World Affairs Council of Hilton Head

Upcoming events

    • 09 Sep 2021
    • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (EDT)
    • Palmetto Electric Cooperative Community Room, 111 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island
    • 30

    Note: Registration Opens August 9, 2021 (Members Only)

    The Room Where It Happened Book CoverAbstract

    As President Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton spent many of his 453 days in the room where it happened. The result is a White House memoir that is the most comprehensive and substantial account of the Trump Administration, and one of the few to date by a top-level official. With almost daily access to the President, John Bolton has produced a precise rendering of his days in and around the Oval Office.

    The turmoil, conflicts, and egos are all there—from the upheaval in Venezuela, to the erratic moves of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, to the showdowns at the G7 summits, the calculated warmongering by Iran, and the placating of an authoritarian China that ultimately exposed the world to its lethal lies. As seasoned public servant with a great eye for the Washington inside game, his story is full of wit and wry humor about how he saw it played.

    About the Author

    John Bolton is the former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump. He served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006. He has spent many years of his career in public service and held high-level positions in the Administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush. Ambassador Bolton graduated with a B.A., summa cum laude, from Yale College and received his J.D. from Yale Law School.

    • 10 Sep 2021
    • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • Fellowship Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC


    Dr. Todd Wright

    Dr. Todd Wright is the former executive vice president of operations for the Energy and Environment Business Unit for AECOM, an international firm connecting knowledge and experience across the globe to solve complex engineering challenges. He had operations and management responsibility for the Division’s nuclear work with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the UK Nuclear Decommission Authority (NDA) and commercial nuclear decommissioning in both the USA and Japan.  In his career, Dr. Wright has worked in essentially every segment of the nuclear fuel cycle.  He was appointed to the South Carolina Nuclear Advisory Council in 2019.

    Dr. Wright has 37 years of leadership experience in complex nuclear site operations, major project management, advanced nuclear research and development, and achieving safety performance excellence. He has successfully led complex organizations and managed unprecedented change in highly regulated environments. 

    Prior to his AECOM position Dr. Wright served as Managing Director and Chairman of the Board for Sellafield Sites Ltd., one of the world’s most complex nuclear sites.  He led the efforts to bring safety performance at Sellafield Ltd. to the best level in its 60-year history and earning the honor of URS Safe Project of the Year for an unprecedented two consecutive years. Dr. Wright also established a comprehensive change program to transition the 10,000-person workforce to a high-performance organization while delivering 900 million pounds in efficiencies for the UK taxpayer.

    He led Sellafield to reprocess over 7000 tons of fuel in the THORP spent fuel reprocessing plant-a first ever milestone.  The high-level waste resulting from reprocessing operations was vitrified (converted to a glass waste form) and the formerly decommissioned Capenhurst fuel enrichment plant site was successfully transitioned to industry.

    At the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site, Dr. Wright served as a Laboratory Director and successfully transitioned the laboratory from a site-centered focus and expanded the Laboratory research base to a diverse portfolio of customers. Under his leadership, several innovative initiatives were realized including the construction and establishment of the Center for Hydrogen Research, the only facility of its kind in the US.

    Dr. Wright earned his PhD and both Master and Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr Wright was a recipient of the Order of the Palmetto in 2019, the state of South Carolina’s highest civilian award.

    • 17 Sep 2021
    • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • Fellowship Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC


    Cyber Threats and the Evolution of Cyberwarfare: Russia and China as Case Studies


    Dr. Larry Valero

    Dr. Larry Valero (Ph.D. Cambridge, M.A. King's College London, B.A. UCLA) is the Department Head and Associate Professor of Intelligence and Security Studies at The Citadel - The Military College of South Carolina. He served as the President of the International Association for Intelligence Education from 2014-2019. Dr. Valero’s research and teaching interests focus upon U.S. intelligence and national security, strategy, and modern warfare. Dr. Valero has published articles in Cryptologic Quarterly, the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Intelligence and National Security, and Studies in Intelligence. He was previously Scholar in Residence at the National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, Maryland and served on the faculty of the Department of International Security and Military Studies at the U.S. Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. He was honored with the 2011 Outstanding Instructor Award by the International Association for Intelligence Education. Dr. Valero serves currently as an American Council on Education faculty evaluator for military programs in the field of intelligence studies. 

