Upcoming events

    • 29 Jul 2020
    • 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM (UTC-07:00)
    • Online
    • 17

    Great Decisions Virtual Discussion: 

    China's Road into Latin America

    Moderated by Charles Blum

    Event Details

    July 29, 2020 | 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

    Virtual Zoom Meeting 

    Meeting login details will be shared in the registration confirmation email.

    Cost: Free to Members. Participants need to purchase the Great Decisions Briefing Book.

    Each session is limited to 20 participants.

    How to Participate

    1. Register to attend virtually

    2. Purchase the Briefing Book if you have not already

    3. Watch the topic video

    4. Join us for the Virtual Discussion

    Purchasing the Briefing Book

    Participants in the Great Decisions Virtual Discussion Series will need to order the Briefing Book that covers all 8 topics. Order the book as soon as possible as it could take up to a week to receive it after purchase. The cost is $32 for the entire Briefing Book.  


    About the Topic: China's Road Into Latin America

    As the Trump administration continues to withdraw from the world stage, China is looking to fill the void. How does Latin America fit into China’s “One Belt, One Road” plan? How will the relationship with China affect the region? Should the U.S. be concerned about China’s growing “sphere of influence”? 


    About the Great Decisions Series

    Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs. The program model involves reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching the video and meeting in a Discussion Group to discuss the most critical global issues facing America today. 


    • 30 Jul 2020
    • 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM (UTC-07:00)
    • Online Zoom Meeting

    July Reading Group

    World War Z, An Oral History of the Zombie War

    by Max Brooks


    Thursday, July 30, 2020

    7:30 - 9:00 am


    Online Zoom Meeting.

    Topic of Discussion

    When I asked Keith Brown, Professor of the School of Politics and Global Studies at ASU, for a reading suggestion for our next PCFR book group discussion, I was a bit surprised when he recommended a science-fiction novel about zombies, written by the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Max Brooks. Specifically, Keith proposed the 2006 New York Times bestseller World War Z, An Oral History of the Zombie War. The book also inspired the 2014 Hollywood film version, with Brad Pitt in the central role of a United Nations epidemiologist, tracking down the origin of the pandemic to try to save humanity.

    Keith also told me that he has used this book in international relations and global studies classes at Brown and at ASU, so I asked him to provide some further context: this is what he offered.

    In various interviews, Max Brooks has spoken about his childhood fascination with the logistics of survival in horror films. Before this novel, he published The Zombie Survival Guide, an earnest spoof of survivalist literature in which he emphasizes the importance of securing water, food and medical supplies as well as weapons if and when a government and society are brought down by a disaster that no-one has prepared for. In World War Z, Brooks writes from the point of view of a United Nations researcher conducting an after-action report, on how a global pandemic began, spread, and was eventually overcome. Written in the genre of oral history—composed of imagined interviews with survivors on all five continents (as well as astronauts, who were in orbit when the pandemic began—World War Z was a commercial success. It also attracted interest from the US military as they emphasized disaster preparedness as part of their mission. Brooks’ contributions are discussed in this 2013 article, which states that “Speculative Fiction is the new Military Intelligence.”

    Now in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brooks’ book is attracting attention again. Brooks was interviewed recently by Terri Gross on NPR. The zombie—the untiring, unthinking enemy that cannot be frightened or killed, but can only be overcome by ingenuity, perseverance, and broad collaboration—can stand for a virus. And the themes that Brooks discusses—governments refusing to share information on the scale of the outbreak; unscrupulous entrepreneurs cashing in on people’s fear; leaders facing impossible ethical challenges over whom to save and whom to sacrifice; the collapse of whole economic sectors (commercial aviation, marketing) and of global supply chains; the role of history and geography, as well as political system, in shaping the course of the pandemic—all have additional resonance at this time.

    I have used the book in classes. The sections I used most recently, this semester, were

    • the chapters with the conman and the former White House chief of staff, who sold “Phalanx”—an untested, unproven antidote to the virus—to make a fortune, and make the US public think the pandemic was under control (pp.54-63). One student responded to this section, from way back in 2015, with this reflection.
    • the chapters on the South African “Rediker plan” which eventually all countries adopted, which required sacrificing part of the population in order to use limited resources to save as many as possible; and the psychological cost for the leaders who had to take those decisions (105-116)
    • the chapter on the international summit (and US leadership) at which, against resistance by those countries less impacted by the virus, the surviving governments vote to go on the offensive (264-269)

    We hope you’ll find the book as compelling and thought-provoking as the readers who made it a best-seller; and the military professionals, NPR journalists and undergraduate students who have found it useful to think about disaster preparedness, societal and global values and priorities, and the role of government.

