April 7, 2018

A Message From the President of SDWAC

Dear SDWAC Colleagues and Friends:

The Council is coming off one of our most successful events in recent years.  More than 100 people bought tickets for our April 3 event featuring Alan Bersin, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Commissioner of Customs and Border Security, U.S. Attorney, and “Border Czar.”  Mr. Bersin was a knowledgeable, dynamic, and engaging speaker who was able to place current migration and border issues within historical and economic contexts.  In his view, north-south and south-north flows of goods, ideas, and people in North America are far more important these days than “La LĂ­nea,” as our Mexican neighbors refer to the U.S.-Mexico border.  He also pointed out that interceptions of undocumented migrants last year were at lows not witnessed in decades, and that most such migrants at present are Central Americans, not Mexicans.  At the same time, Mr. Bersin acknowledged the importance of robust enforcement, adequate funding for Customs and Border Protection personnel, and claimed his own share of credit for the fencing erected in the 1990s that ended a “Wild West” era along the San Diego-Tijuana border.  All told, it was a thought-provoking and memorable evening.

Special thanks go out to our Board members and volunteers whose strong contributions ensured the success of this event.  I would point in particular to Ann Randolph, a Director who tirelessly promoted the event and has brought a number of new members to SDWAC; and to Lilian Liu, whose running of the registration desk and tracking of attendance is always impeccable and was especially helpful on this occasion.  Thanks also to past president David Edick for his characteristically skillful work as moderator of the question-and-answer session.

SDWAC also hosted an important educational event, Academic World Quest, on March 17 at Maher Hall on the campus of our institutional member, the University of San Diego.  Teams from Canyon Crest Academy and El Capitan High School participated in an intense, 100-question competition based on materials about international issues provided in advance by the World Affairs Councils of America.  For the second straight year, a team from Canyon Crest won; thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, SDWAC awarded the team $1,000 to help with their travel to Washington, D.C., this month to take part in a national competition.  Congratulations to the Canyon Crest students and thanks to AWQ organizers Mary McKenzie and Joe Eldred and quizmaster David Edick.

Last but hardly least, I want to encourage everyone reading this to attend, and to encourage their friends and acquaintances to attend, ourApril 27 Annual Dinner with Ambassador Ryan Crocker at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley (link to registration in announcement below). Ambassador Crocker, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom who was envoy to six Middle Eastern and South Asian countries, has played a crucial role in U.S. foreign policy over the past thirty years. In late 2002, as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, he authored a critical memorandum to the Bush White House cautioning as to the possible consequences of an invasion of Iraq.  In 2007, after calamitous developments in that country, President Bush asked him to become Ambassador to Baghdad, where he, along with General David Petraeus, was largely responsible for stabilizing the situation.  Gen. Petraeus later said of Crocker, “It was a great honor to be his military wingman.” 

From 2004-2007, during a tense time in U.S.relations with Pakistan, Crocker was Ambassador in Islamabad.  In 2011, following Crocker's retirement from the Foreign Service, President Obama asked him to return to government as Ambassador to Afghanistan.  Ryan Crocker is a frequent commentator on CNN, PBS, and other national media outlets and is a figure of national importance.  We are very fortunate that he has agreed to address SDWAC and hope that the San Diego community will respond to this outstanding opportunity by robustly supporting the event.

-- John Schlosser


2018 Annual Fundraising Dinner


Keynote Speaker

Ambassador Ryan Crocker
 Six-time Ambassador to the Middle East and South Asia

Currently Diplomat-in-Residence, Woodrow Wilson School,

Princeton University


"Middle East Meltdown: Causes and Consequences"

The modern Middle East is 100 years old. Those lines on the map were drawn by the French and the British, and ratified by the 1919 Versailles treaty.

What we are seeing now is unprecedented. The region has always been the scene of coups and revolutions. This is different -- we are seeing complete state failure in Libya, in Yemen, and most horrifically in Syria. What has led to this? Where will it go? Why is it important? What can we do about it? These are profound questions for America’s national security and place in the world.

About Our Speaker:

Ambassador Ryan Crocker is Diplomat-in-Residence at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School.  

He served in the Foreign Service for 37 years and, after retiring, was recalled to active duty by President Obama in 2011 to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. He has served as U.S. Ambassador six times: Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007-2009), Pakistan (2004-2007), Syria (1998-2001), Kuwait (1994-1997), and Lebanon (1990-1993). Since joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he also has had assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq and Egypt, as well as Washington, D.C.

