While the country focuses on the continuing struggle to bring democracy to Iraq, Geoffrey Kemp, director of regional strategic programs at the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C., will examine the potential dangers posed by Iran, Syria and Libya in the opening address of Lawrence University’s three-part international studies lecture series “Pariah States and Policy Responses.”

Kemp presents “The Axis of Evil: The Current Membership” Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium, 613 E. College Ave., Appleton. The event is free and open to the public.

Kemp will discuss the rationale used by the Bush administration to place Iraq, Iran and North Korea on an “axis of evil” while ignoring other possible candidates such as Syria and Libya. He also will contrast Iran with Libya, a country that has basically received a clean pass by renouncing its weapons of mass destruction program, outline the dilemma the United States and the European Union face in challenging Iran and explain why this is a potentially dangerous confrontation.

Iran has recently drawn the ire of the international community by threatening to block inspections of its nuclear facilities, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — described by Wisconsin U.S. Senator Russ Feingold as “one of the scariest persons in the world” — insist are solely for the production of nuclear energy.

On Jan. 13, Iran Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that if his country was confronted by the United Nations Security Council, it would stop cooperating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran has been voluntarily allowing short-notice IAEA inspections since 2003.

A native of Great Britain, Kemp began his career as a research associate for the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London before moving to the United States 1967. He worked in the U.S. Defense Department’s Policy Planning and Program Analysis and Evaluation offices in the 1970s, contributing to studies on U.S. security policy and options for Southwest Asia. In 1981, he joined the first Reagan administration, serving in the White House as a special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the National Security Council Staff.

Prior to joining the Nixon Center in 1995, Kemp was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where he served as director of the Middle East Arms Control Project.

He is the author of numerous articles on foreign policy challenges, particularly those in the Middle East, including “Forever Enemies? American Policy and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” “Europe, Iraq and the War on Terrorism,” and “Stopping the Iranian Bomb” which appeared in The National Interest in 2003.

Kemp earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from Oxford University and holds a Ph.D. In political science from M.I.T.

Other scheduled speakers in this year’s lecture series include:

• February 21— Lee Feinstein, deputy director of studies and senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and International Law, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C, “A Duty to Prevent.”

• March 1 — Jack DuVall, president and founding director of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Washington, D.C., “The Right to Rise Up: People Power and the Virtues of Civic Disruption.”

The “Pariah States and Policy Responses” lecture series is sponsored by the Mojmir Povolny Lectureship in International Studies. Named in honor of long-time Lawrence government professor Mojmir Povolny, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on issues of moral significance and ethical dimensions.