Archive for the ‘News’ Category

2019 Topics Fall Update

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Here is the fall update to the 2019 topics

Fall 2019 Update

2020 Topics

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Here are the Great Decisions topics for 2020 as released by The Foreign Policy Association

Climate Change and the Global Order by Ronald Bee

Climate change has become one of the defining issues of our time. As much of the world bands together to come up with a plan, the U.S. remains the notable holdout. What is the rest of the world doing to combat climate change? What impact will the effects of climate change have on global geopolitics?


India and Pakistan by Barbara Crossette

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode a wave of Hindu nationalism to a historic reelection in 2019. His first order of business was to revoke the special status granted to the Kashmir region, inflaming the rivalry between India and Pakistan. How will the Kashmir situation affect the region, both economically and politically?


Red Sea Security by David Shinn

The Red Sea has remained vital for global trade since the time of ancient Egypt. Once home to the spice trade, the Red Sea now sees millions of barrels of oil a day transported across its waters. With major nations like China, France, Italy, and the U.S. building large ports and bases in the region, what does the future of the region look like? How important is Red Sea security for global security? Can the region be a place of global cooperation?


Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking by Ronald Weitzer

Almost every nation has enacted laws criminalizing human trafficking, and international organizations, governments, and NGOs sponsor a large variety of projects to curb trafficking and slavery. Billions of dollars have been allocated to these efforts. What is the international community doing to combat slavery and trafficking? What are the experiences like for those being trafficked?


U.S. Relations with the Northern Triangle by Michael Shifter and Bruno Binetti 

Combatting illegal immigration has become a priority of the Trump administration. The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, is a special target of the administration, which hold the nations responsible for the large flow of migrants from Latin America to the U.S. With funds from the U.S. cut, how can the Northern Triangle countries curtail migration?


China’s Road into Latin America by Margaret Myers 

As the Trump administration continues to withdraw from the world stage, China is looking to fill the void. How does Latin America fit into China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan? How will the relationship with China affect the region? Should the U.S. be concerned about China’s growing “sphere of influence?”


The Philippines and the U.S. by Julio Amador and Deryk Matthew N. Baladjay 

The Philippines has had a special relationship with the United States since the islands were ceded by Spain to the United States after the Spanish-American War at the end of the 19th century.  However, since the election of Rodrigo Duterte, the country has pivoted more toward China, and away from the U.S. Duterte has also launched a large-scale war on drugs that many criticize for its brutality. What does the future hold for U.S, relations with the Philippines?


Artificial Intelligence and Data by Susan Ariel Aaronson

Policymakers in many countries are developing plans and funding research in artificial intelligence (AI). Global growth is slowing, and not surprisingly, many policymakers hope that AI will provide a magic solution. The EU, Brazil, and other Western countries have adopted regulations that grant users greater control over their data and require that firms using AI be transparent about how they use it. Will the U.S. follow suit?


2019 Topics Spring Update

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Click the following link to see and download the PDF of the 2019 Topics spring update.

GD 2019 SPRING update


2019 Topics Winter Update

Friday, April 5th, 2019

This update from FPA is dated February 8th, 2019

GD 2019 Winter update

2018 National Opinion Ballot Report

Monday, January 28th, 2019

2018 National Opinion Ballot Report

2019 Topics

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

We’re pleased to announce the topics for Great Decisions 2019!  Join us as we work together to understand today’s world issues. Find your nearest group in the Discussion Groups Tab. This year’s topics are as follows:

  1. Refugees and Global Migration

  2. The Middle East: Regional Disorder

  3. Nuclear negotiations: Back to the Future?

  4. The Rise of Populism in Europe

  5. Decoding U.S.-China Trade

  6. India and Its Neighbors

  7. Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics

  8. The United State and Mexico: Partnership Tested

  9. State of the State Department and Diplomacy


Refugees and Global Migration
By Karen Jacobsen

Today, no countries have open borders. Every state in today’s global system has its own laws and policies about who is permitted to cross its borders, and how they will do so. Who determines whether someone is a refugee or a migrant? How have different countries, including the United States, reacted to migration? How effective are the international laws, policies and organizations that have evolved to assist and protect refugees and migrants?


The Middle East: Regional Disorder
By Lawrence G. Potter

As the presidency of Donald J. Trump passes the halfway point, the Middle East remains a region in turmoil. The Trump administration has aligned itself with strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which along with Israel have a common goal of frustrating Iranian expansion. What will be the fallout from policy reversals such as withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear accord and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? Does the United States see a path forward in troubled states such as Syria, Yemen, Libya and Iraq? Is the United States headed toward war with Iran?


Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future?
by Ronald J. Bee

Nuclear weapons have not gone away, and the Trump administration has brought a new urgency, if not a new approach, to dealing with them.  The President has met with Vladimir Putin as the New Start Treaty with Russia comes up for renewal in 2021, the first presidential summit ever with Kim Jong-un occurred to discuss denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and President Trump has decertified the Obama nuclear deal with Iran.  To what degree should past nuclear talks guide future U.S. nuclear arms control negotiations?  Can the art of the deal apply to stabilizing our nuclear future?