    • 24 Sep 2021
    • 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • Fellowship Hall, First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC


    Blair Streitenberger

    Blair Streitenberger is a solo-practice attorney on Hilton Head Island in the areas of family law, estate planning and probate.  He became interested in cryptocurrencies and bitcoin in particular, in 2014. Since then, he has been following the space closely incorporating this interest into his practice by helping clients deal with cryptocurrencies in the context of divorces and estate planning.  

    The presentation will briefly cover the history of attempts at digital currencies leading to the invention of bitcoin, some of the philosophy behind the question of "What is money?",  what is bitcoin and how it works in a general sense, what are some of the other cryptocurrencies, and common misconceptions.  

    • 01 Oct 2021
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Ambassador Bolton will review the national security challenges and opportunities facing the Biden Administration  -- political, military and economic  -- and the positions it inherited from its predecessors.


    John BoltonJohn R. Bolton served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from April 9, 2018 until his resignation on September 10, 2019. From January 2007 until April 2018, he served as a Senior Fellow at American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

    John R. Bolton was appointed as United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations on August 1, 2005 and served until his resignation in December 2006. Prior to his appointment, Ambassador Bolton served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security from May 2001 to May 2005.

    Throughout his distinguished career, Ambassador Bolton has been a staunch defender of American interests. While Under Secretary of State, he repeatedly advocated tough measures against the nuclear weapons programs of both Iran and North Korea, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction worldwide.  He led negotiations for America to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the Bush Administration could proceed with a national missile-defense program.

    Ambassador Bolton has spent many years of his career in public service. Previous positions he has held include assistant secretary for International Organization Affairs at the Department of State, 1989-1993; assistant attorney general, Department of Justice, 1985-1989; assistant administrator for Program and Policy Coordination, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1982-1983 and general counsel, U.S. Agency for International Development, 1981-1982.

    Ambassador Bolton is the author of The Room Where it Happened, published by Simon & Schuster (June 2020) , Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the U.N. and Abroad, published by Simon & Shuster (November 2007) and How Barack Obama is Endangering our National Sovereignty, published by Encounter Books (April 2010).

    Ambassador Bolton was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Yale College in 1970, and received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1974. He currently resides in Maryland with his wife, Gretchen. They have one daughter, Jennifer Sarah, who also graduated from Yale College, and received her MBA and SM degrees from MIT in 2014 and is currently a senior manager at Nissan’s manufacturing facility in Nashville.

    • 05 Oct 2021
    • (EDT)
    • 16 Nov 2021
    • (EST)
    • 4 sessions
    • USCB- 1 Sand Shark Dr., HHI, Room 214

    The Fall Forum is free and open to all World Affairs Council Hilton Head members, but registration is required. Group 1 meets on Tuesdays at 10 am on October 5, October 19, November 2, and November 16.

    • 05 Oct 2021
    • (EDT)
    • 16 Nov 2021
    • (EST)
    • 4 sessions
    • Hargray Community Room, 862A William Hilton Pkwy

    The Fall Forum is free and open to all World Affairs Council Hilton Head members, but registration is required. Group 2 meets on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm on October 5, October 19, November 2, and November 16.

    • 06 Oct 2021
    • (EDT)
    • 17 Nov 2021
    • (EST)
    • 4 sessions
    • Bluffton Township Fire Station #35, 357Fording Island Rd., Bluffton

    The Fall Forum is free and open to all World Affairs Council Hilton Head members, but registration is required. Group 3 meets on Wednesdays at 10 am on October 6, October 20, November 3, and November 17.

    • 07 Oct 2021
    • (EDT)
    • 18 Nov 2021
    • (EST)
    • 4 sessions
    • USCB- 1 Sand Shark Dr., HHI, Room 214

    The Fall Forum is free and open to all World Affairs Council Hilton Head members, but registration is required. Group 4 meets on Thursdays at 10 am on October 7, October 21, November 4, and November 18 via Zoom.

