The end of a spectacular Brazilian career
Lula, Brazil's populist president who presided over prosperous time, is sentenced to a long prison term for corruption. To read The Guardian's article on this, please hit this link.
Bastille Day Event in Providence to honor 3 vets
On July 14, 2017, France will extend a special recognition to World War II American Veterans from Rhode Island
On Bastille Day, Friday, July 14, at 6 p.m., the Consul General of France in Boston, Mr. Valéry Freland, will bestow the “Légion d’Honneur” (Legion of Honor), France’s highest civil and military decoration, upon three WWII American Veterans, Mr. John Dunnigan, Mr. Raymond Gillis and Mr. Leo Heroux.
The ceremony will be performed by French Consul General Valery Freland, accompanied by Rhode Island Honorary Consul to France Roger Begin, in front of the Rhode Island World War II Memorial in Memorial Park in downtown Providence.
Rose Weaver will sing "The Star Spangled Banner'' and "La Marseillaise''.
The U.S. Coast Guard Brass Quintet will perform ceremonial music and present a concert in Memorial Park right after the ceremony.
The ceremony will conclude with a toast from a sabered bottle of Champagne presented by Robert Burke in honor of all R.I. veterans.
About the WWII American Veterans:
All three of them were selected to be awarded the Legion of Honor for their bravery and heroism, and for their outstanding contribution to the liberation of France in World War II.
· First Lieutenant John J. Dunnigan
· Born in Providence, First Lieutenant John J. Dunnigan enlisted in the Army Air Force on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. Having received special training in new Pathfinder radar technology, Lieutenant Dunnigan was assigned as Group Leader Bombardier in the 351st Bombardment Group of the 8th Army Air Force. Serving in the Air Force from Jan. 23, 1943 to October 12, 1945, First Lieutenant Dunnigan fought in several battles throughout France, including: Paris, Caen, Chateauroux, Dijon, Tours, Cherbourg, Boulogne, Saumur and Saint Lo. After a raid in central Germany, First Lieutenant Dunnigan received a presidential citation for his heroism as well as his “Courage, coolness and skill.”
· Technician Raymond Gillis
Born in Newport, Technician Raymond Gillis was inducted in the army on Dec. 28, 1942 as part of the 965th Field Artillery Battery C. Technician Gillis worked as a telephone lineman for the forward observation post in Ardennes, Normandy and other parts of northern France. While stationed in Normandy, the 965th Field Artillery Battery C was chosen to follow Gen. George Patton to a nearby bridge, where the Germans fired on them. Technician Gillis and his team stayed in Normandy for several days with the general before continuing with various missions in France.
Technician Gillis is a recipient of the American Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, the E-A-ME Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
· Private Leo Heroux
At age 19, Private Leo Heroux was assigned as an amphibious engineer in the Company A 48th Engineer Combat Battalion. A native of Lowell, Mass., Private Heroux was stationed from March 8, 1943 to Oct. 25, 1945. He cleaned beaches, built bridges and marked mine fields.
Private Heroux participated in several campaigns in France during the war, particularly in the Ardennes, Normandy and other parts of northern France. He is a recipient of the European-African-Middle Eastern Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and the Croix de Guerre.
Bilingual in French and English, Private Heroux moved back to France in 1948 with his wife, whom he met during the war. Today three of his children live near Avignon, France while another lives in Montreal.
About the Legion of Honor: Established in 1802 by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, it is exclusively awarded in cases of exemplary military and civilian services. It is the oldest and highest honor in France. This year the Legion of Honor is awarded by decree of the new President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
Since the 60th anniversary of D-Day, France recognizes every year many American Veterans of the World War II for their courageous service.
Attachée de presse | Press Attaché and Communication
Consulate General of France
31 Saint James Avenue, suite 750, Boston, MA 02116
NEW LEADERSHIP IN THE PCFR
July 9, 2017
To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; email@example.com).
Another year, another annual summer letter. You’ll also find this information along with stuff about internationally related events in our area and occasional interesting foreign-news stories in the “News” and “Events’’ sections of thepcfr.org.
We start off here with changes in the PCFR’s executive suite.
Hannah (Tessitore) Hazelton will be our new chairperson, effective Aug. 1, as I step down. Most of you know the very self-possessed and smart Mrs. Hazelton. With great charm and efficiency, she has helped manage the Welcome Table, dealt with our inevitable audio-visual crises and worked with “the Inside Group’’ (long what we’ve called the PCFR board) in helping to identify speakers and otherwise help with scheduling matters.
(Hannah and I have worked together on the Web sites I have run. I will testify under oath that she does superb work.)
She is the owner of award-winning Web-design studio Platypus and is also, important for us, an event-management and marketing expert. Mrs. Hazelton has planned and coordinated conferences in the areas of medical research, infrastructure and education. She is also currently associate producer of White House Chronicle, a weekly news and public-affairs program on PBS that deals with national and international topics.
Mrs. Hazelton, the wife of PCFR member Jarrod Hazelton, is an active board member at Davis Technical School, and a volunteer at the YWCA, Women's Fund of Rhode Island, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Greater New England.
She studied computer science and engineering at the University of California at Davis and continues to work to involve women in the STEM fields, among her many other interests.
We also have a new treasurer: Michael Steiner, whom many of you know for his highly competent and friendly help at the Welcome Table.
