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!
In lieu of our Annual Meeting this year given COVID-19 restrictions, we have decided to publish an Annual Report. We hope members will enjoy reading this summary of Council programs. Download a PDF of the report.
Looking for some interesting books to get you through this pandemic? Here are a few new books about world affairs to consider reading in your spare time this summer.
Spoiler alert: Richard Stengel and Matthew Kroenig are two of the 14 speakers that are coming to speak at WACHH’s Friday Speaker Series this year.
Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It
by Richard Stengel
Disinformation is as old as humanity. When Satan told Eve nothing would happen if she bit the apple, that was disinformation. But the rise of social media has made disinformation even more pervasive and pernicious in our current era. In a disturbing turn of events, governments are increasingly using disinformation to create their own false narratives, and democracies are proving not to be particularly good at fighting it.
The Return of Great Power Rivalry: Democracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the U.S. and China
by Matthew Kroenig
The United States of America has been the most powerful country in the world for over seventy years, but recently the U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great power competition with Russia and China is the greatest threat to U.S. national security.
Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne ApplebaumA Pulitzer Prize–winning historian explains, with electrifying clarity, why elites in democracies around the world are turning toward nationalism and authoritarianism.
The World: A Brief Introduction
by Richard HaasAn invaluable primer from Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, that will help anyone, expert and non-expert alike, navigate a time in which many of our biggest challenges come from the world beyond our borders.
Exercise of Power : American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World
by Robert GatesFrom the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed #1 best-selling memoir, Duty, a candid, sweeping examination of power in all its manifestations, and how it has been exercised, for good and bad, by American presidents in the post-Cold War world.
Jonatan Vseviov, our Global Speaker on May 1, 2020, wrote on the "Challenges of Real National Defense" for International Centre for Defense and Security (November 2018):
National defense is a whole. In the course of its development, a number of decisions may be taken which are right when taken separately but, as far as the big picture is concerned, lead to a dead end. The result is hollow national defense that exhibits grand words and structures, while either partially or completely lacking in real combat power. An ineffective paper army is also useless for deterrence.
Estonian national defense is focused on the deterrence of potential threats, but first and foremost on their prevention through the use of a convincing deterrent posture. Deterrence is a process in which one side tries to convince the other that taking a certain step is inadvisable, as it would be detrimental to it. If one country wishes to prevent an armed conflict with another, deterrence does not need to convince a potential attacker that the attack would fail – it is sufficient for the attacker to believe that the cost of even a successful attack would in the end prove higher than the value of the desired goal.
Read the full article (Download PDF)
In an Opinion/Commentary piece for the Wall Street Journal (April 28, 2020), Scott W. Atlas and H.R. McMaster wrote that "Health security is critical to national security. The Covid-19 pandemic is a moment to re- evaluate U.S. dependence on China for pharmaceutical ingredients and to solidify the pharmaceutical supply chain in advance of proliferating threats ... America needs to understand and diversify sources of supply, as well as maintain a strategic reserve of antibiotics and the key drugs for the most prevalent serious diseases."
Download and read the full article (PDF)
Concern has grown over the spread of the novel coronavirus and a number of actions have been directed or recommended by the CDC and state governments to reduce the chance of exposure, particularly among vulnerable populations.
We are exploring options such as recording the speaker presentations and posting to the WACHH web site.
Once we have evaluated technology approaches and coordinated with our speakers, we will provide more information on what options exist and how you can access them.
In addition, the remaining Evening Speaker Series session scheduled for April 21 and all remaining Great Decisions sessions are cancelled.
In this time of national concern, we have taken these steps for the protection of our members, facilitators, and speakers. We are sure that you understand the importance of these actions.
President, World Affairs Council of Hilton Head
Six high schools competed in AWQ on Saturday, March 7: Hilton Head HS, Bluffton HS, May River HS, HH Christian Academy, Whale Branch Early College HS, and Beaufort HS. And here are the rankings!
The winners will be going to Washington, DC to compete in the WACA national AWQ competition on April 25th. WACHH picks up the tab. The second and third place teams win gift cards ($100 & $50 respectively).
