At a diplomat-studded gala last month, hosted by the International Student House in Dupont Circle, US industrial giant Boeing was presented with a prestigious award in recognition of its leadership role in global business and diplomacy.
The Global Business Leadership Award, which is presented annually by the International Student House of Washington, DC, “celebrates individuals and organizations that have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the global business arena, contributing significantly to international commerce and diplomacy,” International Student House said in a statement.
“Boeing’s long-standing dedication to aerospace excellence, innovation, and international collaboration has played a pivotal role in shaping the global aviation industry. This award acknowledges Boeing’s remarkable contributions to international business and their enduring commitment to advancing aviation technology while fostering global partnerships.”
Boeing’s vice president for global engagement, Cheri Carter, accepted the award on the company’s behalf at the gala, which took place just days after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel that quickly exploded into a war that has claimed thousands of lives on both sides and left the Gaza Strip in ruins.
I certainly think we have significant resources such that we can support both Israel’s needs as well as Ukraine’s. There’s just a great deal at stake right now. – CIA Director William Burns
The gala was attended by over a dozen international diplomats, current and former members of Congress, alumni of the International Student House, and numerous other VIPs.
During a chat with Barbara Slavin, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington and a lecturer in international affairs at George Washington University, CIA Director William J. Burns touched on several hot topics of the day, including the Israel-Hamas war, Ukraine, and actions the US is taking on both.
Burns, who served as US Ambassador to Jordan from 1998-2001, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs from 2001 to 2005, Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, and held high-ranking positions in the State Department, acknowledged that there had been intelligence failures on Israel’s part before the Hamas attacks, but said the United States’ focus now was “to do everything we can to support Israel’s right to self-defense.”
‘A great deal at stake’
Most of the limited-time interview was spent discussing the war in Ukraine. Burns called it “a strategic failure” for Russia that was not only going to fall short of achieving “its original aim of subjugating Ukraine,” but had also laid bare weaknesses in Russia’s military and system.
President Vladimir Putin “could not imagine Russia as a great power or himself as a great Russian leader without controlling Ukraine” and “had convinced himself that his window was closing for … subjugating Ukraine” when he ordered Russian troops to invade the country in February last year, Burns said.
“He believes… he can grind down Ukrainians and wear down the rest of us,” the CIA director said, claiming, to chuckles from the audience, that Putin thinks Americans suffer from collective attention deficit disorder.
“The challenge for all of us … who support Ukraine is to sustain that assistance,” Burns said.
“The US, we don’t have infinite resources,” he acknowledged, echoing the argument from some members of Congress that the US should stop providing assistance to Ukraine, even as those same lawmakers call for continued support for Israel.
“But I certainly think we have significant resources such that we can support both Israel’s needs as well as Ukraine’s. There’s just a great deal at stake right now,” Burns said.
Fundraiser for International Student House
The gala evening is the biggest fundraising event for host organization, the International Student House, which, in the past 87 years, has welcomed over 15,000 foreign and American students, and allowed them to thrive in an environment of understanding and cooperation where barriers of nationality, culture and race are lowered.
The dozen ambassadors who attended the event were Shaikh Abdullah bin Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa of Bahrain; Bangladeshi Ambassador Muhammad Imran; Ambassador of Ecuador Ivonne A-Baki; Hungarian Ambassador Szabolcs Takács; Ambassador of Ireland Geraldine Byrne Nason; Nicaraguan Ambassador Francisco Obadiah Campbell Hooker; Ambassador of Pakistan Masood Khan; Ambassador of the Philippines José Manuel Romualdez; Polish Ambassador Marek Magierowski; Portuguese Ambassador Francisco Duarte Lopes; Saudi Arabian Ambassador Princess Reema Bandar Al Saud; and Hasan Murat Mercan, Ambassador of Türkiye.
James Blanchard, a former four-term Congressman who served two terms as governor of Michigan from 1983-1991, and was US Ambassador to Canada from 1993-1996, was also in the audience, as were a number of US Senators and Representatives, including Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Senator Chris van Hollen of Maryland; Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada, Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington state, and former Virginia Rep. James Moran.