    • 14 Oct 2021
    • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (EDT)
    • Palmetto Electric Cooperative Community Room, 111 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island
    • 30

    Note: Registration Opens September 14, 2021 (Members Only)

    The New Map Book CoverAbstract

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author and global energy expert, Daniel Yergin offers a revelatory new account of how energy revolutions, climate battles, and geopolitics are mapping our future. The “shale revolution” in oil and gas has transformed the American economy, ending the “era of shortage” but introducing a turbulent new era. Almost overnight, the United States has become the world's number one energy powerhouse. Yet concern about energy's role in climate change is challenging the global economy and way of life, accelerating a second energy revolution in the search for a low-carbon future. All of this has been made starker and more urgent by the coronavirus pandemic, its economic impact, and geopolitical shifts arising from China, Russia and the Middle East.

    About the Author

    Daniel Yergin is Vice Chairman of IHS and Founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. He serves on the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and chaired the US Department of Energy’s Task Force on Strategic Energy Research and Development. He is a Trustee of the Brookings Institution, on the Board of the New America Foundation, and on the Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Energy Initiative. Dr. Yergin holds a B.A. from Yale University and a PhD from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar.

    • 22 Oct 2021
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Deborah A. McCarthy

    Ambassador (ret) Deborah A. McCarthy is an expert on U.S. foreign and national security policy with over 30 years of diplomatic experience.  Currently, she is a Fellow at Harvard University in the Advanced Leadership Initiative.  She is the host/producer of the National Security Podcast series  “The General and the Ambassador: A Conversation.”

    Most recently, Ms. McCarthy was a visiting Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.  Previously, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania (2013-2016).  She also served as the Deputy Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Greece and the U.S.  Embassy in Nicaragua.  In Washington, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Senior Advisor for Counter Terrorism and Special Coordinator for Venezuela. Other diplomatic postings include:  Consul General Montreal, Economic Counselor U.S. Embassy Paris, Financial Economist U.S. Embassy Rome and assignments in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

    Ms. McCarthy received a B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia and a joint Masters in Economics and Foreign Service from Georgetown University.  She is active on social media on U.S. foreign policy (Twitter: @Amb_DMcCarthy) and is a regular public speaker. She is a member of the Atlantic Council and American College of National Security Leaders.  She serves on the Board of the Academy of Diplomacy , the Command and General Staff College Foundation as well as on the Advisory Council for the Master’s program in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

    • 05 Nov 2021
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Drawing on his years as a member, and chair from 2007-2011, of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Oversight and Reform Committee and his membership on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, plus his present role as Executive Director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and for the Council for a Livable World, Tierney posits some examples of “Questions that Congress is Failing to Ask” – in other words, failing in its oversight of national security and foreign policy efforts – resulting in potential for international destabilization or conflict.”

    Tierney does this by identifying the number of overseas basis and troop deployments, most without U.S. Congressional approval or even knowledge; questioning whether China is truly the military threat now being suggested, and whether approaching China solely as a potential military adversary is sound policy; and highlighting problems with the missile defense program – is it strategically wise, and do the laws of physics even point toward success of a possible reliable and credible intercept given the realities of what has been proposed, built and tested? Or is it simply too costly and a failed strategy and program?


    John TierneyJohn Tierney is the Executive Director at Council for a Livable World, where his work focuses on national security issues in Congress, nuclear nonproliferation, missile defense, and other areas of peace and security.

    Tierney is a former nine-term Massachusetts congressman who served on the House Intelligence Committee and chaired the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. During his congressional career, Tierney spent considerable time advocating on nuclear non-proliferation and national security issues. As a Member, Tierney was regularly endorsed by the Council for a Livable World for his leadership in arms control and preventing nuclear proliferation.

    Tierney’s 18-year career included oversight of the Government Accountability Office’s annual assessment of the Pentagon’s Weapons Selection Programs and reform of overall Pentagon spending. In 2009, Foreign Policy Magazine praised Tierney, noting that he “has a reputation for taking on thorny oversight issues the House Armed Services Committee shied away from.”

