Op-Ed: Great Decisions group is for those not afraid to look at foreign policy issues

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Larry Fuell, who lives in Edmonds, is Director of the Global Affairs Center and teaches Political Science at Shoreline Community College.

By Larry Fuell
  • Most voters don’t care about foreign policy issues, at least for choosing a Presidential candidate
  • Most candidate are risk averse, and there are too many uncontrollable variables in foreign policy to take a position on just about any issue in advance
  • Elections are lousy forums for discussing foreign policy

That, in a nutshell, is what I told a group of senior citizens recently. Most voters find issues like the war on terrorism, immigration reform, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq uncomfortable to talk about. There is a strong isolationist streak in our culture and nothing aggravates it like these sorts of issues. Our electoral system highlights candidate personality rather substantive issue positions, and, anyway, there is little difference between candidates on foreign policy issues.

Most candidates are risk averse, meaning they prefer not to take positions in advance on issues they have little or no control over, and this includes nearly all foreign policy issues. Who would have predicted a year ago the kinds of changes happening today in the Middle East, and what it means for U.S. interests in that region? Who would have predicted even two weeks ago that our withdrawal from a difficult situation in Afghanistan would be complicated by a seemingly random shooting by a U.S. soldier?

But, if you do not think yourself to be like “most voters” or just enjoy talking about world affairs with like-minded citizens, we have just the opportunity for you in April and May. On six consecutive Thursday evenings, you are invited to learn about and discuss some of the most pressing issues of today, including:
  • Changes in the Middle East
  • The new challenge of Cybersecurity
  • Mexico’s war on drugs
  • Economic development in Indonesia
  • Ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Protecting ocean resources

Enrollment is limited to 25 persons in order to ensure this is a discussion, not a lecture series. So sign up soon by contacting me. Other details:

When: April 19 and 26; May 3, 10, 17 and 24, 6-8 pm
Where: Shoreline Community College, the PUB, 9202
Format: A short topic-specific video, brief comments by a guest specialist, followed by roundtable discussion.
Cost: Registration is Free; a short text of briefing papers on each of the topics will be available in late March at the SCC Bookstore (PUB 9114). $25 (est.)


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