Providence Committee on Foreign Relations

PCFR speakers for new season

pcfrlogo.png

Here’s the speaker lineup for the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations for its 2019-2020 season. A list of speakers in the just-completed 2018-2019 season is at the bottom.

For information about the organization, including on how to join, please send queries to:

pcfremail@gmail.com

The dinners are held at the Hope Club, in Providence.

The first speaker, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, will be Mackubin Thomas Owens, who will discuss America’s current military and geo-strategic posture in the world. A retired Marine Corps colonel and combat veteran of the Vietnam War, he’s editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, of which he is a senior fellow, and is a former dean of academics for the Institute of World Politics, in Washington.

Dr. Owens is also a former editor-in-chief of the defense journal Strategic Review.

He has served as the associate dean of academics for electives and directed research, and professor of strategy and force planning, at the U.S. Naval War College, as an adjunct professor of international relations at Boston University and as a contributing editor to National Review, among his many other academic and journalistic activities.

xxx

The next speaker comes Wednesday, Oct, 2, with Jonathan Gage, who will talk about how coverage of such international economic stories as trade wars has changed over the years, in part because of new technology, and how that coverage itself changes events.

Mr. Gage has had a very distinguished career in publishing and international journalism. He has served as publisher and CEO of Institutional Investor magazine, as publisher of strategy+business magazine, as a director at Booz Allen Hamilton and Booz & Company, as enterprise editor for Bloomberg News and finance editor of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune (of sainted memory) and as a senior writer for the Boston Consulting Group.

He is a trustee, and former vice chairman, of the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

He has written or edited for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Psychology Today magazine.

xxx

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, comes Ambassador Patrick Duddy, who will talk about Venezuelan internal political and economic conditions and relations with the U.S., Cuba, Russia and other nations. Mr. Duddy, currently director of Duke University’s center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, served as American ambassador to Venezuela in 2007-2008, during the George W. Bush administration. The late President Hugo Chavez expelled him but eight months later he returned as ambassador in the Obama administration. He finished that assignment in 2010.

Before his ambassadorships, Mr. Duddy served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (DAS) for the Western Hemisphere, responsible for the Office of Economic Policy and Summit Coordination, which included the hemispheric energy portfolio, as well for the Offices of Brazil/ Southern Cone Affairs and of Caribbean Affairs. During his tenure as DAS, he played a lead role in coordinating U.S. support for the restoration of democracy in Haiti.

xxx

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, comes Tweed Roosevelt, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Association and great-grandson of that president. He’ll talk about how TR’s foreign policy, which was developed as the U.S. became truly a world power, affected subsequent presidents’ foreign policies. Mr., Roosevelt is also chairman of Roosevelt China Investments, a Boston firm.

In 1992, Mr. Roosevelt rafted down the 1,000-mile Rio Roosevelt in Brazil—a river previously explored by his great-grandfather in 1914 in the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition and then called the Rio da Duvida, the River of Doubt. The former president almost died on that legendary and dangerous trip.

xxx

On Thursday, Dec. 5, the PCFR welcomes Dr. Elizabeth H. Prodromou, who directs the Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy, and is visiting associate professor of conflict resolution, at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She titles her talk "God, Soft Power, and Geopolitics: Religion as a Tool for Conflict Prevention/Generation".

Dr. Prodromou is also a non-resident senior fellow and co-chair of the Working Group on Christians and Religious Pluralism, at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, and is also non-resident fellow at The Hedayah International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, based in Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Prodromou is former vice chair and commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and was a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Religion & Foreign Policy Working Group. Her research focuses on geopolitics and religion, with particular focus on the intersection of religion, democracy, and security in the Middle East and Southeastern Europe. Her current research project focus on Orthodox Christianity and geopolitics, as well as on religion and migration in Greece.

xxx

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, comes Michael Fine, M.D., who will talk about his novel Abundance, set in West Africa, and the challenges of providing health care in the Developing World. He will speak on: “Plagues and Pestilence: What we learned (or didn't) from Ebola about Foreign Policy and International Collaboration in the face of epidemics and outbreaks’’

xxx

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, comes Cornelia Dean, book author, science writer and former science editor of The New York and internationally known expert on coastal conditions. She’ll talk how rising seas threaten coastal cities around the world and what they can do about it.

xxx

On Wednesday, March 18, comes Stephen Wellmeier, managing director of Poseidon Expeditions. He’ll talk about the future of adventure travel and especially about Antarctica, and its strange legal status.

xxx

On Wednesday, April 29, comes Trita Parsi, a native of Iran and founder and current president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Treacherous Alliance and A Single Roll of the Dice. He regularly writes articles and appears on TV to comment on foreign policy. He of course has a lot to say about U.S. Iranian relations.

xxx

On Wednesday, May 6, comes Serenella Sferza, a political scientist and co-director of the program on Italy at MIT’s Center for International Studies, who will talk about the rise of right-wing populism and other developments in her native land.

She has taught at several U.S. and European universities, and published numerous articles on European politics. Serenella's an affiliate at the Harvard De Gunzburg Center for European Studies and holds the title of Cavaliere of the Ordine della Stella d'Italia conferred by decree of the President of the Republic for the preservation and promotion of national prestige abroad.

June: Keeping open for now but perhaps about China.