    Tierney’s congressional colleagues have repeatedly honored his non-proliferation and national security work.

    Tierney is an appointed member of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB), an advisory committee established by the U.S. Congress with the official mandate of promoting the fullest public access to a thorough, accurate and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and activities. The Board also advises the President and other Executive Branch officials on the identification, collection, and review for declassification and release of declassified records and materials of archival value.

    He is also a member of the Higher Education Task Force of the national Bipartisan Policy Center (PBC) tasked with improving the affordability and accountability of the U.S. Higher Education system.

    Tierney holds a B.A. from Salem State College and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.

    • 11 Nov 2021
    • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (EST)
    • Palmetto Electric Cooperative Community Room, 111 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island
    • 30

    Note: Registration Opens October 11, 2021 (Members Only)

    After the Fall Book CoverAbstract

    In After the Fall, Ben Rhodes reflects on how America has shaped the world we live in and recent world events. He spent three years interviewing a wide-ranging set of players across the globe who are confronting the threats of nationalism and authoritarianism in their own countries that includes Cuban rebels, a Russian opposition leader, and Hong Kong protestors. It became clear that what was happening here in America was not some black swan event, it was part of a wake of events in the wider world. Decades of American capitalism, technology, and the politicized pursuit of national security helped set the stage for nationalistic appeal across the globe. Through his travels Rhodes learns that looking squarely at where America has gone wrong makes clear how essential it is to fight for what America is supposed to be, for our own country and the entire world.

    About the Author

    Ben Rhodes is a best-selling author and co-host of Pod Save the World. From 2009 to 2017, he served as deputy national security advisor to President Barak Obama, managing presidential communications on national security issues. Rhodes also formerly served under Congressman Lee Hamilton (2002-2007). Rhodes holds an M.F.A. from New York University and a B.A. from Rice University.

    • 19 Nov 2021
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EST)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Anand MenonAnand Menon is Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College London. He also directs the UK in a Changing Europe project ( His areas of research interest include the policies and institutions of the European Union, European security, and British politics. He contributes regularly to both print and broadcast media. He is co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of the European Union (OUP, 2012), and co-author of Brexit and British Politics (Polity 2018). He is a trustee of Full Fact, a member of the Strategic Council of the European Policy Centre, a Council member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and an associate fellow of Chatham House.

    • 03 Dec 2021
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EST)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Nury Turkel will present his views of China’s historical colonial relationship with Xinjiang; its claim of Uyghur terrorism that has justified China’s mass internment, surveillance, and forced labor; and how the West, and the U.S. in particular, must deal with the CCP’s cultural genocide and human rights violations.


    Nury TurkelNury Turkel is the first U.S.-educated Uyghur-American lawyer and human rights advocate. He was born in a re-education camp at the height of China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution and spent the first several months of his life in detention with his mother. He came to the United States in 1995 as a student and was granted asylum in 1998.

    Turkel received an M.A. in International Relations and a J.D. from the American University in Washington, DC. As an attorney, he specializes in regulatory compliance, federal investigation and enforcement, anti-bribery, legislative advocacy, and immigration. In addition to his professional career, Turkel has devoted his time and energy to promoting Uyghur human rights and supporting American and universal democratic norms.

    In May 2020, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed Turkel as a Commissioner to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In September 2020, Turkel was named one of the TIME 100 Most Influential People in the World. 

    Turkel currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), which he co-founded in 2003. He also served as the president of the Uyghur American Association, where he led efforts to raise the profile of the Uyghur people in the United States, including organizing and leading the campaign that achieved the March 2005 release of a renowned Uyghur prisoner of conscience, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer. Since 2011, he has successfully represented a substantial number of Uyghur political refugees with their asylum applications in the United States. 

