The Passport for March 2018

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.

Luncheon Meeting – Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Topic: North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

Speaker: Melissa Hanham

James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS)


North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests are grabbing headlines and sending shockwaves throughout the world. The Olympics yielded an opportunity for détente, but tensions remain high.

Our guest, Melissa Hanham, will discuss how analysts right here in Monterey gather information about North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and make assessments of their true capabilities. Prepare to see satellite imagery and ground photos of North Korea in a whole new light.

Melissa Hanham is a Senior Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, as well as the Mixed-Methods, Evaluation, Training and Analysis Lab. She studies East Asian security and the proliferation of WMD, with particular focus on North Korean WMD procurement and proliferation networks and China’s nuclear posture. She also studies Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese nuclear exports as well as East and South-east Asian export control systems and proliferation finance activities. Ms. Hanham teaches “Geospatial Tools for Nonproliferation Analysis” at the Middlebury Institute and is a regular contributor to Arms Control Wonk.

Hanham earned her MA in International Security Policy and East Asia at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and her BA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She has been teaching at the Middlebury Institute since 2012.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018
11:30 am: Registration begins
11:50 am: Luncheon
1:00 – 2:00 pm: Program


Rancho Canada, Carmel Valley Road

Luncheon Menu
  • Hearts of Romaine salad with walnuts, raspberry vinaigrette
  • Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo
  • Fresh rolls and butter
  • Chef’s choice dessert
  • Vegetarian option: pasta with Marinara sauce
Special Notice
Luncheon Price Increase

Due to rising labor and food costs, the price of our luncheons at Rancho
Canada increased to $29 for members and stays at $35 for guests.

This is the first increase in many years.

The new payment deadline is 7 days in advance.

Click here to open or download the luncheon reservation form in PDF format.

January Program Report

Summary of “Worlds Fall Apart: The Implosion of the Middle East”

Speaker: Prof. James Russell, Naval Postgraduate School
Date: January 25, 2018

Russell describes the gradual disintegration of a regional political order of family elites, sustained for a generation by military and security services. Four failed states – Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen – have been plagued for years by violent armed struggles involving outside proxies trying to influence the outcomes. The traditional outside powers exercising dominance in the 20th century are giving way to regional rivalries: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and the Gulf States. As the Arab Spring fades, all of these are now autocracies dependent on security sector arrangements.

What are the wars about? Struggle for political authority in states previously ruled by authoritarians where dissent was stifled by force and intimidation. There was no way to peacefully settle arguments about individual identity, state identity, relationship of the individual to the state, role of religion in the above matters, and over basic governing authority.

The results? Displaced populations, death and hardship, shattered economies and infrastructure add to the humanitarian catastrophe that will shape the landscape indefinitely. Whatever the eventual outcomes of these tragic conflicts, the Middle East will lag behind in human, economic social and political development.

U.S. policy choices? Ties to authoritarian regimes through arms sales, training, military bases and exercises limit flexibility. These same authoritarian regimes prevent peaceful, inclusive political liberalization that only helps fuel jihadi extremists. We endorse participative, open government; groups supported by the countries of the Gulf states mostly favor sharia law. “We cannot re-engineer the region’s politics.” Moreover, given the transformation of the energy sector and the rise of Asia, the Middle East is of decreasing strategic importance.

by Philip Morgan