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Great Decisions Topics for 2023

K. Siracusa | Published on 9/24/2022
These topics have been selected by the Foreign Policy Association for the 2023 Great Decisions Program:

Energy Geopolitics
—How will changes in the energy industries impact relations between countries?
Access to sources of energy emboldens "energy rich" countries to seize military or economic advantage. Access to energy sources, such as oil and gas, can determine a country's capacity to maintain sovereignty and extend influence and dominance over countries with less capacity. Meanwhile, the U.S. energy sector is maintaining and expanding domestic energy sources and capacity while international diplomatic relations are important in continued access to world energy supply. 

War Crimes—What is a war crime? How does this definition apply to recent events in Ukraine?
Maintaining world consciousness of violations against humanity is of paramount importance for working to mitigate crimes against humanity. While military operations causing human suffering or death on a large scale may initially shock the world, as such offensive attacks continue, the world's attention turns away and inhumane campaigns continue, unchecked. What can be done to resolve such conflict and mitigate tragic outcomes? 

Chinese Foreign Policy
—How will the United States respond to China's growing global presence?
While China maintains ties to Russia, it also exerts increasing political and economic influence over emerging countries. As China ingratiates itself into emerging economies with the provision of financing and technical expertise for infrastructure projects, it is perceived as a partner in improving the lives of the broader populations. Meanwhile both China and the United States continue economic and diplomatic relations within mutual interests of both countries. 

Economic Warfare—What comprises economic warfare? How have these measures been used recently against Russia?
While the United States has itself exercised and encouraged other countries to enact economic sanctions against Russia, sanctions alone as a deterrent are not sufficient to render the immediate effect and meanwhile Ukraine suffers the effects of invasion. With many European countries' dependence on Russian oil and gas, sanctions to compel Russia to abandon its incursion into Ukraine are incomplete, affect broader populations, and hampered a swift end to the war. 

Elections in Latin America—What does the emergence of various left-wing governments mean for countries in Latin America?
The flux of Latin American politics from a right-wing stance on economic and social issues is gravitating back to more left-wing government approaches and solutions to social and economic conditions. Instability of government leadership impedes substantial nation-building progress. Some may observe that this mirrors the United States' own swing in political responses to economic and social matters. With a number of presidential and legislative elections being held in Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, the outcomes are bound to affect the United States in significant ways. 

Global Famine—What causes famine? How can it be prevented in the future?
Reduction of food production, supply chain disruption, and political upheaval are among the fundamental factors for food scarcity, hunger, and famine. Multiple factors affect food supply and distribution. Just one example is Russia's invasion into Ukraine which is making agricultural production in one of the world's breadbaskets limited and uncertain. Concurrently, weather, droughts and torrential rains destroy food production resulting in food shortages affecting millions of destitute, hungry people, and determining whether they live or die. Desperate to survive, mass migration by millions of people affects worldwide population distribution. By Daniel Maxwell

Iran and the Gulf States—What is the future for relations between Iran and the Gulf states?
Iran maintains influence in the Middle East- both stabilizing and destabilizing. Concerns for the conditions in Yemen and Israel as well as other countries in the Middle East and Gulf states keep U.S. foreign policy attention on the region, such as Saudi Arabia's move to increase, or decrease, oil production affecting the balance of sustained world economic growth. While Iran and Russia are deemed to be allies, Iran has its own economic and diplomatic interests for oil production and holding sway over the region and world. By Lawrence Potter

Climate Migration—How is climate change impacting human migration?
When regions of the world become inhabitable, people migrate for sustainability- food, water, and work- for themselves and their families. Whether it's conditions such as drought in North Africa or rising sea levels in Latin America, millions of people live in these affected regions and will make decisions to relocate temporarily or permanently. In short, changes in climate affect migration, and changes in migration affect climate. Legal and social frameworks may become extended to the max and may need to be invented anew. 
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