Jake Cusack is a 32-year-old former Marine Corps platoon commander and intelligence officer who served from 2004 to 2008. Jake began his military service after graduating from the University of Notre Dame, and his first deployment began on Christmas Day in 2005 in the Fallujah and Ramadi areas of Iraq. His military decorations include the Bronze Star, Navy Commendation Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.
"Memorial Day, to me, is a celebration of lives that were well-lived and people who gave that last full measure of devotion in service of a cause greater than themselves," he says of the national holiday.
Jake is representative of our generation's veterans, a young man who gave a large part of his twenties serving his country while it was at war in the Middle East. Unlike previous generations, the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were not conscripted, but chose to sign up. They served in wars that were waged mostly outside of traditional battlefields and fought amongst civilians and neighborhoods, against enemies often without uniforms or unseen entirely. These wars were also the first conflicts in the history of modern warfare where soldiers were sent back to the combat zone again and again. Furthermore, after more than a decade of tough and ugly days in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is difficult today for anyone to declare that these wars were successful in bringing peace and democracy to those countries. A recent poll by the Washington Post found that most Iraq veterans do not think the war was worth fighting, but 90 percent of them would do it all again, even knowing what they know now.
When I asked Jake why he joined the military during a time of war, he said the idea of national service, "of taking some time early in your life to work in service of a goal that's greater than yourself," was very important to him. This notion of service also applies to his transition to working in investment and economic development in these same countries. After leaving the Marines, Jake completed a joint Masters in Public Policy and Masters in Business Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. He then founded CrossBoundary, which provides investment and economic development advisory services in frontier markets and conflict zones. After spending several years of his youth in Iraq, and losing many friends in combat there, Jake says he felt compelled to return to Iraq and Afghanistan. He hopes that economic development can ultimately be more effective in bringing peace, stability and prosperity to these countries.
Jake now sits on the board of the Harvard Leadership Institute and has spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for Public Leadership and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Fortune and Inc. In December, the Center for Strategic and International Studies published a report he co-authored titled "Investment Facilitation in Transitional and Fragile States."
Memorial Day is a holiday of remembrance for Americans. They remember those who have died in wars, many of whom were young people of our generation who, like Jake, believed passionately in the idea of service. I believe it is the duty of all young people to think about what our generation's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant for those countries and ours. Today, some 32,000 American troops are still in Afghanistan, which has been America's longest war. Nearly 7,000 American men and women have died while deployed in these countries since September 11, 2001, and the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars fighting these wars. The U.S. failed to reach a security agreement with Iraq to keep a small military force there after U.S. troops withdrew in 2011 and Iraq has subsequently been ravaged by resurgent waves of violence. In Afghanistan, the U.S. is still trying to negotiate keeping a small military force there beyond 2014.
When we fail to continue to pay attention to Iraq and Afghanistan, we fail to honor the sacrifices made by the soldiers of our...
Ghislaine Maxwell is a British philanthropist and the founder of the TerraMar Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a global community that will advocate for the world's oceans and high seas. The TerraMar Project encourages people to sign a pledge and become what Ghislaine terms an "ocean citizen," joining the world's first ocean community dedicated to giving a voice to the least talked about and most forgotten part of our planet.
A passionate deep-sea diver, Ghislaine devotes considerable energy to raising awareness and focusing attention on the issues surrounding oceans. With less than 2 percent of the world's oceans being protected, Ghislaine encourages us to pay more attention to the ocean because it feeds the world's population, provides over half our oxygen and creates the planet's weather. But the ocean also faces huge challenges like overfishing, marine debris, ocean warming, ocean acidification, pollution and unsustainable development.
"The oceans have become the world's dumping ground," says Ghislaine. Literally, the world's largest landfill happens to be floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches, significant amounts of the world's plastic waste have been caught in currents and transported to these gyres.
Greenpeace reports that of the 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces on an annual basis, 10 percent of it ends up in the ocean. The Eastern Garbage Patch floats between Hawaii and California, and scientists estimate its landmass to be twice the size of Texas. The Western Garbage Patch floats between Japan and Hawaii. These garbage patches are extremely hazardous, poisoning our oceans and killing off marine life. It's evident that international attention needs to be given to this man-made disaster.
