World Affairs Council Hilton Head


News and updates

  • 22 Mar 2021 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    As members and friends of the World Affairs Council, we all value our access to knowledge about the world and its complexities.  Although many of our Friday presentations focus on geopolitical and economic issues, there is much more that influences the world around us.  Every year on March 22, World Water Day is celebrated to emphasize the importance of water and this year’s theme is Valuing Water.

    As you think about this, the value of water is more than just its price.   Water is valuable for our health, food, peace of mind, our natural environment – and for our economy.   Here on Hilton Head some may take water for granted.  We have direct access to the ocean but we are still dependent on a continuing supply of freshwater from a variety of sources – deep wells and the Savannah River in particular – and we should not take that access for granted.  There are communities in the US that still suffer from water crises.   Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi recently gained national attention for their lack of clean water and, closer to home, local water sources for Bamberg, South Carolina have been contaminated for years. 

    When we look around the world, water is a major concern for many countries.  According to the UN, water quality has worsened since the 1990s in Latin America, Africa and Asia, with severe pathogen pollution affecting around one third of all rivers in those regions.  Today, 1.6 billion people lack soap or water, and 1.4 billion have no in-home facilities at all. Almost 300,000 children under five years old die every year from poor sanitation, poor hygiene or unsafe drinking water.   Water scarcity has been a source of conflict for hundreds of years and potential conflicts over water access can potentially lead to serious conflict between countries today, particularly in Middle East.

    World Water Day is a time to reflect on how we can’t take water for granted.  Here at home, we all need to recognize its value and do what we can to protect and conserve it.  It’s a critical component of the world we live in.  

    More resources:

    https://www.worldwaterday.org/

    https://www.un.org/en/observances/water-day

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqMOxxXtFE


  • 16 Feb 2021 11:27 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Members and Friends,

    A lot of important events happened forty years ago, back in 1981:

    • Sandra Day O'Conner became the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court.
    • The first American test-tube baby was born.
    • NASA launched the first Space Shuttle, Columbia.

    And, drum roll, WACHH was born!  (Its original name was the Foreign Affairs Seminar).

    While some people may say that the formation of WACHH is not on the same level as the first three, I disagree.  Over the past 40 years, WACHH has held over 1000 different meetings, with over 25,000 people attending one or more of those meetings, allowing the community to learn about world affairs, engage in thoughtful discussions, and meet new friends.   Now that is a legacy to be proud of!

    I doubt the small group of people who started the organization envisioned their simple idea would have such an enduring history.  They would be immensely proud of all the students who have participated in our outreach programs, Academic WorldQuest and Model UN.  It was their first exposure to cultures outside Beaufort County, South Carolina, and the US for many of these students!   The impact these programs had on the students will stay with them for the rest of their lives, many following a country they studied for years to come.

    I want to thank each member, guest, and speaker, past and present, who has participated in a WACHH program over the years. Many of them are not with us today to share in our anniversary year celebration, but our legacy is a testament to their support. We are already planning next season's speaker programs and activities and hope to share them with you shortly.

    In the meantime, we would love to hear from you! Let us know about your favorite speaker(s), friends you have met, or the impact the programs have had on you.   

    We can't wait until we can meet with you all in person, and we look forward to the next 40 years of programs and community together.

  • 19 Jan 2021 11:24 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Members and Friends of WACHH,

    The World Affairs Council of Hilton Head started last year with our exceptional Friday Speakers and we all enjoyed socializing with friends and hearing different perspectives from our guest speakers.  Since March, however, the pandemic has forced all of us to adjust our lives in new ways.  Thanks to your patience, our Council was able to successfully transition to virtual events.  I think you will agree that in-person events are preferred over virtual, but there have been positive outcomes that have come about due to this change.  Did you notice that we are able to field more audience questions than usual during our virtual events? And, you no longer have to miss any of our speakers due to schedule conflicts because they are video recorded and available anytime, anywhere to members.  

    We are kicking off 2021 with David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson), who will share his views on Great Power Rivalries from a rear-view mirror. His presentation will be followed by eight more events covering a range of topics including the influence of millennials on foreign policy, North Korea, global relations and the impact disinformation. Our Program Committee has started to issue invitations for the 2021-21 season, when we expect to be back hosting live events at First Presbyterian Church.

    You won’t want to miss the upcoming Evening Speaker Series programs which begins online January 12 with a presentation about Pat Conroy and his legacy as a teacher.  We have also invited experts to cover two timely topics: Healthcare Delivery in the US vs. Canada, and the history of the Olympics. These programs are open to the public so please, invite your friends to attend. The Great Decisions books have now arrived and will be distributed shortly for group discussions in February and March.  For those who have never participated in this nation-wide program, details are on our website.

    Our student outreach programs with local high schools (Model UN and Academic WorldQuest) are on temporary hiatus due to school restrictions.  We thank all of you who have volunteered with these programs in the past and invite you join to us next year as these global education programs rebound with new energy.