Speakers in the 2018-2019 season of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations included:

Miguel Head, who spent the past decade as a senior adviser to the British Royal Family, on what it was like.

James Nealon, the former U.S. ambassador to Honduras and former assistant secretary of state, on the migrant crisis.

Walter A. Berbrick, founding director of the Arctic Studies Group at the U.S. Naval War College, on “An Arctic Policy for the Ages: Strengthening American Interests at Home and Abroad’’.

Phillip Martin, senior investigative reporter for WGBH News and a contributing reporter to Public Radio International’s The World, a co-production of WGBH, the BBC and PRI -- a program that he helped develop as a senior producer in 1995 on the Indian caste system, there & here.

Paulo Sotero, the director of the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute on the outlook for that nation.

Historian Fred Zilian on the “Real Thucydides Trap,”—an alternate to Graham Allison’s—which threatens America’s leadership of the free world.

Dr. Teresa Chahine on international social entrepreneurship.

London-based Journalist and broadcaster Michael Goldfarb on Brexit.

Sarah C.M. Paine of the U.S. Naval War College on the "Geopolitics underlying U.S. foreign policy''.

Douglas Hsu, senior Taiwan diplomat, on tensions with Mainland and ties with the U.S.

Prof. James Green, former president of the Brazilian Studies Association, on Brazil's new right-wing populist president.


At PCFR, Taiwan diplomat to look at East Asian scene

Dragon boat in the annual Taiwan Dragon Boat Festival on the Blackstone River.

Dragon boat in the annual Taiwan Dragon Boat Festival on the Blackstone River.

Taiwan Diplomat to Discuss East Asian Trade and Security Issues

 

The last dinner of the current season of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (founded in 1928)  is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4, here at The Hope Club. The new season will open in September.

 

Please consult its Web site -- thepcfr.org -- and/or send queries to pcfremail@gmail.com for more information about the PCFR, including on how to join.

 

On June 4, Douglas Hsu, a senior diplomat who currently oversees Taiwan’s interests in New England as director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston, will speak about current political and economic conditions in that nation (one of Rhode Island’s largest export markets), China’s military and other threats to Taiwan and the East Asian scene in general.

 

(Taiwan sponsors the annual Dragon Boat races on the Blackstone River and indeed just gave six of them to the City of Pawtucket!)

 

Mr. Hsu, who previously served two stints in Washington, may have some perspectives on the China-U.S. trade war.  His work in Washington included being Taiwan’s liaison with Congress. (Meanwhile, a reminder that the official name of Taiwan is the Republic of China.)

                                                              

Mr. Hsu has served in multiple positions in Taiwan’s Department of North American Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, beginning as a desk officer in 1998. He was  the department’s Deputy Director-General  from 2016 to 2018, when he assigned to Boston.

 

The director general (effectively the consul general for New England) earned a B.A. and M.A. in International Relations from National Cheng-Chi University and has participated in the Diplomats Training Program at Oxford University (1998) and the Senior Executive Fellows Program at Harvard University (2009).

 

 

 

 

 

PCFR dinner speaker to look at America in the Arctic

page1-660px-Political_Map_of_the_Arctic.pdf.jpg


The speaker at the Feb. 20 dinner meeting of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations  (thepcfr.org) will be Prof. Walter Berbrick, founding director of the Arctic Studies Group at the U.S. Naval War College. He'll talk about future U.S. policies and programs for that region, which is increasingly affected by great power politics.

For more information and to sign up, please hit this link.


PCFR: Arab social entrepreneurs; future of Brexit; U.S. geopolitics

pcfrlogo.png


Fall speakers at the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations. (Please see thepcfr.org for membership and other information.)

 

Wednesday, October 3

 

Social Entrepreneurship Abroad with Dr. Teresa Chahine, Harvard

6:00, The Hope Club, 6 Benevolent Street, Providence

 

Dr. Teresa Chahine is the author of Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, based on her course at Harvard. She is the Innovation Advisor at Alfanar Venture Philanthropy, which she helped launch in her home country of Lebanon. Alfanar provides tailored financing and technical support to social enterprises serving marginalized populations in the Arab world.

Dr. Chahine divides her time between Beirut and Boston, where she leads the social entrepreneurship program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

 

 

Wednesday, October 17

Two Paths to Brexit: Michael Goldfarb

6:00, The Hope Club, 6 Benevolent Street, Providence

 

On the eve of an EU summit where the bloc's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, hopes to present a draft treaty for Britain's withdrawal from the EU former NPR correspondent, Michael Goldfarb, who covered the creation of the euro and the border free Europe, looks at the details of the deal: the rights of millions of British and European citizens now living in what have become "foreign" countries, how to keep the Irish border fully open, maintaining supply chains, and the time frame for transition.

It is also possible talks will have collapsed.  In that case, Goldfarb will explain the likely impact on UK, Europe and global economy of a no-deal Brexit.

Michael Goldfarb is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He has written for The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post but is best known for his work in public radio. Throughout the 1990’s, as NPR’s London Correspondent and then Bureau Chief, he covered conflicts and conflict resolution from Northern Ireland to Bosnia to Iraq for NPR.