Mr. Steiner is a Rhode Island native and a U.S. Navy veteran. He served six years active duty, including a five-year tour on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. He is currently a Navy Reservist at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport and completing his undergraduate studies in Applied Economics at The University of Rhode Island. He plans to pursue a career in public policy and affairs.
We thank our outgoing treasurer, Amy Sloan, for her skillful and cheery assistance over the past few years!
And so the leadership changes above will result in the “Inside Group’’ now being composed of:
Hannah Hazelton, chairperson
Michael C. Steiner, treasurer
Irving C. Sheldon, vice chairman (assistant/backup for the chairperson)
Robert Whitcomb, vice chairman (assistant/backup for the chairperson)
Robert Sloan, secretary
Charles Andrews, member (and chairman emeritus)
Zechariah Chafee, member.
We are grateful that David Dumas has become associate treasurer and continues to help the PCFR with annual legal matters. We’d welcome him on the board at any time.
Meanwhile, I think we can take some pleasure on reviewing our speakers for the recently completed, very well-attended and often even exciting evenings.
Our speakers included:
Laura Freid, founding CEO of the Silk Road Project, on building international friendship and cooperation through the arts.
Terence Roehrig, of the U.S. Naval War College, on how to deal with the threat from North Korea.
James Griffin, international food-sector consultant and former fishing industry executive, on the future of global fish supplies and sourcing.
Rand Stoneburner, M.D., international epidemiologist, on global disease challenges.
Jean Lesieur, French journalist, novelist and media executive, on the French presidential election, right-wing populism, Trump and Brexit.
Evodio Kaltenecker, Brazilian political economist, on that huge nation's economic and political crises.
Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Museum, on the ecological future of the seas.
Carl Maccario, international security expert, on identifying terrorists and other nasty people through knowledge of nonverbal communication.
Ralf Horlemann, German general consul, on post-Brexit Europe and Russia.
Harvard economist and former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisers Jeffrey Frankel on whether international trade is good for America and the world.
U.S. Naval War College Prof. James Holmes on the geopolitics of global warming.
Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick on the future of Central Europe.
Mark Blyth, famed political economist, on Brexit.
We already have lined up the following for the new season. We’ll let you know when dates for the other speakers are nailed down. By the way, because of Hope Club availability issues, it looks like we can’t do a dinner in December.
French Consul General Valery Freland will talk about how the French presidential-election outcome might change that nation’s foreign policy and the Western Alliance, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, as of now the first scheduled dinner of the new season.
Then on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Graham Allison, who has been running Harvard’s Belfer Institute, will talk about, among other things, Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea. He'll talk about his new book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, comes Michael Soussan, the writer and skeptic about the United Nations. He’s the author of, among other things, Backstabbing for Beginners, about his experiences in Iraq, which is being made into a movie starring BenKingsley.
Suggestions for speakers and topics are always much appreciated. We’re all in this together.
We have four membership categories:
Sustaining: Annual dues are $120. We much encourage your becoming a sustaining member for the additional resources that it gives us to bring in good speakers andboost our related services.
Regular: Annual dues are $90.
Associate: For spouses of regular or sustaining members annual dues are $50. Thus, for example, the total dues for a sustaining member and his or her spouse would be $170. For a regular member and spouse, $140.
Student: Current full-time students may join free of charge.
Dinners are $45.
To pay your dues and dinner charges via credit card, please visit the “Purchase Tickets and Membership’’ page on our site: thepcfr.org. Otherwise, please mail your checks, made out to “PCFR,’’ for dues to:
125 Everett Ave.
Providence, RI 02906
This address will change to Mr. Steiner’s after he returns from Europe in a few weeks.
The majority of our members pay their duesstarting in the summer the coming season. During the season, we jog those (mostly new members) who paid their dues during the season to renew 12 months from when they last sent in their dues.
Dinners and dues can also be paid for at the welcome table on the night of a dinner by check, credit card or cash.
The cost of dues and dinners may be deductible for business reasons in some cases. Consult your tax adviser.
Please don’t hesitate to get your dues in for the 2017-18 season. The earlier we get them, the easier it is to plan for the new season.
Here’s wishing everyone a fine summer!
Appeasement doesn't work with North Korea
President Trump should read former special envoy to North Korea (and Rhode Islander) Chris Hill's article about how he deeply regrets trying to appease that brutal dictatorship. It never works. To read his Wall Street Journal piece, please hit this link.
What's the 'maritime order'?
Read this Brookings Institution piece by Pell Center Fellow (and new PCFR member) Iskander Rehman on "India, China and Differing Conceptions of the Maritime Order.''
Wheaton AND THE Paris Accord
From the college, in Norton, Mass.:
"Wheaton College President Dennis M. Hanno joined other college and university presidents, governors and business leaders in signing on to a joint letter pledging 'forceful action' on fighting climate change 'to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions.'
“Wheaton has made reducing the college’s environmental impact a core objective in our strategic plan and in our daily operations,” said President Dennis M. Hanno. “We are committed to sustainability going forward, and we are proud to join other organizations who share our dedication to combating climate change.”
"The establishment of this coalition of business, higher education and government leaders made national news.
"Brian Douglas, executive vice president for finance and administration, said Wheaton’s commitment to reducing the college’s environmental impact reflects principles endorsed by the campus community as well as practical benefits.
