Great Decisions is America’s largest discussion program on world affairs. The 2023 SaddleBrooke Great Decisions program will begin on Monday, January 23, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Meetings will be held twice in January and February, three times in March and once in April. All meetings will be in the East Ballroom at Mountain View Club House. SaddleBrooke members read the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watch a documentary film and listen to a presentation. Following each presentation there will be a brief question and answer period. Small groups will then meet to discuss issues related to each meetings’ topic. Finally, each group will have an opportunity to report the most pertinent take-aways gleaned from their group interaction.
The Topics for the 2023 Meetings Are BelowEnergy Geopolitics
Access to oil and gas has long held an influence over the politics of individual nations and their relations with others. But as more countries move toward sustainable energy, and supply chain shortages affect the availability of oil and gas, how will this change the way in which the United States interacts with the outside world?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in widespread charges of war crimes and calls for justice. But what exactly are war crimes? Opinions of what constitutes a war crime have evolved, as have ways to identify and punish the perpetrators. How will the war crimes committed in Ukraine be dealt with?
China and the U.S.
For the past ten years, the United States and China have been locked in a competition for who has the greatest global influence. One major point of contention is the status of Taiwanese sovereignty, which has become even more relevant recently with the possibility that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may prompt China to take similar action regarding Taiwan. How will the United States engage a China which is increasingly seeking to expand its sphere of influence?
Waging economic warfare consists of a variety of measures from implementing sanctions to fomenting labor strikes. Such tools are utilized by states to hinder their enemies, and in the case of the United States have been used as far back as the early 19th century. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, economic warfare has been the main means for the west to challenge Russia. How effective will these sanctions be at convincing Russia to cease its war?
Politics in Latin America
Electoral results in Latin America over the past four years have led many observers of the regional/political scene to discern a left-wing surge in the hemisphere, reminiscent of the so-called “Pink Tide” that swept the area some 20-years-ago. But how much do these politicians actually have in common? What implication does their ascendency have for the region?
Fears of global food shortages have followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted grain shipments from the major grain producer. But what about countries and regions that were suffering before this impending shortage? How is famine defined, and how is it different from simple food shortages? What if any remedies are there?
Iran at a Crossroads
By the fall of 2022, Iran was in a state of turmoil due to widespread protests against government-enforced wearing of the hijab, a failing economy, an ineffective new president, and the looming succession of the country’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Abroad, renewal of the Iran nuclear deal seemed doubtful and tensions remain high between Iran, Israel, and Arab states. Many Iranians have lost hope of a better future, and the country seems at a crossroads. How should the United States deal with it?
As climate change accelerates and drought and rising sea levels become more common, millions of people in affected regions must uproot themselves and seek safety elsewhere. Who are these affected individuals, and how might the United States aid them, and be affected by the migration?
The Briefing Book with readings on these subjects can be purchased through SaddleBrooke Great Decisions. Members will be notified before the first meeting about how to reserve a book and where to pick it up. Books are $27 again this year. The Briefing Book is also available on Kindle through Amazon. While not mandatory, we encourage all participants to do the readings.
Great Decisions is in need of someone to take over our Communications duties. That person needs to notify members of upcoming meetings and information about book sales and pick-up. Contact Sandy Epstein if you are interested.
A deep debt of gratitude goes out to Penny Rauzi, who has served on our organization’s board until this year. She kept Great Decisions going through Covid in 2021 by organizing Zoom meetings. This last year she helped the group create a safe meeting environment by implementing an immunization and mask policy. Through the years she’s been the group’s convener and communication coordinator. She has introduced the group to most of our speakers over the years. Thanks to Penny for her years of hard work and dedication.
If you have any questions, or need further information about SaddleBrooke Great Decisions, please email Sandy Epstein at SaddleBrookeGreatDecisions@outlook.com, call Sherry Kaplan at (847) 528-1968, or go to our website sbgreatdecisions.wordpress.com. For further information go to the Foreign Policy Association website—www.fpa.org. The Southern Arizona regional Great Decisions group also provides links on its website—TGDA.org.