• 28 Oct 2019 12:00 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    In addition to senior diplomats from the US, the Baltics and the Balkans, the "NATO at Seventy" conference on 1-2 November, will feature some distinguished researchers, including G. Doug Davis and Michael Slobodchikoff of Troy University.  


  • 24 Oct 2019 7:58 AM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    NATO Conference at the Troy University Montgomery Campus on November 1-2, 2019 

    The Alabama World Affairs Council and Troy University will co-sponsor a conference titled “NATO at Seventy: A Strategic Examination of the Past, Present, and Future of the Atlantic Alliance,” which brings together generals, military experts, ambassadors, diplomats, and scholars to discuss the importance and the future of the Atlantic alliance.  Troy University was awarded the NATO Public Diplomacy Grant to host an international conference of leading experts on NATO.

    The conference will feature Ambassador Robert Hunter (the US ambassador to NATO from 1993 to 1998), His Excellency George Cristian Maior (The Romanian Ambassador to the US), Major General Cezary Wisniewski (Poland’s Military Attaché to the U.S), and diplomatic representatives from Lithuania, Latvia, and Croatia.  In addition, there will be military officials, scholars, and government leaders from the United States and Europe.  The conference features four panels that focus on the history of NATO, cyber and hybrid threats, current regional operations and threats, and future threats to the alliance.  NATO will be sending a representative who will close out the conference on Saturday afternoon.

    The event is free and open to the public, but attendees need to register by sending an email to Mrs. Melissa Neff at  Snacks and a lunch on Saturday, Nov. 2nd will be provided. For more information, visit

    The confirmed speakers include:

    • Ambassador Robert Hunter (US Ambassador to NATO from 1993-1995)
    • His Excellency George Cristian Maior—Romania’s Ambassador to the United States
    • Diplomatic Representatives from Lithuania, Latvia and Croatia
    • Major General Cezary Wisniewski—Military Attaché Republic of Poland
    • Ms. Lara Romano—Deputy Chief of Mission, Republic of Croatia
    • Mr. Robert Bell—NATO Diplomat
    • Dr. Vaidotas Urbelis—Defense Councillor, Embassy of Lithuania
    • Mr. Rolans Henins—Defense Councillor, Latvia

    Here is a list of the confirmed presenters for each of the panels: 

    Friday, Nov 1

    1:00-2:15 70th Anniversary (Panel 1) 

    Dr. John Schmidt (Troy University)

    Jeff Mrazik (Air University)

    Dr. Mary Hampton (Air University)

    Maj. Gen. Cezary Wisniewski (Republic of Poland)

    Robert Bell (NATO Diplomat)

    2:30 Tour Rosa Parks  

    4:30-6:00 Ambassador in Residence Address 

    Ambassador Robert Hunter (U.S. Ambassador to NATO 1993-1998_

    (evening gathering at Common Bond Brewers) 

    Saturday, Nov 2 

    9:30-10:45  Hybrid and Cyber Threats (Panel 1) 

    Dr. Robert Norton (Auburn University)

    Tad Schnaufer (UCF)

    Sandor Fabian (UCF)

    Dr. Nicholas Sambaluk (Air University)

    Dr. Karen Guttieri and Dr. Joshua Sipper (Air University)

    11:00 to 12:15  Current Regional Operations (Panel 2) 

    Dr. Richard Ledet (Troy University)

    Ms. Lara Romano (Deputy Chief of Mission, Croatia)

    Dr. Boris Havel (University of Zagreb)

    Dr. Chris Rein (Air University)

    Mr. Rolans Henins (Defense Councillor, Latvia)

    1:30 to 2:45 Future Threats 

    His Excellency George Cristian Maior (Romanian Ambassador to US)

    Dr. Vaidotas Urbelis (Defense Councillor, Embassy of Lithuania)

    Adelton Diaz (Brazilian Military, Faculty, WHINSEC)

    Dr. Davis and Dr. Slobodchikoff (Troy University)

    3:00 to 4:30 NATO Designee Address 

  • 14 Oct 2019 10:42 AM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    In a well-received discussion of US-Russian relations, Gen. Givhan (our President) reported on the Dartmouth conference of former officials of both countries, held recently outside Moscow. The conference, a cold-war thawing-device that has been revived in recent years to aid in mutual understanding, has been held annually. Dr. Conversino (our Executive Director) gave an over-the-pole strategic view in which there is not the same ideological conflict as in the cold war, yet Russia is seen as a revisionist power. Russian objectives are to fracture NATO and the EU, which is important to their survival. The recent US withdrawal from arms agreements is seen as hostile by both Russia and China. Russia has cooperated in some matters with China, Turkey and Israel. Despite the current President's rhetoric, the US has stepped up military cooperation with Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states, but is still in reactive mode. 

  • 03 Oct 2019 9:40 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    Registration is now open for our 8 October presentation by Gen. Walter Givhan (ALWAC President) and Dr. Mark Conversino (ALWAC Executive Director) on US relations with Russia.

    They will give perspectives informed by the summer 2019 Dartmouth conference of retired US and Russian officials who met in Russia to share their views on relations between their countries, in a series conducted since the trough of the cold war in 1960. 

    Our events begin at 5:30 pm with a reception, and end at 7:30 pm following a talk and question time. Find us at 231 Montgomery St, the Troy University building. 