“Wheaton prides itself as a place that cultivates leadership in social change, and we live that every day when it comes to sustainability,” Douglas said. “We recognize and embrace our responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our sustainability profile, and at any given time we have a number of projects and initiatives underway to accomplish that.”
Shahzad Bashir – Time Interrupted: Islamic Lives of a Historiographical Seducation
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
McKinney Conference Room, at Brown University
Registration required and will open closer to event date
Saudi regime said to present danger to the world
Brown's Stephen Kinzer says that Saudi Arabia is destabilizing the world. Indonesia is an example.
To read his recent essay in The Boston Globe, please hit this link.
The Russian fascination with Vladimir Putin
Chicago Tribune editor Jack Fuller used to speak of the mainstream news business as being among the “truth disciplines,” its aim being “at most a provisional kind of truth, the best that can be said quickly.” Science was older, slower, more firmly grounded. There were many related fields. As a newsman himself, Fuller didn’t spend over much time on the nature of truth, but most people know what he meant.
He was concerned with matters on which all those who took pains to inform themselves could agree. These were names, addresses, ages, places, details, to start; then assertions of all sorts, carefully attributed, not piled on willy-nilly but carefully connected in logical chains, accumulating in hopes of producing the goal, impossible in all but the simplest matters (was he alive or dead?), of consensus.
An interesting example of just how unsatisfying routine news can be could be heard last week in an imaginative and ambitious venture undertaken by National Public Radio, a member-supported media network enabled by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. NPR’s’s Morning Edition host David Greene traveled to Moscow to report live on Friday, June 9, and, as scheduled, Monday, June 12 – at the very moment that testimony of former FBI Director James Comey was dominating the news in Washington and New York. His dispatches were supplemented by reports from NPR national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly and Moscow correspondent Lucian Kim.
In one segment, Greene interviewed Russia Today editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. Government-funded RT insists that it is a global news network much like the BBC or France 24 or Al Jazeera, offering news and opinion from a distinctive Russian point of view in both Russian and English. Many Western governments (and news organizations) regard RT as “the slickly produced heart of a broad, often covert disinformation campaign designed to sow doubt about democratic institutions and destabilize the West,” as Steven Erlanger recently put it in The New York Times.
Simonyan, 37, is well suited to her task. She spent a year in high school in Bristol, N.H., in 1996, and traveled widely afterwards as a Russian journalist. Greene asked about the telephone on which she is said to take orders from the Kremlin. “Yeah, it’s right here,” she said, laughing. “I use it whenever I have to discuss something [for which I need] a secure line…. Just today I talked to the Russian central bank, discussing some issues of RT finances that probably shouldn’t be discussed on an open line.”
Greene asked if she had an opinion about Putin and his policies.
“I have tons of opinions….To understand Russia’s fascination about Putin – and I think this is something that is completely not being understood in the West and in the mainstream media. And the reason why it’s not being understood is because people didn’t live here through the ’90s.
“In a town like mine, I probably, at that time, wouldn’t name a single person whom I personally knew who wanted to stay in Russia. Can you imagine that? All of the people I knew wanted to leave because we saw our country as something horrible, falling apart, that will only continue to fall apart. There were numerous wars going on. And then came Putin, and he stops all that. And we saw it in our lives. People around started – first of all, they stopped being hungry. Then they stopped having one pair of shoes for both my sister and me, you know, and wearing them in a row – and my mom. So for three of us [laughter], one pair of normal shoes – that all stopped. It all seemed magic….
“Not just mine – it’s everybody I know. And when I’m saying – I want to underline this. It would be an extremely difficult task to find a single person who lived worse before Putin than now, very difficult.’’
Careening along to stay within the bounds of his allotted time, Greene asked the next question: “If investigations revealed things about Vladimir Putin that could ultimately lead to him leaving office, would you be ready to carry out an investigation like that to its fullest here?”
SIMONYAN: “If I really sincerely thought that what Putin is doing is harmful for my country and for my people and it needs to be stopped, I wouldn’t hesitate to do that.’’
GREENE: “This – that’s not – I think you recognize this. That’s not your image or RT’s image on the outside.’’
SIMONYAN: “I understand that. I understand that. What are you going to do, you know, when the mainstream media, again and again and again, publish stories about us that are completely false? You know, that’s the image [they have of us]. Why do they do that? You tell me. I don’t know.’’
I don’t spend much time with RT itself. I scan the email version of the compendium of English-language news about Russia published nearly every day as Johnson’s Russia List, by independent journalist David Johnson. I skim most of what U.S. and British newspapers are saying, and a fair amount of RT content as well.
I am occasionally startled by what the Russian network is reporting that the Western papers are not, as was the case last week, when RT published Putin’s remarks at a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Megyn Kelly, of NBC, was serving as his interlocutor, to good effect. It was at a sidebar news conference that Putin suggested that “patriotically minded” Russian hackers might have meddled in U.S. politics. JRL, I find, is a far better guide to developments in Russia than the coverage of any single newspaper.
As for the point that Simoyan sought to make on NPR about Putin’s popularity in Russian public opinion polls, it was made at much greater length and depth, in Second Hand Time: The Last of the Soviets (2013), by Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich. The author’s earlier works include Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster (1997); Zinky’s Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (1992); The Last Witnesses (1985), recollections ofRussians who were children during World War II, and War’s Unwomanly Face (1982), about the experiences afterward of Russian women who fought in World War II.