Ambassador Crocker has received many of the nation’s highest honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the State Department Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the State Department Distinguished Honor Award, The Award for Valor, three Superior Honor Awards, and the American Foreign Service Association’s Rivkin Award. When he stepped down as Ambassador in Kabul in 2012, Crocker was named an Honorary Marine by the United States Marine Corps.

Friday, April 27, 2018

6:00-7:00 PM Registration & Reception

7:00 PM Dinner and Announcements

7:45-8:30 PM Keynote

8:30-9:00 PM Q&A


San Diego Marriott Mission Valley
8757 Rio San Diego Drive

San Diego, CA 92108


Registration and Parking Fees:

Tickets are $80 per person. 

Valet service or $5 self-park on site available.

Many thanks to our co-sponsor for this event:


Ambassador Steven Pifer 

A retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Pifer is one of this country's outstanding experts on Russia and Ukraine.  He will address the current situation in both countries, including President Putin's latest moves, the latest rounds of sanctions on Russia, the Russian occupation of Crimea and the "frozen conflict" in Eastern Ukraine, and Ukraine's struggles to establish a sustainable democracy and reduce corruption.

Pifer served as Ambassador to Ukraine (1998-2000) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs with

responsibilities for Russia and Ukraine (2001-2004).  He was Special Assistant to the president and Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia on the National Security Council (1996-1997).  His 25-year-plus State Department career and subsequent activities have focused on relations with the former Soviet Union and Europe as well as arms control and security issues.


He is currently Non-resident Senior Fellow with the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative and the Center on the United States and Europe,

Brookings Institution.

May 23, 2018 

Sanford Auditorium 

National University

11355 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla

Registration/reception 6:00-6:30 PM 

Presentation and question & answer period 6:30-8:00 PM


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 typically held at The Remington Club, Phase II, 16916 Hierba Drive, Rancho Bernardo. Free parking is available at the adjacent shopping area. 

Programs for April 2018

April 5:  Dr. Alexander DeVolpi (Ph.D.) will discuss “Cold War Brinkmanship and Legacies: Evolving Roles of Nuclear Technology.” Dr. DeVolpi's presentation was derived from his latest book, “Cold War Brinkmanship: Nuclear Arms, Civil Rights, Government Secrecy” (Amazon, 2017).  His talk will focus on his Navy experience, reactor history, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, reactor safety, the Cuban missile crisis, arms control, collapse of the Soviet Union, demilitarization, and the current administration's nuclear challenges.  Dr. DeVolpi is a nuclear physicist and a retired Lieutenant Commander (U.S. Navy Reserve). He has authored nine books.

April 12:  NCC Member Bill Thayer will provide “A Comparison of the Icelandic and Greek Economic Crashes.”  In 2008, the economy of Iceland imploded.  In 2010, Greece suffered a similar fate.  Both countries got in trouble because of borrowing.  For Iceland, it was the private sector.  For Greece, it was the public sector.  But the subsequent paths of Iceland and Greece were very different.  Iceland, not a member of the Eurozone, received essentially no help.  Greece received three different bailouts from the Eurozone.  Which country is in better shape today?  It is Iceland by a mile.  Why?  Well, that is what the talk will explain.  Mr. Thayer has an MBA and spent 10 years in real estate and finance after spending 30 years in aerospace engineering.   This will be a continuous meeting until 11:30.  After a short break, SDWAC President John Schlosser and Vice President Lulu Hsu will provide an overview of SDWAC and its structure. The two also will discuss how the Council has experienced significant change and growth in the last few years, putting it in a better position to increase its impact and expand its reach in engaging and educating San Diegans on world affairs, global economic/trade issues and cultural matters. They will offer a glimpse into the strategic thinking of SDWAC and a preview of what lies ahead for the organization.

April 19:  NCC member Cyrus Bharucha will discuss “India Minorities and the Modi Government.” The Modi government in India is widely perceived as promoting a caste Hindu agenda at the expense of India’s minorities.  This affects the positions of Muslims, Christians, and Parsis as well as Dalits (Untouchables), and other Backward Castes and Tribal religious groups in varying ways. Mr. Bharucha, a Parsi, will address this question in the context of a modernizing and economically expanding India.  He has worked in media organizations in India, Britain, and the U.S. including BBC, CNN, and PBS.  He has also taught media production and analysis in India.  He has produced a widely acclaimed documentary on the history of the Parsis.

