ambassador William Taylor



On April 25, 2018, PAWAC and the Institute of International Studies at Bradley University welcomed Ambassador William Taylor of the U.S. Institute of Peace to Peoria.  Ambassador Taylor currently serves as Executive Vice President at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC.  He has also served as special coordinator for Middle East Transitions in the U.S. State Department, and he oversaw assistance and support to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria.  

Ambassador Taylor was the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006-2009 and has served as an international observer of Ukrainian democratic elections.  Dr. Shah Tarzi of the International Studies Department along with PAWAC President Michelle Eaton hosted a dinner with Ambassador Taylor before the main event - a presentation on the current situation of Ukraine in context of a liberal world. 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has struggled to find her place between East and West.  Anxious to set her own path which faces more toward the West, Ukraine still finds the ties that bind her to the East are strong.  With the Maidan movement of 2014 and subsequent civil war and annexation of Crimea by Russia, figuring out how to help Ukraine along her path is as important for Western Europe and the United States as it is for Ukraine. Bradley students, along with members of the Peoria area, packed Bradley University's Marty Theater for a total of around 120 attendees at the presentation

The presentation began with an overview of the past three decades of Ukrainian political events, with emphasis on corruption and the fact that until late 2013, identity politics of whether Ukraine should move towards the EU or Russia were non-violent politics.  Ambassador Taylor also compared international norms since the end of the Cold War to Russian behavior in 2014. When the Cold War ended, the international community started to abide by a more liberal world order. Russia's decision to invade Ukraine was a realpolitik action contradictory to  modern international customs and norms. 

Ambassador Taylor (left) and Dr. Shah Tarzi (right) answer questions from the audience
Ambassador Taylor (right) lingers after the presentation to answer more questions.
Ambassador Taylor challenged the audience to consider the motives and constraints that interested states and organizations must consider as they try to resolve continued tension and Russian occupancy in East Ukraine. The presentation was followed by a robust Q & A session, with Dr. Shah Tarzi serving as moderator. Ambassador Taylor's challenge was met in kind as he answered numerous thoughtful questions from the audience that ranged from the authority of the international community to what possibly could be Putin's end-game. 
Ambassador Taylor was an excellent speaker who understood how to deliver the complexities of significant international events in a clear, concise manner. We thank Ambassador Taylor for his generosity and we admire his enthusiasm for knowledge.  The Peoria community gained valuable insight into another part of our world that night, and we hope we are lucky to meet Ambassador Taylor again in the future. 
Summarized and adapted for web by Olivia Lu.