September 24, 2017

September 24, 2017

A Message From the President of SDWAC

Dear SDWAC Members and Friends,

Coming off a well-attended September 22 event with the entertaining South Sudanese documentary filmmaker Alex Taban, the Council looks forward to its fall calendar. I am pleased to announce the availability of a limited number of tickets for a special luncheon on October 6 featuring a distinguished former German diplomat, Ambassador Matussek, at the University Club atop Symphony Towers in downtown San Diego.  Details follow in the announcement below.

SDWAC members will get a rare opportunity to hear from a senior German foreign policymaker with vast experience covering such matters as German reunification, EU expansion and the international response to Iran’s nuclear program.  He will discuss political trends in contemporary Europe as reflected in recent elections, including this month’s triumph by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the unexpected victory of the pro-business newcomer Emmanuel Macron as French President. Ambassador Matussek will also examine the persistent appeal of anti-EU nationalist parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has emerged from the German election as the most successful right-wing party in Germany in the post-World War II era and is poised to become the third-largest party in the Bundestag.

We continue to develop the planned October 19 panel on NAFTA, which could hardly be more timely now that the three governments are beginning the third round of (re) negotiations, and getting down to core issues such as rules of origin for goods imported into the North American free trade area. We are looking forward to the participation of the Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, Marcela Celorio – who was recently promoted by President Enrique Peña Nieto to the personal rank of Ambassador – and the Deputy Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles, career diplomat Gavin Nardocchio-Jones. Other panelists and the venue will be announced soon.

SDWAC’s North County Chapter has a full schedule of Thursday morning talks. All are worth attending but I would like to flag one – an appearance by our recently elected SDWAC Board member Ambassador Leslie Bassett. Like retired Vice Admiral Robert Thomas, who so impressed our membership last month with his penetrating analysis of the challenges facing the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, Leslie retired from U.S. Government service as recently as January 2017. The deep and wide-ranging knowledge she gained as a senior diplomat at large and important posts such as Seoul, Manila and Mexico City is up-to-date and relevant. On October 12 she will discuss the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, which as we all know has reached a crisis point following recent nuclear and missile tests by North Korea.

Finally, a note of thanks to our new cadre of volunteers, as well as longtime SDWAC volunteer staff and Board members who did such an excellent job of preparing for the well-attended session last Friday night with Alex Taban. In addition, I believe our enhanced use of social media, thanks to the efforts of a team spearheaded by Ambassador Bassett and Andrea Gomes, is partly responsible for the robust attendance we have been enjoying for recent evening events. After last Friday, some members think the Council ought to consider doing more events on Friday night.  What do you think?  Feedback is welcome; email

-- John Schlosser



The San Diego Eric M. Warburg Chapter of the American Council on Germany, the San Diego World Affairs Council, and the German American Business Association of Southern California

cordially invite you to a

Discussion and Luncheon


Ambassador Thomas Matussek

Former Senior German Diplomat

 and Senior Advisor at Flint Global in Berlin

Speaking on:

“Three Elections and a Brexit: The Unraveling of Europe?”

For Europeans, the historical promises of European integration, peace, prosperity, and a powerful voice in a globalized world may have lost some of their appeal. War to the east, economic and social meltdown in the south, millions of refugees, and xenophobia and nationalism led to Brexit, Le Pen, and the Alternative for Germany (AfD). But have elections in the Netherlands, France, and Germany been turning the tide? Is Europe finding its way back to the idealistic visions of its founding fathers?

A former German Ambassador to the United Nations, the United Kingdom and India, Ambassador Matussek also served as Director General of the German Foreign Ministry. He was Special Assistant for Europe to Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and, as a senior staff member for Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, was deeply involved in negotiations on German unification. As Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, he negotiated the first four UN resolutions that would become the foundation for the 3+3 Iranian nuclear deal. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Noon-2 p.m. 

University Club atop Symphony Towers

750 B Street, Suite 3400

San Diego, CA 92101

Cost for the discussion and luncheon is $45 per person.

 Please purchase tickets here by October 5.

Seating is limited. 


