The Grano Speakers Series was established as a modern-day salon: a smaller, more intimate gathering where thought leaders in business, government, academia and the media can meet to discuss world events. The Grano Series takes place at Toronto’s Grano restaurant. The intimate atmosphere provides a perfect combination of informal dining and an energetic atmosphere for debate and discussion. All events are by invitation only. The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies has been a partner of the series since its inception.

The 2nd annual Grano explores the potential and limits of the use of American power in the Middle East and the prospects of democraticization for the region. On September 8th, 2005, American journalist Robert Kaplan opened the 2005-06 series on “America in the Middle East”, with a talk about the American Military as NGO.

He opened:

“On any given week, U.S. Special Operations Command is active in about 67 countries. There is almost no country in the Third World where the U.S. Air Force doesn’t have medical teams. Iraq and Afghanistan are just the tips of the iceberg. For the most part, the U.S. military conducts bare-bones, cheap, effective operations, with little fanfare, where the U.S. taxpayer gets a lot of bang for the buck. Iraq, of course, is the stellar exception to that rule. But in the majority of cases, the U.S. military is not involved in combat at all. It’s more involved in humanitarian and disaster relief, or training emergency first responders. Whether it’s Africa, the Philippines, Columbia, in most of Iraq and Afghanistan, I would say the United States Marines are the world’s greatest NGO or relief agency. After the Asian tsunami, Marines provided about 70 per cent of the relief. They had the air assets, the sea assets, and it was their fighting experience in Iraq and Afghanistan that allowed them to be the best humanitarian relief workers, because there is very little operational difference between combat and humanitarian relief. It’s about quick insertion. It’s about access. It’s about digging water wells, getting water and electricity started very fast. It’s about presence, security patrols.”

To read an edited transcript of the remarks, click here.

To read about last year’s Grano series, click here