 

 

 

Thursday, November 8

Geopolitics Underlying US Foreign Policy

Sarah C. M. Paine

 

6:00, The Hope Club, 6 Benevolent Street, Providence

 

Sarah C. Paine is a professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College located in Newport, Rhode Island. She has written or co-edited several books on naval policy and related affairs, and subjects of particular interest to the United States Navy or Defense. Other works she has authored concern the political and military history of East Asia, particularly China, during the modern era. She is the author of the 2012 award-winning book, Wars for Asia 1911–1949.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PCFR's exciting fall lineup

pcfrlogo.png

The Providence Committee on Foreign Relations

The Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org) was established in 1928 as one in a network of committees set up across the nation under the aegis of The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The PCFR is an independent, 501(c)7 non-profit, private membership organization and remains faithful to its original founding mission to inform citizens about their world. Membership information is available at:

thepcfr.org

The speakers’ talks and the question and answer period following are not for attribution, unless the speaker specifically requests otherwise. Thus, we look for, and usually get, vigorous discussion.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Nov. 1 PCFR talk on what a war with North Korea might look like.

missile.jpg

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com):

Harry J. Kazianis (Twitter link: @Grecianformula), director of Defense Studies at the Center for the National Interest, will speak on Nov. 1 on how a U.S. war with North Korea might proceed.

He also serves as executive editor of the center's publishing arm, The National Interest, the largest online publication focusing on foreign-policy issues.

Mr. Kazianis is a well-known expert on national-security issues involving North Korea, China, the broader Asia-Pacific region as well as U.S. foreign policy in general. He is also  a Fellow for National Security Affairs at the Potomac Foundation and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the University of Nottingham (UK). He holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Harvard University.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, Maria Karangianis will  speak on the refugee crisis in the eastern Mediterranean.

In May 2015, she traveled to the Greek Island of Lesbos, within sight of Turkey. At that time, hundreds of thousands of refugees were spilling onto the beaches in leaky boats, many of them dying, trying to find freedom from war-torn Syria. The Greek people of the island, who have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for their generosity, have faced an economic catastrophe with tourism, their main source of income. Maria is currently a Woodrow Wilson visiting fellow and has traveled across the United States speaking at colleges and universities. She is a former guest editor and an award-winning writer on the editorial board of The Boston Globe. 

 
On Wednesday, Jan. 17, comes Victoria Bruce, author of Sellout: How Washington Gave Away America's Technological Soul, and One Man's Fight to Bring It Home.  This is about, among other things, China’s monopolization of rare earths, which are essential in electronics.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, comes Dan Strechay, the U.S. representative for outreach and engagement at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), who talk about the  massive deforestation  and socio-economic effects associated with producing palm oil in the Developing World and what to do about them.

 
 

Explaining Putin; Will China and U.S. go to war?

The friendly face of Vladimir Putin.

The friendly face of Vladimir Putin.

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).o.

With Russian intrusion into American politics and government such an issue, we thought it would a good idea to recruit a Russia expert to start off our season. Thus we have the distinguished Prof. David R. Stone of the U.S. Naval War College lined up for Wednesday, Sept. 13.

He'll explain Putin  and the new Russian nationalism and how it affects us.

Professor  Stone received his B.A. in history and mathematics from Wabash College and his Ph.D in history from Yale University. He has taught at Hamilton College and at Kansas State University, where he served as director of the Institute for Military History. He has also been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His first book Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933 (2000) won the Shulman Prize of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Best First Book Prize of the Historical Society. He has also published A Military History of Russia: From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya (2006), and The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (2015). He also edited The Soviet Union at War, 1941-1945(2010). He is the author of several dozen articles and book chapters on Russian / Soviet military history and foreign policy.

 
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Graham Allison, who has been running Harvard’s Belfer Institute, will talk about, among other things, Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.   He'll talk about his new book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? 
 

PCFR and Putin; Macron update; U.S. & China to war? Backstabbers

Russia troops march in 2015 military parade in Moscow.

Russia troops march in 2015 military parade in Moscow.

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).

For news about non-PCFR  local events and an article or two that caught our eyes, please go to the bottom of this memo.

Meanwhile, with Russian intrusion into American politics and government such an issue, we thought it would a good idea to recruit a Russia expert to start off our season. Thus we have the distinguished Prof. David R. Stone of the U.S. Naval War College lined up for Wednesday, Sept. 13.

He'll explain Putin and the new Russian nationalism and how it affects us.

Professor Stone received his B.A. in history and mathematics from Wabash College and his Ph.D in history from Yale University. He has taught at Hamilton College and at Kansas State University, where he served as director of the Institute for Military History. He has also been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His first book Hammer and Rifle: The Militarization of the Soviet Union, 1926-1933 (2000) won the Shulman Prize of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Best First Book Prize of the Historical Society. He has also published A Military History of Russia: From Ivan the Terrible to the War in Chechnya (2006), and The Russian Army in the Great War: The Eastern Front, 1914-1917 (2015). He also edited The Soviet Union at War, 1941-1945 (2010). He is the author of several dozen articles and book chapters on Russian / Soviet military history and foreign policy.

The next dinner after that will be with French Consul General Valery Freland, who will talk about how the French presidential-election outcome might change that nation’s foreign policy and the Western Alliance, on Wednesday, Sept. 27. By the way, he went to school with French President Macron.

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Graham Allison, who has been running Harvard’s Belfer Institute, will talk about, among other things, Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea. He'll talk about his new book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap? 

