World Affairs Council of Hilton Head

Upcoming events

    • 03 Apr 2020
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928


    The two historic meetings between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un alleviated tensions between the two nations who at one time seemed on the brink of a military encounter. But there is a “fundamental difference in understanding” between the two sides regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the major goal of the summits.

    While Washington was only considering a peace treaty and loosening sanctions on Pyongyang after it had denuclearized, North Korea’s position was a phased approach in which it would receive concessions for every step taken toward denuclearization. That difference is a major reason for the current stalemate in negotiations.

    This is a complicated game of diplomacy with both sides looking to make the next best move. Ambassador Yun will share his insights into North Korea and its short and long-term goals and discuss the prospect of Kim abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons.


    Ambassador YunAmbassador Joseph Yun, former US Special Representative for North Korea Policy, is recognized as one of the nation’s leading experts on relations with North Korea, as well as on broader US-East Asian policy. His 33-year diplomatic career has been marked by his commitment to face-to-face engagement as the best avenue for resolving conflict and advancing cross-border cooperation. He is currently Senior Advisor with The Asia Group, a DC-based strategic advisory firm and the U.S. Institute of Peace, an American non-partisan, independent federal institution that provides analysis of and is involved in conflicts around the world. He is also a Global Affairs Contributor with the CNN.

    As Special Envoy on North Korea from 2016 to 2018, Ambassador Yun led the State Department’s efforts to align regional powers behind a united policy to denuclearize North Korea. He was instrumental in reopening the “New York channel,” a direct communication line with officials from Pyongyang, through which he was able to secure the release of the American student, Otto Warmbier, who had been held in captivity for 15 months.

    From 2013 to 2016 he served as US Ambassador to Malaysia, actively forwarding the administration’s goal of elevating relations with Southeast Asia. During his tenure, Ambassador Yun hosted two visits to Malaysia by President Obama—the first by any US President since 1966—resulting in the signing of the US-Malaysian Comprehensive Partnership Agreement, pledging closer cooperation on security, trade, education, technology, energy, the environment, and people-to-people ties.

    As Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (2011-2013), he helped to bring about the diplomatic normalization of American relations with Myanmar, traveling to Rangoon as the first US-based government official to meet with Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi following her release from house arrest. He also worked to lay the foundation for official participation by the President of the United States in the annual East Asian Summit, starting from 2011.

    Previous assignments include Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asian Policy, Counselor for Political Affairs in the US Embassy in Seoul, Economic Counselor in the US Embassy in Bangkok, as well as earlier assignments in South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and France. He has received a Presidential Meritorious Service Award, three Superior Honors Awards, and nine Foreign Service Performance Awards from the US State Department.

    Ambassador Yun joined the Foreign Service in 1985. Prior to that he was a senior economist for Data Resources, Inc., in Lexington, Massachusetts. He holds a M. Phil. degree from the London School of Economics and a BS from the University of Wales. He is married to Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun. They have one son, Matthew.

    • 21 Apr 2020
    • 5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
    • Sound Waves, 7 Lagoon Rd., Hilton Head, SC 29928

    The Rohingya of Myanmar (Burma)—Persecuted, Isolated, Hopeful

    Since August, 2017, over one million Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine State to escape the military’s large-scale campaign of ethnic cleansing. Currently, this is the largest and most problematic refugee camp in the world, and the scale of this humanitarian disaster is difficult to fathom. Janet Billson has studied this international crises and will speak about the ongoing efforts by several countries to accept these refugees, and to provide a safe and secure return to their homeland.


    Janet Mancini Billson, Director of Group Dimensions International and former Professor of Sociology at The George Washington University, received her MA (1972) and PhD (1976) in Sociology from Brandeis University. Dr. Billson has conducted social policy research since 1981, serving a wide variety of clients on international development, social policy, and organizational collaboration/strategic planning. Research, training, and lecturing have taken her to over 70 countries, including all of Southeast Asia, East and North Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Her clients include the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Inter-American Bank, the International Development Research Centre (Canada), the Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development (Japan), several United Nations agencies, as well as foundations, universities, and hospitals. She completed a database for the UNWOMEN on gender indicators for the former states of the Soviet Union.  

    Dr. Billson’s work has contributed to social policy shifts and program redevelopment at the national and international levels. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Danforth Associate, she received the Society for Applied Sociology’s “Award for Sociological Practice” in 2000 and the District of Columbia Sociological Society’s “Stuart A. Rice Achievement Award” in 2001. She was keynote speaker (Sustainable Development Goals) for the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon in 2019. She happily lives in Indigo Run.

