Fall 2018, Washington Ideas became The Atlantic Festival (@TheAtlanticFest | #TheAtlanticFest). The new name pays homage to 161 years of award-winning journalism, analysis and storytelling and captures the expansive nature of this year's event. From Tuesday, October 2 – Thursday, October 4, The Festival will take over multiple blocks of Washington, DC's Penn Quarter – from Sidney Harman Hall to Hotle Monaco and beyond. The Atlantic convened thought leaders, press and industry professionals to discuss the most consequential topics facing us. With several events happening simultaneously, guests had the opportunity enjoy a multitude of topical summits, on-stage interviews, networking opportunities, exclusive screenings and gripping performances for an unparalleled experience in the heart of Washington, DC. Take a look at our event calendar for more information on each opportunity.

On the Ideas Stage at Harman there will be three days of headline interviews and can't miss conversations with big thinkers and leaders in tech, politics, business and the arts – illuminating new ideas and grappling with the most consequential issues of our time.

Across our downtown campus, there were film screenings, book talks, networking receptions, breakout lunches, field trips and muchhhh more. This is our tenth year and certain to be the most eventful experience yet.

Speakers include:

@HillaryClinton , @LindseyGrahamSC , @ChrisChristie , @KellyannePolls , @deray , @chefjoseandres , @SenKamalaHarris , @6Gems , @aijenpoo , @JohnKerry , @SecretaryPerry , @ArlanWasHere , @EstherPerel , and many more.


Washington Ideas convened the nation's leaders in politics, business, health, science, technology, arts, culture and journalism for three days of can't miss conversation and connections.
In the heart of the nation's capital, we tackled the most consequential issues facing the country and the world.

washington ideas






Hosted in partnership with the Aspen Institute, the Washington Ideas Forum has established itself as the D.C. event that identifies the year's most pressing issues and ideas of consequence. The program 2015 hosted an all-star lineup of speakers across two days, covering the biggest newsmaking topics of the moment. Speakers include former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Governor Mitt Romney, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett.

The business community is leading the political community on greener products and technology, says former Vice President Al Gore. The Forum brings together high-profile people from across the political and economic spectrum to discuss the big issues of the day. "The most exciting source of hope is that the engineers and scientists and business investors have come up with a stunning cost-down curve for electricity from solar energy," Gore says. He adds that it is now cheaper than electricity from coal



U.S.-Israel security relationship is stronger than it has ever beenU.S. and China must work together to stave off a global catastrophe from climate change. He appealed for greater cooperation between the two world powers despite strains between them over cyber theft and maritime security

we are living through, "historic, defining times," that will result in a, "new world orderthere was an obvious need for "wholesale change" in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department


In its sixth year and hosted in partnership with the Aspen Institute, the Washington Ideas Forum has developed a reputation for fostering creative thinking about the critical issues affecting national identity, politics an core values.
WIF 2014
will cover topics ranging from energy and technology to healthcare and urban renewal.

Washington insiders including US Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Attorney General Eric Holder, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice took the stage at the sixth annual Washington Ideas Forum.
Also featured were author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, Michael Froman US Trade Representative Executive Office of the President, and financier T. Boone Pickens. Watch video from the two-day event. (

The Aspen Institute
 and The Atlantic brought those pushing change, offering solutions, and sparking new concepts to the District for the sixth annual "Washington Ideas Forum," October 29 and 30 at the Harman Center for the Arts. Across two days of interviews and panel conversations, entrepreneurs and business visionaries, designers, educational disruptors, leading politicians, media minds, and innovators in science and technology shared their ideas and insights into key issues impacting the world.
The Washington Ideas Forum expects draw an audience of more than 1,500 people across the two days.
Full Video Coverage from the Event or Catch up the full webcast of the program by clicking here and feel free to share with your network using #IdeasForum and following @Atlantic_LIVE & @AspenInstitute. For a full calendar of our upcoming programs, please visit and Fora TV.