    In addition to his advocacy work in the United States, Turkel has engaged in policy and legislative advocacy in the European Union and the Australian Parliament. He serves as a legal and policy adviser to the past and present presidents of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an organization that serves as an umbrella organization for the Uyghur community and advocacy groups promoting universal human rights. Turkel successfully represented Dolkun Isa, WUC’s current president, to restore his travel privileges to the United States. He has also assisted Uyghur refugees in the United States, Europe, and Turkey. 

    Turkel has published policy-oriented commentaries and op-eds in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, The Independent, The Hill, and The Diplomat. Turkel has spoken at numerous policy forums, academic institutes, and human rights conferences, regarding the mass internment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in China. He has appeared on major media outlets including CNN, BBC, Fox News, Al Jazeera, Australian ABC, Sky News, France 24, and TRT World.

    He has testified before Congress, including most recently before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in October 2019, speaking about Uyghur internment camps, and advocating a legislative response to China’s atrocities. Many of his recommendations have been incorporated into U.S. laws and pending bills relating to Uyghurs and China in Congress, including the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (Public Law 116-145).

    • 09 Dec 2021
    • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (EST)
    • Palmetto Electric Cooperative Community Room, 111 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island
    • 30

    Note: Registration Opens November 9, 2021 (Members Only)

    War - How Conflict Shaped Us Book Cover


    The instinct to fight may be innate in human nature, but war—organized violence—comes with organized society. War has shaped humanity’s history, its social and political institutions, its values and ideas. Our very language, our public spaces, our private memories, and some of our greatest cultural treasures reflect the glory and the misery of war. War is an uncomfortable and challenging subject not least because it brings out both the vilest and the noblest aspects of humanity.

    Margaret MacMillan looks at the ways in which war has influenced human society and how, in turn, changes in political organization, technology, or ideologies have affected how and why we fight. War is not an aberration. War and human society are deeply intertwined —it is an important dimension of the human story. We cannot ignore war and its impact on the development of human society if we hope to understand our world and how we reached this point in history.

    About the Author

    Margaret MacMillan is an award wining author, emeritus professor of international history at the University of Oxford, and professor of history at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD from Oxford University and became a member of the history faculty at Ryerson University in 1975. In 2002, she became Provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, and from 2007 to 2017 she was the Warden of St. Antony’s College at Oxford University.

    • 21 Jan 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EST)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Farah PandithFarah Pandith is a world-leading expert and pioneer in countering violent extremism. She is a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and she is a Senior Advisor at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Her book is How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat. A foreign policy strategist and diplomatic entrepreneur, she is driving efforts to counter extremism through new organizations, programs, and initiatives. Most recently, the Muhammad Ali Center named Pandith the first-ever Muhammad Ali Global Peace Laureate for her proven track record of and commitment to promoting diversity, cohesion, and respect.

    Ms. Pandith has served as a political appointee in the George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama administrations. Ms. Pandith was appointed the first-ever special representative to Muslim Communities in June 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, serving under both Secretaries Clinton and John Kerry. The Office of the Special Representative was responsible for engaging with Muslims around the world both organizationally and individually. Reporting directly to the secretary of state, Ms. Pandith traveled to nearly one hundred countries and launched youth-focused initiatives, while also playing a central role in the creation of the Women in Public Service Project. In January 2013, she was awarded the Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award.

    Ms. Pandith has consulted for organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors and has served in leadership positions on several boards with a focus on international affairs, women’s empowerment, education, and cultural diplomacy.  She was a member of Secretary Jeh Johnson’s Homeland Security Advisory Council where she chaired its task force on countering violent extremism (2015-2017). She also served as a Commissioner and Strategic Advisor on the Center for Strategic and International Studies CVE Commission, which produced the report Turning Point. She was a Fellow at the Institute of Politics (Spring 2014) and a Fisher Family Fellow (Fall 2014).

    Ms. Pandith received a Master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where she specialized in International Security Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Southwest Asia, and International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. She received an A.B. in Government and Psychology from Smith College, where she was president of the student body. She is currently a member of the Board of Advisors of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Ms. Pandith was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, India, and was raised in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

    • 04 Feb 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EST)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger? Harvard professor Daniel Ziblatt has spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and believes the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one.

    Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky shows how democracies die—and how ours can be saved.


    Daniel ZiblattDaniel Ziblatt is Eaton Professor of Government at Harvard University and is director of the Transformations of Democracy group at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center. He specializes in the study of Europe and the history of democracy.  His three books include How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), co-authored with Steve Levitsky), a New York Times best-seller and der Spiegel best-seller (Germany) and translated into twenty two languages. He is also the author of Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2017), an account of Europe's historical democratization, which won the American Political Science Association's 2018 Woodrow Wilson Prize for the best book in government and international relations and American Sociological Association's 2018 Barrington Moore Prize. His first book was an analysis of 19th century state building, Structuring the State: The Formation of Italy and Germany and the Puzzle of Federalism (Princeton, 2006).

    In recent years he has been a fellow or visiting professor at the European University Institute (Florence, Italy), Center for Advanced Study (Stanford), Max Planck Institute (Cologne), University of Munich, and the Ecole Normale Superieure (Paris)

    • 18 Feb 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EST)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    US–Iran relations have been strained for decades. However, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) proved that U.S.-Iran enmity is not inevitable. The demise of the deal was not due to the deficiencies of the JCPOA or the shortcomings of diplomacy; it is the thirst for hegemony that could stand in the way of the U.S. losing Iran as an enemy.


    Trita Parsi

    Trita Parsi is an award-winning author and the 2010 recipient of the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Treacherous Alliance is the silver medal winner of the 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Parsi's second book A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press) was released early 2012 and was selected by Foreign Affairs journal as the Best Book of 2012 on the Middle East.

    His latest book - Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press, 2017) - reveals the behind the scenes story to the historic nuclear deal with Iran.

    Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D.

    He founded NIAC to provide a non-partisan, non-profit organization through which Iranian-Americans could participate in American civic life. NIAC is a vocal proponent of dialogue and engagement between the US and Iran, which Parsi consistently has argued would enhance our national security by helping to stabilize the Middle East and bolster the moderates in Iran.

    Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly's Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

    Parsi studied for his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to his PhD, he holds a Master's Degree in International Relations from Uppsala University and a Master's Degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University SAIS, George Washington University and Georgetown University, as well as an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

    He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi's articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Jane's Intelligence Review, the Nation, The American Conservative, the Jerusalem Post, The Forward, and others. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS’s Newshour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, the BBC, and Al Jazeera.

    • 18 Mar 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Russia's relationship with its neighbors and with the West has worsened dramatically in recent years. Under Putin's leadership, the country has annexed Crimea, begun a war in Eastern Ukraine, used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK and created an army of Internet trolls to meddle in the US presidential elections. How should we understand this apparent relapse into aggressive imperialism and militarism?

    Sergei Medvedev will discuss this new wave of Russian nationalism which he feels is the result of mentalities that have long been embedded within the Russian psyche. Whereas in the West, the turbulent social changes of the 1960s and a rising awareness of the legacy of colonialism have modernized attitudes, Russia has been stymied by an enduring sense of superiority over its neighbors alongside a painful nostalgia for empire. It is this irrational worldview that Putin and others have exploited, as seen most clearly in Russia's recent foreign policy decisions, including the annexation of Crimea.


    Sergei Medvedev

    Sergei Medvedev, a historian, writer and journalist, has won this year's Pushkin House Russian book prize for his work on contemporary Russia, The Return of the Russian Leviathan.

    A prestigious jury overseeing the Prize - awarded each year for the best non-fiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world - singled out his work among six shortlisted finalists whose books covered culture, history, politics, science, and the environment.

    Sergei Medvedev is the first Russian-based author to win the prize. His book was translated into English by Stephen Dalziel and published by Polity.

    • 01 Apr 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Amb. Silliman will discuss the challenges and opportunities of the Biden administration in light of the changing landscape of the Middle East.   Such changes include the Gulf states as regional players, JCPOA and Iran, human rights reform in Saudi Arabia, and other regional power alliances.  These changes will be taking place within the context of a post-Covid pandemic economic recovery and climate change.  


