Minutes from March 7, 2017 Open Meeting-Dr. Graeme Auton

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Open Board of Directors Meeting

 San Bernardino Community College District
114 S. Del Rosa Drive
San Bernardino, CA 92408


Present: Patti Arlt, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Mike Burrows, Ken Coate, Kevin Dyerly, Ashley Gaines, Louis Goodwin, Scott Hofferber, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Bill Lemann, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Roman Nava, Brian Reider, Michael Rivera, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, and Ray Wolfe.

Guests: Adam Eventov

Announcements: 1) Committee Chairs were reminded that the federal issue papers for Washington, D.C. are now due.  Members were asked to leverage relationships they have in Washington to help Inland Action to obtain appointments.  Please keep staff informed. 2) The SCAQMD board voted on the proposed AQMP last week.  Amendments for ominous regulations on ports, warehouses and railyards were removed and will now be voluntary measures.

M/S/P: Minutes from February 28, 2017.

Paul Shimoff introduced Dr. Graeme Auton, Professor of Government, University of Redlands.

President Trump and his administration reflect a global trend toward conservative nationalism. The President has promised a more nationalistic foreign policy predicated on U.S. national interest rather than broader issues of “global citizenship.” This is evident in his policies on defense, trade, immigration and multilateral commitments. Countries such as Turkey, India and the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (EU) have populist and anti-immigration movements that have driven their recent moves to nationalism.  Russia has a long history of following nationalistic policies/doctrine.  Unfortunately the Obama Administration did a poor job of handling Russia on multiple levels. Many in the U.S. have difficulty understanding the many changes in post-Soviet Russia.  Russia has embraced the Orthodox Church, commercial commerce and freedom to travel outside of the country.  Advertising billboards, cell phones and computers are prevalent, however political commentary against Putin is not tolerated.     Given their history it is not a surprise that President Trump and Vladimir Putin have some understanding of each other.  The structural interests between Russian and U.S., however, fundamentally conflict.

The EU has set increasingly rigorous regulations felt by many as unnecessarily invasive. Since banning some high-powered vacuums, the EU announced they will set standards for many other appliances.  Gun rights in the EU are also in jeopardy.  Upcoming elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands are predicted to elect conservatives that will also lean towards nationalism.

Regardless of who is in power there is a reality of debt in the U.S. that is beyond any Presidential reach.   Of the $5.35 trillion budget only $1.15 trillion is discretionary.  The majority of our non-discretionary budget is attributed to Social Security (33%), Medicare (28%) and the Military (15%).  These entitlements are huge and really can’t be changed.  The President’s 2017 proposed budget directs over half (54%) of discretionary funds to the military.

Russia’s primary goals include serving as a counterbalance to the U.S. global hegemony and the assertion of Russia’s interests in it’s sphere of influence-especially in the Ukraine, Baltics & Central Asia. They will ensure their interests are protected in Europe and the Middle East and guarantee Russia’s place in a globalized world economy.  Russia will work to counter global threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) to preserve the territorial and political integrity of the Russian state.

There is a deep division in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and countries have split into factions. The various factions are Core Europeans, Atlanticists and the new members from the Intermarium countries (countries between the Baltic and Black Seas).  Central Europe is increasingly insecure because of Russian activity.   The collective defense provided by NATO could be problematic if there is conflict in a post-soviet state. The EU is burdened by (1) Eurozone problems, (2) refugee crisis and border security, (3) Brexit, Euro-skepticism and the rise of nationalist parties, (4) EU institutional credibility problem.

The leading issue with the U.S. and Latin America is our relationship with Mexico. The Trump Administration’s relationship with Mexico will overshadow our relationships with the many countries in this region.  The reality is that Mexico is now a country of industrialization and great future economic growth.  The stereotype of Mexico’s gangs, drugs and tequila dominate and are a detriment to improvements in immigration and U.S. domestic politics.

China and Russia both want to move toward a multipolar world in which they balance against U.S. hegemonizm. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and economic interests have brought China and Russia together.  Moscow has long considered the Central Asian countries as Russia’s sphere of influence but in the long run Central Asia will be a challenge for China-Russian relations, as well as for U.S. interests.

In East Asia Pres. Trump, seen as a nationalist, has already begun a positive relationship with their nationalist Japanese Prime Minister. North Korea was badly handled by both the Bush and Obama administrations and is a serious threat.  North Korea’s nuclear and long range ballistic missile programs will pose a direct threat to the U.S. within the next 3 to 5 years.

Although prior U.S. administrations sought to maintain a regional balance in the Middle East, former Pres. Bush destroyed that balance with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The Obama administration sought to move closer to Iran and increase U.S. distance from both Saudi Arabia the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel.  Pres. Trump has signaled much greater support for Israel, more support for Saudi Arabia/GCC and more animosity toward Iran.  He has indicated a more muscular approach in dealing with Islamic States, but must still deal with the region’s complexities.

Russian intervention in Syria has changed the entire picture in the Middle East. The Obama Administration seemed blindsided by Putin’s actions whereas domestic events have restrained Pres. Trump from changing U.S. policy in Syria.

Global transnational terrorism is a long-term fight that challenges Western adherence to liberal principles. The emphasis has shifted from large spectacular events to individuals and small groups- some radicalized over the internet.  The President’s counter-terrorism strategy is unlikely to be vastly different from Obama’s.

Cybersecurity threatens infrastructure, communications, financial systems, military, and commercial targets. The Russian hacking of the DNC during the 2016 election and Hackster release of Clinton and Podesta e-mails underscored the new world of cybersecurity.

Neglected by the past three presidents in a row, the Nuclear Triad in the U.S. is outdated. Our Silo-based Minuteman ICBMs are now ancient and strategically vulnerable, unlike Russia’s strategic nuclear modernization which is now well advanced.  Unless the U.S. is willing to shift to a strategic dyad, it will have to invest in rebuilding the strategic nuclear deterrent.

Global Nationalism was prevalent until the combined experiences of WWI and WWII. Ideals changed and the U.S. and many other countries shifted their thinking towards globalism.  Now 72 years later, the world is undergoing a shift back to asserting that one’s own nation’s interest is separate from the interests of all others.

A Q & A period followed

Meeting adjourned at 8:35 a.m.