Archive for the ‘News’ Category

2019 Topics

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

We’re pleased to announce the topics for Great Decisions 2019!  Join us as we work together to understand today’s world issues. Find your nearest group in the Discussion Groups Tab. This year’s topics are as follows:

  1. Refugees and Global Migration

  2. The Middle East: Regional Disorder

  3. Nuclear negotiations: Back to the Future?

  4. The Rise of Populism in Europe

  5. Decoding U.S.-China Trade

  6. India and Its Neighbors

  7. Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics

  8. The United State and Mexico: Partnership Tested

  9. State of the State Department and Diplomacy


Refugees and Global Migration
By Karen Jacobsen

Today, no countries have open borders. Every state in today’s global system has its own laws and policies about who is permitted to cross its borders, and how they will do so. Who determines whether someone is a refugee or a migrant? How have different countries, including the United States, reacted to migration? How effective are the international laws, policies and organizations that have evolved to assist and protect refugees and migrants?


The Middle East: Regional Disorder
By Lawrence G. Potter

As the presidency of Donald J. Trump passes the halfway point, the Middle East remains a region in turmoil. The Trump administration has aligned itself with strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which along with Israel have a common goal of frustrating Iranian expansion. What will be the fallout from policy reversals such as withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear accord and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? Does the United States see a path forward in troubled states such as Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq? Is the United States headed toward war with Iran?


Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future?
by Ronald J. Bee

Nuclear weapons have not gone away, and the Trump administration has brought a new urgency, if not a new approach, to dealing with them.  The President has met with Vladimir Putin as the New Start Treaty with Russia comes up for renewal in 2021, the first presidential summit ever with Kim Jong-un occurred to discuss denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and President Trump has decertified the Obama nuclear deal with Iran.  To what degree should past nuclear talks guide future U.S. nuclear arms control negotiations?  Can the art of the deal apply to stabilizing our nuclear future?


The Rise of Populism in Europe
By James Kirchick

Mass migration, and the problems associated with it, have directly abetted the rise of populist parties in Europe. Opposition to immigration was the prime driver of support for Brexit, it brought a far-right party to the German Bundestag for the first time since the 1950s, and propelled Marine Le Pen to win a third of the vote in the French presidential election. In addition to calling for stronger borders, however, these parties are invariably illiberal, anti-American, anti-NATO and pro-Kremlin, making their rise a matter of serious concern for the national security interests of the United States.


Decoding U.S.-China Trade|
By Jeremy Haft

Though arguably the most advanced economy in the world, the United States still uses centuries-old numbers to measure trade.  These antique numbers mangle understanding of the U.S.-China trade relationship, shrinking America’s true economic size and competitiveness, while swelling China’s.  Bad numbers give rise to bad policies that ultimately kill U.S. jobs and cede market share to China.  What other tools can the United States employ to counter China’s unfair trade practices?  There are several available, yet they remain mostly unused.

India and its Neighbors
By Cynthia Watson

India’s relationship with China alternates between one of cooperation and aspiring improvements, and deep distrust at the Chinese extending activities in the Indian Ocean and in states surrounding the subcontinent. What effect will China’s Belt &Road Initiative have on relations with India, and its neighbors? Will the United States be caught in the middle of the competition between China and India?


Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics|
By Richard Andres

Cyber conflict is a new and continually developing threat, which can include foreign interference in elections, industrial sabotage and attacks on infrastructure. Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential elections in the United States and China is highly committed to using cyberspace as a tool of national policy. Dealing with cyber conflict will require new ways of looking at 21st century warfare. Is the United States prepared to respond to such threats?


The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested
By Michael Shifter and Bruno Binetti

The United States and Mexico have a long, intertwined history, with both countries prominently featured in each other’s politics and agendas. The war on drugs, immigration and trade issues have taxed the relationship over the years. What impact will new leadership in both countries have on this crucial partnership?


State of the State Department and Diplomacy
By Nicholas Burns

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?

2018 Topics Spring Update

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

The spring update to the 2018 Great Decisions topics is now available.

Select GD18 Spring Updates to read.

Letter from the President – Summer 2018

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Tucson Great Decisions is winding down the 2018 Winter – Spring Great Decisions discussions. Many of our group participants, including your president, have left the desert for the north. Tucson Great Decisions Association enters the summer with 23 sites offering Great Decisions discussions in the Greater Tucson region.  Moderators and participants in our discussion groups make Great Decisions the enjoyable program that it is. Discussion group moderators and your board are all volunteers.  All of us do this work because of our appreciation of the value of Great Decisions.  We are primarily retired persons, and lifestyle and health issues regularly bring changes to these leadership positions. We hope you will be open to stepping up to a moderator role or joining the Tucson Great Decisions Board in the coming year.  Please know that even those who are winter Tucsonans can take on these roles, as I have.