    Douglas A. Silliman Ambassador Douglas A. Silliman is president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He previously served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2016-19 and U.S. ambassador to Kuwait from 2014-16. From 2013-14, he served as a senior advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, working on Iraq issues and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Silliman was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq from 2012-13, minister counselor for political affairs in Baghdad from 2011-12, and deputy chief of mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008-11. He joined the Department of State in 1984.

    Silliman served as director and deputy director of the Department of State’s Office of Southern European Affairs, as political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, and as the regional officer for the Middle East in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. He worked as a political officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, as the desk officer for Lebanon, and as a staff assistant to the assistant secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Silliman began his career as a visa officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and a political officer in Tunis, Tunisia.

    In 2018, Silliman received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Donald J. Trump. He has received numerous awards from the Department of State, including the Secretary’s Award for Public Outreach in 2007 and senior performance awards. Silliman received the Sinclaire Language Award in 1993 and the W. Averell Harriman Award for outstanding junior officer in 1988 from the American Foreign Service Association. He retired from the Foreign Service in April 2019 after 35 years.

    Silliman received a Bachelor of Arts in political science, summa cum laude, from Baylor University in Texas, where he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Master of Arts in international relations from the George Washington University. Silliman speaks Arabic and French. He is married and has two adult children.

    In addition to his position as president of AGSIW, Silliman also serves on the board of advisors of the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, which helps American businesses expand their international business and trade ties, especially in the Middle East and Gulf region. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy.

    • 22 Apr 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Kevin Scheid will explore the evolution of cyber threats and how different approaches by government and business will be needed to defend against bad actors and to decrease our vulnerability.


    Kevin Scheid

    Kevin J. Scheid has served the federal government for over 30 years in a number of progressively senior positions at the White House, Intelligence Community, and the Department of Defense. In November, 2016, Mr. Scheid was selected by the 28 nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to serve as General Manager, NATO Communications and Information Agency, effective 1 July 2017.

    For the past two years, Scheid was on assignment from DOD to the MITRE Corporation as the special advisor to the CEO and President. He led a corporate-wide project to expand MITRE’s international engagements with US allies and partner nations. MITRE is a not-for-profit corporation that provides strategic and technical support to the US Department of Defense and other agencies throughout the Federal government.

    From 2009 to 2013, Scheid was seconded to NATO as the Deputy General Manager (DGM) of the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency. He simultaneously held the positions of DGM, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Acquisitions. Based in The Hague, Mr. Scheid oversaw C4ISR capability development programs and major acquisitions for NATO Commands, Headquarters, Agencies and its 28 member nations.

    Prior to NATO, Scheid served as the Deputy Comptroller for the Department of Defense (2006 to 2009). He supported the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Deputy Secretary with advice and analysis on funding for defense activities including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, major defense acquisitions, intelligence programs, and effectiveness of the budget processes.

    Prior to joining the Department of Defense (1996 to 2006), Mr Scheid served in the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He performed oversight and made recommendations to the DCI on a variety of intelligence agencies including the National Reconnaissance Office and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. During this period (2003-2005), Scheid was the senior advisor to the independent US “9-11 Commission,” leading a team of investigators in a review of the performance of United States Intelligence in the years prior to the terrorist attacks, and worked with the Commission on reforms of United States Intelligence.

    Scheid began his career at the White House Office of Management and Budget as a budget examiner overseeing the programs of the Department of Commerce (1985 to 1988) and the Central Intelligence Agency (1988 to 1996).

    Scheid earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and European Studies (1982); and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs (1985); both from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a mountaineering enthusiast having climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mt. Elbrus in Russia and made a first attempt to summit Denali in Alaska, USA (May 2016). He was born in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

    • 06 May 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • First Presbyterian Church, 540 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC
    Registration is closed


    Earl Anthony Wayne will discuss the important and complicated relationship between Mexico and the United States.  No country relationship touches the daily lives of more Americans than the relationship with our southern neighbor.  Mexico is a vital economic partner as America's second largest trading partner and the largest buyer of U.S. exports.  Yet, Mexico and the U.S. also need to manage incredibly challenging problems surrounding migration and cross-border crime, for example.  Getting cooperation right between the two neighbors is a particularly tricky task but there are no ways around working to make it better — neither of us can move away!