Alexievich, 69, was recognized in 2015 with the Nobel Prize for Literature – an award that, like many other distinguished prizes, is among the truth disciplines that Fuller had in mind. Seeking to explain Putin’s popularity, Alexievich last year told Rachel Donadio, of The New York Times, “In the West, people demonize Putin. They do not understand that there is a collective Putin, consisting of some millions of people who do not want to be humiliated by the West. There is a little piece of Putin in everyone.”
What, then, about Putin’s repeated denials that his government backed various attempts to interfere with U.S. elections in 2016? In Washington last week, that still seemed a question worth asking. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) asked former FBI director Comey, “Was the Russian activity in the 2016 election a one-off proposition, or is this part of a long-term strategy? Will they be back?”
“Oh, it’s a long-term practice of theirs,” Comey responded. “It stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever,” Comey said. “The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts.” Later, he returned to the topic:
“The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that, using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.’’
Special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s report on all aspects of Russian interference in the U.S. elections will go about as far as can be hoped in resolving doubts on this particular issue – diminishing the “fuzz” and confusion surrounding it. Clarity with respect to Russian hacking is one thing. Determining its effect on the 2016 election will be difficult, probably impossible, to resolve.
As for that cherished image of a shining city on a hill? As my friend Richard Pitkin says, there is a little city-on-a-hill in all Americans. It is a complicated sort of truth about which even Russian journalists and scholars may have a say.
David Warsh, an economic historian and veteran journalist reporting and commenting on economic, political and media matters, is proprietor of economicprincipals.com, where this first ran.
From our friends at the World Affairs Council of Rhode Island on their June 15, 2017 event:
"Joblessness is the root cause of the global unrest threatening
Fostering entrepreneurship is the remedy."
We are turning the screw of economic development with a rubber screwdriver.’ That’s Steve Koltai’s lively and engaging account of what is wrong with much official U.S. foreign assistance. Happily, he has a deeply American solution: harnessing the creativity and energy of people around the world in ‘doing entrepreneurship.’
He’s both a visionary and a pragmatist; his ideas actually work on the ground and should occupy a much larger place in U.S. foreign policy.
About Our Speaker
Steven Koltai is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and managing director of the entrepreneurship consultancy Koltai and Co. LLC.
He is a successful entrepreneur in the telecommunications and event management industries, and from 2009–11 served as Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Steven's presentation is based on themes and ideas described in his new book "Peace Through Entrepreneurship". His book can be ordered by clicking here.
The Agawam Hunt Club
East Providence, RI
This event will feature a reception with heavy passed hors d'oeuvres in place of a sit down dinner so as to lower ticket prices.
Our presentation will also begin and end earlier.
WACRI Members and Their Guests $37
Presentation Only $15
Time: Thursday, June 15
6:00 pm Social Hour
7:00 pm Presentation
To Register and Pay Online click here
or RSVP via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guardian: Brexit would be very bad news for America
The Guardian reports that while the British may have valid reasons to want to liberate themselves from European Union rules made in Brussels, for America "Brexit'' would be a disaster.
"There is consensus among economists that Britain leaving the E.U. would lead to a major economic shock, which would have worldwide impacts. In recent days, global markets have followed polls in the U.K. The less likely it is that Britain leaves the better markets have done, and vice versa. Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, warned on Tuesday that Brexit could have 'significant economic repercussions' in the U.S.
"Furthermore, from a national security perspective, Brexit would deprive the U.S. of a crucial window and important pro-American voice in pan-European meetings.''
To read The Guardian story, hit this link.
Father of ISIS-murdered daughter sues Google, Facebook and Twitter
Reynoldo Gonzalez, whose daughter Nohemi was among the 130 people murdered by Islamist terrorists in Paris last November, is suing Google, Facebook and Twitter, saying that the companies gave "material support" to extremists in violation of the law.
Mr. Gonzalez filed the suit on June 14 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. The suit asserts that the companies "knowingly permitted" the Islamic State to recruit members, raise money and spread "extremist propaganda" via their services.
For more information, hit this link.
June 11, 2016
To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; email@example.com):
Our last speaker of the season will be Evan Matthews, a key thought leader at the North Atlantic Ports Association and director of the Port of Davisville. He will talk to us on Wednesday, June 22, on changes in world shipping, including the widening of the Panama Canal and other changes of huge interest to New England ports, especially Quonset/Davisville, Providence and Boston. Since this will be in some part about Narragansett Bay, it’s a good summery topic to end the season with.
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. We will make all possible efforts short of physical violence (psychic violence is allowed) to ensure that the talk ends with plenty of time left for questions and that we close up shop (except for the bar) by 9.
We’d greatly appreciate knowing soon how many people will come to the June 22 dinner.
Please let us know whether you will join usby replying to firstname.lastname@example.org or, in a crunch, calling (401) 523-3957.
Thanks very much to those who have already let us know!
The Hope Club needs good estimates no later than the day before a PCFR dinner.
Dues and dinner cost information may be found at: thepcfr.org. Other membership information may be found there, too. (A member asked if (the modest) duesand dinner fees for this nonprofit educational and civic membership organization aredeductible for business purposes. In some cases. Ask your tax adviser.)
By the way, dues are on a 12-month basis. So, for example, if you paid, as a new member, your dues in March, then you’d pay them again next March. Most of our members pay their annual dues in the summer, in advance of the mainseason. But we have had quite a few new members this season.