susan Rice discussed opposition to Iran talks
The Washington Ideas Forum 2013 (5th), presented by The Atlantic, the Aspen Institute, and the Newseum, is D.C.’s premier gathering of U.S. policymakers, industry innovators, and top media personalities. From 12 to 14 November, the fifth annual Forum convened newsmakers and leading journalists for debate, conversation, and idea-sharing, brought together close to 1,500 guests across the three days of distinctive social events, main stage plenary sessions, and curated breakout meetings, further cementing its distinct reputation as DC's destination for fostering creative thinking about critical issues by some of the most newsworthy figures of our day.
To watch highlights of the event and read coverage of the program's conversations, please visit's dedicated Special Report to read more and see photos on our Facebook page. To access key findings from the Forum's breakout Working Summits on the morning of November 14, please select from one of the five topical sessions:

- Jumpstarting the Economy Working Summit,
Engaging Students Working Summit,
Prescribing Reform Working Summit,
Investing in a Sustainable Future Working Summit,
Transforming Technology Working Summit.



Nancy Pelosi, the  Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and served as the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011

The real Mitt Romney has finally stood up, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Speaking at the Washington Ideas Forum 2012, she reflected on Romney's remarks on a conference call with donors Wednesday in which he attributed President Obama's reelection victory to "gifts" the president has given minorities and women voters in the form of government programs.

"I would say the most sincere thing that Governor Romney said during the campaign -- there's not much competition -- the most sincere thing that he said was the 47 percent," Pelosi said.

"If you saw that ... you saw passion, you saw authenticity," she continued. "That's what he really believed, and that's what he's saying now. And that's most unfortunate.
But that's who he is, and that's where he revealed himself in the most authentic way. And he's sticking with that story."


The fall of CIA Director David Petraeus does raise larger questions about the scope of the FBI's role and the relationships between the intelligence agencies.

"I've covered this story 50 times," said NBC News' Chuck Todd. Powerful man meets adoring fan, and the rest is history. However, the Petraeus story could have long legs if it ends up shedding light on the tensions within intelligence community, journalists speaking at The Atlantic's Washington Ideas Forum suggested.

For one thing, it's eyebrow-raising that the FBI could launch such a comprehensive investigation into the e-mail records of high level officials and private citizens "with almost no pretext," said Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News.

Madeleine Albright:

  • People ask me if the world would be better off if the world were run by women. "I say, 'Do you remember high school? But she says it's important to have both men's and women's voices in government. I applaud the role of Congress. I can understand why there is a desire and a need for Congress to play a role. What I do think, however, is the president has a right to nominate his cabinet and to have people he wants to have. Congress can address who's qualified."

Albright says she won't say who should be secretary of state, but says there is nobody who is better qualified than Susan Rice. "I thought it was untoward of there being a way of saying some of the things that I heard on TV yesterday.

  • Are the Chinese right to be apprehensive about American actions in Asia, including troop placements in Australia? Albright says U.S. steps are reasonable; we are a Pacific as well as Atlantic power, but we aren't on a war footing with China. It's complicated, she says: We depend on each other for trade and loans.
    The Chinese face serious problems from below, due to poor-rich issues, urban-rural issues, shoddy infrastructure like trains falling off bridges, and widespread corruption. Will they be ready to make any decisions with us, or must they first get their own house in order? The hotspot to watch is the South China Sea.

    It's an interesting year for elections. French had an election, the Russians had ... something, we had an election, and the Chinese changed leaders." That's four of the five permanent UN Security Council members. New Chinese leader Xi has a lot of power, but it's unclear how much reform will take place. The Chinese face serious problems from below, due to poor-rich issues, urban-rural issues, shoddy infrastructure like trains falling off bridges, and widespread corruption. Will they be ready to make any decisions with us, or must they first get their own house in order? The hotspot to watch is the South China Sea.

  • "My sense about Iran is I agree that containment is not an option. I believe the president when he says he's not taking any option off the table." But current process is working; Iran is increasingly isolated, leaders are considering bilateral talks, etc. She says both the U.S. and Israel agree that there's no immediate threat because Iran hasn't yet decided whether to create a weapon.

  • You have to keep at least some of the Palestine-Israelian process going -- like a bicycle, it will fall over if you don't pedal. The U.S. should act with the Quartet to start looking at options, she says, although Israeli elections in January are a big wild card. And if Palestinians go to the UN for recognition, does that free Israel from its obligations under the Oslo agreements?

