The Passport for February 2019

This is an online version of the monthly newsletter of the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area (WACMB). You may click here to see other online issues or click here to reach the archive of recent issues in PDF format. 

What will become of the Syrian refugees? Professor Anne Marie Baylouny will update us on this humanitarian crisis, how the host countries are faring, the dimensions of international aid, and policy options for the international community and the United States. She will also address the prospects for an end to the conflict.

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From January through March, WACMB presents Great Decisions, an eight-week program produced by the Foreign Policy Association of America (FPA). Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. Each year, the program provides background information and policy options for eight of the most critical issues facing the United States; this information serves as the focal text for discussion groups all across the country, including ones at MPC and OLLI/CSUMB.

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Cover to Cover

Are you interested in books about world affairs? Would you like to hear what the authors of those books have to say, without waiting (and hoping) for them to come to town? Look no further: Cover to Cover is here for you!

Cover to Cover is a free monthly half-hour conference call featuring interviews with some of today’s most prominent writers on world affairs. Speakers during the past year have included Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, discussing his book A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order; Ambassador Rick Barton, currently at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, discussing his book Peace Works: America’s Unifying Role in a Turbulent World; and Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, former head of the US Diplomatic Mission to Cuba, discussing her book Our Woman in Havana: A Diplomat’s Chronicle of America’s Long Struggle with Castro’s Cuba.

Cover to Cover is a free benefit offered to World Affairs Council members by the World Affairs Council of America, our umbrella organization. Preregistration for the conference calls is required. To register, click here to go directly to the Cover to Cover web page or go to the main site: www.worldaffairscouncils.org and click on the Programs menu item and then on Cover to Cover. (The appearance of the menu system depends on the device you use to view it – computer, tablet, or smartphone.) Once on the Cover to Cover page, click on the conference call of interest.

Missed an interesting call? Not to worry: previous Cover to Cover calls become free podcasts, which you can access from that same page. You’ll see Professor Francis Fukuyama and Ambassador Michael McFaul featured there, just in case you might have missed them when they spoke here!

December Program Report

Bill Clifford

The World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay was honored to host national president and Japan expert Bill Clifford for our December luncheon. Clifford has helped to revitalize the national organization, and has been visiting many local chapters around the country. While here, Clifford met with our Board to discuss new programming and possibilities for growth.

At the luncheon, Clifford spoke on “Japan, America, and the New Nationalism,” touching upon internal Japanese politics, regional issues, and Japan’s important relationship with the United States.

Shinzo Abe, recently re-elected, has become a major leader of the international order, even more so given America’s retreat and Europe’s
problems. The perception is widespread in Japan that the US is abdicating its global role, and that “America First” is a significant break with 70 years of history. There is also a disconnect between 50,000 US troops stationed
in Japan and new US tariffs that hurt Japanese exports.

The US engagement on the Korean peninsula worries Japan, as Tokyo does not have a seat at the table for the nuclear talks. Despite good personal relations with Trump, Abe is hedging his bets politically, for he has seen this administration treat many old allies poorly.

Perhaps Japan’s greatest internal challenge is a “demographic time bomb.” Its fertility rate is 1.2, well below the replacement rate of 2.1, and since Japan allows virtually no immigration, its population is shrinking. This will put Japan’s social safety net under stress, since there are not enough workers to support its aging population.

— by Glenn E. Robinson

This is the monthly newsletter of the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area (WACMB). Founded in 1951, the council is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization established to promote the presentation, discussion, and study of international affairs. WACMB is a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization, EIN-770301206. Contributions are tax deductible as permitted by law. WACMB sponsors monthly luncheons, discussion groups, and student scholarships.

Corporate and institutional support for the World Affairs Council of the Monterey Bay Area is provided by:

  • California State University Monterey Bay
  • Defense Language Institute
  • Monterey Peninsula College
  • Naval Postgraduate School
  • Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
  • Rancho Canada
  • Horan & Lloyd Law Firm

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