    • 24 Apr 2020
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

    Meeting cancelled due to the spread of Covid-19


    H.R. McMaster will describe the nature of new competitions that place free and open societies at risk.  He will recommend what the United States and like-minded nations must do to achieve security, preserve liberty and foster prosperity in a new era.


    H. R. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018.

    From 2014 to 2017 McMaster designed the future army as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the deputy commanding general of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). As commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw all training and education for the army’s infantry, armor, and cavalry force. His extensive experience leading soldiers and organizations in wartime includes commander of the Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force—Shafafiyat in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012; commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 to 2006; and Commander of Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991. McMaster also served overseas as advisor to the most senior commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    McMaster led or col-ed important strategic assessments including the revision of Iraq strategy during the “surge” of 2007 and efforts to develop security forces and governmental institutions in post-war Iraq. In 2009–2010, he co-led an assessment and planning effort to develop a comprehensive strategy for the greater Middle East.

    McMaster was an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy from 1994 to 1996 where he taught undergraduate courses in military history and history of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also taught a graduate course on the history of military leadership for officers enrolled in the Columbia University MBA program.

    He is author of the award-winning book, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. He has published scores of essays, articles, and book reviews on leadership, history, and the future of warfare in many publications including Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He was a contributing editor for Survival: Global Politics and Strategy from 2010 to 2017.

    McMaster was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    • 25 Apr 2020
    • Institute of Peace , 2301 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037

    National AWQ Competition: Saturday, April 25, 2020 at Institute of Peace, Washington DC

    • 01 May 2020
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

    Meeting cancelled due to the spread of Covid-19


    Australia is traditionally one of America’s closest allies, but it also increasingly relies on China for trade. That makes it a test case for the abiding question of our time – whether the US-led alliances that have sustained the Indo-Pacific since World War II can survive the rise of China. Does Australia have to choose between its longstanding security ally and its new economic partner? And what does that mean for the future of the West?


    Richard McGregor is a senior fellow for east Asia at the Lowy Institute, Australia’s premier foreign policy think tank, in Sydney. Mr McGregor is a former journalist and author who has won numerous awards for his reporting in China and east Asia. McGregor is an expert on the Chinese political system – his book, The Party, on the inner-workings of the Chinese Communist Party, published in 2010, was called a “masterpiece” by The Economist. Translated into seven languages, The Party was chosen by the Asia Society and Mainichi Shimbun in Japan as their book of the year in 2011. His latest book on Sino-Japanese relations, Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan and the Fate of US in the Pacific Century, published in 2017, was called “shrewd and knowing” by the Wall Street Journal and the “best book of the year” by the Literary Review in the UK. In late 2018, it was awarded the Prime Minister of Australia’s award for best non-fiction book of the year.

    As the Former Bureau Chief of Financial Times in Beijing and Washington D.C., he led a team of senior reporters in both capitals for one of the world’s biggest business newspaper. He has also been based in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Taipei. On top of the Financial Times, he has worked for the BBC, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the International Herald Tribune, The Australian and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He was born and spent the early years of his career in Australia.

    McGregor was a visiting scholar at the Wilson Center and George Washington University in Washington from 2014-2016.