This is in a region where we used to have some sense who was in charge. In all of the countries there are now questions." We have a "frosty relationship" with the current Israeli government. It seems U.S. leverage is at a low. What tools does the U.S. have to calm the situation? Albright: The current situation is as sticky as we've ever seen. Foreign policy is just getting other countries to do what you want, and there really aren't that many tools: multilateral diplomacy, bilateral diplomacy, sanctions, threat of force, force, and law enforcement. The situation in Gaza is very dangerous, she says. Israel has a right to defend itself, but the assassination of a Hamas chief makes it dodgier


2011, 2010, 2009

Inspired by The Atlantic's enduring partnership with the Aspen Ideas Festival, the third-annual Washington Ideas Forum gathered an audience of 600 people, including government officials, top business executives, global thought leaders, academics, and celebrities. It was the place to hear - and meet - the most prominent thinkers of our time.

Just as in 2009 and 2010, the forum was presented by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute and the Newseum and brought once again the best and brightest to the table for debate, conversation, and idea-sharing.

click for the report of The Atlantic
"The Washington Ideas Forum has quickly established itself as an excellent venue for policy makers and prominent thinkers to debate and discuss serious challenges facing the country," said James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic. "Once again we joined with the Aspen Institute and the Newseum." Elizabeth Baker Keffer, president of AtlanticLIVE added, "We did assembled a stellar lineup of more than 60 speakers--business and civic leaders, plus leading journalists from every major network and top print and radio outlets. The Washington Ideas Forum was once again a destination event this fall."
"It is true to the spirit of the Aspen Institute that we brought together leaders of different ideologies, industries, and backgrounds for the kind of vibrant yet civil exchange that is so sorely lacking today," said Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute. "I could not be more pleased that we partnered with The Atlantic and the Newseum again for this important event."

The editorial board for the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum comprises David Bradley, James Bennet, Shelby Coffey, Margaret Carlson, and Steve Clemons. Presenting underwriters include Allstate, Bank of America, Comcast, ExxonMobil, Thomson Reuters (see extended reports of the forum), UTC, and Siemens.

For those who were unable to attend in person at the Newseum, the event programming and content, including livestream video of all mainstage events, were covered on You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at and, #IdeasForum. Additional media details for portions of the event will be forthcoming. About The Atlantic Since 1857, The Atlantic has played a central role in shaping the national debate on current affairs and cultural trends. Dedicated to bold, independent, diverse, and highly reasoned perspectives, its writers, bloggers, and critics represent the best in American journalism.

The Atlantic's award-winning commentary and coverage can be found in its magazine, on its website at, and at more than 60 events a year produced by its industry-leading events division, AtlanticLIVE.

<- Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/WireImage

Through a series of headline interviews, a cross-section of leaders from government, business, education, and the media engaged in a high-level, 360-degree analysis of the year that has passed and the year that lies ahead. Confirmed newsmakers joining in the discussions include:

Vice President Joe Biden; Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH); NBC News President Steve Capus; former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter and co-author Liz Cheney; White House Chief of Staff William Daley; Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; film director Alex Gibney; Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama; Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State; MSNBC's Chris Matthews; Brian Moynihan, President and CEO of Bank of America; Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan; CBS News President David Rhodes; economist Alice Rivlin; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee; Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; Google's Eric Schmidt; ABC News President Ben Sherwood; ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

Participating journalists include:

MSNBC's Maria Bartiromo, The Atlantic's James Bennet, NBC News' Tom Brokaw, The New York Times' David Brooks, Atlantic Media Company's Ronald Brownstein, The Atlantic's Steve Clemons, National Journal's Charlie Cook, ABC News' Katie Couric, The Atlantic's James Fallows, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, NBC News' David Gregory, PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill, CBS News' Norah O'Donnell, American Public Media's Kai Ryssdal, NBC News' Chuck Todd, FOX News' Chris Wallace, NBC News' Brian Williams, and Fox News' Juan Williams.

Henry Kissinger
Image from henryohenry (used by a WIF- invitee).
Freedom Plaza protestors
People are pretty nervous about the future. The "Occupy"-movement ('99%', i.e. the have not's) brought some commotion outside the building, because there were plans to provide access to go to the conversations.