April 26:  SDWAC President John Schlosser will present "Highlights of a State Department Political Officer's Career." Schlosser served as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State from 1983 to 2007. He will discuss some of the substantive issues he grappled with as a political officer during his career. Touching briefly on issues that arose in The Netherlands and the former Dutch colony of Suriname early in his career, his remarks will focus on: changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba in the mid-1990s; Poland's accession to NATO in the late '90s; aspects of U.S. policy toward the nonproliferation of WMD in the early 2000s; and U.S. policy toward India and Pakistan in the mid-2000s. Although there is no single overarching theme uniting the presentation, the common thread will be the importance of diplomacy in shaping American foreign and national security policy. 



Registration is open for Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies’Summer 2018 Trans-Border Opportunities Certificate Program, a six-week immersion in cross-border politics and culture.  The idea of the course is to provide working professionals with the tools and experience to better engage with the border, to help them see the border as a vibrant and dynamic space, an opportunity, rather than a crisis or a call to arms in an overheated political environment. Students last year included lawyers, social workers, engineers, teachers, legislative staffers, a Coast Guard officer, and a seasoned diplomat.  

There is a $100 discount for registering by May 1, and SDWAC members are eligible for the 25% non-profit discount.

For more information, or to enroll, please visit the program’s web-site:https://www.sandiego.edu/peace/programs/border-certificate/

Additionally, the Worldview Project will be hosting its Harmony in Action Cross-Cultural Non-Profits Fair 2018 on Saturday May 26, 2018, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Balboa Park’s Beautiful Patio “B” (next to the Casa del Prado Building on Village Place). This annual event brings together a large number of internationally focused non-profits that operate in the San Diego area. It is an excellent opportunity to meet the staffs of these organizations, and find out about their organization’s missions and how they put those missions into action. SDWAC intends to participate, so consider enjoying a spring Saturday in the park and stopping by our booth to show support.


April 4, 2018

Weekly World News Update

U.S. Role in Syria; U.S.-China Trade War; Saudi Arabia Warms to Israel; U.S.-Russia Relations; Iran Nuclear Deal; Ethiopia's New PM

Quote of the Week

"If we withdrew our troops anytime soon, ISIS would come back, the war between Turkey and the Kurds would get out of hand, and you'd be giving Damascus to the Iranians without an American presence, and Russia and Iran would dominate Syria. It'd be the single worst decision the president could make."

-- Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

Will the U.S. Pull Out of Syria?

"Why Leaving Syria Early Would Be a Disaster" Matthew Brodsky -- National Review, April 4, 2018


"As Trump Talks About Leaving Syria, His Top Commander in the Middle East Emphasizes the Need to Stay" Karen DeYoung and Missy Ryan -- The Washington Post, April 4, 2018


"Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani To Discuss Syrian Crisis in Ankara" Umut Uras -- Al Jazeera, April 4, 2018

U.S. and China Go Tit for Tat on Trade

"When America Stands Up to China" Xie Tao -- The Diplomat, April 2, 2018


"The U.S. Wrote the Rules for Global Trade. Now China Is Using Them Against Trump" David Lynch -- The Washington Post, April 2, 2018


"China Cares a Whole Lot About Pigs in Iowa" Mara Hvistendahl -- The Atlantic, April 3, 2018


"Was Letting China Into the WTO a Mistake?" Philip Levy -- Foreign Affairs, April 2, 2018

Saudi Arabia Cozies to Israel

"An Emerging Arab-Israeli Thaw" James Robbins -- The National Interest, April 3, 2018


"Saudi Crown Prince: Israel Has a Right to Exist" Eric Levitz -- New York Magazine, April 3, 2018


"Does the Saudi Crown Prince's Rosy Rhetoric Indicate Real Change?" Zvi Bar'el -- Haaretz, April 4, 2018

Examining Western-Russian Relations

"When Diplomats and Spies Must Go" Daniel Fried -- Foreign Affairs, April 3, 2018


"Russia Short on Foreign Policy Options if Bet on Trump Fails" Andrew Osborn -- Reuters, April 4, 2018


"Russia's Digital Warfare Has Put Western Democracies in the Crosshairs" Lisa Shymko -- Maclean's, April 2, 2018

Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

"The Deal that Curtails Iran's Nuclear Ambitions Seems Doomed" Editorial Board -- The Economist, March 28, 2018


"Trump's New National Security Team Likely Spells Disaster for the Iran Nuclear Deal" Suzanne Maloney -- Brookings Institution, April 2, 2018


"The Bolton Threat to the Iran Nuclear Deal" Ariane Tabatabai -- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 29, 2018

Is Ethiopia Turning a New Page?

"Can Abiy Ahmed Save Ethiopia?" Nizar Manek -- Foreign Policy, April 4, 2018


Mailing Address

San Diego World Affairs Council

113 West G Street #601

San Diego, CA 92101

Office: (619) 325-8200



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