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The month of February featured four World Affairs speakers at the Rotary Club of Hudson's regular weekly meetings. The distinguished presenters were:
Todd Hiser - Senior International Trade Specialist, Department of Commerce US Commercial Services Field Office
Karen Leith - Retired Director of Social Action of Summit County and an authority on Cuba's political situation
Dr James Stanley - Professor of International Studies at Cleveland State, Akron and Kent State Universities
Heather Hodges - Former US Ambassador to Moldova and Ecuador and current President of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs
The Department of Commerce has offices in 80 countries around the world that help U.S. companies sell their goods and services by finding customers and matchmaking. Heiser explained how the Commerce Field Offices identify key markets and set up a process for establishing distribution programs. This includes doing research and background reports on foreign companies and then dealing with documentation and trade problems. All trading parties are encouraged to meet face-to-face to examine standards for workers' rights, safety and environmental issues. Heiser said currently Mexico is nervous not knowing what to expect from the Trump administration.
Profiling Cuba's state of politics and economy, Leith recognizes that the revolution is still very much alive and growth is minimal. Cuba's only export is trained medical personnel, while tourism is the one hope for improving the economy. The U.S. Senate isn't likely to remove the embargo, independent Cuban enterprises are heavily taxed, food is still rationed and their source of oil, Venezuela, has raised the price. Opening a U.S. embassy will require attention to banking, travel, diplomacy, human rights and integration with Latin American neighbors.
Stanley defined international politics as the pursuit of power with attention to national interests. He explained the fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy recognize that allies and alliances are critical, the global economy is mutually beneficial and that democracy is important. The criteria he sees for a great world power combines a strong military, a strong economy, good credit for borrowing and a worldwide interest. Truths about world powers Stanley recognizes are: it is easier to start a war than end one; today's enemy is tomorrow's ally; international law is adhered to on the basis of national interest; expect the unexpected; any action will create a reaction; and pay attention to what leaders do not what they say.
Hodges described what diplomats do as the art and practice of conducting statesmanship. The U.S. maintains diplomatic relations in 195 countries, with the ambassador representing the president of the USA. The embassy is the top authority and supervises all foreign related departments, including the CIA. Two thirds of the embassy staffs are career officers, familiar with local culture and customs. An embassy staff often includes a political officer, a DEA representative, an economics officer, a public affairs officer, an information officer, a cultural affairs officer, a diplomatic security officer and various services counselors who help with passports, incarceration, missing persons and refugees.
For further information about the Rotary Club of Hudson and to view upcoming speakers and events, please visit www.rotaryhudson.org.