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, comes Michael Soussan, the writer and skeptic about the United Nations. He’s the author of, among other things, Backstabbing for Beginners, about his experiences in Iraq, which is being made into a movie starring Ben Kingsley.

In January, at a date to be announced, we’ll have Victoria Bruce, author of Sellout: How Washington Gave Away America's Technological Soul, and One Man's Fight to Bring It Home. This is about, among other things, China’s monopolization of rare earths, which are essential in electronics.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, we'll have Dan Strechay, the U.S. representative for outreach and engagement at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), who talk about the massive deforestation and socio-economic effects associated with producing palm oil in the Developing World and what to do about them. 

Prior to joining the RSPO, he was the senior manager for Sustainability Communications for PepsiCo.

The dates of the dinners for the rest of the season to be announced.

Suggestions for speakers and topics are always much appreciated. We’re all in this together.

In other news:

For movies and other upcoming events about Brazil at Brown’s Watson Institute, see:

 http://watson.brown.edu/events/series/brazil-initiative

Hear Edward Luce talk about the decline of Western liberalism:

http://watson.brown.edu/events/2017/edward-luce-retreat-western-liberalism

Former Timor Leste President Xanana Gusmao will speak on Monday, Sept. 18 at the Pell Center at Salve Regina University, Newport. The event will begin at 11 A. M. 

Timor Leste itself is at a crossroads. The clock is winding down on a novel test of dispute resolution, a first-time effort under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle a maritime boundary dispute not through arbitration, but through mediation. The principals in this dispute are the young democracy of Timor-Leste and its neighbor, Australia.

Meanwhile, scary North Korean news. See:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2017/sep/03/north-korea-nuclear-test-south-korea-yohap-kim-jong-un-live

President Macron may actually succeed in fixing French labor law. See:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/emmanuel-macron-scores-a-win-where-presidents-failed-to-overhaul-frances-labor-laws/2017/09/01/049c9222-8f14-11e7-9c53-6a169beb0953_story.html?utm_term=.40828bb11738

 

 

The future of ocean fishing

Fisherman's Memorial in Gloucester, Mass.

Fisherman's Memorial in Gloucester, Mass.

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (pcfremail@gmail.com; thepcfr.org).

Our next meeting comes Wednesday, May 17,  with James E. Griffin, an expert on the global food sector. He's a professor of culinary studies at Johnson & Wales University and an international business consultant. He's particularly well known for his knowledge of international food sourcing and sustainability.


Professor Griffin will focus in his talk on seafood sustainability, looking at it with New England, national  and international perspectives. It will be based on international research he and his colleagues have conducted in recent years.

You might to look at this New York Times story about rapacious Chinese fishing:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/world/asia/chinas-appetite-pushes-fisheries-to-the-brink.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

Let us know whether you're coming by sending a note to:

pcfremail@gmail.com

 



Fishing out all the seas' fish? North Korean conflict; happy Silk Road



To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (pcfremail@gmail.com; thepcfr.org).

Our next meeting comes Wednesday, May 17,  with James E. Griffin, an expert on the global food sector. He's a professor of culinary studies at Johnson & Wales University and an international business consultant. He's particularly well known for his knowledge of global food sourcing and sustainability.


Professor Griffin will focus in his talk on seafood sustainability, looking at it with New England, national  and international perspectives. It will be based on international research he and his colleagues have conducted in recent years.

You might to look at this New York Times story about rapacious Chinese overfishing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/world/asia/chinas-appetite-pushes-fisheries-to-the-brink.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0


On Thursday, June 1, comes Terence Roehrig,  of the U.S. Naval War College, where he is a professor of National Security Affairs, the Director of the Asia-Pacific Studies Group, and teaches in the Security Strategies sub-course.  He has been a Research Fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard University in the International Security Program and the Project on Managing the Atom and a past President of the Association of Korean Political Studies.   

 
Joining us on Wednesday, June 14, will be Laura Freid, who has been serving as CEO of the Silk Road Project,  founded and chaired by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions and studying the ebb and flow of ideas across nations and time. The project was first inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road. Ms. Freid was recently named president of the Maine College of Art. There will be visuals and perhaps music.
 
We are already working on the fall season. There may be an expert on Mexico (perhaps Jorge Castenada) or Putin’s foreign policy (perhaps Dmitri Trenin) coming to speak early in September. Will advise.
 
Already scheduled is French Consul General Valery Freland, who will talk about how the French presidential-election outcome might change that nation’s foreign policy and the Western Alliance. He’ll speak on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
 
Then on Wednesday, Oct. 11, Graham Allison, who has been running Harvard’s Belfer Institute, will talk about, among other things, Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.   He'll talk about his new book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap
 
On Wednesday, Nov. 1,  comes Michael Soussan, the writer and skeptic about the United Nations. He’s the author of, among other things, Backstabbing for Beginners, about his experiences in Iraq, which is being made into a movie starring Ben Kingsley.
 
Meanwhile, we’re trying to keep some flexibility to respond to events. Please send along ideas.

 

Tonight's PCFR: French elections, Brexit, Trump & other adventures

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (pcfremail@gmail.com; thepcfr.org):

 
Jean Lesieur, one of Europe’s most distinguished journalists, will be the speaker at tonight's (April 5) Providence Committee on Foreign Relations’  dinner. Mr. Lesieur is a novelist, a co-founder of France 24 (the French version of CNN), a former foreign correspondent and a former senior editor at the magazines Le Point and L’Express, among other publications.  Among other things, he’ll talk about Europe in the Brexit/Trump eras, the state of the Western Alliance and, of course, the wild French election campaign.

