The Santa Fe World Affairs Forum aims to broaden and deepen understanding of world affairs through small, interactive, professionally led sessions on international issues for a membership of informed individuals.

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The Committee That Runs the World: The National Security Council Then and Now

November 18, 2020

 

Ambassador Will Itoh (rtd)

 

Welcome back! You are invited to join our Wednesday November 18 Webinar: The Committee That Runs the World: The National Security Council Then and Now with Ambassador Will Itoh (rtd) who served as Executive Secretary of the National Security Council at the White House from 1993-95. Created by the National Security Act of 1947, the National Security Council (NSC) advises the President of the United States on matters relating to defense and foreign policy. The NSC has expanded considerably over recent years, often going beyond its policy coordination role in supporting the President. This presentation will focus on the organization and history of the NSC with observations about how well the process has worked under different Presidents. Ambassador William Itoh served as executive secretary of the National Security Council at the White House from 1993-1995. A career Foreign Service officer, he also served as Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand 1995-1999. He holds BA and MA degrees in history from UNM and is professor of the practice in the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is past president of the World Affairs Council of Albuquerque.

November 18, 2020:
Ambassador Will Itoh (rtd):
Topic: The Committee That Runs the World: The National Security Council Then and Now

We are using the Zoom Webinar Format for this and our other programs. If you are interested in this program, please email sfwaforum@outlook.com for additional information.

NEXT SYMPOSIUM

Postponed from April 2020

Dates to be determined

 “The Warming World:  Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides, Rising Turbulence”

2020-03-09T15:48:40-07:00

The Warming World: Rising Temperatures, Rising Tides, Rising Turbulence

Postponed

Dates to be determined

Scientific study after study demonstrates the enormity of the impact of climate change on earth’s biosphere.  These changes range from the Arctic’s melting icecap and the desertification of parts of Africa to rising sea levels submerging Pacific islands and parts of populous countries like Bangladesh.  The increase and intensity of typhoons in Asia and hurricanes in the Caribbean, wildfires in California and Indonesia as well as melting ice, changing trade routes and new security threats in the Arctic are all part of this manmade phenomenon.

Some of this story plays out in 24/7 news – but much more does not.  What do we know about the national security impact of climate change and how US military planners are attempting to prepare for it?  What about its relationship to the increasing flows of migrants uprooting and risking their lives to cross continents, borders, rivers and seas in search of safe havens often to be met by hostility, indifference and uncertain futures?  What about the spread of disease and the possibility of pandemics we have yet to discover?  How can we address technological impediments to climate change mitigation?  Finally, why are even the governments of countries which have been on the forefront of climate mitigation, unable to move to a new economy based on alternative energy?

If we’ve known for years about the warming world, why hasn’t more been done to try to slow or deter its worst effects?  Many people now understand that climate change is, foremost, driven by rising carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas and current agricultural practices like raising livestock and clearing land resulting in changes in our atmosphere leading to warming of the planet.  But are major impediments exclusively from oil and coal companies trying to preserve the bottom-line?  Are infrastructure and unemployment fears also holding us back? Are new technologies available or on the horizon to help mitigate the worst effects of the earth’s rapid warming?

The impact of global warming is not just an issue for scientific researchers, for military planners confronting the next national security threat or for energy company executives preserving short term profits.  It is more critically an issue that directly affects our lives and the future of our children.

Dealing with the New Normal:  Climate change is global.  Rising temperatures respect no national boundaries.  This is the new (ab)normal. As such it presents complex transnational problems.  It is an ever shifting calculus. It requires involvement from all levels of government, international organizations, large corporations, local city councils, small startups, researchers, teachers, students and all citizens of planet earth to begin to cope with this heretofore silent crisis.

This symposium will explore the interrelated issues of coping with the warming world from the vantage points of national security, economic viability, health and human

PAST SYMPOSIUM 2019

Thursday April 11 and Friday April 12, 2019

2019-05-01T14:20:34-07:00

Rising Authoritarianism: Can Democracy Meet the Challenge?

This year’s symposium on April 11 and 12 will address an issue of especially vital concern to us all: “Rising Authoritarianism: Can Democracy Meet the Challenge?” Taking place on the campus of Santa Fe Community College, the Symposium will bring together six specialists who will speak individually, introducing a global overview of the underlying causes of authoritarianism and of countervailing measures against its rise, followed by sessions focusing on the specific circumstances in Europe, Latin America, and the U.S.

Also included will be a student panel of foreign and dual-national students studying at colleges and universities here in New Mexico. As in the past the Symposium will offer all attendees ample opportunity for questions, discussions, and informal exchanges with speakers.

For more than two centuries, America has advocated for democratic principles starting with its Founding Fathers who proclaimed our nation to be created by and for the people, to joining with the liberal world to fight for our beliefs in two world wars. Following those wars, the United States was in the forefront of international efforts to create global institutions dedicated to peace, prosperity and justice. Our leaders have sometimes badly faltered or made poor decisions in seeking to preserve American leadership and universal values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. But we have for the most part tried to move forward towards such aspirational goals throughout our history. Other nations have not always agreed with our individual policies, but no one doubted the American example of strong democratic institutions, a robust civil society and a desire to build a world based on common values and interests.

Now, as a new era of international strongmen emerges, are America’s traditions and institutions capable of ensuring that democratic principles continue to push back on the tyranny that has threatened every generation? The symposium examines this moment with open eyes, asking tough questions about the global authoritarian threat, its underlying causes, and how it can be, and is being, countered.

When strong democratic institutions and civil society perform their essential functions, society enjoys a good faith debate about the best way to advance global and national interests. However, when rule of law is eroded, nationalism politicized, alliances strained, the press demonized and society fractured by rising hate crimes and attacks on electoral integrity, the norms that promote and preserve a resilient democratic society become frayed. International institutions based on shared democratic values can also be undermined and weakened when the U.S. government appears to question their continuing relevance.

Can the U.S. continue to be a leader that holds others to account when we ourselves falter in meeting these challenges? What causes the authoritarian impulse to break out of the democratic norm, and why do so many here and abroad find these demagogic appeals so attractive? Has a decline in American global leadership inadvertently given other nations permission to erode their own democratic institutions? Will a fractured and divided America be able, or willing, to work with other democracies holding others accountable when we fail to do so at home?

Focusing on Europe, Latin America and the US, the symposium will examine these questions in order to better understand not only the causes and symptoms that bring us to this moment, but just as importantly, to explore what can be done to meet these authoritarian challenges to democracy.

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