One of Ghislaine's first priorities with the TerraMar Project is helping to create an ocean-specific Sustainable Development Goal at the United Nations in 2014. Between now and September, Ghislaine is campaigning for the international community and civil society at large to partner with the United Nations to support initiatives aimed at highlighting the important role of oceans. Oceans were not a part of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, but Ghislaine is campaigning to make sure that oceans are included in the Sustainable Development Goals, a move she says would make the ocean a priority and enable the creation of new laws and governance for the sustainability of the oceans and high seas. For more information on the development of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals visit: sustainabledevelopment.un.org
Ghislaine believes there is no better or more important place for these issues to come to a head than the United Nations, but what has been lacking is a big movement from the global community. Through her work with the TerraMar Project, she's hoping to make that...
I have known Hugh Evans, a humanitarian and fellow Australian, for more than a decade and have always been a supporter of his work to end extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries. In 2003, Hugh co-founded his first charity, the Oaktree Foundation, of which I was a patron. The Oaktree Foundation is an entirely youth-driven development agency that aims to empower young people in developing countries through sustainable education programs. Hugh was a leader in the Australian Make Poverty History campaign and went on to found The Global Poverty Project, an international education and advocacy organization working to end extreme poverty by 2030.
At the age of 14, he was profoundly affected by the experience of watching children scavenging through garbage in Manila when he traveled to the Philippines with World Vision. Since then, Hugh has devoted his life to being an anti-poverty campaigner and was recognized as the 2004 Young Australian of the Year when he was just 21.
Now 31, Hugh has been passionate about eradicating extreme poverty in the world's poorest nations.
"I really believe that if people are informed about issues of global poverty, they'll respond," Hugh says in this One On One interview.
His goal is to build a movement to end extreme poverty and curate large scale campaigns at tipping point moments that can influence world leaders to do things that they otherwise might not be inclined to do.
One of the most effective ways Hugh has been able to influence world leaders is through his Global Festival, a concert in Central Park to raise awareness of high levels of poverty in developing countries, which occurs just as world leaders gather in New York for their United Nations General Assembly meeting. At the first Global Festival, held in September 2012, Hugh managed to bring together 60,000 people and acts including Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Band of Horses and John Legend. At the most recent event, he had the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim take to the stage with Alicia Keys and Bono, melding the words of pop cultural influence and political power. The campaign has garnered 3.3 billion media impressions.
"I am entirely convinced that a well organized group of hundreds of thousands of young people around the world can change the world for ever," Hugh says. "I believe if we work together and are committed for the long haul, we are going to see the end of extreme poverty in our lifetime."
I find Hugh to be an inspiration; his efforts demonstrate how young people can actively participate in global causes and that good intentions can materialize into something tangible and impactful. I earnestly encourage you to visit the Global Poverty Project and the Global Festival and sign up to support their...
Paul Haggis is not only an Oscar-winning film director and screenwriter, he's also a man of deep conviction who has worked to improve the lives of some of the world's poorest people by raising millions of dollars for Haiti.
Paul wrote the screenplay for the film "Million Dollar Baby," which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2004, and he wrote and directed "Crash," which won Best Picture in 2005. A supporter of marriage equality, Paul also famously left the Church of Scientology in 2009 after disagreeing with its support of Proposition 8, a California state amendment that asserted marriage should only be sanctioned "between a man and a woman."
In this ONE ON ONE interview, Paul states his belief that fame must be used to bring attention to worthy causes.
"I just figure if you have a modicum of celebrity you need to use it, and you need to use it for more things than just promoting yourself or your film, or your image, or your product," he says.
Paul first went to Haiti in 2008, long before the devastating earthquake of 2010. A true storyteller, Paul had gone to the country to try and find a man he had heard about who had been working in Haiti's slums for over 20 years.
"It sounded like myth more than fact, what he'd been able to do, and so I frankly didn't believe it," says Paul.
After finding the man and observing his work, Paul saw he was able "to do so much with so little." The experience compelled him to start Artists for Peace and Justice, a charity organization that supports communities in Haiti through programs in education.
"We decided that we weren't going to solve Haiti's problems, the Haitians were," he says.
Paul decided that the best way to empower the Haitian people was through education. After learning that Haiti had never had a high school for kids of the slums, Artists for Peace and Justice founded, just a few months after the quake in a temporary structure, the first middle and high school. The school now has grades 7 to 10, and will soon have grades 11 to 13.
"Good intentions mean nothing at all," he says of his charity work. "It's actions. It's only...
I approached Lily Cole for ONE ON ONE because she's the perfect example of a socially engaged young person who articulately promotes her beliefs. Lily is devoting considerable energy to exploring a concept she is passionate about: the idea of a gift economy. A savvy millennial interested in political and humanitarian concerns, Lily is, like many of us, trying to navigate the terrain between consumerism and environmentalism. She's also a great example of an innovative young entrepreneur funding a tech start-up, putting her money where her mouth is rather than getting paid to promote someone else's venture.
