The interactive newspaper for oak hammockers at the university of florida ilr great decisions 2019

This class strives to stimulate your intellect and strengthen your grasp of current events. Group discussions highlight selected thought-provoking foreign policy challenges we face in the current geopolitical environment. The purchase of a briefing book from the Foreign Policy Association ( is strongly encouraged. A video of experts discussing various foreign policy options is shown at each class, while the facilitator supplements and updates the discussion using a variety of materials. Each section of the class is limited to 20 persons. This is necessary to ensure an opportunity for active participation by all class attendees.

The 2019 topics follow. You will be encouraged to participate in informed, stimulating and diverse discussion in a respectful and considerate group setting.

Today, no countries have open borders. Every nation in today’s global system has laws and policies regulating immigration, which has become a hot-button political issue, particularly in the West. International law and the laws of nations recognize special rules for refugees and persons seeking asylum, but who decides on each person’s status, and, with the rise of nationalism and nativist sentiment, how effective are the international norms that were designed to protect refugees and other migrants?

What are U.S. goals in the region after the Trump Administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement and imposed economic sanctions? What role does the Sunni-Shiite divide in Islam play? Has the Trump Administration taken this into account? Should it? How have U.S. provocations against Iran affected U.S. relationships with our traditional Western allies and Japan?

President Trump has had negotiations with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, but to what effect? Will the “art of the deal” approach to nuclear negotiations be successful with such strong and determined autocrats? Is pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement more or less likely to lead to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons? How effective have international arms-control treaties been in preventing nuclear proliferation? How credible is the threat that rogue states or terrorist groups could obtain nuclear-weapons capabilities? What should U.S. policy be and how should it be enforced: carrot, stick, both?

Mass migration and the problems associated with it have greatly abetted the rise of populist parties in Europe. Opposition to immigration was the prime driver of the vote in the U.K for Brexit. It also fueled the rise of right-wing parties in Germany, France and elsewhere on the Continent. How does the rise of populism in Europe relate to the national security interests of the United States? In the current geopolitical environment, how important is NATO to the national security interests of the United States? How important is Europe, now that U.S. foreign policy seems increasingly focused on China, Russia and Iran? What should U.S. foreign policy be toward today’s Europe?

What does it mean, and is it a useful measure today in gauging the economic relationships between nations? The United States uses this measure, which is totally antiquated and misleading, in measuring its economic relationships with other nations. In the current political environment, the terms, “trade surplus” and “trade deficit” make good soundbites to stir political controversy, but they do little to inform the public of the true economic relationships between the United States and its trading partners. The movement of manufactured goods is but a part of the total economic relationship between nations, but “trade numbers” are the most easily understood by the public and, therefore, are easy fodder for use by politicians. Nonetheless, international trade is important, and fair trade is necessary in order to achieve a high standard of living for most of the world’s peoples. To this end, the international community developed over time a set of rules to ensure fair trade. When a nation violates these rules, sanctions and other enforcement actions are in order. Tariffs can be an effective tool under certain circumstances, and the Trump Administration is using them liberally. Under what circumstances are tariffs appropriate, and what other tools might be useful in formulating trade policy toward China and other nations engaged in trade with the United States?

Cyber conflict is a new, continuing and growing threat to U. S. national security. Russia has been accused of using cyber capabilities to interfere with U.S. elections, and U.S. intelligence agencies warn of China’s robust research and development programs in cyber systems that could disrupt U.S. industrial, economic and military systems, as well as U.S. infrastructure generally. What actions should the U.S. take to deal with these threats, internationally and domestically? What role does our federal system, and the politics upon which it is based, play in formulating a comprehensive national policy?

The United States and Mexico not only share a long border; they also share a long common history and people. Territory that was once part of Mexico is now part of the United States. People whose ancestry is Mexican are now American. Some occupy the same land as their ancestors, while others came to the U.S. from other parts of Mexico. Today, there are large American ex-pat communities in Mexico. The U.S. Mexico relationship has had its ups and downs. In the 21st Century, cooperation between the two countries is arguably more important than ever, on trade, migration, drug and human trafficking, and combatting poverty, political instability and climate change. What are the policy choices facing U.S. and Mexican officials in dealing with the relationship between our two countries and what should these policies entail?

As in other areas, the Trump Administration has approached international relations and diplomacy in a most non-traditional manner. The most staid and hide-bound agency of the U.S. Government – The U.S. Department of State – has been upended and thrown into a tizzy, the likes of which its members have never seen and to which its annals are devoid. Well calculated and measured discourse has often been replaced by expressions of fiat, sometimes contradictory and often confusing, always upsetting to those accustomed to traditional international statecraft. Longstanding policies and positions, developed through intra-agency and interagency deliberations, have been cast aside and sometimes repudiated by Presidential Tweet or in personal meetings between Heads of State. This has been most upsetting to the diplomatic community internationally and, probably, to some Heads of State as well, although others, no doubt, have looked upon this development with some amusement. Time will tell whether U.S. foreign policy interests are better served through traditional diplomacy or “art of the deal” transactional negotiations, or perhaps a combination of the two to keep our negotiating partners off balance.