October 14, 2017

October 14, 2017

A Message From the President of SDWAC

Dear SDWAC Members and Friends,

The pace of activity at SDWAC has been rapid in recent weeks. On October 6 the Council, along with the San Diego Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany and the German American Business Council of Southern California, hosted a well-attended luncheon at the University Club atop Symphony Towers with former senior German diplomat Thomas Matussek. With a gorgeous view out the 32nd floor window and a fine lunch, Ambassador Matussek’s substantive presentation was pure gravy. He addressed such complex issues as the Iran nuclear agreement (as Germany’s UN ambassador he played a key role in negotiating the UN sanctions that brought Iran to the table); the Russia-Ukraine situation, which he termed “the most serious conflict in Europe in years”; Brexit; and last month’s German election. Interestingly, he criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strategy of pushing to the left her Christian Democratic alliance, thereby squeezing the Social Democratic Party further to the left but opening room on her right for the far-right, nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD), which, disturbingly, will now have 13 percent of the seats in the Bundestag.

On October 12 Leslie Bassett, a SDWAC board member who until last January was U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay, gave a well-balanced and very informative lecture at the North County Chapter on North Korea, based on her experience as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and her years of service in other parts of Asia. Ambassador Bassett provided some critical but succinct background on Korean culture and moved on to describe the transitions in the North Korean regime, from Kim Jung Un’s grandfather to his father to the current setup in Pyongyang. She wrapped up with a discussion of diplomatic and military options going forward, recognizing that these were her personal opinions as a private citizen. Leslie’s presentation was well received and we look forward to taking further advantage of her knowledge and broad diplomatic experience. 

Later that day, your scribe co-hosted with World Trade Center San Diego a development dinner for area CEOs and senior executives in honor of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was in town on a private, unpublicized visit. Secretary Albright, who recalled for the group a previous address to SDWAC at the Hotel del Coronado in 1996 while she was Ambassador to the UN, impressed the group with her command of a wide range of contemporary policy issues. She also recounted revealing anecdotes about her encounters with various world leaders from Kim Jong-il to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. A self-described “optimist who worries a lot,” Dr. Albright noted that during a visit to Europe earlier this month, foreign policy thought leaders expressed concern that the U.S. is currently “absent” from many important multilateral discussions, a trend that troubled her as well.

Coming out of the dinner, my hope is that this opportunity to engage some of San Diego’s most successful business people may eventually lead to increased corporate support for SDWAC.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to urge all members and readers to come out for a special event, a panel discussion on NAFTA that we are presenting this Thursday, October 19, at the AMN Healthcare Auditorium, 12400 High Bluff Drive. This event begins at 6 p.m., a little earlier than our typical programs, and will be preceded by a reception (with hors d'oeuvres) and registration, at 5:30 p.m. (Find more details lower in this newsletter.)

Our co-sponsors for this event are the Kroc School of Peace Studies at University of San Diego and the Institute of the Americas at University of California, San Diego. We have assembled a very strong panel, featuring: veteran diplomat Jeffrey Davidow, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, 1998-2002; Dennis Arriola, Executive Vice President of Sempra Energy for Corporate Strategy and International Affairs; Gavin Nardocchio-Jones, Acting Consul of Canada in Los Angeles; and Dr. Rafael Fernández de Castro, the new Director of UCSD's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. The discussion will be moderated by SDWAC immediate past president David Edick, Jr.

This is a timely moment for such a discussion. NAFTA is hanging in the balance, with negotiations reportedly reaching a difficult stage. We're looking forward to a robust turnout in the spacious AMN auditorium. I would be grateful indeed if you would show your support for the Council's efforts to promote serious dialogue on significant international issues of the day by attending. 

-- John Schlosser



Thursday, October 19, 2017

“NAFTA: A Make or Break Moment?”

More than 20 years after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect, its consequences are a topic of heated debate in Mexico, Canada and especially the United States.  Are President Trump’s claims about NAFTA and its negative effects on the U.S. economy accurate?  Are his goals for renegotiating the agreement achievable?  Are supply chains now too integrated to undo key clauses of the treaty without creating major economic disruption?  Can an amended NAFTA return jobs and manufacturing to the U.S.?  Who has benefited and who has suffered as a result of NAFTA? Has the U.S. fared worse than its trading partners?  Are there practical ways to improve the treaty, such as adding new chapters?  What are the red lines of U.S. trading partners Canada and Mexico in the negotiations? 

The San Diego World Affairs Council (SDWAC) and the University of San Diego Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies bring the debate to you by assembling a top-notch panel to consider all things NAFTA.