    We look forward to 2021, a special year for WACHH as we celebrate our 40th anniversary!  We are planning unique activities to honor our history and heritage. Stay tuned for more information.

    So, be well and be informed.  May 2021 be a year of promise and one of new learning opportunities for you.  

    John Gilbert

    President, World Affairs Council of Hilton Head


  • 22 Dec 2020 10:59 AM | Anonymous

    As you may have heard, congressional leaders just announced an agreement on a new package of COVID-19 relief.  But you may not have heard that members of the House and Senate whom No Labels has aided and encouraged were principally responsible for this agreement.   

    Here’s how they did it: Throughout the spring and summer and well into the fall, Democratic leaders in the House and Republican leaders in the Senate developed dueling legislative proposals.  Negotiations between these leaders broke down, as did talks between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.  It appeared increasingly likely that the 116th Congress would adjourn without delivering desperately needed assistance to unemployed Americans, struggling small businesses, health care providers, schools, and many others.

                    Then rank-and-file members of the House and Senate took over.  In the House, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus founded by No Labels years ago began to work on its own proposal, as did an informal bipartisan group of senators whom No Labels helped bring together more recently.  Remarkably, these legislators worked together across not only party lines but also across the deep institutional divide between the House and Senate.  Bicameral meetings organized by No Labels helped create the relationships that made these conversations possible, and then effective.

                    These intense efforts, which took place over more than a month, produced agreements, first on a legislative framework and then on actual bills.  As they were publicly released, these agreements broke the logjam.  Other members of the House and Senate began to endorse them as the best way forward, and the leadership soon had little choice but to restart negotiations.  Although completing the deal took additional weeks, the final agreement reflected both the shape and the size of the proposal the bipartisan, bicameral group had offered.

                    The new agreement announced today is a genuine compromise of a kind rarely seen in today’s Washington.  The bill spends much less money than Democrats wanted, and much more than Republicans wanted.  Its provisions expire later than Republicans wanted but sooner than Democrats preferred.   It does not include aid for states and localities, which most Democrats favor, and most Republicans oppose, or protections for businesses against COVID-19 lawsuits, where the opposite is the case.  And at the urging of the White House and senators on the left wing of the Democratic Party and the right wing of the Republican Party, it includes direct payments to all Americans, regardless of their circumstances.  

                    The bill represents not only a victory for hard-pressed Americans but also a quiet revolution against ways of doing business that have dominated Washington for much too long.  Over the past generation, power has flowed away from committees and individual members of the House and Senate and towards the leaders.  Most important bills have been drafted by the leadership behind closed doors, and rank-and-file members often have no opportunity to offer amendments.  As leaders gave priority to maintaining party unity within their caucuses, the legislative process ground to a near halt.

                    The COVID-19 bill is completely different from most recent legislation.  Its framework was drafted from below, not from above, by individual representatives and senators who gave priority to producing real solutions and who were willing to make compromises to reach vital agreements.  The relief bill elevated practicality above partisanship and purity by focusing on problems—such as unemployment, small business closures, and inadequate funding for school reopening and vaccine distribution—where a foundation of consensus existed on which legislative agreements could be built. 

    For more information on No Labels visit https://www.nolabels.org/

  • 04 Dec 2020 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    If you missed the presentation on December 4th about the Nuclear Weapons Policy in the upcoming administration , you can still test your knowledge with this short quiz. Answers are at the bottom (no peeking).

    1.      Which Iranian Nuclear scientist was assassinated last week?

    • a.      Mohammed Moazed
    • b.      Parvaneh Kermanshah
    • c.      Mohsen Fakhrizadeh
    • d.      Mansour Madizadeh
    2.      Which country has conducted explosive nuclear weapon tests in the past 26 years?
    • a.      India
    • b.      Pakistan
    • c.      North Korea
    • d.      All of the above
    3.      The Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an agreement intended to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  What critical resource is limited by the JCPOA to less than the amount needed to actually build a bomb?
    • a.      Enriched uranium
    • b.      Plutonium
    • c.      Heavy water
    • d.      Uranium ore
    4.      Several U.S. arms control experts have proposed eliminating what class of delivery systems in order to save money and lower the risk of accidental or unintended use?
    • a.      Long-range bombers
    • b.      ICBMs
    • c.      Submarine-launched missiles
    • d.      Cruise missiles
    5.      Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia has developed a weapon system that has worldwide range and cannot be intercepted.  What type of weapon system is he referring to?
    • a.      A new ICBM
    • b.      A hypersonic cruise missile
    • c.      A nuclear-powered torpedo
    • d.      All of the above
    6.      Only one country that built nuclear weapons has voluntarily dismantled and destroyed its stockpile.  Which country has done so?
    • a.      Israel
    • b.      Ukraine
    • c.      South Africa
    • d.      Iraq
    7.      The United States recently withdrew from the first arms control agreement that eliminates an entire class of delivery vehicles.  What agreement is that?
    • a.      The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
    • b.      The Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
    • c.      The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)
    • d.     The JCPOA


    Answers: 1) c, 2) d, 3)a, 4) b, 5) d, 6) c, 7) b


  • 20 Nov 2020 2:36 PM | Anonymous


    These delectable treats are not for the faint at heart! Find out what some of the world's weirdest food are and where you can get them.  One is actually made in the US.  Click here to the top ten.


