Great Decisions 2019

An Annual Speaker Series Program of the Foreign Policy Association

Great Decisions is a national discussion program focusing on eight major foreign policy issues each year. It is produced by the Foreign Policy Association (FPA), which is the U.S.’s oldest organization devoted to citizen education in world affairs. 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.

2019 Topics & Speakers

07 March 2019

Refugees and Global Migration
Mr. Blake Hamilton, International Institute, Vice President of Programs

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?

 

15 March 2019

The Middle East, Regional Disorder 
Dr. Tahmineh Entessar, Assistant Director of Webster University’s International Relations Graduate Program

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?

 

21 March 2019

Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future?
Mr. Brent Shapiro, former U.S. Special Operations Officer

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?

 

28 March 2019

State of the State Department and Diplomacy
Regina Dennis-Nana, Career Foreign Service Officer

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?

 

04 April 2019

Decoding U.S.-China Trade
Dr. Nori Katagiri, Associate Professor of Political Science, Saint Louis University

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.

 

11 April 2019

Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics
Mr. Kurt Aubuchon, Assistant Professor of Cyber Security, Maryville University

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?

 

18 April 2019

United States & Mexico, Partnership Tested
Dr. Richard Millet, Council on Foreign Relations

Combating illegal immigration has become a priority of the Trump administration. The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, is a special target of the administration, which hold the nations responsible for the large flow of migrants from Latin America to the U.S. With funds from the U.S. cut, how can the Northern Triangle countries curtail migration?

 

25 April 2019

The Rise of Populism in Europe 
Dr. Costas Azariadis, Professor of Economics, Washington University

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.