2017 Winter Series will begin begin in early February 2017 through the end of March 2017 – Lecture will be held from 10:30 am to noon at Kirkland Village Auditorium in 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 10:30 a.m. to noon at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, PA and feature local experts. Following each lecture is a Q&A session.
2017 SERIES TOPICS
1. The EU: By Andrew Moravcsik
The outcome of the United Kingdom referendum on EU membership sent shockwaves across the globe. It even caught British voters by surprise. The European Union has helped secure peace in Europe for the past 70 years. Now it faces an uncertain future. Amid a refugee crisis, lingering financial recession and the constant specter of terrorism, unity seems more imperative than ever. But the Brexit vote underscores the complexities of integrating an extremely diverse continent. What will post-Brexit Europe look like, and how can U.S. foreign policy adapt?
2. The Truth about Trade, Jobs and Politics: By Jeremy Haft
The U.S. political mood toward trade has gone sour. One need look no further than the 2016 presidential contest for the popular narrative: trade means that China wins, at America’s expense. But do the numbers support that conclusion? The metrics used to gauge economic strength—Gross Domestic Product and balance of trade—have not kept up with the realities of modern manufacturing. Obtaining an accurate picture of U.S. economic stature requires a critique of those numbers. Only then can the U.S. develop appropriate policy solutions for the challenges at hand.
3. Navies and Sovereignty: China and the United States in the South China Sea: By Bernard D. Cole
The South China Sea is a locus of competing territorial claims, and China its most vocal claimant. Beijing’s interest has intensified disputes with other countries in the region in recent years, especially since China has increased its naval presence. Despite rising international pressure, including an unfavorable ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, China staunchly defends its policies in the region. Preventing tensions from boiling over is a matter of careful diplomacy.
4. Saudi Arabia in Transition: By Lawrence G. Potter
As Saudi Arabia struggles to adjust to the drastic decline in oil revenue, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attempts to boldly transform the country and shift more power to the younger generation. At the same time, many countries such as the U.S. point out the lack of democracy, women’s rights and human rights in Saudi Arabia, and blame its promotion of Wahhabism, an extremely conservative version of Islam, for creating jihadists. Bipartisan criticism of Saudi Arabia is rising in Congress. Both countries need each other, but they are at a crossroads in bilateral relations.
5. U.S. Foreign Policy and Petroleum: Jonathan Chanis
What is the effect of U.S. petroleum security on foreign policy? For 45 years, the country has alternated between periods of energy security and insecurity, sometimes able to wield petroleum as a useful instrument of foreign policy, sometimes not. Despite the so-called “energy revolution,” the U.S. today is by no means disentangled from foreign dependence and global trends. In order to be successful, policymakers must recognize both petroleum security circumstances and patterns in the relationship between petroleum and foreign policy.
6. A New Political Era in Latin America: From Ideology to Pragmatism? By Michael Shifter and Bruno Binetti
The pendulum of Latin American politics is swinging rightward once again. Yet as the “pink tide” recedes, the forces of change have more to do with socioeconomics than ideology. Dramatic economic and political crises have coincided in countries like Brazil and Venezuela. Still, the final result for Latin America may be the emergence of centrist, pragmatic modes of governance, and with them, opportunities for the U.S. to improve relations. The new administration must look beyond the neoliberal model of the 1990s, and develop an approach to relations fit for the 21st century.
7. Afghanistan and Pakistan: By Austin Long
Major internal conflict has plagued Afghanistan for four decades. The U.S., for its part, has conducted military operations in the country nearly continuously since 9/11. Today, war with the Taliban persists, and tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan have gradually deteriorated. As his time in office drew to a close, President Obama limited further withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The incoming administration has a choice: will it maintain the status quo, completely reverse the Obama administration drawdown or withdraw completely? Does the U.S. face a no win situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
8. Nuclear Security: By Todd Stephen Sechser
Nuclear nonproliferation was a top priority for the Obama administration. While the Iran Deal was a diplomatic victory toward this end, major threats persist from both state and non-state actors. Countries like North Korea, Russia, and India and Pakistan continue to challenge nonproliferation efforts. The possibility that terrorists will carry out an attack using a “dirty bomb,” made from captured nuclear materials, looks increasingly real. In a fractious world, which way forward for U.S. nuclear security policy?
*The order of the topics may change.
Fees for the Great Decisions Lecture Series are:
$60 with one book
$85 for Couple, with one book
$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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Foreign Policy Association website for more information.