    Earl Anthony Wayne

    Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne is a Distinguished Diplomat in Residence teaching at American University’s School of International Service.  He is also a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Co-Chair of its Mexico Institute Advisory Board.  He is a Senior Non-Resident Advisor at the Atlantic Council and at the Center for Security and International Studies and serves on the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy.  Wayne writes, speaks and consults on a wide range of topics. 

    Ambassador Wayne served as a US diplomat from 1975 to 2015, including as the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina (2006-2009), the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs and Deputy U.S. Ambassador in Kabul, Afghanistan (2009-2011), and the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico (2011- 15).  He was the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs (EB) under three Secretaries of State (2000-2006). The U.S. Senate confirmed him as a Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the US Foreign Service, in 2010.

    He received multiple honors during his government service, including the 2017 Director General’s Cup for the Foreign Service and the 2015 Cobb Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development.  Wayne received an MPA from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, MAs from Princeton University and Stanford University, and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

    Wayne’s webpage,, includes articles, talks and interviews.

Past events

07 May 2021 Mathew Burrows: Russia and China
30 Apr 2021 Robert Spalding - US-China Relations in a Post-Coronavirus World
09 Apr 2021 Nina Jankowicz: How to Lose the Information Wars
19 Mar 2021 Michael Reynolds: Russia and the Middle East in the Twenty-First Century
09 Mar 2021 Evening Speaker Series - Dr. William Mallon
05 Mar 2021 Russell Hsiao: Taiwan - Cross-Strait Relations Beyond 2020
19 Feb 2021 Joseph Yun: Biden Administration’s Approach to Asia
09 Feb 2021 Evening Speaker Series - Colin Moseley
05 Feb 2021 Steven Olikara: How the Rise of Millennials and Gen Z Will Shape American Foreign Policy
04 Feb 2021 Great Decisions Group II
04 Feb 2021 Great Decisions Group III
01 Feb 2021 Great Decisions Group 1
22 Jan 2021 Col. David Maxwell: Developments in North Korea
12 Jan 2021 Evening Speaker Series 2021 (Subscription)
12 Jan 2021 Evening Speaker Series - Jonathan Haupt
08 Jan 2021 David Eisenhower: Great Power Rivalries - Through the Rear-view Mirror
04 Dec 2020 Alexandra Bell: Nuclear Weapons Policy in the Next Administration
20 Nov 2020 Richard MacGregor: Australia and China - The West’s Tipping Point
06 Nov 2020 Maud Olofsson: Will the Nordic Model Survive?
23 Oct 2020 Matthew Kroenig: The Return of Great Power Rivalry
08 Oct 2020 Fall Forum 2020 - Group 3
07 Oct 2020 Fall Forum 2020 - Group 2
06 Oct 2020 Fall Forum 2020 - Group 4
06 Oct 2020 Fall Forum 2020 - Group 1
02 Oct 2020 Doug Lute: How the West Lost Its Way
16 Sep 2020 Summer Forum: George Kanuck
19 Aug 2020 Summer Forum: Rich Thomas
15 Jul 2020 Summer Forum: Ashely Jenkins
01 May 2020 Global Speaker Meeting: Jonatan Vseviov, Estonia's Ambassador to the United States
25 Apr 2020 National AWQ Competition
24 Apr 2020 LTG H.R. McMaster - Battlegrounds: The Fights to Defend the Free World
21 Apr 2020 Evening Speaker Series: Janet Mancini Billson, PhD
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 2020 Evening Speaker Series - 4 events
21 Jan 2020 Evening Speaker Series: Bing West
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 2019 Evening Speaker Series - 4 events
08 Jan 2019 Evening Speaker Series: Larry Kramer
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

World Affairs Council of Hilton Head

PO Box 22523
Hilton Head Island, SC 29925

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