Event considered the Super Bowl of global issues and foreign policy with winner going to Washington D.C.
The Academic WorldQuest (AWQ) is the World Affairs Councils of America’s (WACA) flagship education program which engages more than 3,000 high school students annually across the US, testing their knowledge of global issues and foreign policy. The program offers young people a fun and interactive way to learn about critical challenges facing the US and the world.
Since 2003, the AWQ has been a team game testing high school students’ knowledge of international affairs. “We are thrilled to be part of this great program working in cooperation with the Beaufort County School District, bringing Academic WorldQuest to our county high schools,” says Ivan Bennett, member of the Board of Directors of the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head (WACHH). “Since we began our participation seven years ago, Hilton Head High School won once, Beaufort High School three times, May River High School twice, and Bluffton High School most recently in 2019. We invite the public to come out and test your knowledge of global issues. Are you as smart as an AWQ Scholar?”
This year's competition takes place on Saturday, March 7, 2020, 9:00 am at Hilton Head Island High School.
Beaufort County high school students join approximately 3,000 other students in the US, hosted by about 40 other World Affairs Councils in 26 states. The students’ knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, and culture is tested throughout the school year, though competitors work beyond their regular curriculum to prepare for this quest. Winning teams (about 225 students total) are invited to Washington, D.C. to represent their high schools, cities, and local councils. WACHH pays all expenses for the trip for these students, parents, teachers, and chaperones, which includes visits to historic sites in addition to the competition.
If you would like to volunteer, coach, mentor, or get involved with this program, please contact Ivan Bennett at (843) 816-1498, IBennett@aol.com, or the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are well into our 2019-2020 program year and have seen record attendance at the first six Friday morning presentations. Our speakers so far have presented diverse views on a variety of issues and two recent speakers shared important insights on China from a historical perspective as well as China's current moves to increase its international influence. This was particularly timely given the signature of a "Phase 1" trade deal between the US and China this month. And we can't overlook the fact that all of our speakers have commented on your perceptive questions that led to lively Q&A sessions!!!
We have eight more speakers lined up to add even more valued and timely perspectives. The next, Sean McFate, will speak on the new rules of warfare, which is a topic that became even more significant after developments in late 2019 and earlier this month. Our speakers in February are Dr. Bhavya Lal, a widely respected expert on space technology, and Joby Warrick, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Washington Post reporter. Dr. Lal will discuss developments in commercial and military space technology applications and Joby Warrick will discuss the significance of conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
We now have over 1100 members and more than 225 are new this year. Several guests have also attended each of the Friday sessions.
Besides our Friday speaker series, other WACHH programs are complete or moving forward -
In addition to these programs available to WACHH members, we also support two school-focused programs - Academic World Quest and Model UN. More than 150 local students are participating this year and over 35 World Affairs Council members and supporters have visited local schools to share their experiences living or working in over 25 countries with Model UN contestants. Other volunteers have been working with local high schools in advance of the Academic World Quest competition, which is scheduled for March 7 at Bluffton High School. Your financial support for the past few years has been important and will provide additional opportunities for local students this year.
I want to thank all of you for your attendance and the many questions you asked of our speakers. I also want to thank members who brought guests to our events and hope you continue to encourage interest and involvement by your friends and neighbors.
John Gilbert, President
World Affairs Council of Hilton Head
A big thanks to the Bargain Box volunteers, board members, and employees for the generous grant WACHH received today. The grant will help numerous students in Beaufort County participate in the Model UN program as well as fund the AWQ Washington, DC trip in April. They gave away over $450,000 to 49 deserving charities today. That is amazing!
Thrift stores are a fabulous asset for our community. They help recycle items that might otherwise get thrown away. They give people on a budget a chance to find household items at a reasonable price. They give people the opportunity to volunteer their time and talent and best of all, they donate all the proceeds to local charities to fund diverse programs which will have a positive impact on residents of HHI and beyond.
Please donate, volunteer or shop at this wonderful organization. You will be making a difference in someone's life.
Office: 200 Main St. #201 M, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Mail: PO Box 22523, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925
843-384-6758 | email@example.com
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