Photo by Willow&Monk
Article by John Palen

The League of Women Voters of the Midland Area will again sponsor a series of discussions on world issues, beginning in January. "Great Decisions" discussions will focus on Haiti, the Horn of Africa, North Korea, Iran, Germany, and the Caucasus, as well as on U.S. national security, the world financial crisis, Afrinational security, Africa, the financial crisis, and global governance.

The Midland league has sponsored the Great Decisions program of the Foreign Policy Association for more than 30 years. Groups set their own pace, but in general begin in January or February and wrap up in March or April. A Great Decisions briefing book provides participants with analysis and resources for discussion. Participants can choose a group that meets on Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday mornings, Thursday mornings or Thursday evenings.

They can call discussion leaders for details and to sign up for the program. Discussion leaders: Tuesday afternoons, Deb Ballard, 832-2873; Wednesday mornings, Ghislaine Maurissen, 636-7145; Thursday mornings, Tina Laughner, 633-3790; Thursday evenings, Jim Falender, 687-2456. evenings.Further information can be obtained by phoning Sandy Burmester at 832-3079.

Topics for 2011  

Rebuilding Haiti: The January 2010 earthquake struck a country already suffering from poverty and underdevelopment. Will this disaster provide an opportunity to plan a new Haiti?

U.S. national security: How has the U.S. national security agenda evolved since 9/11? How will this agenda shape the future?

Horn of Africa: Can the U.S. protect its national interest while mitigating dangerous conditions in the region?

Responding to financial crisis: Governments around the world bailed our troubled private banks, underscoring the interdependence of private and public finances. What has been learned so far and is it possible to ensure that crises do not happen again?

North Korea and Iran: How successfully have sanctions been applied against past violators? Is there any chance sanctions can curtail North Korea and Iran from continuing to develop nuclear weapons?

Crisis in the Caucasus: Countries in this region all have strong national identities but live in the shadow of larger neighbors: Russia, Iran and Turkey. How does this influence the Caucasus of today? How do the region's energy resources play into its relations with the outside world?

Global governance: International cooperation requires political leaders to balance national needs with a commitment to building a durable international order. How has an interconnected and shrinking world affected the viability of existing agreements and institutions?

Germany ascendant: Germany has emerged from both the financial crisis and the euro-zone crisis as the dominant economic and political power in Europe, setting the tone for dealings with Russia, Eastern Europe and Iran. How important is it for U.S, interests to enhance relations with Germany, and how should the U.S. react when German and U.S. interests fail to align?

© John Palen