Letter From the President

To our members;

The Monsoon is just about over, and the Tucson region is set for the fall temperatures and the return of the winter Tucsonans.  It’s a great time of year, and the Tucson Great Decisions Association is planning for the 2019 program year. This year our Great Decisions discussions will include nine topics for investigation, which once again deal with issues at hand.

Our fall event, Elegy for American Diplomacy, October 26th, at the Viscount Suites Hotel, sets the stage for our discussions this winter by looking at the state of our diplomatic corps and the State Department. This event will provide an excellent front end “Bookmark” for the 2019 Great Decisions program. Registration is now open online where you can register using a Credit card or download a form for registration by mail. This year we will be accepting Credit Card payment, or cash only at the door for day of event registration.

 Refugees and Global Migration and US and The united States and Mexico: Partnership Tested will be an important part of this year’s discussions. Two years ago, our migration discussion focused on the Middle East to Europe migration.   In 2019, the migration topic will focus more broadly in the world.  It will focus on the humanitarian crises that lead to refugee migration. These situations today in our hemisphere are severe and are creating an environment of massive refugee migration.   Migration, such as this, endangers the refugees and places undue burdens on the countries that receive the migrants.  The US has historically provided a haven and opportunity to start life anew for refugees from oppression.  How will the hemispheric migration issues affect our foreign policy and our historical place in the hemisphere in the coming years.? The refugee crisis plays into the relationship between the US and Mexico and the ongoing dialogue regarding trade.  Mexico and Canada are our neighbors.  As neighboring nations, our relationships need to be neighborly.  What does that mean?  How do we define an appropriate foreign policy, including the new trade agreement that balances security and neighborliness?

 Decoding US – China Trade and Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics take on a different issue of our foreign relations. In these two topics, we discuss threats to our national defense, infrastructure and governance, and the draining away of American technological strength. How do we work together with foreign competitive powers that may be using unethical means for achieving internal benefits at the expense of the US?  In Cyber Security, we are dealing with foreign players that may seek to wage a digital war on the United States.  In trade and commerce, China has through the years been a competitor that has effectively used negotiated partnerships with US companies to gain access to proprietary processes and designs.

In 2017 and early 2018, the threat of a nuclear confrontation with North Korea was a major concern of people around the world.  In early summer 2018, the summit meeting including President Trump and President Kim Jung Un of North Korea seemingly reduced that probability.  However, as we approach the fall of this year we see ongoing negotiations with North Korea and somewhat questionable progress with START. The article Nuclear Negotiations:  Back to the Future will look at current efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, and at our pending renewal of START with Russia. Can the US lead a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear ambitions worldwide? Where do the interests of Russia and China fit into this effort?

We’ll look at The Middle East again, and this year, the topic, The Middle East: Regional Disorder, reflects the breadth of this discussion, and the breadth of the foreign policy problem that the Middle East creates.  What will be the fallout of recent US foreign policy decisions?  Will the US see a path forward in Syria and Yemen?  What will the future look like with Iran?

Populism in the US and Europe is changing governance practices in Europe and in the US.  This year we’ll look at The Rise of Populism in Europe, where populist themes have overtaken other ideological considerations in recent elections.  How has this movement affected governments in England and France, and what will it mean in Germany and the rest of the EU? We close the year with The state of the State Department.  We’ll investigate in greater detail the issues affecting the US State Department and how issues within the Department of State are affecting the execution of our foreign policy in a changing world.  Our fall event speaker, Ambassador David Dunford will give us an enlightening look at how the strength of that department has been undermined in recent years. Our closing discussion will provide a fitting “bookend” to our year of Discovery… Discussion … Decision.

If we consider how fast some of these issues have changed this year, we can understand that a major challenge of American foreign policy is to be able to adjust to a changing world.  We hope you’ll join one of our discussion groups to add your personal understanding and experience to gaining and sharing a group understanding of the great decisions on these important issues.

Your personal comments are invited using the contact tab on www.TGDA.org or by email to info@tgda.org

Dick Kelbaugh
President, Tucson Great Decisions Association