Great Decisions Lectures: Understanding China and Cybersecurity

Trade with China and Cybersecurity highlighted a pair of programs in WAC’s 2019 Great Decisions Lecture Series on Thursday, April 4. First, Dr. Nori Katagiri, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Saint Louis University, provided insight on U.S.-China relations today. The topic of “Decoding U.S.-China Trade” was contextualized by Dr. Katagiri through a brief explanation of the trade war, potential hot-spots in the South China Sea region, and the current stance of the United States towards the Chinese government. His detailed descriptions provided attendees with an understanding of the situation today, as well as how the relationship might change in the future.

Later in the afternoon, Kurt Aubuchon, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity at Maryville University, presented at Venture Café. Discussing the topic of “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics,” Professor Aubuchon explained some of the biggest threats in cybersecurity today, whether that be Russia, China, or other non-state actors. Next, he provided an overview of U.S. capabilities to combat this emerging threat in the future. Overall, he conveyed the importance of protecting ourselves against foreign actors and understanding that cyber war may be the next battlefield.

Please join UMSL’s International Studies & Programs Department and the World Affairs Council for the next segment of the Great Decisions Lecture Series on April 11, 2019. In order to provide insight and perspective on the topic, “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics”, Professor Aubuchon will be at the St. Louis Ethical Society.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The series entails eight weekly sessions moderated by local experts on the most critical challenges to United States foreign policy. For the complete list of topics, please click here.

This event runs for eight consecutive Thursdays in March and April from 12 – 1:30 PM. Great Decisions will be held at the Ethical Society in Clayton at 9001 Clayton Rd – St. Louis, MO 63124.

Career Foreign Service Officer reflects on work in Africa, Caribbean

As a career foreign service officer, Regina Dennis-Nana was often the person on duty at the embassy when Americans traveled to the Caribbean and Africa.

Her perspective on the importance of the State Department and diplomacy was practical and impassioned, especially when describing the role of the U.S. embassy when earthquakes struck Haiti in 2010.  By having built relationships over time in the country, she was able to find and work effectively with a wide range of colleagues in a chaotic, frantic time.

The presentation also included “The State of the State Department”, a video produced by the Foreign Policy Association.  The message: During the Trump administration, the usual ways of conducting diplomacy have been upended. Many positions in the State Department have never been filled, and meetings with foreign leaders such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have been undertaken with little advance planning. What effect are these changes having now, and how will they affect ongoing relationships between the United States and its allies and adversaries?

Great Decisions is presented every Thursday at the St. Louis Ethical Society and on April 4 at Venture Cafe.  It is made possible through UMSL’s International Studies program.

Great Decisions: Best Nuclear Strategy is Dialogue

Brent Shapiro discusses nuclear strategy

Brent Shapiro outlined the challenges around nuclear arms and the choices confronting policy makers in the Great Decisions lecture series March 21.  Noting that everyone in the room had lived the majority of their lives under the threat of nuclear war, he observed that a combination of luck, communications and good judgment had kept “the genie in the bottle.”

For leaders of nuclear-armed countries, the lessons of Libya and Iraq stand clear, he said.  Once their country gave up nuclear weapons, their grip on power dissipated.  The only country to give up their nukes peacefully, Shapiro noted, was South Africa as a prelude to the end of Apartheid.

When considering nuclear strategy, Shapiro said, the key is to put one in the shoes of a nuclear-owning leader and ask what they fear most – a neighbor, their own population, or a superpower.  By addressing those fears, disarmament may be possible.

As to Russia’s threatened development of hypersonic nuclear weapons, Shapiro expressed skepticism of their reliability.  “It does’t matter how many bullets you have,” he said, “it’s whether you have a way to deliver them.”

Please join UMSL’s International Studies & Programs Department and the World Affairs Council for the fourth segment of the Great Decisions Lecture Series on March 28, 2019. In order to provide insight and perspective on the topic: State of the State Department. Longtime Foreign Service Officer Regina Dennis-Nana  will be moderating the session.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The series entails eight weekly sessions moderated by local experts on the most critical challenges to United States foreign policy. For the complete list of topics, please click here.

This event runs for eight consecutive Thursdays in March and April from 12 – 1:30 PM. Great Decisions will be held at the Ethical Society in Clayton at 9001 Clayton Rd – St. Louis, MO 63124.

Just added! Join us at Venture Cafe on April 4 for a special presentation of “Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics” presented by Kurt Aubuchon of Maryville University.

2019 Great Decisions

Every year the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), the nation’s oldest organization devoted to citizen education in world affairs, authors the Great Decisions Series, a national discussion program focusing on eight major foreign policy issues.

The issues are selected at the beginning of the year based on the most critical global challenges to United States foreign policy. The program aims to present all sides of each issue in order to inform and educate the public.

The World Affairs Council of St. Louis and the University of Missouri – St. Louis series of moderated discussions for the citizens of the St. Louis metropolitan area. We find local experts to host speaking sessions on global issues critical to the United States.

The 2019 Series will start on Thursday, March 7th at 12-1:30 PM at the Ethical Society in Clayton (9001 Clayton Rd) and continue for the next seven consecutive Thursdays. Please see the flyer below for each week’s topic and speakers.

Great Decisions Sparks Further Thought and Conversation

Dr. Ellen Carnaghan discussing her findings while studying the Russian election.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series of 2018 is meant to further conversations on important topics related to global issues. In the recent lecture by Dr. Ellen Carnaghan of Saint Louis University, St. Louis community members participated in critical thinking about not only Russia’s Foreign Policy but also the involvement of the United States in that foreign policy.

In the Webster-Kirkwood Times, the relevance of this topic on a local scale is discussed by Don Corrigan. His article on the American’s waning wariness of Russia brings a globally focused topic back to St. Louis in a way that encourages community members to think about their actions, involvement, and attitudes towards both Russia and their local politics.

As the goal of Great Decisions Lecture Series is “inspiring learning about the world”, the local engagement of citizens in global issues as a result of conversations about Great Decisions topics is the epitome of inspired learning.

Professor crystallizes Turkey’s strategic place in the Middle East

 Offering her view of the sometimes conflicting agendas of the West and Turkey, Dr. Tahmineh Entessar, retired assistant director of the International Relations Graduate Program at Webster University, spelled out challenges from political fissures, to the role of the Kurds, to Cyprus and the often fraught relationship with NATO in a talk March 15, presented by WAC-STL in partnership with UMSL International Studies and Program.

 

 

Of all NATO allies, Turkey represents the most daunting challenge for the Trump administration. In the wake of a failed military coup in July 2016, the autocratic trend in Ankara took a turn for the worse. One year on, an overwhelming majority of the population considers the United States to be their country’s greatest security threat. In this age of a worsening “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West, even more important than its place on the map is what Turkey symbolically represents as the most institutionally Westernized Muslim country in the world.

The presentation was part of the Great Decisions series, presented by the World Affairs Council of St. Louis.