Meet Our Panelists

Jeffrey Davidow is former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State responsible for U.S. Latin America policy. Currently Senior Counselor of The Cohen Group, Ambassador Davidow is the author of The US and Mexico: The Bear and the Porcupine, a bestseller in Mexico that is often used as a textbook for university courses in the United States. 

Dennis Arriola is Executive Vice President of Sempra Energy, Corporate Strategy and External Affairs, with responsibility for Sempra’s extensive international activities.  Sempra has pursued an aggressive investment strategy in Mexico, where it owns 66 percent of IEnova, an energy infrastructure company whose equity value exceeds $7 billion. 

Gavin Nardocchio-Jones, Deputy Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles, is a career diplomat who oversees the Political/Economic section of the Consulate General.  Mr. Nardocchio-Jones is responsible for making policy recommendations to Ottawa regarding California.  Bilateral trade between Canada and California exceeds $46 billion.

Rafael Fernández de Castro is a professor at the School of Global Policy & Strategy at University of California, San Diego, and director of its Center of U.S.-Mexican Studies.  A former foreign policy adviser to President Felipe Calderón, he is an expert on bilateral relations between Mexico and the United States.  Dr. Fernández de Castro serves as a principal investigator for the project "Co-constructing Security Provision in Mexico: A Methodology and Action Plan from Communities to the State."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

5:30 p.m.- 6 p.m. Registration & Reception

Hors d'oeuvres catered by AMN Healthcare

6 p.m.-8 p.m. Presentation, followed by Q&A


AMN Healthcare Auditorium

12400 High Bluff Drive, San Diego 92130


Students, faculty and staff (with I.D.): Free (Please pre-register.)

SDWAC members: $10

General public: $20

Register here.

SDWAC extends sincere gratitude to our co-sponsors of this event:


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Russia: Preventing Peace on Its Periphery

A discussion and book signing featuring:

Dr. James J. Coyle

Russia has a long history of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, especially those on its periphery. Upon examination of Russia’s foreign affairs, a pattern emerges: Russia encourages separatist movements, often arming or fighting on their behalf. By continuing to perpetuate conflict in regions such as Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, Russia has exerted its influence over regional diplomatic processes, asserting its dominance in their internal affairs, strengthening its own presence and power. Drawing on international law and nationalism, Professor James J. Coyle will examine why Russia seeks to prevent the resolution of conflict in these divided regions.

About our Speaker 

Dr. James J. Coyle is director of global education at Chapman University and a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council. Prior to joining Chapman University in 2004, Dr. Coyle was a foreign service officer for 24 years, with postings in Pakistan, Germany and Turkey. He was a special adviser to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and was director of Middle East Studies at the US Army War College. Dr. Coyle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a Master’s degree in public administration from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in political science from George Washington University.

Dr. Coyle will be signing his new book, Russia’s Border Wars and Frozen Conflictswhich examines the origins and execution of Russian military and political activities in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

6:00 p.m-6:30 p.m. Registration & Reception

6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Presentation and Q&A

8:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Book signing


National University, Sanford Center Auditorium

11355 N. Torrey Pines Road

La Jolla, CA 92037

Stay tuned for registration information.



The complicated world we live in is illuminated a bit more every week at the North County Chapter’s Thursday Morning Forum in Rancho Bernardo.  Unless otherwise indicated, the Thursday Morning Forum begins with a coffee social and registration at 9:30 a.m., followed at 10 a.m. with a one-hour program and one hour of polite, but freewheeling, Q&A.

Thursday Morning Forums are held at The Remington Club, Phase II, 16916 Hierba Drive, Rancho Bernardo.  Free parking is available at the adjacent shopping. 

October 19, 2017

Hisham Foad, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics at San Diego State University, will discuss, “The Cultural, Economic and Political Influence of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.”  Dr. Foad’s research focuses on the interactions between the movements of capital, goods, and people across national borders.  Current research projects include an examination of the impact of migration on trade and the effects of living in an ethnic enclave on a migrant's income and education.

Dr. Foad earned his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and his master’s degree and Ph.D., both in economics, from Emory University.  NCC members who wish to attend a round table luncheon after the presentation should contact Farouk Al-Nasser at farouk1@cox.net.

October 26, 2017

Rafael Fernández de Castro, Ph.D., professor and Director at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the School of Global Policy & Strategy at the University of California, San Diego, will discuss "Mexico’s Strategy Towards the United States."  Dr. Fernández de Castro will take a historical look at Mexico's relations with the United States and examine the motives of Mexicans attempting to immigrate to this country, the effects of NAFTA and maquiladoras, and Mexico´s new strategy toward its northern neighbor.

