Recap: November 2019 Meetings

Dear Members,

We had a large gathering at Connecticut College on November 12th to hear Katherine Brown, President of Global Ties USA, speak on the subject of the Press and Diplomacy in Afghanistan.  Dr Brown’s comments were based largely on her book “Your Country, Our War”, which was inspired by her early professional experience in Washington and Kabul as a member of the National Security Council, the US embassy in Kabul.  Katherine signed copies of her book, as always provided by Bank Square Books in Mystic.  The questions driving her book, and providing the basis for her presentation, were:

  1. How do the stories we tell ourselves as Americans about our role in the world travel and how are they received in the countries we’re talking about?
  2. What is the role of journalists and the news media in diplomacy and conflict?

She outlined her experiences speaking with Afghan politicians and journalists, highlighting their perception of a US/UK duopoly that presents news of Afghanistan in a very US/Western-centric manner.  While Afghans may want the Western Press to report on corruption in their country, many see the US Press as serving American neocolonialism.

On November 18th we held another SECWAC-Essex Meadows “Great Decisions” Community Partnership meeting at Essex Meadows.  Joe Cirincione, president of The Ploughshares Foundation, spoke on “Nuclear Dangers and the Trump Presidency”.  He reminded us of the two great existential threats to the world:  climate change (which could impact the world over a period of decades) and nuclear war (the effects of which would be seen in an afternoon).  He discussed how the Trump Administration has dismantled many of the nuclear guardrails that protected the world from the risks of nuclear war, and shared with us his concerns about a series of geopolitical issues – India/Pakistan, North Korea, and the Iran nuclear deal – that could lead to the unthinkable:  another exchange of nuclear weapons:  He also expressed concern about a US president feeling cornered by the threat of impeachment …

Both presentations ended with robust Q& A sessions – always a high point of any SECWAC meeting.

We hope to see you at the next SECWAC meeting on December 12th at Connecticut College, when Sarah Wiliarty, Wesleyan University, will speak on “The Rise of Populism in Europe”.

Paul Nugent
Executive Director & Program Committee Chair


Mission Statement

The mission of the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) is to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs by study, debate, and educational programming, primarily through a Speakers Series of 8 to 10 monthly meetings.