Jean Lesieur to speak on French elections, future of Western Alliance in Brexit/Trump era

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfrmail@gmail.com).

 
Our next speaker comes on Wednesday, April 5, when Jean Lesieur, one of Europe’s most distinguished journalists, joins us. Mr. Lesieur is a novelist, a co-founder of France 24, the French version of CNN, a former foreign correspondent and a former senior editor at Le Point and L’Express, among other publications.  Among other things, he’ll talk about Europe in the Brexit/Trump eras, the state of the Western Alliance and, of course, the wild French election campaign.

 

The road from Rio

March 12, 2017

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).

New England’s bizarre climate – the worst part of the winter comes near its end this year!
 

Distinguished Brazilian political economist and commentator Evodio Kaltenecker will speak on Thursday, March 16, about the challenges and opportunities for that huge nation as well as conditions in South America’s Southern Cone – Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. The recent past has been very tumultuous in Brazil particularly. Will the instability continue?

The title of his talk:

Brazil: 2018 and beyond and the pro-market wave in Latin America.

 

Upcoming foreign-relations dinners

To members and friends of the  Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).

There might be a couple of additions to this list over the next few weeks.

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (pcfremail@gmail.com; thepcfr.org)

Our next speaker comes on Thursday, Feb. 23, with Carl Maccario, an expert on international security issues involving terrorists and other bad actors. He's an internationally known specialist in behavior recognition, evaluating truthfulness and detecting deception, and nonverbal communication.

 

He has provided behavior recognition training to virtually every part of The Department of Homeland Security and as well as to various branches of the Department of Defense entities and to foreign nations.

 

He’ll have some exciting visuals to show us.

 

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, will speak on the condition of the oceans, Wednesday, March 8.

 

Brazilian political economistand commentator Evodio Kaltenecker willspeak on Thursday, March 16, about the crises facing that huge nation.

On  Wednesday, April 5, famed French journalist, novelist and broadcaster Jean Lesieur will speak on the global  order being turned upside down by the advances of dictators, the retreat of democracies and the presidency of Donald Trump, not tomention the existential crisis of the European Union.

 

Dr. Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., the international epidemiologist, willspeak on Wednesday April 19, about world public health challenges, including Zika.


James E. Griffin, an expert on ocean fishing and other aspects of the global food sector, will speak to us on Wednesday, May 17.
 
Joining us on Wednesday, June 14, will be Laura Freid, CEO of the Silk Road Project,  founded and chaired by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions and studying the ebb and flow of ideas across nations and time. The project was first inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road.
 

 

At the PCFR: Is foreign trade good for us?

Containerships carrying international cargo.

Containerships carrying international cargo.

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).

Our next dinner comes on  Wednesday, Dec. 14, with:

Jeffrey Frankel,  James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard and former member of the  President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He will talk about international trade and when and if it’s good for national economies.

His research interests include international finance, monetary policy, regional blocs, East Asia and global climate change. His publications include "Does Trade Cause Growth?" in the American Economic Review, and “Regional Trading Blocs.’’

American trade deals were, of course, huge (or is it “yuge’’?) issues in the U.S. presidential campaign and helped elect Donald Trump.

At the PCFR: Global warming and international security

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com).

Our next dinner comes on Nov. 15, with U. S. Naval War College Prof. James Holmes talking about the  geopolitical and security issues presented by global warming,  

Then on Dec. 14:

Jeffrey Frankel,  James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Growth at Harvard and former member of the  President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He will talk about international trade and when and if it’s good for national economies.

His research interests include international finance, monetary policy, regional blocs, East Asia and global climate change. His publications include "Does Trade Cause Growth?" in the American Economic Review, and “Regional Trading Blocs.’’

German General Consul Ralf Harlmann on Wednesday, Jan. 11, on the role of Germany in the post-Brexit world and facing a more aggressive Russia.

International epidemiologist Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., on Zika and other burgeoning threats to world health, Jan. 18.

Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, on military and geopolitical issues in South and Southeast Asia, Feb. 15.

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, on the condition of the oceans, March 8.

Brazilian political economist and commentator Evodio Kaltenecker on April 5 to talk about the crises facing that huge nation.

James E. Griffin, an expert on ocean fishing and other aspects of the global food sector, will speak to us on Wednesday, May 17.

Joining us on Wednesday, June 14, will be Laura Freid, CEO of the Silk Road Project,  founded and chaired by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions and studying the ebb and flow of ideas across nations and time. The project was first inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road.

 

 

Brexit bathos, followed by mysterious Mongolia

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com), which meets at the Hope Club:

Our new season will open on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Our Web site, meanwhile, will be updated with news items fairly frequently. PCFR evenings start with drinks at 6 p.m., dinner by 6:50; the talk by dessert, and the evening ends at 9, except for those who would like to repair to the Hope Club’s lovely bar.

Meanwhile, we are working on a newelectronic system to make thespeakers’  remarks clearer everywhere in the room.

Mark Blyth, our first speaker, whom some of you have heard on NPR commenting on Brexit, will speak on Wednesday, Sept. 14, on Europe after Brexit.

