Our 51st Year

Global Issues
Lakewood Ranch Thursday Series

Stories That Never Made It Into Print: Backstairs at the White House
Thomas DeFrank

Thomas DeFrank has been a White House correspondent for more than 50 years, since the last months of the Lyndon Johnson administration. Some of his more entertaining and revealing reporting, especially personal interactions with many of the 11 presidents between and LBJ and Joe Biden, has never been published. Until today.


Making Peace in the Middle East
Brian Hook

The Trump administration brokered four Arab peace agreements with Israel in five months during 2020, known collectively as the Abraham Accords. Veteran diplomat Brian Hook, who was on the negotiating team, will explain the significance of the Accords and the foreign policy required to promote peace in the Middle East.


Independence Corrupted: How America's Judges Really Make Their Decisions
Charles Schudson

Judge Charles B. Schudson will bring us behind the trial bench to meet judges analyzing trials and sentencings and explain how judges weigh life and death, million-dollar damages, and our civil rights. With scholarship and compelling cases, he will examine the personal, professional, and political pressures threatening judicial independence today, like never before.


Can Europe Become French Again?
Martin Walker

The retirement of Angela Merkel, Brexit, and the disarray of Spanish and Italian politics paves the way for a new French seniority in Europe assuming, as is likely, Emmanual Macron retains the Presidency in the 2022 elections. Martin Walker explores this possible outcome and its implications for the EU and other countries.


How American Democracy has Renewed Itself and How it Will Again
Jeremi Suri

The history of American democracy is rough, uneven, and incomplete. Our country has experienced many periods of democratic growth such as in the 20th century Civil Rights era, and repeated moments of democratic retraction and backlash, among them Reconstruction after the Civil War. Dr. Jeremi Suri will examine some of these moments in the past and the lessons for the present.

Robert Jones

Reckoning with the Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity
Robert Jones

As the nation grapples with the legacy of racism, Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. Dr. Robert P. Jones will explain that, as the dominant cultural power, white Christianity has been more than just complicit; rather, it has sustained a project of opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story.


New Hardline President Raisi and U.S.- Iran Relations
Mohsen Milani

Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric close to Iran’s Supreme Leader, was elected and hardliners strengthened control over Iranian policy. By reputation, Raisi is deeply suspicious and hostile towards America and committed to regime preservation. Dr. Mohsen Milanidiscusses Raisi’s views and their impact on nuclear talks, global and regional power rivalries.


Can a Democratic America Compete with a Totalitarian China?
Robert Lieber

Dr. Robert Lieber will discuss how Chinese leaders believe America faces inevitable decline and that their path of Communist Party dictatorship is superior to that of the U.S. But China’s model is deeply flawed and its economy and society increasingly fragmented. China’s rulers overlook their own vulnerabilities and underestimate America’s resilience and underlying strengths.


Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest
Angela Stent

How has Putin’s Russia, with a per capita GDP the size of Italy’s, a declining population, decaying infrastructure, and overdependence on hydrocarbon revenues, managed to reassert itself on the world stage? Dr. Angela Stent examines that question and suggests how the U.S. should now deal with Russia.


Domestic Extremism
Peter Bergen

The riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was a reminder that right-wing extremism is a serious problem. Since 9/11 right-wing militants and jihadist terrorists have both killed around the same number of Americans. Peter Bergen examines domestic political violence in the U.S and what can be done to fix it.


Russia, China, Afghanistan and the Islamic Crescent
Robert Barylski

The Islamic crescent stretches from Cyprus to Xinjiang. Today, Dr. Barylski explains the thousand year balancing act between Russia, Turkey, and Iran and discusses how China’s Silk Road strategy and the Taliban victory in Afghanistan impact this great Eurasian competition and its meaning for the United States.


Like War: How Social Media Has Become Weaponized, and What We Need to Know About It
Peter Singer

Terrorists livestream attacks, Presidents win elections over social media, and viral misinformation alters the fate of nations in a battlespace playing out on smartphones. Peter W. Singer will explain the rules of power in the age of social media, and how we can navigate a world increasingly shaped by “likes” and lies.