    We will kick off the discussion by asking which of the fictional interviews in the book you found most provocative or informative, and why?

    Look forward to seeing you all!

    Phil Abruzino

Past events

08 Jul 2020 The USMCA Goes Live and What It Means for the US, Canada and Mexico
30 Jun 2020 Great Decisions | Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
25 Jun 2020 Foreign Relations Summer Series: Career Lessons from the Great Recession
24 Jun 2020 China: “To trust is good, not to trust is better”
17 Jun 2020 Reflections of a Senior African-American Diplomat on the Global Importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement
16 Jun 2020 Great Decisions | India and Pakistan
11 Jun 2020 COVID19: Experience on the Front Lines Treating COVID19 Patients in New York City
04 Jun 2020 The Global Economic Implications of the Pandemic
28 May 2020 A Diplomat's Perspective on America’s Preparedness and Global Health Security in the Face of COVID-19
21 May 2020 May Reading Group
15 May 2020 China, Coronavirus and the Coming Global Challenges
07 May 2020 The Ultimate Case for American International Leadership – Now What?
23 Apr 2020 April Reading Group
22 Apr 2020 Crisis Abroad! Every Diplomat Becomes a Consular Officer When American Citizens Need Our Help
07 Apr 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic and West Africa Ebola Crisis: Similarities, Differences and Opportunities Missed
24 Mar 2020 [POSTPONED] New and Prospective Member Breakfast
23 Mar 2020 [POSTPONED] Choosing Freedom: America’s Role in the World and Supporting Democracy and Human Rights Abroad
11 Mar 2020 15th Annual International State of the State
04 Mar 2020 The Challenges for U.S. Policy in a Turbulent Middle East
29 Feb 2020 PCFR Field Trip to the Commemorative Air Force Airbase Arizona Museum (Members Only)
25 Feb 2020 Australia’s Burning Bush, Earth’s Emerging Pyrocene?
20 Feb 2020 How America Can Make the World More Peaceful
11 Feb 2020 Vietnam and the United States: Recognizing 25 Years of Comprehensive Partnership, Highlighting Future Opportunities and Saluting Senator John McCain
28 Jan 2020 From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia
22 Jan 2020 US-Iran Conflict: Multi-level, Multi-player Game of Chess (and Other Games)
16 Jan 2020 January Reading Group (Members Only)
10 Dec 2019 An Update on Cross-Border Law Enforcement and Coordination: A Maricopa County Sheriff Perspective
03 Dec 2019 Global Leadership in 4IR
21 Nov 2019 November Reading Group
20 Nov 2019 Japan on the World Stage: Society, Influence, Education
07 Nov 2019 Roads to Revolution: Transformative Social Movements in Iran and their Discontents
23 Oct 2019 Taken Hostage: The Silent Victims of Kidnapping Abroad
22 Oct 2019 New and Prospective Member Breakfast
16 Oct 2019 National Insecurities: America and the World 2020-2050
25 Sep 2019 Status of Arizona’s National Guard’s Global Presence: An Extended Service
19 Sep 2019 The Next Decade of PCFR
19 Sep 2019 September Reading Group
17 Sep 2019 Priorities of Mexican Foreign Policy in the U.S.
12 Aug 2019 Venezuela Kleptocracy: The Ripple Effect of the Venezuelan Revolution
23 Jul 2019 Update on the US-Mexico Relationship
18 Jul 2019 July Reading Group
03 Jun 2019 New Times for the Transatlantic Relations
16 May 2019 May Reading Group
14 May 2019 The Challenges and Rewards of Global Engagement—from Russia to the Poorest Countries on Earth
07 May 2019 Extremism and Terrorism in Our Communities, Across the Nation and Around the World: Understanding Today’s Changing Threat Landscape
23 Apr 2019 14th Annual International State of the State
16 Apr 2019 The Evolution of Security and Privacy in a Shrinking World
03 Apr 2019 Vanishing Frontiers: Why Mexico is Even Closer to US Than We Realize
28 Mar 2019 The World as It Is
21 Mar 2019 Ukraine's Presidential Election - Democracy Being Tested by Russian Aggression
14 Mar 2019 March Reading Group
05 Mar 2019 6th PCFR New and Prospective Member Breakfast
25 Feb 2019 Iran’s and North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Programs: Problems Solved, or Continuing Threats?
21 Feb 2019 Can Sport Save Globalization?
12 Feb 2019 Southeast Asia and the US Strategy for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific
