September 7, 2017

September 7, 2017

A Message From the President of SDWAC

Dear SDWAC Members and Friends,

Coming off an interesting month for the Council, which featured two outstanding military speakers – Marine Corps Col. Chris Richie on “Life as a Military Officer in the Middle East” and retired Vice Adm. Robert Thomas on “U.S. Alliances in the Indo-Pacific: A Practitioner’s Perspective” -- it occurred to me that there are times when the primacy of security issues simply cannot be avoided.

On August 17, your scribe/president was on a cultural/historical tour of Spain, en route to Granada after stops in Madrid and Seville, when word arrived of a horrific terrorist attack in the city that was to be our next stop – Barcelona. With help from my traveling companion’s Catalonian relatives, who live in rural and coastal areas north of Barcelona, we were quickly able to switch gears and concentrate instead on the delightful sights and tastes of some of the region’s less-visited destinations.

Even then, however, harsh reality intruded as the police were carefully checking cars on roads throughout the Catalonian countryside, looking for the driver of the van who had killed 12 and injured many more. It eventually came to light that the terrorist plot was hatched in what had been thought to be a sleepy provincial town, with possible assistance from the same Morocco-based network that had been responsible for atrocities in Belgium and France. It was a stark reminder of the interconnectivity of our world and of the importance of understanding the nature of threats that confront us and the capabilities of our country and its friends and allies to deal with them.

Adm. Thomas, who retired after 38 years in the Navy only last January and was commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet until 2015, was particularly insightful on the current crisis with North Korea. Clearly there are no easy military solutions to the threat represented by Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. At the same time, wishing the problem away or hoping that China will solve the problem by applying draconian sanctions on North Korea that would go against its own national interests are not a solution, either.  As the situation develops, we at SDWAC will continue to focus on this critical issue, as well as on other key political and economic challenges facing our country.

This October promises to be an especially dynamic month for the Council in that regard. On October 6, SDWAC will partner with the San Diego Chapter of the American Council on Germany to present the German Ambassador to the United States, Thomas Matussek, who will speak on Germany after its September 24 federal election. This will be a timely moment to hear a senior German diplomat – the first SDWAC has hosted in years – outline the prospects for this key ally and de facto leader of the EU, at a time when relations at the highest level between our two countries have been somewhat strained. (Note: Please be aware that there will be an admission charge, yet to be determined, for all attendees, SDWAC members included.)

On October 12 our attention will shift to a country with which, arguably, relations have hit a post-Cold War low – Russia.  UCSD Professor Philip G. Roeder, an expert on post-Soviet Russia, will discuss the effect of sanctions that have been imposed on that country, both on Putin’s Russia and on U.S.-Russian relations.   

And on October 19, we are already very much looking forward to a panel on NAFTA with Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego), Acting Canadian Consul General Gavin Nardocchio-Jones and Mexican Consul General Marcela Celorio. This will be a high-profile event and we will announce the details, including venue, in the coming days.

Finally, let me draw your attention to our next speaker, South Sudanese documentary filmmaker Alex Taban, on September 22.  He will discuss the conflict that has gripped his country since 2013 and shed light on the factors that led to the collapse of hopes that South Sudan, after a little more than two years of independence, would emerge from the decades-long Sudanese civil war into a new era of peace and prosperity. The story of South Sudan is fascinating if often tragic, and hopefully Mr. Taban can outline ways forward toward a resolution of the conflict and the return home of more than 2.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons.


San Diego World Affairs Council Presents

“South Sudan: Crisis and Conflict in the World’s Newest Country”


 Alex Taban




The Republic of South Sudan achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011 following more than 30 years of civil war. After a brief period of peace and prosperity, South Sudan slipped back into war in 2013. Since that time, 1.7 million South Sudanese have become internally displaced and more than 900,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries. South Sudanese documentary filmmaker Alex Taban will discuss the country’s struggle for freedom, the promise of independence and the ongoing challenges of governance.

About our Speaker

Alex Taban Kenyi Tete Kajokeji is founder of South Sudan Film Ltd., which has produced  documentary films for major international organizations – among them USAID, the World Health Organization and the European Union -- in support of outreach efforts to audiences in South Sudan. A veteran of the South Sudan TV and radio industries, he was born in Juba, today the capital of South Sudan, and grew up in Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, during the civil war.

Mr. Taban holds a certificate in TV production from the Uganda Film & Television Institute and a diploma in computer science and information technology from the Microchip Institute of Computer Science and Technology in Kampala, Uganda.


Friday, September 22, 2017

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

6:30-7:30 p.m. Presentation

7:30-8:00 p.m. Q&A


AMN Healthcare

12400 High Bluff Drive

San Diego, CA 92130



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.

September 7, 2017

Agent Joshua Wilson, Vice President of Local 1613 (San Diego) of the National Border Patrol Council, will present, “The Reality of Protecting the Border: Where Are We Today?” Wilson will discuss the challenges of protecting a 2,000-mile southern border that is legally crossed by 1 million people a day and traverses terrain as varied as major urban areas and uninhabitable deserts.

Local 1613 of the National Border Patrol Council represents agents and support personnel assigned to Border Patrol stations throughout the San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol.

NCC members who wish to attend a round table luncheon following the presentation should contact Tom Reeve at

September 14, 2017

Mireille Cronin Mather, Regional Director of U.S. Programs for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), will discuss the IRC’s work helping people whose lives are shattered by conflict and disaster. Mather will look at who the international humanitarian organization helps, their countries of origin, the overseas camps in which refugees are sheltered, the resettlement process in the United States, and services offered to newly arrived refugees here in San Diego.

