Great Decisions: 2017 Topics

Great Decisions: 2017 Topics
Richard Bass

Great Decisions: 2017 Topics
 

Saudi Arabia in Transition (February 26)
As Saudi Arabia struggles to adjust to the drastic decline in oil revenue, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is boldly attempting to transform the country and shift more power to the younger generation. At the same time, many countries including the U.S. point out the lack of democracy, women’s rights, and human rights in Saudi Arabia and blame its promotion of Wahhabism for creating jihadists. Both countries need each other, but they are at a crossroads in bilateral relations.
 
China and the U.S in the South China Sea (March 5)
The South China Sea is a locus of competing territorial claims, and China is its most vocal claimant. Despite rising international pressure, including an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, China staunchly defends its policies in the region. Preventing tensions from boiling over is a matter of careful diplomacy.
 
Trade, Jobs and Politics (March 12)
The U.S. political mood toward trade has gone sour. Look no further than the 2016 presidential contest for the popular narrative: trade means that China wins, at America’s expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? Metrics used to gauge economic strength have not kept up with the realities of modern manufacturing. Obtaining an accurate picture of U.S. economic stature requires a critique of those numbers. Only then can the U.S. develop appropriate policy solutions for the challenges at hand.
 
Nuclear Security (March 19)
Nuclear nonproliferation has been a top priority for the Obama administration. While the Iran Deal was a diplomatic victory toward this end, countries like North Korea, Russia, India, and Pakistan continue to challenge nonproliferation efforts. The possibility that terrorists could carry out an attack using a “dirty bomb,” made from captured nuclear materials, looks increasingly real. In a fractious world, which way forward for U.S. nuclear security policy?
 
Afghanistan and Pakistan (March 26)
Major internal conflict has plagued Afghanistan for four decades. Today, war with the Taliban persists, and tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan have gradually deteriorated. President Obama limited further withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Should the incoming administration maintain the status quo, reverse the Obama administration drawdown, or withdraw completely? Does the U.S. face a no win situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
 
Future of the European Union (April 2)
The European Union has helped secure peace in Europe for the past 70 years. Now it faces an uncertain future. Amid a refugee crisis, lingering financial recession, and the constant specter of terrorism, unity seems more imperative than ever. But the Brexit vote underscores the complexities of integrating an extremely diverse continent. What will post-Brexit Europe look like, and how should U.S. policy adapt?
 
A New Political Era in Latin America: From Ideology to Pragmatism? (April 9)
The pendulum of Latin American politics is swinging rightward once again. Yet as the “pink tide” recedes, the forces of change have more to do with socioeconomics than ideology. Dramatic economic and political crises have coincided in countries like Brazil and Venezuela. Will the final result for Latin America be the emergence of more centrist, pragmatic modes of governance, and with them, new opportunities for the incoming U.S. administration to improve relations.
 
No Meeting April 16 (Easter)
 
U.S. Foreign Policy and Petroleum (April 23)
For 45 years, the U.S. has alternated between periods of energy security and insecurity. Despite the so-called “energy revolution,” the U.S. is today by no means disentangled from foreign dependence and global trends. To be successful, policymakers must recognize both petroleum security circumstances and patterns in the relationship between petroleum and foreign policy.
Note: specific titles and sequence are tentative and subject to change.
 
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