We’ll be sending you a list of some new-season speakers in the next few weeks. Topics will probably includethe role of Germany in the E.U.; the mess in Brazil; Central Europe facing right-wing populism and an aggressive Russia; Mongolia; the Zika virus; ocean fishing, the Silk Road Project; Japan, Vietnam, and God knows what other topics current history might throw at us. And we update the PCFR Web site with interesting topics every few days.
Suggestions are appreciated.
We look forward to seeing you.
Roger Cohen warns of disaster for the West if the E.U. unravels
Roger Cohen warns in The New York Times of the perils that lie just ahead with what he sees as the terrifying possibility that the European Union could collapse if the United Kingdom decides to leave the E.U.
Mr. Cohen implied that would make Russian President Vladimir Putin and would-be tyrants in central Europe very happy.
Mr. Cohen concluded:
….I listened the other evening at the American Academy in Berlin as Henry Kissinger, the personification of realpolitik, insisted that the “necessity of the coherence of the Atlantic world” had become ‘even greater.’ With him was the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the recipient of this year’s Kissinger Prize — and long the personification of liberal interventionist idealism. In many ways they formed a strange duo. But their togetherness was also a statement: That, until now, America’s postwar European and internationalist commitment has held across the foreign policy spectrum.
“Realpolitik and idealism meet in the unity of Europe. The unthinkable, on both sides of the Atlantic, must be resisted before it is too late.’’ Hit this link to read his column.
North Korean dictator likes Trump
The North Korean government, via state-controlled media, has praised putative Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his proposal to hold talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, calling him a “wise politician” and “far-sighted candidate” who could help unify the Korean peninsula by not being willing to defend South Korea.
“Trump said he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North, isn’t this fortunate from North Korea’s perspective?” the media said.
Mr. Trump’s remarks suggest that he would tear up U.S. foreign policy around the world.
Laying the foundation for close U.S.-Vietnamese relations
By Lan Anh, a journalist for VietNamNet
On the night of May 22, President Obama landed at Noi Bai International Airport to start his official visit to Vietnam. U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also visited Vietnam while in office.
The American War in Vietnam was a long and sad chapter but that conflict ended 41 years ago.
President Obama’s visit to Vietnam was a dramatic turning point as the two countries establish stronger ties to promote the development, peace and security of the both countries, the Asia/Pacific region and the wider world.
Vietnam has spent much blood, wealth and time defending itself from invadersto regain and preserve its independence. The country has constantly faced threats to its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But, overcoming the sorrow of historical events, and some missteps in its economic-development strategy, Vietnam has today achieved remarkable improvements in the economic and other aspects of its development. It has great potential strengths from its location and its population of 100 million, (making Vietnam the 13th most populous nation) including its large number of young people who are very receptive to new technology. It is also playing an increasingly important role in global economic development.
Meanwhile, Vietnam preserves many of its ancient traditions while it stays open to learning and accepting the best aspects of cultures and values all over the world.
Vietnam has become an inspiring story of a country in transition. A nation that suffered the sorrow of a long war with the U.S., Vietnam has since normalized the relationship with America and is taking steps to improve it further. Vietnamese-U.S. relations are now a world-recognized symbol of reconciliation and of progress toward a peaceful, more secure and developed world.
America has the world’s largest economy and is the global military superpower. Thus, the U.S. plays a crucial role in preserving stability around the Earth. American military power can be deployed quickly to any place in the world. Further, America is the innovation hub of the planet. It’s where leading technologies are constantly being invented and refined with great international impact.
Since World War II, the U.S. has led the establishment of a network of multilateral organizations -- most notably the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and such regional security organizations as NATO. In part becase of these organizations, the U.S. has strong allies around the world.
These factors are crucial parts of the foundation for stronger Vietnamese-U.S. relations.
Prof. Thomas Patterson, a leading Harvard scholar on politics, press and public policy, and a co-founder and director of The Boston Global Forum (BostonGlobalForum.org), said that the bases for a strong and sustainable relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam are trust and respect for each other and mutual understanding of each other’s needs and values. Despite some inevitable differences, the two countries have many shared goals, which include building their own and each other’s prosperity, friendly cultural exchanges and peace and security in the South China Sea (called in Vietnam the East Sea). Strong andfriendly U.S.-Vietnamese relations will foster the strong growth of the two countries in the Pacific Era.
The U.S. can help Vietnam with capital and advanced technology so that Vietnam can continue growing its knowledge and innovation economy via such technology solutions as artificial intelligence (AI) and network security.
After the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TTP) comes into effect, Vietnam’s GDP is projected to increase to $23.5 billion in 2020 and $33.5 billion in 2025. Its exports are projected to rise by $68 billion by 2026. Under the TPP, big markets, such as the U.S., Japan and Canada, willeliminate tariffs for goods imported from Vietnam, which will obviously give its exporting activity a big boost..
Meanwhile Fulbright University Vietnam has officially been granted approval to open. This is a milestone in the journey of cooperation between U.S. and Vietnam in education. Further, the University of California at Los Angeles ( UCLA ) will soon work with Vietnam to carry out new initiatives in global citizenship education.
To establish itself as a major global player, Vietnam needs to be independent of bigger countries so that it can strategize its path ahead while following universal standards and values. Vietnam will raise its visibility in the world with a loving, tolerant and generous attitude.