At just 26, Lily has already carved out an incredibly successful career as a model and actress and graduated from Cambridge University. On top of that, she's just launched Impossible.com, a website and app that encourages people to do things for others for free. It's based on the idea of a gift economy, a mode of exchange where things are not sold but given. The site encourages people to post wishes of things that they want or need help with, and offer what they can give. Lily says she hopes the site creates a community that fosters giving and receiving.
"I called it Impossible, because I thought that a lot of people would say that it was impossible," says Lily. "It's an incredibly utopian proposition and I quite liked facing the cynics from the beginning with the name."
Lily's interest in the gift economy saw her pen her university thesis on the idea of impossible utopias.
"The philosophy behind it was really something of individual empowerment and hope," she explains. Lily believes in the idea that, collectively, we have the ability to determine our world and our reality, to rethink and reshape it. "We are so much more powerful when we work together," she says, "and the world is potentially a much more enriching environment to be a part of when we are deeply connected to one another."
Attending Burning Man in Nevada, the art and music festival where campers must bring or trade supplies because nothing can be purchased, helped Lily experience a gift economy in action.
"I was fairly familiar with the gift economy as a concept and as a cultural practice, but my experience of the gift economy was limited," she says.
Lily found the Burning Man experience inspiring because it showed her first-hand how generosity can foster greater generosity.
At the end of our interview, Lily told me she enjoyed the opportunity to talk philosophically about how she thinks about our world. As a curated interview series, ONE ON ONE exists to provide a space in which people like Lily can discuss their thoughts on how we live and what matters most to...
I first met Luis Moreno Ocampo when he was still the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, where he investigated and prosecuted some of the world's worst criminals from June 2003 until June 2012. I then saw the 2010 documentary "Prosecutor," which depicts a year in the life of Ocampo when he controversially decided to publicly charge the elected President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"My job was to end impunity of those crimes that we said would never happen again, and yet we saw happening again and again and again," Ocampo says of his tenure at the ICC.
Before his appointment, Ocampo had famously worked as a prosecutor fighting against human rights abuses by senior military officials in his homeland, Argentina. After meeting Ocampo, I was struck by how deeply he cares about educating people on the importance of the ICC. This is evidenced by his post-ICC career as a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University.
In this ONE ON ONE interview, Ocampo explains that in 1998, 120 states decided to end impunity of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The ICC is, in his words, the "first 21st century institution serving the world." Ocampo stresses that the global community must rally behind the court in order to help it achieve its aims. "We need to create a community around the court," he states. "Because the ICC is fighting people in power, of course we create controversies. That's good." Ocampo says that without creating controversy, the court would not be doing its job.
He discusses the complications of the ongoing crisis in Syria and suggests that if the ICC had been given the mandate by the UN Security Council to become involved, the outcome of the conflict might have been different by now. Ocampo argues that if the international community had allowed the ICC to act in Syria, the conflict may not have become much worse today than it was two years ago. He says the challenge faced by the international community is to "establish global governance without global...
When I met Niall Ferguson at a Berggruen Institute conference in Paris, he discussed the problems causing western institutions to crumble, the subject of his latest book, "The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die." What appealed to me about Ferguson's rhetoric is the idea that governments today are getting it wrong when they talk in convoluted, obtuse language.
As a historian, academic and entrepreneur, Ferguson wants governments to start communicating clearly with people, urging governments to "Get real and stop talking in a language no one listens to or understands." He is especially critical of the "incredibly complex" responses that governments give young people when they ask what's happening economically and politically. "We need to start talking in language that young people understand," he declares in this One On One interview.
Ferguson believes it's crucial that leaders speak to young people in a way they understand in order to engage them in the political process and stave off apathy and the rise of extremist movements like fascism. "I think it's about changing the vocabulary" he says, urging politicians to start talking in terms of fairness, in terms of opportunity, in terms of education and the skills young people are going to need to find employment. "There's a lot of anger out there, there's a lot of frustration. One minute people are bored and apathetic, the next minute they're in the streets burning cars. We are seeing that already in some European cities, it's really urgent that we change the conversation in such a way that young people start to listen instead of just assuming, 'Ah, this doesn't apply to me, it's all bullshit.'"