29 Jan 2019 The Democratic Transition in Tunisia
17 Jan 2019 January Reading Group
16 Jan 2019 NORAD at 60: Heritage, Vigilance, and Innovation
12 Dec 2018 The Rule of Law in Hong Kong and Human Rights
04 Dec 2018 Kazakhstan in a Changing Eurasia
28 Nov 2018 Nemtsov: Film Screening and Discussion
15 Nov 2018 November Reading Group
25 Oct 2018 How China’s Exponential Technological Disruption and Infrastructure Investment is Driving a Radical Transformation of the Future
02 Oct 2018 Calculated Risks: Safeguarding the World’s Largest Aerospace Company in a Globalized Business Environment
27 Sep 2018 Understanding International Trade in the Trump Era
20 Sep 2018 September Reading Group
13 Sep 2018 U.S. - Mexico Geopolitical Forecast for 2018 - 2019
19 Jul 2018 July Reading Group
12 Jul 2018 The Future of the Two Koreas and Donald Trump
07 Jul 2018 Young Professionals World Cup Watch Party
26 Jun 2018 Mexico’s Presidential Election Cycle
19 Jun 2018 Young Professionals Foreign Relations Summer Series
17 May 2018 May Reading Group
15 May 2018 US-China Relations in the Age of Trump and Xi
01 May 2018 Maintaining the US Competitive Edge in the Resurgence of Great Power Competition
10 Apr 2018 Inman’s View of the World: A look at overarching threats, challenges, and opportunities facing the U.S. followed by a geographic tour of hot spots.
05 Apr 2018 Recent Trends in African Infrastructure Development
27 Mar 2018 How to Lose Press Freedom in a Democracy: The Experience of an Exiled Journalist
21 Mar 2018 Ethics in the Age of Cyber
15 Mar 2018 March Reading Group
20 Feb 2018 SOLD OUT- 13th Annual International State of the State
18 Jan 2018 January Reading Group
17 Jan 2018 TIME & LOCATION CHANGE - NAFTA and the Future of the World Trading System under President Trump
14 Dec 2017 SOLD OUT - Censorship, Privacy, Retaliation and 'Fake News': The State of Freedom of The Press in the U.S. and Mexico
16 Nov 2017 November Reading Group
01 Nov 2017 Russian Machinations, Political Gridlock and other Challenges to US Democratic Systems
25 Oct 2017 The Impact of Foreign and Cyber Threats on the 2016 and Future Elections: A Discussion with Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan
24 Oct 2017 Challenges for Factual Reporting in the Age of Social Media
11 Oct 2017 A Conversation on the U.S.-Canada trade partnership, Arizona’s relationship with Canada, and the future of NAFTA
28 Sep 2017 September Reading Group
26 Sep 2017 In Commemoration of Finland’s 100th Anniversary of Independence from Russia
12 Sep 2017 China: The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom
23 Aug 2017 South China Sea: An update on Diplomacy and Developments
20 Jul 2017 Law of War in the Age of ISIS
12 Jul 2017 Arizona International Business Opportunities in a Changing Global Paradigm
31 May 2017 Foreign Policy in a Time of Transition
04 May 2017 REGISTRATION CLOSED - 12th Annual International State of the State
27 Apr 2017 A Strategic Association for the XXI Century: Peru and the United States of America
21 Apr 2017 April Reading Group
05 Apr 2017 US-Mexico Relations Today: Arizona’s Positive Contribution
28 Mar 2017 Is the World Getting Better or Worse? Health, Human Rights, and Quality of Life Around the Globe
23 Feb 2017 U.S.-Russian Relations: From Rock Bottom to…What Next?
17 Feb 2017 February Reading Group
25 Jan 2017 Korea, What’s Next?
12 Jan 2017 President Obama’s Legal Legacy in War
13 Dec 2016 Quo Vadis? Latin America
30 Nov 2016 Mexico-U.S. Relations Today and Tomorrow: The Case of Arizona
17 Nov 2016 Fall Reading Group - The Unquiet Frontier: Rising Rivals, Vulnerable Allies, and the Crisis of American Power
09 Nov 2016 Freeport in Peru: Twenty Years and Going Strong
18 Oct 2016 SOLD OUT - National Security Challenges for the Incoming Administration
07 Oct 2016 The View From the State Department: Religion, Conflict and Diplomacy
29 Sep 2016 Russia’s War with Ukraine: What is at stake for the West?
19 Sep 2016 America as the World’s Policeman

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Refunds are available when reservations are canceled up to 72 hours prior to the event. No refunds less than 72 hours before the event, as we have to guarantee your seat. 
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