The World Affairs Council of Hilton Head is a vibrant community of thoughtful, highly educated people who are fascinated with international affairs. Its 1100+ members include academics, diplomats, business executives, authors, government service personnel, and people from all walks of life. Most live in Hilton Head and surrounding Beaufort County, South Carolina. WACHH provides a forum to learn more about world events and their impact on the United State of America. The organization offers a variety of programs for its members, the general public, and the next generation i.e. students in the region. WACHH's mission is to keep members abreast of developments in international affairs, including U.S. national interests, through educational programming and participation in Council-sponsored events.
Maureen Korzik, Executive Director, Email
John Gilbert, President, Email, 843-384-6758
Benjamin Kinnas, Program Committee, Email, 843-384-6758
Dr. Joan Apple Lemoine, WACA National Board Member and Immediate Past ED of WAC Hilton Head, Email, 843-422-1442
Laney Hall, Test, Email, 843-384-6758
January 22 | Col. David Maxwell
What is the nature of the Kim Family Regime and why is it important to the United States? There are five major issues surrounding Korea: war, instability and regime collapse, human rights, proliferation, and global illicit activities, and unification. South Korea and the US remain blood allies but there is always friction within the alliance that must be managed. While North Korea is an existential threat to South Korea it is in the US national interest to prevent conflict and if it (or regime collapse) occurs to ensure that what follows is a secure, stable, economically vibrant, non-nuclear peninsula unified under a liberal constitutional form of government that might be called the United Republic of Korea.
February 5 | Steve Olikara
The direction of American foreign policy will prove highly consequential to Millennials -- on issues ranging from climate change and war, to COVID-19 and humanitarian aid. More connected internationally than ever, Millennial leaders entering public leadership are poised to fundamentally reshape foreign policy on these issues, transforming old debates framed by traditional “hawk-dove” and Left-Right divisions. The generations that came of age during U.S. wars in the Middle East, a global economic recession, the largest climate protests in history, and major pandemics will push for bold action to protect the most vulnerable and a new era of global cooperation.
February 19 | Ambassador Joseph Yun
The two historic meetings between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un alleviated tensions between the two nations who at one time seemed on the brink of a military encounter. But there is a “fundamental difference in understanding” between the two sides regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the major goal of the summits.
While Washington was only considering a peace treaty and loosening sanctions on Pyongyang after it had denuclearized, North Korea’s position was a phased approach in which it would receive concessions for every step taken toward denuclearization. That difference is a major reason for the current stalemate in negotiations.
This is a complicated game of diplomacy with both sides looking to make the next best move. Ambassador Yun will share his insights into North Korea and its short and long-term goals and discuss the prospect of Kim abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons.
March 5 | Russel Hsiao
Madame Tsai Ing-wen won a second term in January 2020 to serve as the president of Taiwan for another four years. The first term of her presidency saw steady improvements in US-Taiwan relations and a deterioration in cross-Strait ties as Beijing ramped-up diplomatic, military, and economic pressure on Taipei to accept its terms for unification. As the power disparity between Taiwan and China widens, Taipei is becoming more susceptible to Chinese coercion and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping may become more emboldened to use military force. What are the implications for the Taiwan Strait over the next four years and beyond?
March 19 | Michael Reynolds
Although usually described as an “Eastern European” or “Eurasian Power,” contemporary Russia in the past decade has emerged as a major actor in the Middle East. Moscow has demonstrated an unusual ability both to apply military force effectively and to practice diplomacy deftly, juggling and expanding ties not just with American adversaries like Syria and Iran, but also with American partners such as Israel, Turkey, and Egypt. Russia’s seeming success appears all the more remarkable given the routine dismissal of Russia by American observers as a declining power. What is the historical background of Russia as a Middle Eastern power? Is Russia’s success in the region real and what explains it? How sustainable is it? And what does Russia’s role in the Middle East mean for America?
April 9 | Richard Stengel
Disinformation is as old as humanity. When Satan told Eve nothing would happen if she bit the apple, that was disinformation. But the rise of social media has made disinformation even more pervasive and pernicious in our current era. In a disturbing turn of events, governments are increasingly using disinformation to create their own false narratives, and democracies are proving not to be very good at fighting it.
During the final three years of the Obama administration, Richard Stengel, the former editor of Time and an Under Secretary of State, was on the front lines of this new global information war. At the time, he was the single person in government tasked with unpacking, disproving, and combating both ISIS’s messaging and Russian disinformation. Then, in 2016, as the presidential election unfolded, Stengel watched as Donald Trump used disinformation himself, weaponizing the grievances of Americans who felt left out by modernism. In fact, Stengel quickly came to see how all three players had used the same playbook: ISIS sought to make Islam great again; Putin tried to make Russia great again; and we all know about Trump.
May 7 | Mathew Burrows
Recent years have seen the old Communist enemies grow closer five decades after Kissinger’s opening to China. Are we back to a new Cold War with the US and the West facing a united Russo-China front? Both Moscow and Beijing share a deep resentment against Washington, propounding an alternative vision of non-US-dominated world order. But, in a switch, is Moscow willing to be the junior partner to China? Or is a growing friendship a tactical move until Russian sanctions are dropped and China attains better terms with the US? A real alliance or a marriage of convenience?
May 7 | Matthew Kroenig
The United States of America has been the most powerful country in the world for over seventy years, but recently the U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great power competition with Russia and China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security. Further, many analysts predict that America's autocratic rivals will have at least some success in disrupting-and, in the longer term, possibly even displacing-U.S. global leadership.
Matthew Kroenig, author of The Return of Great Power Rivalry, will discuss how this conventional wisdom is wrong. Drawing on an extraordinary range of historical evidence and the works of figures like Herodotus, Machiavelli, and Montesquieu and combining it with cutting-edge social science research, Matthew Kroenig advances the riveting argument that democracies tend to excel in great power rivalries. He contends that democracies have unique economic, diplomatic, and military advantages in long-run geopolitical competitions. He considers autocratic advantages as well but shows that these are more than outweighed by their vulnerabilities. Kroenig then shows these arguments through the seven most important cases of democratic-versus-autocratic rivalries throughout history, from the ancient world to the Cold War. Finally, he analyzes the new era of great power rivalry among the United States, Russia, and China through the lens of the democratic advantage argument. By advancing a "hard-power" argument for democracy, Kroenig demonstrates that despite its many problems, the U.S. is better positioned to maintain a global leadership role than either Russia or China.
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