I am in Tucson from October through May and spend my summers in northern Michigan where I moderate a discussion group there as well.  I have only been participating in Great Decisions since 2008. In those ten years, I have learned a great deal about the decisions that make up the United States Foreign Policy. The non-partisan focus of the discussions gave me the confidence that I could safely share my views with people I did not know personally.  When I became engaged in the discussions, I learned how my personal attitudes and positions on the issues worked, and in many cases, how they differed from my fellow participants.  Dialog, such as that encountered in Great Decisions, has helped me frame a very different approach to foreign policy from when I began.  It also created an incredible bond with my fellow participants.  I hope that those of you who are currently participating in a Great Decisions group have had similar experiences. What I have found valuable is participation, being open to other opinions, and focusing on issues, not partisan politics.

Our Spring Event last month was a great success, with an enlightening presentation on the underpinnings of the media’s influence in the 21st century.  As a board, we are already planning the Fall Event.  It’s scheduled to be held on October 26th.  So, mark your fall calendars.  We’ll have more information on the speaker and topic in September. Topics for next year’s discussions will not be determined until late summer.  We will be communicating them when they are announced, so watch the website News for that information.

Have a productive and pleasant summer. We’ll see you in October.

Dick Kelbaugh

2018 Topics Winter Update

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

he 2018 Topic Winter Update is now available at  

To download the PDF, click GD18 Winter Update2

2018 Program Video Synopses

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Here are synopses of the videos for the 2018 Great Decisions topics

2018 Great Decisions Video Synopses

Pax Americana: The American Peace
The past 70 years has been the era of “Pax Americana,” a period of relative stability thanks to the influence and ballast provided by the United States.  But with Russian expansion and a rising China, how long can it last?

Russia’s Foreign Policy
To his detractors, Putin is an autocrat, crushing any threat to his power, while renewing Soviet-style expansionism.  To supporters, Putin represents Russia’s redemption as a global superpower  – and an alternative to the liberal democracy espoused by the West.  Great Decisions explores what drives Putin’s Foreign Policy.

 China: The New Silk Road
China is the second largest economy in the world, and it’s expected to bump the U.S. out of the top rank in less than a decade. Beijing is increasingly looking beyond China’s borders, toward investment in Asia and across the world.  What does China’s massive One Belt One Road initiative mean for America?

 The Media and Foreign Policy
The US has thrived on its vibrant and free press since the Founding Fathers first put the concept into law in the Bill of Rights as an important, independent check on power.  Now Foreign policy is tweeted from the White House and “fake news” has entered the zeitgeist, while social media is proving to be a double-edged sword.   What’s next for media and the free press?

 Turkey: A Partner in Crisis
Once seen as a model of democracy, Turkey may be slipping toward autocracy. Critics charge that President Recip Tayyip Erdogan used a failed coup d’état in 2016 as a means of consolidating power  –  power he says is necessary to secure the state.  Great Decisions producers traveled to Turkey to examine the relationship with this key U.S. ally.

 Crossroads: America’s Defense Strategy
The global power balance is rapidly evolving, leaving the United States at a turning point with respect to its level of engagement and the role of its military.  How does the military function in today’s international order, and what role should Diplomacy play in U.S. defense strategy?

South Africa: In the Shadow of Mandela
South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a democracy captivated the world in the early 1990’s.  While it remains the most advanced country in Africa, allegations of state corruption and huge disparities in wealth threaten its revolutionary dream.

Global Health: Preventing Pandemic
For decades, the U.S. has been a leader in promoting global health. But foreign assistance has fallen out of favor in some circles in Washington, they argue the U.S. should help America first. Is the golden age of global health coming to an end, or just getting started?

2017 Topics Fall Update

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

The Fall Update on the 2017 Topics is now available from the Foreign Policy Association.

2017 Topics Fall Update

About Tucson Great Decisions ( article)

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Click on this link to read an FPA  article about Tucson Great Decisions.  Its good to share our story nationally.


Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

FPA provides online supplemental content on every topic.  Check out the topic resources, featuring things like printable glossaries, blogs, a list of people to follow on Twitter, podcasts, recommended readings, books and organizations.


National Opinion Ballots ONLINE

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Remember to fill out your  opinion ballots!  The  National Opinion Ballot is available this year exclusively online. Now you can make your voice heard with just a click of a button.


Great Decisions Issues and Foreign Policy News Quizzes

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Are you interested in a “fun” way to check your knowledge of some of the foreign policy issues facing us?  If so, try this link to FPA’s Great Decisions quizzes.

Great Decisions Quizzes