A former foreign policy adviser to President Felipe Calderón, Dr. Fernández de Castro is an expert on bilateral relations between Mexico and the U.S.  NCC members who wish to attend a round table luncheon after the presentation should contact Phyllis Murchland at pmurchland@san.rr.com.



SDSU Hostler Institute Fall 2017 Lecture 


Join San Diego State University's Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs for its Fall 2017 Lecture featuring distinguished Indian diplomat Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, currently serving as Consul General of India in San Francisco. Wednesday, November 8, 2017, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Behner-Stiefel Auditorium. More information here.

Global Competitiveness Workshop at USD

University of San Diego's prestigious Ahlers Center for International Business invites SDWAC members and friends to participate in the Center's Fall 2017 Global Competitiveness Series Workshop on Friday, October 27, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to noon. USD Professors Linda Barkacs and Craig Barkacs, who are partners in their own law firm, will share negotiation concepts for the global business environment, explain how to analyze situations and develop integrative solutions, and help you create a set of negotiation tools that work for you. Cost is $350. Please register here.

SDSU Cuba Trip

Join San Diego State University alumni and friends for an exciting trip to  Cuba, March 9-16, 2018. This excursion through a country mostly off limits to Americans for more than half a century will make stops in lively Havana, charming Santa Clara, and the wonderfully preserved towns of Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Sancti Spiritus.

This trip is limited to just 25 travelers. The tour operator is Go-Next, Inc., which is conducting tours to Cuba this year for more than 40 universities. Payment deadline is November 17, 2017. More information: Cuba Trip 2018 Flyer and Brochure

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Iran Deal or No Iran Deal?; Turkey Distances Itself from the West; Bangladesh: The Newest Refugee Crisis; Catalonia's Unlikely Independence; The Global Espionage Game

Quote of the Week:

"[President Trump] doesn't realize that we could be on the road towards World War III with the kind of comments that he's making."

-- Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), 
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a Monday interview with The New York Times


Iran Deal or No Iran Deal?

 "To Certify or Not to Certify? That's Not the Question" Suzanne Maloney -- Brookings, October 10, 2017 

"Why Trump Needs the Iran Deal" Daniel L. Davis -- The National Interest, October 6, 2017

"Iran: Trump's Gift to the Hard-Liners" Trita Parsi -- The New York Review of Books, October 10, 2017

"President Trump's Failing Leadership on Iran" Danielle Pletka -- The New York Times, October 6, 2017

"Unforced Error: The Risks of Confrontation with Iran" Emma Ashford and John Glaser -- CATO Institute, October 9, 2017  


Turkey Distances Itself from West

"U.S.-Turkey Tensions Boil Over After Arrest of Consulate Employee" Karen DeYoung and Kareem Fahim -- the Washington Post, October 9, 2017

"Turkey and the U.S. Enter the Most Important Crisis in Recent History" Soner Cagaptay -- The Cipher Brief, October 10, 2017

"Erdogan in the Balkans: A Neo-Ottoman Quest?" Dimitar Bechev -- Al Jazeera, October 11, 2017

"How to Reset Turkey-European Relations" Ibrahim Kalin -- European Council on Foreign Relations, October 4, 2017


Bangladesh: The Newest Refugee Crisis

"Bangladeshi Hospital's 'Rohingya Wing' Overwhelmed as Refugees Keep Coming" Stefanie Glinski -- Thomson Reuters Foundation, October 11, 2017

"Repatriating 'Verified' Rohingya - Don't Hold Your Breath" Alyssa Ayres -- CFR, October 4, 2017


Catalonia's Unlikely Independence

 "The Silence of the Damned: Catalonia's Separation from Spain" Heather A. Conley -- CSIS, October 10, 2017

"In Catalonia, a Declaration of Independence from Spain (Sort of)" Raphael Minder and Patrick Kingsley -- The New York Times, October 10, 2017

"It's Highly Unlikely that Catalonia Will Become Independent in the Near Future" Lianna Brinded -- Quartz, October 11, 2017


The Global Espionage Game

 "How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets" Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane -- The New York Times, October 10, 2017

"U.S.-China Spy Games Flare" Ali Watkins -- Politico, October 11, 2017

Office: (619) 325-8200

Address: 113 Street, West G Street #601 San Diego, CA 92101 

Email: sdwac@sdwac.org




Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council

113 West G Street #601

San Diego, CA 92101

Office: (619) 325-8200



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