Vietnam has overcome sorrow and loss to make peace with other countries that caused it pain. Hence, Vietnam has become a symbol of reconciliation and can play an important role in preserving international peace and security in the Asia/Pacific region and around the world.
For example, Vietnam can contribute to the effort to resolve conflicts between the U.S. and Russia, between Europe and Russia, between China and Russia, between the U.S., Japan and North Korea, and between the U.S. and China. Vietnam could also become a centerfor finding solutions to conflicts in the Middle East and forhelping North Korea integrate with the rest of the world (as when Vietnam helped Myanmar reintegrate). And it can be a pioneer in building harmony and security in online space in South East Asia and around the world. This can include educating people to be responsible online citizens in Internet era; teaching them to respect each other’s culture, knowledge and morality, and promoting initiatives for global citizenship education.
Building strong Vietnamese-U.S. relations, as well as the other initiatives cited above, can’t be completed overnight but the path to a brighter future is opened. Tomorrow has started today.
Lan Anh is a journalist for VietNamNet
Exxon execs suppressed company scientists' warnings about global warming
Exxon scientists back in the '70s warned company senior executives about the menace of manmade global warming from burning fossil fuels but the execs suppressed their warnings. See this link.
PCFR News Blog Archive
Search the PCFR Blog Archives here:
- May 24, 2016 France probing Google for fraud and money-laundering May 24, 2016
- May 16, 2016 Next 2 dinners: Adventures in backstabbing; Panama Canal and Quonset May 16, 2016
- May 16, 2016 Important WAC-RI event: FISA courts and national security May 16, 2016
- May 9, 2016 A young person's art amidst refugee anguish May 9, 2016
- May 2, 2016 On trade Trump could squeeze China but... May 2, 2016
- Apr 29, 2016 Cambridge confab to look at international cyberethics Apr 29, 2016
- Apr 27, 2016 May 11 PCFR with world cities/airports expert, and Jeopardy winner, Lindsay Apr 27, 2016
- Apr 23, 2016 May 9 conference in Cambridge on the G7 Summit Apr 23, 2016
- Apr 19, 2016 A new Cold War with Russia? Apr 19, 2016
- Apr 17, 2016 Springtime for dictatorships Apr 17, 2016
- Apr 16, 2016 Online talk with Japanese spokesman moved to April 18 Apr 16, 2016
- Apr 16, 2016 Cities and transport expert (and futurist) Greg Lindsay next at the PCFR Apr 16, 2016
- Apr 14, 2016 'Panama Papers': World Bank, IMF heads decry massive money-hiding Apr 14, 2016
- Apr 11, 2016 Energy Secretary to speak at Brown on April 18 on global nuclear security Apr 11, 2016
- Apr 11, 2016 Ask the Japanese government Apr 11, 2016
- Apr 8, 2016 Japanese diplomats versus Trump Apr 8, 2016
- Apr 5, 2016 Updated description of PCFR's mission, history and operations Apr 5, 2016
- Apr 5, 2016 Panama banking bombshells Apr 5, 2016
- Mar 30, 2016 Using "white hat hackers'' to fight cybercrime Mar 30, 2016
- Mar 30, 2016 Current schedule for rest of season Mar 30, 2016
- Mar 29, 2016 Russia faces off (again) with NATO Mar 29, 2016
- Mar 25, 2016 Blair says more anti-segregation work needed in N. Ireland Mar 25, 2016
- Mar 15, 2016 A superb history of England Mar 15, 2016
- Mar 11, 2016 Next PCFR meeting -- about Europe -- comes on March 22 Mar 11, 2016
- Mar 9, 2016 Ex U.S. defense chief blames some of Russian hostility on U.S. Mar 9, 2016
- Mar 7, 2016 David Warsh: Perot, Trump and 'the China shock' Mar 7, 2016
- Mar 6, 2016 Concerns rise again about Greek exit from Euro Mar 6, 2016
- Mar 2, 2016 Modern-slavery in Brazil? Mar 2, 2016
- Mar 2, 2016 Next: The future of Europe Mar 2, 2016
- Mar 2, 2016 'A Novel of the Next World War' Mar 2, 2016
- Feb 28, 2016 Raja Kamal/Arnold Podgorsky: Reform Judaism's lessons for Muslim immigrants Feb 28, 2016
- Feb 25, 2016 Nordic brides for ISIS killers Feb 25, 2016
- Feb 24, 2016 Anders Corr: Western cure worse than Taliban disease in Afghanistan Feb 24, 2016
- Feb 20, 2016 Saudi-Iranian standoff: Who's stronger? Feb 20, 2016
- Feb 13, 2016 Feb 13, 2016
- Feb 11, 2016 Win Tompkins: The decline of American influence? Feb 11, 2016
- Feb 11, 2016 Anders Corr: Extend NATO cyber-protection to Asia/Pacific Feb 11, 2016
- Feb 9, 2016 Writer Josh Fitzhugh sees the old American cars still being driven on the island as a metaphor Feb 9, 2016
- Feb 7, 2016 O, Canada! Feb 7, 2016
- Feb 4, 2016 How Islamic teaching flows out of Pakistan to the world via computers and headsets. Feb 4, 2016
- Feb 4, 2016 A poor Pakistani town fears big Chinese development plans. Feb 4, 2016
- Feb 3, 2016 Peace between the government and leftist insurgents may be coming to coca-leaf land Colombia but the cocaine business still thrives. Feb 3, 2016
- Feb 1, 2016 Russia's march into World War I Feb 1, 2016