Mark Blyth is Eastman Professor of Political Economy andProfessor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown.

He is an internationally celebrated political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness affect complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He is the author of several books, including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013, and The Future of the Euro (with Matthias Matthijs) (Oxford University Press 2015).

Coming fast after that will be:

Prof. Morris Rossabi, probably the world’s greatest expert on Central Asia and particularly Mongolia: a democracystuck between the police states of Russia and China, Sept. 21.  How does this faraway country do it? He’ll be speaking to us soon after returning from Mongolia and other points in Asia.

Then:

 

FormerU.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Tod Sedgwick, on thetense situation in Central Europe,  Oct. 5.

Meanwhile,  the World Affairs Council of Rhode Island and the PCFR are preparing a forum for Oct. 20 at the Hope Club on the foreign-policy visions and challenges of the U.S. presidential candidates. Stay tuned.

Naval War College Prof. James Holmes on the geopolitics of global warming,  Nov. 15.

German General Consul Ralf Horlemann on the role of Germany in an E.U. without the U.Kand with an aggressive Russia pressing in from the east, Dec. 14.

Internationalepidemiologist Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., on Zika and other burgeoning threats to world health, Jan. 18.

Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, on military and geopolitical issues in South and Southeast Asia, Feb. 15.

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, on the condition of the oceans, March 8.

Brazilian political economistand commentator Evodio Kaltenecker on April 5 to talk about the crises facing that huge nation.

James E. Griffin, an expert on ocean fishing and other aspects of the global food sector, will speak to us on Wednesday, May 17.

Joining us on Wednesday, June 14, will be Laura Freid, CEO of the Silk Road Project,  founded and chaired by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions and studying the ebb and flow of ideas across nations and time. The project was first inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road.

 

 

Brexit expert to lead off Providence Committee on Foreign Relations season

 

To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com):

Herewith is part of the PCFR’s annual Summer Letter. Please note that there are a few updates below.

We are heading into our 89th season, which is a pretty impressive number. 

One of our members says that the PCFR dinner meetings are “the best party in town.’’ That’s a competitive field, of course, but we think that we can accurately say that attendees have a very good time, while learning a bit more about the world.

Our 2015-2016 season speakers included:

Evan Matthews, director of the Port of Davisville, on international shipping changes, particularly in the context of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Greg Lindsay, writer, futurist and  expert on cities around the world and their relationship to airports.

Hedrick Smith, PBS documentary maker, former star foreign correspondent.

David Alward,  Canadian general consul.

Allan Cytryn, international cybersecurity expert.

Andrew Michta, U.S, Naval War College expert on Russia and NATO.

Rima Salah, High U.N. humanitarian-relief official.

Eduardo Mestre, Cuban-American civic leader and international  banker.

Paul Glader, author, former Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and expert on Germany.

Scott Shane, New York Times correspondent, book author and expert on terrorism.

Mark Blyth, our first speaker, whom some of you have heard on NPR commenting on Brexit, will talk on Wednesday, Sept. 14, about Europe after Brexit.

Mark Blyth is Eastman Professor of Political Economy andProfessor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown.

He is an internationally celebrated political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness affect complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He is the author of several books, including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013, and The Future of the Euro (with Matthias Matthijs) (Oxford University Press 2015). 

Coming fast after that will be:

Prof. Morris Rossabi, probably the world’s greatest expert on Central Asia and particularly Mongolia: a democracy stuck between the police states of Russia and China, Sept. 21.  How does this faraway country do it? He’ll be speaking to us soon after returning from Mongolia and other points in Asia.

Then:

Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Tod Sedgwick, on thetense situation in Central Europe,  Oct. 5.

Meanwhile,  the World Affairs Council of Rhode Island and the PCFR are preparing a forum for Oct. 20 at the Hope Club on the foreign-policy visions and challenges of the U.S. presidential candidates. Stay tuned.

Naval War College Prof. James Holmes on the geopolitics of global warming,  Nov. 15.

German General Consul Ralf Horlemann on the role of Germany in an E.U. without the U.K and with an aggressive Russia pressing in from the east, Dec. 14.

International epidemiologist Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., on Zika and other burgeoning threats to world health, Jan. 18.

Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, on military and geopolitical issues in South and Southeast Asia, Feb. 15.

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, on the condition of the oceans, March 8.

Brazilian political economist and commentator Evodio Kaltenecker on April 5 to talk about the crises facing that huge nation.

James E. Griffin, an expert on ocean fishing and other aspects of the global food sector, will speak to us on Wednesday, May 17.

Joining us on Wednesday, June 14, will be Laura Freid, CEO of the Silk Road Project,  founded and chaired by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions and studying the ebb and flow of ideas across nations and time. The project was first inspired by the cultural traditions of the historical Silk Road.

Meanwhile, we’re trying to keep some flexibility to respond to events. Everything in human affairs is tentative. ”We make plans and God laughs….’’

We are talking with  our friend Michael Soussan to come to speak about the U.N., diplomacy, Iraq and his book Backstabbing for Beginners, now being made into a major movie and with an international travel expert (to give us business- and pleasure-travel advice) in world that sometimes seems to be imploding.

Suggestions and contacts are always appreciated!

