Next stop: World shipping

Dec. 19, 2015

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (;; 401-523-3957)

It was good to see so many of you on Dec. 16 hear the U.N.’s Rima Salah’s passionate remarks about addressing humanitarian crises.

Have a happy holiday season and broad, sunlit uplands in 2016.

Our next guest speaker comes Tuesday, Jan. 12, when Eric Brenner -- not Buckley, as I mindlessly typed the last few weeks!  -- an  official of Hapag-Lloyd, the huge international shipping company, will talk about the effects of the widening of the Panama Canal and other changes in world shipping – including, presumably, the happy economic effects on the ports of Quonset and Providence.

Perhaps he’ll also talk about how a proposed North American-European trade deal might boost the volume of shipping and how tensions over Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea might contract it.

As usual, the dinner will be at the Hope Club, 6 Benevolent St., Providence. Drinks start at about 6, dinner by 7, then the talk and a Q&A and the evening ends by 9.

If you have not already done so, please let us know whether you will join us Jan. 12 by replying to this email or calling (401) 523-3957. Thank you very much.

Dues and dinner cost information may be found at:

For Tuesday, Feb. 16, we have scheduled Greg Lindsay. Mr. Lindsay is an internationally known urbanist who speaks often about globalization, innovation and the future of cities. Here’s a sampling of his work:

He is a contributing writer for Fast Company, author of the forthcoming book Engineering Serendipity, and co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next. He is also a senior fellow of the New Cities Foundation — where he leads the Connected Mobility Initiative — a non-resident senior fellow of The Atlantic Council’s Strategic Foresight Initiative, a visiting scholar at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management, and a senior fellow of the World Policy Institute.

On Tuesday March 15, we’ll have Morris Rossabi, one of the world’s greatest experts on Central Asia. He’s a professor at Columbia University

Among his many other honors and posts, he became chairman of the Arts and Culture Board of the Open Society Institute.

We have asked him to focus on Mongolia, whose ability to become a real democracy stuck between the great expansionist police states of China and Russia, has long fascinated me.

In mid-April, celebrated author, TV documentary maker and former foreign correspondent Hedrick Smith will join us; he’ll talk about Russia, and the current state of America, too. We’ll nail down the exact date soon. Thanks to PCFR member Llewellyn King for suggesting this.

Tod Sedgwick, former U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, will join us in May 18 to talk about the future of Central Europe. He’s another friend of Mr. King.

On Tuesday, June 7, Michael Soussan, former UN whistleblower; acclaimed author; widely published journalist; NYU writing professor, and women's rights advocate, will speak. His satirical memoir about global corruption,  Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course In International Diplomacy (Nation Books / Perseus) is being adapted  for a feature film, starring Ben Kingsley and Josh Hutcherson.

Michael (an old friend) will speak about the subject of his next book "TRUTH TO POWER: how great minds changed the world. A brief history of thought leadership"

We urge members to chime in with suggestions. And there may be an additional speaker or two before season’s end.  We’ll see what happens in the course of the season.

I should add that we may also have an expert from Bhutan, mostly because that tiny country includes happiness  in its measurement of national prosperity, andan official of the Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. All is not grim on the planet.

A reminder that general and specific information is available on

We look forward to seeing you.

Robert Whitcomb, chairman