Ferguson discusses his frustration with what he terms "the breach of contract between the generations" that we are experiencing a huge breach of that contract, whereby the middle-aged and the elderly have set things up to live at the expense of the young. He wants to see fundamental institutional reform, and a restructuring of western society. He calls for political reform at the government level and for activism and involvement at the personal level, urging young people to be proactive in carving out opportunities and careers for themselves in today's global economy.
He also advises young people to take responsibility for their own lives and careers and not "passively expect the state to solve all of your problems." He asserts that youth can't "expect some miracle economic policy to suddenly create a job for you, you are going to have to find that opportunity for yourself, you are going to have to work hard for it, you cant expect it to be handed to you on a plate." In a time of economic hardship, I found Ferguson's words of advice sobering because with youth unemployment skyrocketing across the globe, young people need to take their job prospects...
Felipe González sigue siendo el presidente más veterano de España, con poder en Europa entre 1982-1996. Su amplia experiencia de liderazgo le coloca en una buena posición para criticar la forma en que los líderes europeos han gestionado la prolongada crisis económica, cuyos efectos se han hecho notar en todas...
Felipe González remains the longest-serving prime minister of Spain, holding power in Europe from 1982 to 1996. His extensive experience in leadership makes him well placed to critique the way European leaders have dealt with the prolonged economic crisis, the effects of which have been felt everywhere, especially in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Italy.
In this ONE ON ONE interview, Mr. Gonzalez argues that there are two fundamental problems facing Europe as it attempts to deal with a crisis that has left millions of young people without jobs.
"First, we have made a mistake. We have to say clearly that we have made a mistake," he says.
Mr. Gonzalez accuses European leaders of mistaking a debt problem with a liquidity problem, and failing to implement the structural reforms needed to promote growth and employment.
"That's why the situation continues to worsen; both in the focus that has been given to the policies to face the crisis, and the structural reforms that are still pending," he says. "That's why we have to change the European policy towards the crisis. It's time to correct it."
Mr. Gonzalez explains that the only possible solution to Europe's woes is to create policies that are capable of generating employment.
"If there's not this policy of growth and employment, the youth will stop believing in Europe."
Mr. Gonzalez warns against "this rampant nationalism that has taken over all of the European political landscape," and urges young people to be politically engaged.
"Participate, mobilize, vote," he says, "Europeans should change things...
John Forte is a highly acclaimed hip-hop writer, producer and performer who has released four solo albums and worked with the Fugees, Wyclef Jean and Herbie Hancock. Forte co-wrote and produced two songs on the enormously successful Fugees' album The Score, which won Best Rap Album at the 1997 Grammy...
As editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani is one of the world’s most influential fashion figures. Through her involvement with Fashion4Development, a global campaign to use fashion-based initiatives to tackle broader issues such as poverty and gender inequality, Sozzani’s influence extends beyond the world of style. Sozzani is a Goodwill...
Jacqueline Novogratz is a philanthropist and founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund using entrepreneurial approaches to help solve global poverty. Novogratz discusses the importance of building solutions based on dignity to tackle poverty through choice and opportunity.
A key issue raised is inequality, with...
His Excellency Shaukat Aziz was the prime minister of Pakistan between 2004 and 2007. He is renowned for his strategic approach, transparency and ability to focus on doing what is best, not simply what is politically expedient.
At a meeting of European leaders about the future of Europe, Aziz...
"If Aristotle was alive today, he would be spitting his philosophical rifts onto his YouTube page," said Jason Silva. "As a student of philosophy, I refer to the greats: Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Descartes. But what of our modern day philosophers?"
Enter Jason Silva, a performance philosopher and futurist, known as...
“Europe is not prepared to defend their interests in the globalized world,” Guy Verhofstadt, the former Prime Minister of Belgium and current member of the European Parliament, warns the younger generation of Europe. During the interview, at a meeting of the Berggruen Institute on Governance's Council for the Future of...
Tony Blair, the former prime minister of Great Britain, discusses a united Europe as part of The WorldPost's new series, One On One, which gives voice to prominent figures speaking on pressing global issues.
George Papandreou, the ex-prime minister of Greece, discusses a united Europe as part of The WorldPost's new series, ONE ON ONE, which gives voice to prominent figures speaking on pressing global issues.
Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, discusses the mobile revolution as part of The WorldPost's new series, One On One, which gives voice to prominent figures speaking on pressing global issues.
Twenty-six million European youth are looking for work. Even as the Eurozone inches toward recovery, new jobs remain scarce.
In this video series, WORLDPOST asked some key European policymakers and global entrepreneurs how to respond to the challenge of Europe's jobless generation.
The trailer above includes perspectives from Tony Blair,...