- Feb 1, 2016 And you thought Cold War was tough? Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says solving refugee crisis and income inequality will be tougher than winning the Cold War. A stretch? Feb 1, 2016
- Jan 31, 2016 PCFR folks will enjoy these dialogues on how Japan can succeed in this century. It was passed along by our friends at the Boston Global Forum (bostonglobalforum.org). Jan 31, 2016
- Jan 30, 2016 China is reaching across borders to pursue its critics. Jan 30, 2016
- Jan 27, 2016 Sweden to expel up to 80,000 asylum seekers. Jan 27, 2016
- Jan 26, 2016 PCFR members might want to take in this lecture on "The Crumbling Pax Americana,'' by Chas Freeman, now at Brown's Watson Institute. Jan 26, 2016
- Jan 24, 2016 Read about the complexity, tension and ambiguities of Vietnamese-Chinese relations. Jan 24, 2016
- Jan 24, 2016 Suicides among Indian students highlights the intense pressures on them. Jan 24, 2016
- Jan 24, 2016 Tuesday, Feb. 16: David Alward, the former premier of New Brunswick and now the consul general of Canada to New England. Jan 24, 2016
- Jan 23, 2016 Observations by PCFR member and Met School junior Win Tompkins on Allan Cytryn’s recent appearance: Jan 23, 2016
- Jan 20, 2016 Updated PCFR speakers schedule Jan 20, 2016
- Jan 19, 2016 Decades seen necessary to defeat the Islamic State. Jan 19, 2016
- Jan 19, 2016 Updated speakers schedule coming Jan 19, 2016
- Jan 19, 2016 Hawking warns man is the biggest threat to humans. Jan 19, 2016
- Dec 29, 2015 Change in speaker for Jan. 12 Dec 29, 2015
- Dec 23, 2015 Dr. Salah's talk Dec 23, 2015
- Dec 23, 2015 Bad Chinese pandas! Dec 23, 2015
- Dec 19, 2015 Next stop: World shipping Dec 19, 2015
- Dec 19, 2015 Secrets of world's best businesspeople: Dec 19, 2015
- Dec 13, 2015 Glader's talk on Germany Dec 13, 2015
- Dec 6, 2015 Trying to control waste in Afghan reconstruction Dec 6, 2015
- Dec 6, 2015 Big political change may be coming in Venezuela.... Dec 6, 2015
- Dec 5, 2015 What might Paris attacks mean for cybersecurity? Dec 5, 2015
- Dec 4, 2015 Global Cybersecurity Day Dec 4, 2015
- Dec 3, 2015 Michael Goldfarb: The 40-year war The West and its allies versus radical Islam, a conflict without end. Dec 3, 2015
- Nov 29, 2015 Can climate summit set warming limit? Nov 29, 2015
- Nov 27, 2015 Narco night at the Hope Club Nov 27, 2015
- Nov 27, 2015 Nov 27, 2015
- Nov 27, 2015 French foreign minister says Syrian troops should join in fighting ISIS Nov 27, 2015
- Nov 19, 2015 This video gives a different perspective on ISIS. Nov 19, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 Special invitation to PCFR members to hear State Department planning chief in Newport Nov 14, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 Notes by Win Tompkins, PCFR member and a student at the Met School: Nov 14, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 Indonesia is burning. Why does the world avert its gaze? Nov 14, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 NATO members are supposed to be democracies but Turkey seems headed for dictatorship Nov 14, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 Video: Mothers' high mortality, overpopulation, condoms and the Taliban in Afghanistan. See: Nov 14, 2015
- Nov 14, 2015 In the Edward Snowden affair, German officials said they were shocked-- shocked! -- by revelations that U.S. intelligences services were spying on the German government and some citizens. Nov 14, 2015
- Oct 11, 2015 It's a mistake to call ISIS "medieval''. In some important and unsettling ways it reflects modernity: Read: Oct 11, 2015
- Oct 11, 2015 A call to 'make Canada boring again' Oct 11, 2015
- Oct 10, 2015 An historian says documents show John Kennedy's secret talks with the Soviets and cynical personal and political lives. Oct 10, 2015
- Oct 6, 2015 A major corruption scandal at the U.N., which recalls past corruption at UNESCO Oct 6, 2015
- Oct 1, 2015 Notes on Eduardo Mestre's talk about Cuba / By Win Tompkins Oct 1, 2015
- Sep 16, 2015 A deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership may be near: Sep 16, 2015
Observations by Win Tompkins, a PCFR member and a student at the Met School:
Organized crime was for a long time mostly confined within national borders, hemmed in by aggressive policing in Western nations and a dwindling number of markets to exploit, especially with relegalized alcohol in the U.S. after Prohibition. In the ‘70s, however, the effects of globalization and the recent declaration of a U.S. “war on drugs’’ inevitably washed into the market of illegal narcotics.
One of the first organizations to fully embrace a transnational and high-tech approach to crime was the Medellin Cartel, which used a massive logistical operation involving trucks, planes and boats to transport trucks to the United States via Central America, the Bahamas or the Gulf of Mexico.
