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Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series

The YWCA Bethlehem will present the 43rd Annual Great Decisions Foreign Policy Lecture Series for eight weeks beginning on February 1, 2017 through March 22. 2017. 

Lectures will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Kirkland Village Auditorium in Bethlehem.  Parking is behind the First Presbyterian Church on Center Street, Bethlehem.

The Great Decisions Lecture Series promotes citizen awareness about timely foreign policy issues.  The purpose of the series, which is sponsored by the YWCA of Bethlehem, is to educate members about important issues relating to American foreign policy and to enable the community to participate in the foreign policy process.  We partner with the private, non-partisan Foreign Policy Association (FPA) in New York City, the oldest and largest grassroots educational program on world affairs reaching 880 cities and 350,000 members.  The FPA selects eight topics each year and chooses experts to write for the 100-page Great Decisions Briefing Book.  This book is included with registration.

The Bethlehem Great Decisions group is the only Great Decision group in the Lehigh Valley.  Lectures run for eight Wednesdays in winter, at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, PA and feature local experts.  Following each lecture is a Q&A session.


February 1 – The Future of Europe, Marc Schleifer, C.I.P.E.

From a modest post World War II Customs Union of six countries the EU grew to 28, presiding over 70 years of peace and general prosperity. The surprise U.K. referendum to exit leaves a welter of critical questions of migration, trade, finance and cooperation among the 28 and the US.  As post-Brexit Europe emerges how will U.S. policy adapt?

February 8 – Latin America’s Political Pendulum, Brandon VanDyck, Ph.D., Lafayette College

The “Washington Consensus ” (neoliberal governance, popular participation, free trade) of the 1990s seems dated, even quaint, in the 21st century. Does the failure of ideological models as in Venezuela promise the emergence of centrist pragmatic modes of governance and opportunities for improved hemispherical relations?

February 15 – Saudi Arabia in Transition, Brian Mello, Ph.D., Muhlenberg College

As oil prices fall, Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman have lost control of OPEC, the price and output setting cartel.  Privatization of ARAMCO (Arabian-American Oil Co.) is an attempt to diversify its guest-worker economy.  Human rights and quasi-governmental support of jihadists concern U.S. policy makers.  U.S. arms sales to the Kingdom support attacks in Yemen against Iranian backed militias. Must the U.S. choose among limited choices with difficult outcomes?

February 22 – Nuclear Security, Col. Pat Proctor, Ph.D., U.S. Army War College

President Reagan’s watchwords of “Trust but Verify” has tenuously held to this very moment.  A nuclear war was once (bar 1963) thought almost inconceivable. But now?  “Tactical Nuclear Weapons”, poorly guarded nuclear stockpiles, eight or nine nuclear powers but many “Non State Actors”, “dirty bombs” and not yet operational “suitcase bombs”, North Korea with its advancing nuclear delivery systems, and delivery systems as simple as volunteer suicide bombers.  What next?

March 1 – Conflict in the South China Sea, Chris Herrick, Ph.D., Muhlenberg College

China has seized disputed islands, built new ones where none existed, garrisoned and armed them and declared them their outer defense perimeter of a vast swath of the Pacific while building their military strength. Rights of peaceful commercial or military sea and air passage are threatened.  China has ignored an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to which, embarrassingly, the U.S is not party.

March 8 – U.S. Foreign Policy and Petroleum, Andrew Essig, Ph.D., DeSales University

The U.S. domestic “energy revolution” is a changing mix of petroleum/coal/gas and hydro/atomic/wind/solar sources with differing economic and environmental characteristics.  Yet we are not disentangled from dependence on foreign oil.  How do U.S. policymakers master the intricacies of energy independence and foreign policy?

March 15 – Prospects for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Thomas Eighmy, Ph.D., USAID, Retired and Sundar J.M. Brown, Consultant

Afghanistan has been in a state of conflict from 1978, long before U.S. military intervention in 2001. In Pakistan internal conflict is muted but persistent.  Since “Great Decisions” last featured this topic in 2009, much sadly remains unchanged. The Afghan population is on edge amidst almost daily outrages by the Taliban and other actors.  But, much is better – health, education at all levels, cell phones and a freer press. Is U.S. military intervention unsustainable and is disengagement an option?

March 22 – Trade and Politics, Brendan Horton, Ph.D., Economist, World Bank, Retired

Irritated that everything you buy is made in China?  Who or what replaces those hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs?  Who are the new Luddites and are they right?  Read the book, attend the lecture and learn!

*The order of the topics may change.

Fees for the Great Decisions Lecture Series are:

YWCA Members:
$60 (plus $20.00 membership fee) with one book
$85 (plus $20.00 membership fee) for Couple, with one book

Non-YWCA Members:
$85 with one book
$110 for Couple, with one book

Walk-in Single Lecture – $10, no book

Students – No charge with valid I.D.

For more information on the series please contact the YWCA of Bethlehem at   (610) 867-4669, ext. 101 or e-mail adminassist@ywcabethlehem.org.

Visit the Foreign Policy Association website for more information.

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