Great Decisions on PBS

 


Narrated by Academy Award nominated actor David Strathairn, Great Decisions in Foreign Policy brings you eight half-hour documentaries, each tackling a different challenge facing America today.  The 2013 series features nearly 100 of the most important figures in international affairs along with introductory remarks from every living U.S. Secretary of State.  Great Decisions airs on more than 250 PBS stations nationwide; check your local listings for details.


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2013 LineupGreat Decisions in foreign policy episode covers

SACRED COW:  DEFENDING AMERICA ON A BUDGET

Synopsis:

For the first time in decades, the U.S. is tightening its belt on defense spending.  While traditional threats like nuclear and great power conflicts do remain, the post-9/11 challenges of terrorism and counterinsurgency have led to a paradigm shift in the way we think about our national security.  Emerging threats like cybersecurity and biowarfare also require new thinking.  Do 21st century challenges now pose a greater threat to U.S. national security than traditional threats like nuclear war, naval supremacy and the ability to fight ground wars?  Defense in an age of economic uncertainty.
 

 

Guests:

  • David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post
  • General James Jones, Former National Security Advisor
  • Donald Rumsfeld, Former Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
  • Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator, Chairman, Atlantic Council

 

POWER TO THE PEOPLE:  THE NEW EGYPT

Synopsis:

The U.S. has enjoyed 30 years of relatively stable relations with both Israel and Egypt, thanks in large part to the peace plan outlined by the historic Camp David Accords.  The harmony between the two rivals has provided a key element of stability in an otherwise turbulent Middle East.  But Egypt's bumpy transition from the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak to its post-Arab Spring reality has put many on edge.  What challenges does the new Egypt pose for American policymakers and U.S. allies in the region?

 

Guests:

  • Jimmy Carter, Former U.S. President
  • Jonathan Tepperman, Associate Editor, Foreign Affairs
  • Bruce Rutherford, Author, Egypt After Mubarak
  • Thanassis Cambanis, The Atlantic
  • Michael Wahid Hanna, The Century Foundation

 

FEEDING THE DRAGON:  CHINA IN AFRICA

Synopsis:

African economies are booming like never before, thanks in large part to China. The global giant is investing in infrastructure projects to help it tap into the continent’s resources – oil, minerals, and its huge agricultural potential. Critics charge China with cozying up to dictators and ignoring issues of human rights and transparency. Others fear that U.S. is being left behind, and its influence in Africa waning.  China in Africa.

 

Guests:

  • Governor Jon Huntsman, Former U.S. Ambassador to China
  • Dambisa Moyo, Author, Winner Take All
  • Rosa Whitaker, President and CEO, The Whitaker Group
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group
  • John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations

 

IMPERFECT UNION: THE EUROZONE IN CRISIS

Synopsis:

After World War Two, the leaders of Europe established greater economic ties to help prevent future continental conflict.  Now, more than half a century later, the EU faces the biggest financial crisis in its history and the future of the Eurozone itself is under question.  What’s preventing the world’s second largest economy -- and America’s largest trading partner -- from pulling itself out of recession?

 

Guests:

  • Nouriel Roubini, New York University
  • Matthew Bishop, New York Bureau Chief, The Economist
  • Zvolt Darvis, Bruegel
  • Matina Stevis, The Wall Street Journal, Brussels
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Chair, Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs

 

RED LINE: IRAN, ISRAEL AND THE BOMB

Synopsis:

For nearly a decade, Iran’s quest for nuclear capabilities has topped global security concerns in Washington, Brussels and Tel Aviv.  Why is a nuclear armed Iran considered so dangerous to U.S. and Israeli interests, and what’s prevented Iran from reaching a deal year after year?

 

Guests:

  • Yukiya Amano, Director General, IAEA
  • Trita Parsi, Founder and President, National Iranian American Council
  • Cliff Kupchan, Eurasia Foundation
  • Irshad Manji, New York University
  • Robin Wright, Author, Rock the Casbah

 

THE INTERVENTION CALCULATION

Synopsis:

The U.S., for better or worse, is often seen as the world’s policeman.  But the question of when to intervene in other nations' affairs with military force has long stymied American policymakers, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria.  Why do we intervene in some conflicts and stand on the sidelines in others?
 

 

Guests:

  • Anne Marie Slaughter, Dean, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
  • General James Jones, Former National Security Advisor
  • Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard
  • Max Boot, Council on Foreign Relations
  • General Richard Meyers, Former Head of Joint Chiefs of Staff

 

 

THE GENERALS AND THE DEMOCRAT: MYANMAR IN TRANSITION

Synopsis:

Controlled by a military junta, the nation of Burma, or Myanmar, has long been isolated as an international pariah state.  But a flicker of hope for many Burmese has been Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s  spent decades defying military leaders in her quest for democracy.  Now, the generals have started to implement a series of democratic and economic reforms, which the U.S. and other Western powers have welcomed overwhelmingly.  But are Myanmar's military leaders serious about reform? And is Aung San Suu Kyi the one to lead Burma through what could be a rocky transition from international outcast to Asian “tiger”?

 

Guests:

  • Derek Mitchell, U.S. Ambassador to Burma
  • Maureen Aung-Thwin, Open Society Foundations
  • Suzanne DiMaggio, The Asia Society
  • Louise Arbour, International Crisis Group
  • David Steinberg, Georgetown University

 

JOINT STRIKE: NATO AND THE U.S. IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Synopsis:

NATO enjoyed a surge in popularity following the quick success of its air campaign in Libya.  The much needed boost in morale comes as NATO moves into its twelfth year in Afghanistan, fighting a war that many see as destined to fail.   Can the NATO alliance -  forged during the Cold War – ensure global stability in the 21st Century?  And should the U.S. continue to foot most of the bill?  

 

Guests:

  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary-General, NATO
  • Chuck Hagel, Former U.S. Senator, Chairman, Atlantic Council
  • Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
  • Ivo Daalder, U.S. Ambassador to NATO
  • Robert Kagan, The Brookings Institution

 


Reviews:

Even handed exploration of problems facing the USA & the world at this moment in time. Opinions of politicians and experts from both sides of the aisle are given equal weight. Never mind the narrow minded reviewers who might call this propoganda because it happens to contain comments with which they do not agree. Watch it. Listen to the opinions on all sides of the issue and THINK. FOR YOURSELF. The "great decisions" here have not yet been made. Your vote and your letters & e-mails to legislators can make a difference but you need to know what is going on in order to do this. A good example is President Obama's recent decision to go to Congress for permission to intervene in Syria. It was the American people speaking up and demanding that the Constitution's mandate be followed that influenced his actions! America's best hope for the future is a well informed electorate. Programs like this are of immense value.

20 out of 20 members found this review helpful

 

These videos are part of a program from the Foreign Policy Association called Great Decisions. In my opinion it is a great program and my wife and I have been involved for several years. Groups are formed locally and get together to have a informed discussion on the topics. You can go the Great Decisions site to get more information. The topics covered each year are certainly relevant to the world we live in and being informed from sources other than the media can't hurt.

19 out of 19 members found this review helpful

 

This is somewhat of a classier more educated version of VICE. Not in that oddball showcase like VICE can be, but in those important stories that are simply uncovered by most media, this tries to tackle some of them. They interview groups of experts from varying backgrounds and ask their opinions on the issue at hand. Important questions, interesting topics, and practical answers. Take what you hear with a grain of salt, do your own research on the topic as well, but for a half hour show on an important global topic, it does a good job. I give this show a B+.

17 out of 17 members found this review helpful

 

Great topics, impressive contributors. Why aren't more shows like this produced for the public?