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
          Todd Hiser                                        Karen Leith                                Dr. James Stanley                               Heather Hodges
The Department of Commerce has offices in 80 countries around the world that help US companies sell goods and services by finding customers and matchmaking. Mr. Todd Hiser explained that the Commerce Field Offices identify key markets and create 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. Mr. Hiser stated that currently Mexico is very nervous not knowing what to expect from the Trump administration.
Profiling Cuba’s state of politics and economy, Karen 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 US 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 US embassy will require attention to banking, travel, diplomacy, human rights and integration with Latin American neighbors.
Dr. James Stanley defined international politics as the pursuit of power with attention to national interests. He explained the fundamentals of US 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 Dr. 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.
Ms. Heather Hodges described what diplomats do as the art and practice of conducting statesmanship. The US 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 staff are career officers, familiar with local culture and customs. The 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.
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