The IRC in San Diego opened in 1975 in response to the arrival of Vietnamese refugees resettling to this area, and has since grown to serve approximately 1,000 new arrivals from countries around the world each year. 

NCC members who wish to attend a round table luncheon after the presentation should contact Farouk Al-Nasser at

September 21, 2017

SDWAC member George Novinger, former Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy in Damascus until shortly before the conflict began in Syria, will discuss, "Current Trends and Background of the Syrian Conflict." Novinger will delve into the complex political, social, economic and religious problems that led to Syria's descent, and its current situation and prospects for the future.

Prior to serving in Syria, Novinger was posted to Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Brunei and Paraguay. His final posting was in Los Angeles as Regional Director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions for the Western States.

In addition to SDWAC, Novinger is active in a number of civic and community organizations, among them the San Diego International Affairs Board, the House of Pacific Relations and the Jamul Dulzura Community Planning Group.

September 28, 2017

Mike Williams, Associate Professor in the University of San Diego Department of Political Science, will speak on “The State of South Africa’s Democracy in 2017.” Dr. Williams, who has conducted research in South Africa for nearly 20 years, will discuss and analyze broad factors that influence political decisions in the country 23 years after the end of apartheid, and efforts in rural South Africa to enhance democracy.

A USD graduate, Dr. Williams earned a law degree from American University Washington College of Law. His Ph.D., in political science, is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

NCC members who wish to attend a round table luncheon after the presentation should contact Phyllis Murchland at

Join SDSU's College of Arts and Letters for a Trip to Cuba!

Join an exciting SDSU opportunity -- an exclusive excursion to Cuba, March 9-16, 2018.  As it is a country on the cusp of significant historical change, many people are eager to travel to Cuba, and this could be your chance for an eye-opening adventure, specially designed to cast a spotlight on the fascinating past, present, and future of a Caribbean nation-off-limits to most Americans for over half a century. 

This intimate, small-group journey for SDSU alumni and friends features interludes 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. We are working with Go-Next, Inc., a well-respected and experienced tour operator, which is conducting tours to Cuba this year for over 40 universities. Please see the flyer and brochure for more information.

Cuba Trip 2018 Flyer and Brochure

Payment for the tour must be made by November 17, 2017.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Was It Only a DREAM?; North Korea Ups the Ante; Myanmar's Abuse of Rohingya Muslims; No Quotas for the EU; VOID: Kenya's Election Results; Any Hope for Venezuela?

Quote of the Week:

"It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it."

-- Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, in a Facebook post about President Trump's decision to roll back DACA Tuesday.

Was It Only a DREAM?


"President Trump Winds Down DACA" -- The Economist, September 6, 2017 

"Trump Has Decided to End DACA, with Six-Month Delay" Eliana Johnson -- Politico, September 3, 2017

"Whose Citizenship Does the Constitution Protect?" Andre M. Perry -- Brookings, September 5, 2017

"Ending DACA Will Impose Billions in Employer Compliance Costs" David Bier -- CATO Institute, September 1, 2017

"A DACA Deal Should Include Real Enforcement" Editorial Board -- National Review, September 5, 2017


North Korea Ups the Ante


"Welcome to the Thermonuclear Club, North Korea!" Jeffrey Lewis -- Foreign Policy, September 4, 2017

"North Korea's Nuclear Defiance of Trump's 'Fire and Fury'" Scott Snyder -- Forbes, September 3, 2017

"How Not to Threaten North Korea" Amy Zegart -- The Atlantic, September 3, 2017

"The North Korea Crisis Proves Why Japan and South Korea Need Nuclear Weapons" Ted Galen Carpenter -- The National Interest, September 5, 2017

"Destabilizing Northeast Asia: The Real Impact of North Korea's Nuclear and Missile Programs" Anthony H. Cordesman -- CSIS, September 5, 2017


Myanmar's Abuse of Rohingya Muslims


"Rohingya Crisis: Suu Kyi Says 'Fake News Helping Terrorists'" -- BBC, September 6, 2017

"The Shameful Silence of Ayung San Suu Kiy" Ishaan Tharoor -- The Washington Post, September 6, 2017

"Watching Burma in Flames from Bangladesh" Tejshree Thapa -- Human Rights Watch, September 4, 2017

No Quotas for the EU


"Hungary and Slovakia Lose Fight Over EU Migrant Quotas" James Kanter -- The New York Times, September 6, 2017

"Refugee Crisis: European Court of Justice Rejects Quota Challenge" -- Deutsche Welle, September 6, 2017 

"Europe's Flawed Thinking on Mediterranean Migration" -- Chatham House, September 5, 2017


VOID: Kenya's Election Results

"'Kenyan Supreme Court Annuls Uhuru Kenyatta Election Victory" Jason Burke -- The Guardian, September 1, 2017

"Foreign Election Observers Endorsed a Deeply Flawed Election in Kenya. Now They Face Questions" Lily Kuo and Abdi Latif Dahir -- Quartz, September 6, 2017

"Can Kenya Pull Off a Second Election Within 60 Days?" Nanjira Sambuli -- Al Jazeera, September 5, 2017

 Any Hope for Venezuela?


"Venezuelan Opposition Pins Hopes on Elections as Protests Falter" Brian Ellsworth -- Reuters, September 5, 2017

"Venezuela's Crackdown on Democracy Pits Brother Against Brother" John Otis -- NPR, September 5, 2017 [Podcast]

Office: (619) 325-82000

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





Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council

113 West G Street #601

San Diego, CA 92101

Office: (619) 325-8200


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