October 19, 2017 

Join SDWAC for an exciting panel discussion on the fate of NAFTA, the substance of ongoing negotiations, and possible implications for the United States, Mexico and Canada, in a panel discussion with Ambassador Marcela Celorio, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, Gavin Nardocchio-Jones, Acting Consul General of Canada, and other experts. Details to come.


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 5, 2017

North County Chapter member Bulent Yoldas, Ph.D., will present “Income Inequality and Its Global Effects.” In a recent international survey, when people were asked what they see as the greatest threat facing the world today, the most common answer was “economic inequality,” ahead of nuclear war, pollution and disease. Dr. Yoldas will explore the underlying causes of income inequality, its moral and economic components, its effect on the stability of societies, and the search for remedies. Dr. Yoldas holds degrees in material science and engineering.

October 12, 2017

SDWAC member and retired Ambassador Leslie Bassett, a Korean Peninsula expert, will discuss “North Korea: What’s Next.” Bassett served as Deputy Ambassador/Charge d'Affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul from 2012 to 2014, in the early years of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s rule. In what promises to be a lively discussion, Bassett will explore the unique nature of the North Korean mafia/ruling cult, its absolute red lines, and the interests of regional players. Bassett will then look at options -- both far-fetched and well-worn -- for a way forward that protects U.S. and allied interests.

Following her assignment in Seoul, Bassett served as Ambassador to Paraguay. She also was Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassies in Mexico City, Manila, Philippines, and Gaborone, Botswana. Her many other Foreign Service assignments included postings in Colombia, Israel, South Africa, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Bassett is a distinguished graduate of the National War College and holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis. 

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’sresearch 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

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


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 that has been 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 20, 2017

President Trump Introduces "America First" to the UN; A Sovereign Kurdistan?; And Independence for Catalonia?; Germany to head to the Polls; Russia Plays War

Quote of the Week:

"The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime." 

-- President Donald Trump, in a Tuesday speech at the UN General Assembly.

President Trump Introduces "America First" to the UN


"Why Trump Has Made 'Sovereignty and Accountability' the Focus of UN Reform" Stewart M. Patrick -- CFR, September 15, 2017 

"Trump at the UN" Editorial Board -- National Review, September 19, 2017

"Donald Trump's War Doctrine Debuts at the UN" Robin Wright -- The New Yorker, September 19, 2017

"The Fatal Flaw in Trump's UN Speech Could Be Disastrous for American Power" Kori Schake -- Foreign Policy, September 19, 2017

"President Trump's UN Speech Is Exactly What Kim Jong-Un Wanted to Hear" Charlie Campbell -- Time, September 20, 2017

A Soveriegn Kurdistan?

"A Kurdish Referendum on Independence Risks Backfiring" -- The Economist, September 15, 2017

"What Is at Stake in Iraqi Kurdish Vote for Independence?" Michael Knights -- BBC, September 18, 2017

"The Genie of Kurdish Independence Will Be Hard to Put Back in the Bottle" Faisal Al Yafai -- The National, September 19, 2017

A New State in the Middle East? From the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to the Republic of Kurdistan" Gareth Stansfield -- Royal United Services Institute, September 19, 2017

And Independence for Catalonia?


"A Referendum in Catalonia? Yes, but Not Like This" Inigo Dominguez -- El Pais, September 19, 2017

"Catalan Separatists Are on a Path to Failure" Leonid Bershidsky -- Bloomberg, September 20, 2017

"Catalan Independence's Agitator-in-Chief" Diego Torres -- Politico, September 20, 2017

Germany to Head to the Polls


"Looking Ahead to the German Elections" GMF Experts -- German Marshall Fund, September 13, 2017

"Don't Call the German Election Boring - It Could Be a Huge Shift for the Eurozone" Sara Sjolin -- MarketWatch, September 20, 2017

"The Whole World Needs Angela Merkel" Kiran Nagarkar -- Deutsche Welle, September 20, 2017

Russia Plays War


"Russia Unveils Massive Military Force: 'The Enemy Has No Chance'" David Axe -- The Daily Beast, September 15, 2017

"Do Russia's Western War Games Deliver a Threat, or Just a Message?" Jason Thomson -- The Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 2017

"What Can We Learn from Russia's Military Drills?" Larisa Epatko -- PBS Newshour, September 14, 2017

Office: (619) 325-8200

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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