Past events

20 Mar 2020 Henri Barkey: Kurds and the New Geopolitics of the Middle East
07 Mar 2020 AWQ County Competition
06 Mar 2020 Sheila A. Smith: Japan Rearmed - The Politics of Military Power
05 Mar 2020 Evening Speaker Series: Kathleen Biggins
21 Feb 2020 Joby Warrick - Black Flags and Red Lines
20 Feb 2020 AWQ Mock 2
18 Feb 2020 Evening Speaker Series: Alex Kershaw
07 Feb 2020 Dr. Bhavya Lal: The Changing Landscape of Space
06 Feb 2020 Great Decisions Group IV, Thursdays at 7:00 pm
05 Feb 2020 Great Decisions Group III, Wednesdays at 10:00 am
04 Feb 2020 Great Decisions Group II, Tuesdays at 10:00 am
03 Feb 2020 Great Decisions Group I, Mondays 10 am
31 Jan 2020 Model UN Regional Conference
24 Jan 2020 Sean McFate: The New Rules of War
21 Jan 2020 Evening Speaker Series: Bing West
21 Jan 2020 2020 Evening Speaker Series - 4 events
10 Jan 2020 Admiral Cecil Haney: China’s Doctrines on Space, Cyberwarfare and its Nuclear Program
06 Dec 2019 Michael Shifter: The Chaos in Venezuela
15 Nov 2019 Sulmaan Khan: Haunted By Chaos - China’s Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping
01 Nov 2019 Global Speakers Program: Monica Araya
25 Oct 2019 Ambassador Peter Ammon: US and German Relations, Post 1989
04 Oct 2019 General Wesley Clark - Deglobalization: Threats and Opportunities
03 Oct 2019 Fall Forum - Group 3: THURSDAYS
02 Oct 2019 Fall Forum - Group 2: WEDNESDAYS
01 Oct 2019 Fall Forum - Group 4: TUESDAY EVENINGS
01 Oct 2019 Fall Forum - Group 1: TUESDAYS
27 Sep 2019 Annual Meeting - World Affairs Council of Hilton Head
14 Aug 2019 Summer Forum: David Lauderdale
17 Jul 2019 Summer Forum: Lynne Cope Hummell
19 Jun 2019 Summer Forum: Larry Kramer
17 May 2019 John Gilbert: North Korea and the Nuclear Threat
16 May 2019 Cocktail Reception for David Eisenhower
03 May 2019 Alyssa Ayres: India’s Rise on the World Stage
09 Apr 2019 Evening Speaker Series: Allison Stiller
05 Apr 2019 Global Speakers Program - Ambassador Jerzy Pomianowski: Supporting Democracy in Eastern Europe
15 Mar 2019 Ambassador Roman Popadiuk: The Ukraine Russian Crisis
12 Mar 2019 Evening Speaker Series: Patrick Skinner
01 Mar 2019 Robert Mallett: Africa - Familiar Challenges, Rewarding Opportunities
15 Feb 2019 Christopher Alexander: Canadian and U.S. Relations
12 Feb 2019 Evening Speaker Series: Amb. Everett Briggs
07 Feb 2019 Great Decisions Group IV: Thursday evenings, 7:00 pm
06 Feb 2019 Great Decisions Group III: Wednesdays, 10 am
05 Feb 2019 Great Decisions Group II: Tuesdays, 10 am
04 Feb 2019 Great Decisions Group I, Mondays 10 am
01 Feb 2019 Dr. Soner Cagaptay: The New Sultan and Turkey’s Foreign Policy
25 Jan 2019 Trita Parsi: Iran’s Strategy in the Middle East
11 Jan 2019 Josh Michaud:Global Health
08 Jan 2019 Evening Speaker Series: Larry Kramer
08 Jan 2019 2019 Evening Speaker Series - 4 events
07 Dec 2018 Michael Auslin: Asia and America in the Age of Trump - War, Retreat or Recommit?
16 Nov 2018 Luncheon with Dr. Jennifer Keene
16 Nov 2018 Dr. Jennifer Keene: World War I and the Dawning of the American Century
02 Nov 2018 Global Speakers Program- Ambassador Pierre Vimont: President Macron’s France
26 Oct 2018 Bruce Hoffman: Inside Terrorism Today
05 Oct 2018 Larry Diamond: The Liberal Democratic Order in Crisis
04 Oct 2018 Fall Forum - Group 3, Thursdays
03 Oct 2018 Fall Forum - Group 2, Wednesdays
02 Oct 2018 Fall Forum - Group 1, Tuesdays
21 Sep 2018 Annual Meeting
15 Aug 2018 Summer Forum: Dr. Sally Mason
11 Jul 2018 Summer Forum: Richard J. Gough
20 Jun 2018 Summer Forum: Dr. Jim Wagner
04 May 2018 Todd S. Sechser: Nuclear Security
20 Apr 2018 Mohamed Razeen Sally: Asia Rising: Past, Present and Future
10 Apr 2018 Evening Speaker Series: Ben Kinnas
06 Apr 2018 Ray Toll & RADM Ann Phillips, USN: Rising Sea Levels and Their Impact on the Navy
16 Mar 2018 Anthony Zinni: A New Military Strategy
05 Mar 2018 Evening Speaker Series: Katherine Canavan
02 Mar 2018 Sarah Chayes: The Real Cost of Corruption
16 Feb 2018 Amb. Christopher Hill: Outpost, A Diplomat at Work
13 Feb 2018 Evening Speaker Series: Don Paul Colcolough
02 Feb 2018 Amb. William "Bill" Richardson III: North Korea
26 Jan 2018 Ivo Daalder: Trump’s Foreign Policy
12 Jan 2018 Benjamin Buchanan: The Cyber Security Dilemma
09 Jan 2018 Evening Speaker Series: Hazel O’Leary
09 Jan 2018 2018 Evening Speaker Series
01 Dec 2017 Edward Alden: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy
17 Nov 2017 Dr. Andrew Selee: Mexico’s Relations with the United States in the Administration of Trump
03 Nov 2017 Amb. James Jeffrey: The Middle East
13 Oct 2017 Anand Menon: The Future of the European Union
06 Oct 2017 Philip J. (P.J.) Crowley: American Foreign Policy in a Time of Fractured Politics and Failed States
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