Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Great Decisions" Global Affairs Discussion Group

The Vineyard Haven Public Library is forming a Great Decisions Discussion Group that will meet for 8 weeks on Thursdays at 7pm, beginning February 10th.

A Great Decisions Discussion Group is composed of interested individuals who want an opportunity to learn and participate in the foreign policy decision-making process. The Foreign Policy Association (FPA) has published the Great Decisions briefing book, a well researched annual publication covering eight timely global topics to be read by group participants in order to prepare for each discussion. At each meeting we will show a 30 minute documentary film on that week's topic, to be followed by a moderated discussion.

The briefing book includes an opinion ballet to be filled in by each participant and sent to the FPA, who tabulates opinions and sends a National Opinion Ballot Report to the White House, the departments of State and Defense, members of Congress, the media, those participating in the balloting process, and concerned citizens.

Please register online or by calling the library (508-696-4211). Briefing books may be purchased from the library for $10 ($20 if purchased from FPA). A limited number of free copies may be available for students (contact the library for more details). One copy of each DVD will also be available for overnight check out.

Rebuilding Haiti
Thursday, February 10th, 7:00 pm DVD 7:30 Discussion
The January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti struck a country already suffering from widespread poverty and underdevelopment. Did this natural disaster inadvertently provide an opportunity for reassessment and planning a new Haiti? Will the results of the 2010 presidential elections provide the leadership bring to restore the country?

U.S. National Security
Thursday, February 17th, 7:00pm DVD 7:30 Discussion
U.S. national security priorities were expanded after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to include waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, tightening border security, pursuing cyberthreats, halting nuclear proliferation and attempting to snuff out homegrown terrorism. How has the U.S. national security agenda evolved since 9/11? In what ways will this agenda shape the American way of life in the future?

Horn of Africa
Thursday, February 24th, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
Since the early 1990s, the U.S. has monitored the Horn of Africa due to security concerns. Internal instability, weak governments in some countries, regional rivalries and a lack of development have resulted in an environment conducive to terrorism. Can the U.S. protect its national interests while mitigating the dangerous conditions in the region?

Responding to the Financial Crisis
Thursday, March 3rd, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
As an immediate response to the financial crisis of 2007–08, governments around the world stepped in to bail out troubled private banks deemed “too big to fail,” underscoring the interdependence between private and public finances. With the recent eurozone crisis, what have we learned so far and is it possible to ensure that future crises will not occur?

Germany Ascendant
Thursday, March 10th, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
Germany has emerged from both the financial crisis and the eurozone crisis as the dominant economic and political power in Europe, in particular setting the tone for dealings with Russia, Eastern Europe and Iran. How important is it for U.S, interests to enhance relations with Germany, and how should the U.S. react when German and U.S. interests fail to align?

Sanctions and Nonproliferation
Thursday, March 17th, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
Sanctions have been created to curb nations in violation of international law, especially agreements concerning nuclear nonproliferation. How successfully have sanctions been applied against past violators? Is there any chance sanctions can curtail North Korea and Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons?

The Caucasus
Thursday, March 24th, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
The countries and regions of the Caucasus all have strong national identities but have long lived in the shadow of their larger neighbors: Russia, Iran and Turkey. How does this influence the Caucasus of today? How do the region's energy resources play into its relations with the outside world?

Global Governance
Thursday, March 31st, 7:00 pm DVD, 7:30pm Discussion
International cooperation subjects political leaders to an ongoing test: balancing national needs with a commitment to building a durable international order. How has an increasingly interconnected and shrinking world affected the viability of existing agreements and institutions? What economic, social, political and security concerns are currently on the agendas of intergovernmental bodies, and what is the future U.S. role?

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