The Rise of Populism in Europe
By James Kirchick

Mass migration, and the problems associated with it, have directly abetted the rise of populist parties in Europe. Opposition to immigration was the prime driver of support for Brexit, it brought a far-right party to the German Bundestag for the first time since the 1950s, and propelled Marine Le Pen to win a third of the vote in the French presidential election. In addition to calling for stronger borders, however, these parties are invariably illiberal, anti-American, anti-NATO and pro-Kremlin, making their rise a matter of serious concern for the national security interests of the United States.


Decoding U.S.-China Trade|
By Jeremy Haft

Though arguably the most advanced economy in the world, the United States still uses centuries-old numbers to measure trade.  These antique numbers mangle understanding of the U.S.-China trade relationship, shrinking America’s true economic size and competitiveness, while swelling China’s.  Bad numbers give rise to bad policies that ultimately kill U.S. jobs and cede market share to China.  What other tools can the United States employ to counter China’s unfair trade practices?  There are several available, yet they remain mostly unused.

India and its Neighbors
By Cynthia Watson

India’s relationship with China alternates between one of cooperation and aspiring improvements, and deep distrust at the Chinese extending activities in the Indian Ocean and in states surrounding the subcontinent. What effect will China’s Belt &Road Initiative have on relations with India, and its neighbors? Will the United States be caught in the middle of the competition between China and India?


Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics|
By Richard Andres

Cyber conflict is a new and continually developing threat, which can include foreign interference in elections, industrial sabotage and attacks on infrastructure. Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential elections in the United States and China is highly committed to using cyberspace as a tool of national policy. Dealing with cyber conflict will require new ways of looking at 21st century warfare. Is the United States prepared to respond to such threats?


The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested
By Michael Shifter and Bruno Binetti

The United States and Mexico have a long, intertwined history, with both countries prominently featured in each other’s politics and agendas. The war on drugs, immigration and trade issues have taxed the relationship over the years. What impact will new leadership in both countries have on this crucial partnership?


State of the State Department and Diplomacy
By Nicholas Burns

During the Trump administration, the usual ways of conducting diplomacy have been upended. Many positions in the State Department have never been filled, and meetings with foreign leaders such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin have been undertaken with little advance planning. What effect are these changes having now, and how will they affect ongoing relationships between the United States and its allies and adversaries?

Letter from the President – Summer 2018

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Tucson Great Decisions is winding down the 2018 Winter – Spring Great Decisions discussions. Many of our group participants, including your president, have left the desert for the north. Tucson Great Decisions Association enters the summer with 23 sites offering Great Decisions discussions in the Greater Tucson region.  Moderators and participants in our discussion groups make Great Decisions the enjoyable program that it is. Discussion group moderators and your board are all volunteers.  All of us do this work because of our appreciation of the value of Great Decisions.  We are primarily retired persons, and lifestyle and health issues regularly bring changes to these leadership positions. We hope you will be open to stepping up to a moderator role or joining the Tucson Great Decisions Board in the coming year.  Please know that even those who are winter Tucsonans can take on these roles, as I have.

I am in Tucson from October through May and spend my summers in northern Michigan where I moderate a discussion group there as well.  I have only been participating in Great Decisions since 2008. In those ten years, I have learned a great deal about the decisions that make up the United States Foreign Policy. The non-partisan focus of the discussions gave me the confidence that I could safely share my views with people I did not know personally.  When I became engaged in the discussions, I learned how my personal attitudes and positions on the issues worked, and in many cases, how they differed from my fellow participants.  Dialog, such as that encountered in Great Decisions, has helped me frame a very different approach to foreign policy from when I began.  It also created an incredible bond with my fellow participants.  I hope that those of you who are currently participating in a Great Decisions group have had similar experiences. What I have found valuable is participation, being open to other opinions, and focusing on issues, not partisan politics.

Our Spring Event last month was a great success, with an enlightening presentation on the underpinnings of the media’s influence in the 21st century.  As a board, we are already planning the Fall Event.  It’s scheduled to be held on October 26th.  So, mark your fall calendars.  We’ll have more information on the speaker and topic in September. Topics for next year’s discussions will not be determined until late summer.  We will be communicating them when they are announced, so watch the website News for that information.

Have a productive and pleasant summer. We’ll see you in October.

Dick Kelbaugh

About Tucson Great Decisions ( article)

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Click on this link to read an FPA  article about Tucson Great Decisions.  Its good to share our story nationally.


Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

FPA provides online supplemental content on every topic.  Check out the topic resources, featuring things like printable glossaries, blogs, a list of people to follow on Twitter, podcasts, recommended readings, books and organizations.


National Opinion Ballots ONLINE

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Remember to fill out your  opinion ballots!  The  National Opinion Ballot is available this year exclusively online. Now you can make your voice heard with just a click of a button.