The Washington Ideas Forum (WIF) is a special event, initiated in 2009 by the Aspen Institute, The Atlantic and Newseum. The first gathering started successful and it was decided to schedule it annually. The uniqueness of the meeting is that it concerned speakers of caliber, (former) rulers or consultants, who all provide current information and knowledge (sometimes with news-making effects). Of the 28 sessions / speakers, more detail for a few is given (speakers who's name only provide dynamics, or speakers who reported on surprising statements or on matters concerning Europe). The WIF-catalog stated that:

  • Important dialogues about vital matters of the mind and excite the 1st Amendment perpetuate (Newseum)

  • There are indications that the ongoing public debate is increasingly polarized, and fighting has undoubtedly often unproductive (Aspen Institute)

  • The goal is to serve and to be intense to talk about the main ideas that Washington and the people of the land deal (The Atlantic).

Washington monument. On the right the Newseum with the roof with the Knight Conference CenterWashington monument. On the right the Newseum with the roof with the Knight Conference Center Opening sessions

On Wednesday I walked to the Newseum, situated about 1 kilometer from the Capitol, the location where the meeting was organized.

The kick off was 11:45 am, consisting of a lunch together with 3 sessions from 12:00 pm to 13:00 pm in "The Knight Convention Center, 8th Floor Terrace. During these sessions was put forward the development of the Arab uprising (and the role of social media), the present situation in Syria that can last no longer than between six months and a year, because no one in the region will tolerate 30 deaths.per day, concerns about the relationship Saudi_US because of an important difference of opinion about what happens in the Arab uprising, theprudence of the Saudi royal family and the fact that not democratic Arab governments will have to reform in order to survive, a talk on energy efficiency and on health(y food).

John Boehner accused Obama he's campaigning for the 2012 elections to be rather than to rule. (Obama considers himself the underdog. After so much excitement and expectations. What went wrong? Experience? There is some disappointment in him to be seen). Boehner also wants to see more and faster change. The government should go into action. People do not see any answers they expect. He stated that China manipulates the economy and that the U.S. has to continue the debate with China: in spite of different views on policies, a certain common basis can be achieved.

On terrorism has reached more than under the Bush administration. One challenge is even eliminate Taliban and AQ. And concludes with "our openness and diversity, our freedom and opportunities to".  

Kissinger: 'We Can Be Leaders by Our Performance'

Henry Kissinger thinks that the point for the U.S. where "its people can be leaders by doing any one dramatic thing" is over and added that it is not easy to admit that there exists strategic restrictions, referring to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He spoke about China and the possibility of cooperation by realizing challenges that concern both countries. However, he is not optimistic about this.

He also detects a growing anti-war sentiment in the U.S

Musharraf: Afghanistan Is 'Proxy Conflict' Between Pakistan and India. Click for a short video

Pervez Musharraf stated not to have been aware of the presence of O bin Laden in Pakistan. He also said that some kind of (legitimate) conflict is working, which is creating a conflict between India and  Pakistan (India trains Afghan soldiers and tries to get Afghanistan among his sphere of influence).

Click for a short video



Timothy Geithner, who said that if Congress does not act on the employment package, growth in the U.S. will weaken and will become more vulnerable to outside influences, such as for example a European recession.

He stressed unease regarding the slow responses to the major debt crisis. Much more have to be done. Continent-wide, there are financial resources in relation to the current crisis. It is a serious situation in Europe. The euro must be stabilized with a package. There is a huge damage and Europe means a lot to us.

We have beliefs and Europe welcomes this. Germany and we want eliminate and let increase that (eg by pressure on the private sector). There is still a chance for Euro.

Next up was the Bill Daley, the White House Chief of Staff. You would be hard pressed to find a more witty and charismatic person in the Newseum that afternoon. Daley answered questions on Obama, the economy and the upcoming election while simultaneously receiving extended bouts of laughter from the press room.