  • 06 Oct 2020 6:30 PM | Anonymous

    The Fall Forum discussion group has kicked off their season by studying the book, Has China Won?.  Click here to view a short video showing the author, Kishore Mahbubani, discuss his book and the reasons he thinks China may have won the great power rivalry.


  • 28 Sep 2020 1:28 PM | Anonymous

    In honor of our Keynote speaker, Ambassador Doug Lute, former United States Permanent Representative to NATO, we have some NATO and other current event trivia to keep you busy on this rainy Monday afternoon. See how smart you and your friends are!  Answers are at the bottom, but no peeking!

    1) Who is the current US Representative to NATO?

     A) Victoria Nuland    B) Kelly Craft    C) Kay Bailey Hutchison    D) Bruce Heyman                       

    2) Who is the Secretary General of NATO?

       A) Jens Stoltenberg        B) David Maria Sassoli      C) Ursula von der Leyen   D) Rishi Sunak

    3) What country is NOT a member of NATO?

      A) Albania      B) Portugal     C) Turkey       D) Sweden

    4) The Chinese owner of TikTok chose_________ to be the app’s technical partner for US operations.

    A)   Google B) IBM C) Microsoft  D) Oracle

    5) What Kremlin backed group has started a new disinformation campaign, just as it did in 2016?       

    A) Anonymous B) Fifty Cent Party C) Internet Research Agency               D) Internet Information, Inc.      

    6) The normalization agreements recently signed by Bahrain, Israel and United Arab Emirates at the White House are officially known as the __________?   

    A) Solomon Accords C) Ishmael Accords   D) Moses Accords   4) Abraham Accords               

    7) Which world leader issued a pardon for Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US Marine convicted of the 2014 killing of a transgender woman?

    A) Nicolas Maduro   B) Imran Khan C) Rodrigo Duterte D) Recep Tayyip Erdogan                       

    8) China’s leader, Xi Jinping, surprised many by pledging that China would meet which environmental goal by 2060?

    A) achieve carbon neutrality B) improve air quality by 75%  C) eliminate the manufacture of plastics  D) reduce coal mining by 75%

    Answers: 1)     C  2) A  3) D  4) D  5) C  6) D  7) C  8)A

    Sources:  1.  nato.int, 2.  nytimes.com, 3. slate.com



  • 15 Sep 2020 11:00 AM | Anonymous

     The new Eisenhower Memorial set to open this week in Washington, D.C.  If you are going to Washington in the future (or want to visit virtually), you may want to see the new Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, honoring the 34th President of the United States. Dedication Ceremonies start this Thursday. Click here to see the website.

    You might enjoy viewing a recent Sister Cities International video which includes remarks by President Eisenhower on the importance of citizen diplomacy. 

  • 31 Aug 2020 8:40 PM | Anonymous

    Dear WACHH Members and Friends,

    These past months have been a time of change with many challenges.  We started the 2019-2020 Program year with record membership and high attendance at our first ten Friday Speaker events.  We also successfully completed Fall Forum, the Model United Nations (MUN) conferences and Academic WorldQuest (AWQ) competition, three Evening Speaker Series events, and most of the Great Decisions discussions. Then, Island life came to an almost full stop. 

    As we look to the 2020-2021 Program Year, we will begin our Friday Speaker presentations using high-quality webinars until First Presbyterian Church can once again welcome us in-person. Our new lineup of 14 outstanding speakers will provide valuable insights for a new or continuing administration, unique views on global issues, and expertise on technology and cyberspace.

    We know you value the experience of being part of a large, local audience interacting with fellow Council members and asking thoughtful questions. We recognize that remote technology is not a complete substitute, but we are committed to offering the best available webinar format with an interactive Q&A for members to participate in real time.  So, keep your enthusiasm as we bring you excellent speakers addressing critical topics of our times.

    Currently, we are proceeding with Fall Forum and Great Decisions with the hope that these small groups will be able to meet in safe surroundings.  The Evening Speaker Series is in the planning stages and Model UN and Academic WorldQuest await school decisions as to their start dates. Thank you, loyal and understanding Council members. 

    We appreciate your patience and flexibility as we begin an exciting new program year. Stay safe and healthy!


    John Gilbert
    Board President



World Affairs Council of Hilton Head

Office: 200 Main St. #201 M, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

Mail: PO Box 22523, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925

843-384-6758  |  execdirector@wachh.org

Member, World Affairs Council of America


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