Robert Whitcomb: Coastal conflicts; uniting on infrastructure; urban wildlife

This column of diverse ruminations originated as Robert Whitcomb’s GoLocalProv Digital Diary column,  a fresh version of which goes on that site ever Thursday,

New England coastal communities have long  hosted heated shoreline-access disputes made more complex by state laws, some going back to colonial times, that favor property owners’ rights to tightly limit the public’s access  to the shore.

Some states, most famously California, heavily favor the public when it comes to beach access – but not in New England!

With the explosion of new and immense wealth in a  sliver of the population in the past 30 years and the love of being on the   summer shore, the tensions have gotten worse. The increasing arrogance and separation from their fellow Americans of many very rich coastal-mansion owners have poured more cyanide in the surf. Some of these people are much tougher than their more modest summer-place predecessors in dealing with the Great Unwashed trying to get close to the water.

Fast-moving sand and (related) rising sea levels linked to global warming will pour on more legal gasoline.

A case in point is a controversy about a beach near Oyster Pond on Martha’s Vineyard involving Boston real-estate mogul  and Vineyard summer resident Richard Friedman. The Boston Globe reported, “The section of the beach that Friedman’s  deed gave him rights to was a small sliver that, by the mid-20th Century, had moved into Oyster Pond itself.’’

“Friedman and a handful of {friendly} neighbors … believed that they could claim ownership of a bit of the beach’’ on the basis of old deeds and custom.

But some other landowners in the area objected,  arguing, reports The Globe, that “Friedman’s property was legally underwater, 200 feet offshore. And the rest of the beach, they said, belonged to them’’ under assorted legal documents.

But Mr. Friedman decided to becomea man of the people. His legal advisers came up with new approach: As The Globe put it:  “Oyster Pond, they note, is legally {under state law dating to colonial times} a ‘great pond’ – at least 10 acres – which Massachusetts law considers public property’’ and thus, they argued, the whole beach, part of which, again, had moved into the pond, is open to public use.

So Mr. Friedman got legislation filed on Beacon Hill declaring that barrier beaches that move into great ponds are thereby public property!

Some of the other rich landowners in the neighborhood don’t like this one bit. They assert that Mr. Friedman’s public-access argument would involve taking private land and  thus require the state to reimburse the owners.

Anyway, as the sea rises and coastline erosion speeds up, especially of the low, sandy glacial debris  that makes up such places as Cape Cod, the Vineyard, Nantucket and southern Rhode Island, then what?

Prepare for a lot of new law to be written in the next couple of decades. As for the Oyster Pond case, the law is so murky that the lawsuits could last as long as Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, in Dickens’s novel Bleak House.  With beaches ever faster becoming sandbars and vice versa, oceanside bluffs falling ever more rapidly into the sea and summer people forced to put their (usually too big) houses on stilts, the land-law circus is coming to town.  Maybe ahuge hurricane will clarify things.

xxx

In other, perhaps happier, environmental news, zoologists are telling us about how many  wild animals normally associated with the countryside are adapting to life in cities.

The East Side of Providence provides examples of this opportunism. Coyotes are thriving, raccoons are into everything,  rabbits are proliferating and birds are learning new tricks to find food on rooftops and parking lots.  There have even been some deer sightings by the mighty Seekonk River.  (A moose wandered through  inner Boston suburb Belmont, a few weeks ago;  sadly, a car killed it soon thereafter in Weston.}

Why the rabbits (which we saw very few of when we moved to the East Side the first time 26 years ago)? My guess is that they thrive because more dogs are leashed in the area than years ago, there are fewer loose cats and there’s always lots of water being used in backyards and thus lots of green grass and clover and other edible plants. And those automatic irrigation systems (which deposit far too much of their water onto nearby sidewalks and streets)  provide lots of reliable drinking water for creatures large and small.

But sadly, because of too much insecticide use, you don’t see many fireflies in our neighborhood.

xxx

One thing that hasn’t changed is the crickets, which started their chirping last week in a melancholy reminder that we’re heading into late summer. The hot dry weather may have started the chirping a bit earlier than normal this year. Retailers ravaged by the Internet seem to have started their back-to-schools ads earlier than usual, too.

xxx


I fear that this will be one of the most vicious and unpleasant presidential campaigns in history. Still, there’s one area inwhich Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton should be able to come together: Fixing America’s infrastructure.

They, and virtually all Americans, agree that our transportation system – roads, bridges, rail lines, airports, etc. recalls  the Third World. That also goes for much of the rest of our infrastructure, too – e.g., public school buildings and libraries. That’s in large part because of the anti-tax mania (maintained by lobbyists for the very rich) that has produced such inanities as no rise in the federal gasoline tax since 1993. In Rhode Island, with the truckers, and elsewhere we have seen how hard special transportation interests fight to avoid paying for the damage  that they do to roads and bridges.

A massive federal infrastructure-repair and expansion campaign would train and employpeople, make business more globally competitive and, all in all, the country stronger. It shouldn’t be a Democrat-vs.-Republican thing.

Part of the answer, of course, is mass transit, which has helped make such cities as Boston and New York rich. It still gets far too little money and marketing, although more of it would save a lot of wear and tear on our roads and bridges, improve the environment,  discourage sprawl, strengthen downtowns, and ease the lives of the elderly and the millions of people (many of them working young people) who can’t afford cars.