Daley riffed about his predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, and when questions about which Republican he was most worried about Obama running against, he answered “Christie!” with a big smile on his face. When asked who won the golf match that included Obama and former president Bill Clinton, Daley joked that “you don’t keep score when you play golf with Bill Clinton.” But don’t get the wrong impression, it wasn’t a full on comedic effort by Daley. He emphasized bi-partisanship when it came to Obama’s struggling jobs package. He insisted that if the bill was truly dead on arrival, then its opponents must be productive and propose a legitimate alternative to help the faltering economy.


Vice President Joe Biden said the administration will take its jobs bill directly to the American people to put pressure on Republican members of Congress to pass it. Despite the conventional wisdom that the bill is dead on arrival, Biden said, "What happens that gets it passed is we have to go to the people. That's what the president says and it's been my point of view for a while now. We should go to the people and we should be asking every one of those congresspersons, 'What are you against?'"

Interviewed by David Gregory at Thursday's Washington Ideas Forum, Biden said the main obstacle to moving the economy forward is a fractured Republican Party that its congressional leadership is unable to control. "I think [President Obama] does have a partner in the bulk of the leadership but they are seriously hamstsrung," Biden said. During the debt-ceiling negotiations, he said, "we had a much bigger proposal I was personally negotiating with them as to how to deal with the debt crisis and they could not sell it." Biden said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would deny this account because he was obligated to.

"This is just Joe Biden's impression, but I truly believe if just Eric Cantor, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and John Boehner were allowed to settle the deal in the room we would have had a deal."

But the GOP has changed, he said. "My view is that their party is not the Republican Party that we all know. In my view, we need a strong Republican Party. We need a Republican Party that's united." Thus, he said, "Part of what this is about is going over the heads of the Congress to the people, to their constituents, and make the case."

Biden likened the Occupy Wall Street protest to the tea party, saying both stemmed from the sentiment that corporations were being favored over the middle class. "What is the core of that protest and why is it increasing? The core is that the bargain has been breached with the American people. The core is that the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level," Biden said. The tea party began protesting government bailouts for the same reason, he said. Look, guys, the bargain is not on the level any more in the minds of the American people. The middle class is getting screwed."

Biden harshly criticized Bank of America's move to charge debit-card users a $5 monthly fee, saying it wasn't justified after the middle class bailed banks out with their tax dollars. "At a minimum, they are incredibly tone deaf," Biden said. "And at a maximum, they are not paying their fair share of the bargain here, and middle-class people are getting killed."

The bank argues that it is only responding to new government regulations, Gregory said. Biden likened that to a teenager, forbidden to drive his parents' car, who responds, "OK, so now I've got to steal a car. I've got to get around somehow!"

Obama's declining approval ratings are a function of people's economic anxiety, Biden said. "If you look at all the polls ... a clear majority of the American people blame their financial straits on the last administration. They understand what got us in this trouble," he said. "So they get it. But we're in charge, so they're looking to us to fix it, and they're frustrated and I don't blame them."

Despite all this, Biden predicted that the Obama-Biden ticket will prevail in next year's election. "I think we win," he said.

Concerning foreign policy, Biden expects a considerable collapse of the Chinese stock market because the large oversupply of vacant apartments in China (30 to 50 million), caused by the money that is printed to look after themselves and caring local levels is gone and expects a default managed for Greece and a safety net built to banks and countries, and where all requirements for 100% guaranteed by a European entity.

Richard Cheney (with Paul Wolfowitz at the first row), who approved the use of drones and disapproved the killing of a U.S. resident (Awlaki) without prosecution. His concern is the economy: "solve the debt problem".

The discussions during the two days were very worthwhile, promising and educational. Moreover, there was sufficient opportunity to make meaningful contacts. A major advantage of attending the forum is that it provides incentives critical thinking about beliefs (that can possible prevent prejudices).

It was information overload. Over 12 hours worth of panel discussions covered a wide array of topics: media, politics, finance, Google, news, Democrats, Republicans, the economy, jobs, immigration, social media, Obama, and more. Sound overwhelming? In a way, it was. But it was also one of the most informative and enlightening events that I’ve ever attended.

As the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic write: 'insist on dialogue that is focused on the citizen, and that is suggestive and illuminating. Although we do not all can agree with each other on how to solve the problems, we can may be even learn from each other and find common ground. delivers streams on the interviewed speakers.

Biden: Fractured GOP Is the Problem. Click for video