At 12:30, President Shaun called the meeting to order. Cell phones were silenced.  American members pledged allegiance to the flag.  

Words of inspiration came from David Treadwell, taking note of the Thanksgiving holiday. With accompaniment from David Klaus on the piano, the members sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

Secretary Tim Hurd introduced the guests of Rotarians:
  • Nicholas Haffenreffer, Principal, Torrey LLC, guest of Clara Montanez.
  • Paolo von Schirach, Editor, Schirach Report, guest of Clara Montanez.
  • Oliver Perottet, guest of Abe Helal.
  • Pernille Elbech, Senior Advisor, Embassy of Denmark, guest of Steen Steensen.
  • Sarah Elsamanoudi, Gray Graphic Corporation, guest of Abe Helal.
  • Juanita Hardy, Executive Director, Cultural DC, guest of Clara Montanez and Kathy Ward.
  • Marta Pentassuglia, Alenia Aermacchi North America, guest of Erminia Scarcella.

Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell announced the birthdays: 

  • Peggy Schoen (November 24)
  • Dan Mullin (November 26)
  • Shaun English (November 27)
  • Asif Bhally (November 28)
  • Rob Shriner (November 28)
  • Rob Warne (November 30)

In announcements:

Registration is open for the Holiday Party and Alexandria Boar Parade, Dec. 7 4:30 to 7:30 at the Chart House in Old Town Alexandria.

Red badges were presented to Ted Kim, who is actually returning to the Club after a number of years in business in Asia, and to new member US Senator Larry Pressler.

Alexander Kravetz then introduced the speaker, Mark Kimmitt, whom he met in Baghdad, Iraq. (This must count for special recognition from the Program Committee for effort to line up a speaker.) He summarized Gen. Kimmitt’s impressive service record in the US Army and as Assistant Secretary of State.  His academic credentials include West Point, an MBA from Harvard, two other Master’s degrees and a certificate as a Chartered Financial Analyst.  He has also made more than a hundred parachute jumps.

General Kimmitt applauded Rotary International for its public service, which goes over and above mere check-writing. 

Turning to Iraq, where he served in the military in 2003-4, he invoked the sacrifice of the 4,486 Americans killed in action, and said the country is now secure and stable, but has a long way to go. Iraq was the main topic of his remarks. He sketched out the power relationship between Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish interests.  He says oil production is back to 2-3 million barrels of oil per day, but corruption and bureaucracy keeps the profits from making a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens. He is critical of the current US political administration for failing to engage in post-war Iraq.

In lively questions and answers, he said that Al Qaeda is definitely present in Iraq, but there should be a distinction between them and the active insurgency against the government.  He sees little progress in reconciling religious factions and believes that Prime Minister Maliki could be more willing to make concessions. 

Responding to a question about the Kurds, he made a comparison to the reconstruction period following the Civil War, saying that new realities must be recognized.  The US should be an honest broker in any transitions. He is critical of corruption in the Kurdish area.

He says that Iraq is a true nation, not an artificial assemblage, pointing out that 800,000 died in war with Iran.  He says a unified national feeling will evolve.  He praised Iraq’s long history of excellent, gender-neutral education. Talking about the displacement of civil society in Iraq and the loss to emigration, he said Iraq is becoming cantonized, and again was critical of US lack of aid.

President Shaun gave the tree certificate, and Mike Carmichael produced the raffle bucket.  The winner of the $24 small pot was Jay Pugh, but the $154 jackpot remained for some future winner.

Ted Hamady and Stu Shalloway ran the hospitality table.

The meeting was adjourned.