At its peak, cocaine sourced from the Cartel made up for 90 percent of America’s cocaine imports and 80 percent of the entire globe’s cocaine market. While the cartel was broken up in 1993 thanks to the intensive efforts of the CIA and Colombian government, the Cartel’s concept of a trans-national crime operation that spans the globe did not go unnoticed in the criminal underworld.
With the dissipation of the Warsaw Pact in 1989, the newly free countries of Eastern Europe had their systems of government changed almost overnight, with vast amounts of state property being sold off and corruption affecting every level of government, the resurgence of organized crime was inevitable.
While many countries have noteworthy criminal organizations, only one group has such a firm grip on a nation’s economy that it could be considered its own state. I am referring to the Bulgarian mafia.
Bulgaria’s mafia was in a unique position in the 1990’s, having not only been able to buy up huge amounts of former state property, but also having become so important to Bulgaria’s economy that it was able to accrue vast political influence in both the two main parties at the time, the Bulgarian socialist party and the Union of Democratic forces party.
In any case, criminal groups now have had global reach. In certain countries as well, the Cartels are integrated into the systems of government itself, and will likely stay that way for some time to come.
-- Win Tompkins
THE TPP by Win Tompkins
The TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, is a trade agreement negotiated by 12 nations, including the United States. The treaty has proven to be a deeply divisive issue in not only the United States but in most of the countries involved in the treaty. This is because, in part, of the controversial proposals made by the U.S relating to copyright law and patent protection for brand-name drugs.
The U.S has been pushing for changes to drug patents, extending protection to eight years from the current limit of five years. However, Australia and several other countries oppose such extensions. This has been one of the main sticking points in the agreement, as well as 19 points of contention relating to copyright.
People are still studying the current version of the agreement. In any event, the TPP has numerous clauses in the deal forcing most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to heavily police their users’ Internet activity and downloads lest they get a takedown notice or a lawsuit from a copyright holder that they must comply with, even if the origin of the takedown notice is unknown.
This YouTube-style policy being applied to all facets of the Internet is understandably deeply unpopular with many people, and it is the main point of opposition to the TPP.
While at face value, the TPP is technically only an economic agreement, another purpose is to push against Chinese territorial ambitions, in particular the building of "Islands" 800+ miles off the Chinese mainland.
The Chinese government has not said much about the agreement other then it is willing to become a partner, though it has so far been rebuffed. It also serves as a noticeable part of the Obama administration’s "Pivot to Asia" to reassure our Asian partners that we remain committed to their security.
However, with the Taiwanese and Chinese leaders meeting and South Korea's president attending China's recent military parade, it is unknown if the Pivot to Asia is too little, too late.
--- Win Tompkins
Scott Shane on the Drone Program by Win Tompkins
In his talk on Oct. 22, Scott Shane addressed some of points of the United States’s drone program, and while he said nothing noticeably different from what has already appeared in his writing for The New York Times and elsewhere, he was articulate, unbiased and very interesting in his analysis.
Mr. Shane first talked about the life of Anwar al-Awlaki, a well known once-moderate Sunni Muslim cleric and U.S citizen who joined al-Qaeda. Mr. Shane noted that his path toward radicalization may have started after the FBI discovered his transgressions with prostitutes. Alwaki feared that these documents would be leaked and so he fled to Britain, where he became more and more radical until he and his family traveled to Yemen and joined al-Qaeda, where he was ultimately killed by a CIA drone strike, in 2011.
Mr. Shane concluded that while there are indeed some who joined al-Qaeda as a result of drone strikes there is no conclusive evidence that drones create more terrorists than they kill.
--- Win Tompkins
On Oct. 22, Scott Shane, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times, will discuss the ethics of drone warfare, the legality of drone strikes against U.S. citizens as well as against foreigners, and how drones could change the image and reality of war in the future.
His book, the highly praised Objective Troy, focuses on the 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, a American Muslim cleric turned Al-Qaeda propagandist who allegedly helped finance attacks inside the West and inspired others, including the failed underwear bomber and the Charlie Hebdo attack, though the connection to the latter attack is flimsy, based only the claims of one of the gunmen.
The killing of Al-Awlaki, whom the CIA hunted for years, was a landmark event because he was a U.S. citizen who was killed without a trial. With Mr. Shane's expertise and ample experience on reporting on the CIA and NSA, he'llprovide a vivid look at a subject that will have implications on how America conducts foreign and military policy for years to come.
--- Win Tompkins
Observations on the Pope's visit to Cuba by Win Tompkins
Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba could turn out to have been an important event the future of the island nation. The Communist government, since it took power in 1959, has opposed organized religion because it conflicts with Marxist-Leninist doctrine and could serve as a rallying point for some political groups opposing Castro. .
Meanwhile, consider the joyful reception that the pope received in light of the nation’s demographics.
Most living Cubans were born after the revolution. Thus they have never known a time in which the Communist Party wasn’t in power. In spite of that, or because, they greeted the Pope with great warmth.
While the Castro government is now less brutal than it was to dissidents during the Cold War, censorship and house arrest are still common tools of the regime to try to keep its critics quiet.
Such methods, however, will not keep the Communist Party from continuing to fall out of favor, for like the Soviet Union before it, a younger population less swayed by the romance of the 1959 revolution and with greater access to information provided by new technology will continue to erode the party’s power.
History suggests that time is not on the autocrats’ side in Cuba, especially since it’s only 90 miles the United States.
-- Win Tompkins