But it takes patience to make it work.  Many complain, for example, that the newish Wickford, R.I., MBTA station is an under-used boondoggle. But they ignore that the Providence train station’s MBTA business took a while to get cooking but is now thriving.

xxx

Maybe the big public-works project could provide jobs for some of those despairing, druggy, tattooed and chain-smoking people who hang around places like gritty/beautiful downtown Pawtucket with nothing to do but await assistance from social-welfare agencies there. You get a vivid look at America’s social dysfunction and decline driving through old mill towns like Pawtucket on a summer weekend.

xxx

There’sa weird glamour about New England diners, which show up in movies from time to time. The latest:  Scenes for a Jack Black movie, TheMan Who Would Be Polka King, will be shot at the Modern Diner, in Pawtucket. As of this writing it’s scheduled for Aug. 12. The intimacy and chattiness you find in dinersmake them great places for close-conversation shots, and that they were inspired by late 19th Century lunch wagons and railroad dining cars evokes a kind of  (pre-natal?) nostalgia.

 

The Modern is one of two surviving Sterling Streamliner diners still open, with the other in Salem, Mass.

The Pawtucket diner has a heroic side: In the early ‘90s, Walt Disney Co. sold thousands of shirts featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse standing before the Modern Diner and its iconic neon sign. In doing so, the behemoth Disney broke copyright laws. The Modern’s owners, represented by Providence lawyer Michael Feldhuhn, who died recently, sued Disney and won.

xxx

The oafish Fox News’s Roger Ailes’s well-paid exit from GOP house organ Fox News is a reminder that sexual harassment  is still going strong in some companies. Now that he’s gone will Fox’s on-air bombshells dim their blinding lipstick?

Another example of women being taken advantage of comes in a new book, The Lady With the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire, by Laura Claridge.

The heroic Blanche Knopf was a brilliant publishing executive and literary lion finder and cultivator who, more than her husband, Alfred, was responsible for the success ofAlfred A. Knopf Inc.,   which in its 20th Century heyday was probably America’s most prestigious publisher,  including of Nobel laureates. But her often cruel husband took most of the credit. This book provides a global panorama of book culture over the last century and ends up being very moving.

xxx

You might be interested in a nonprofit public-affairs organization called the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com), which hosts speakers at monthly dinners September to June.  Our 2015-2016 season speakers included:

Evan Matthews, director of the Port of Davisville, on international shipping changes, particularly in the context of the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Greg Lindsay, writer, futurist and  expert on cities around the world and their relationship to airports.

Hedrick Smith, PBS documentary maker, former star foreign correspondent.

David Alward,  Canadian general consul.

Allan Cytryn, international cybersecurity expert.

Andrew Michta, U.S, Naval War College expert on Russia and NATO.

Rima Salah, High U.N. humanitarian-relief official.

Eduardo Mestre, Cuban-American civic leader and international  banker.

Our new season will open Sept. 14.

Mark Blyth, the first speaker of the new season and whom some of you have heard on NPR commenting on Brexit, will speak on Wednesday, Sept. 14, on Europe after Brexit.

Mark Blyth is Eastman Professor of Political Economy andProfessor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown.

He is an internationally celebrated political economist whose research focuses upon how uncertainty and randomness affect complex systems, particularly economic systems, and why people continue to believe stupid economic ideas despite buckets of evidence to the contrary. He is the author of several books, including Great Transformations: Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2002, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford University Press 2013, and The Future of the Euro (with Matthias Matthijs) (Oxford University Press 2015).

Coming fast after that will be:

Prof. Morris Rossabi, probably the world’s greatest expert on Central Asia and particularly Mongolia: a democracystuck between the police states of Russia and China, Sept. 21.  How does this faraway country do it? He’ll be speaking to us soon after returning from Mongolia and other points in Asia.

Then:

FormerU.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Tod Sedgwick, on the situation in Central Europe,  Oct. 5.

Meanwhile,  the World Affairs Council and the PCFR are preparing a forum for Oct. 20 at the Hope Club on the foreign-policy visions of the U.S. presidential candidates. Stay tuned

Naval War College Prof. James Holmes on the geopolitics of global warming,  Nov. 15.

German General Consul Ralf Horlemann on the role of Germany in an E.U. without the U.Kand with an aggressive Russia pressing in from the east, Dec. 14.

Internationalepidemiologist Rand Stoneburner,  M.D., on Zika and other burgeoning threats to world health, Jan. 18.

Indian Admiral Nirmal Verma, on military and geopolitical issues in South and Southeast Asia, Feb. 15.

Dr. Stephen Coen, director of the Mystic Aquarium, on the condition of the oceans, March 8.

Brazilian political economistand commentator Evodio Kaltenecker on April 5 to talk about the crises facing that huge nation.

The rest of the season’s schedule is being worked on now.  And we’re trying to keep some flexibility to respond to events.

In any event, we are working with, among others, Laura Freid, to talk about the Silk Road Project, of which she is CEO;  Michael Soussan to talk about the U.N., diplomacy, Iraq and his book Backstabbing for Beginners, now being made into a major movie;  an expert on the ocean-fishing industry, and an international travel expert.

xxx

Digital Diary talks with Bruce Newbury on WADK (15:40 A.M.) most Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. and sometimes more frequently, depending on the news. You can also hear the show at any hour via wadk.com.

Robert Whitcomb is the overseer of New England Diary.