  • 14 Sep 2019 3:36 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    On 11 Sep. 2019, Sarah Chayes presented a lively view of the scale and pervasiveness of international corruption, originating with her encounters with the US-supported leadership of the Karzai family in Afghanistan. Spreading her observations to other developing countries, she argued that a popular response to local experience of corruption (among police or other local government officials) was to undermine the authority of a regime in favor of alternative movements such as the Taliban. 

    She also analyzed corrupt movements among public and private bodies as vertically integrated from officials and bosses down to local officers, and horizontally integrated among both public and private (mafia-type) bodies. 

    Skeptical of anti-corruption measures, she reported that most of her practical ideas for the US occupation forces in Afghanistan were not adopted because they would have bucked the trend of funding warlords and elite families to fight against the enemies of the US. 

    She indicated that although she supported transparency measures such as open budgeting and freedom of information laws, they were unlikely to change political leaders' behavior in the countries studied. 

    Voters' revolts against corrupt regimes were no panacea for her: for example a comedian replacing a regime quickly became corrupt himself. 

    Overall, she concluded that corruption was itself a national security threat, stimulating local reactions to regimes. 

  • 20 Aug 2019 9:08 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    The new program of speakers for 2019-20 has been listed on our Events page here, and on our restored archive web site for notes, AWAC.US. 

    Ms. Sarah Chayes will kick off the season on Wednesday 11 Sep, on International Corruption, the topic of her most recent book. 

    The 8 October offering will be a duet or possibly duel between Gen. Givhan (our President) and Dr. Conversino (Executive Director) on US-Russian relations. 

    The 19 November visitor will be Dr. Rebecca Grant, of IRIS independent research -- a national security analyst for the USAF and for Fox News, among others. 

  • 29 Apr 2019 10:43 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    Air War College faculty, fresh from their regional tours, will be featured in our final program of the year.

    Mr. Bruce Kleiner, Air U’s State Department Representative, will discuss Argentina and Chile, and has served in Cuba.

    Dr. Dawn Murphy will discuss China and Korea.

    Dr. Dave Sorenson will discuss Israel and the UAE.

    The AWC report on the regional tours is often the best received event of the year, and registration is now open.

  • 24 Feb 2019 11:43 AM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    The Hap Arnold Outreach Program

    March 26, 2019 at the Troy University, Montgomery Campus

    5:30 Presentation with reception to follow – Whitley Hall, 2nd Floor, Gold Room

    RSVP to attend:

    The roster of speakers for the Hap Arnold lecture series has been announced by the Air War College. ALWAC members are cordially invited. 

    Tiffany L. Herring, is a Senior Quality Assurance Specialist for the Defense Contract Management Agency.

    Eli Lozano is a Lieutenant Colonel with the United States Army, serving in the Medical Service Corps.

    Lieutenant Colonel Jared C. Nelson is a United States Air Force Officer with 21 years of active duty service and has served as instructor, weapons officer, and commander for a squadron of 50 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Lieutenant Colonel John Popiak is a U.S. Army Cyber Warfare Officer with 22 years of active federal service.

    Michael E. Salmon was the Deputy Program Manager for Nuclear Matters, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.

  • 21 Jan 2019 12:33 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    ALWAC members are invited to a free forum, "Values-based Leadership in Changing Times," at the Troy University Montgomery campus, 26 March 2019. Four senior officers from the Air War College will speak beginning at 5:30 pm for one hour; followed by a reception. The venue is at 231 Montgomery St, downtown Montgomery. For free admission, contact Corrected, 1/22/19: the other meeting will be in Troy itself.

  • 16 Jan 2019 3:19 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

    We now have revised dates with confirmed speakers for the GD 2019 series, which will now start on 30 January (not 23 Jan.): 

    Wed. January 30: Issue 2, The Middle East: Regional Disorder (Sorenson)
    Wed. February 6: Issue 7, The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested (Aguilera)
    Wed. February 13: Issue 4, The Rise of Populism in Europe (Batta)
    Wed. February 20: Issue 5, Decoding U.S.-China Trade (Murphy)
    TUE. February 26: Issue 6, Cyber Conflict and Geopolitics (Yannakogeorgos)
    Wed. March 6: Issue 3, Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future? (Deaile)
    Wed. March 13: Issue 1, Refugees and Global Migration (Hammond)
    Wed. March 20: Issue 8, State of the State Department and Diplomacy (DoS speaker)

    Most participants have picked up their briefing books; if you have not, please contact <> for pickup. 

Great Decisions Program to be Offered in Spring 2016

Do you want to know more about ISIS?  Migration issues?  Climate change?  The Koreas? Cuba?  We’ve got the answer(s) for you. Members of the Alabama World Affairs Council (AWAC) can participate in the 2016 Great Decisions Program, a new initiative of AWAC that has been offered nationally for over 50 years through a series of discussions held in hundreds of local communities across the country.  Sponsored by the Foreign Policy Association of America, it is the nation’s largest discussion program on world affairs. 

There will be eight classes, each led by Ph.D. professors and held at Auburn University Montgomery’s downtown facility at 400 South Union Street from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is ample parking available.  Classes will be held on consecutive Wednesdays beginning Jan. 27. The topics for this year and the dates for the class and discussion are as follows:

Middle East Alliances (Jan. 27); The Rise of ISIS (Feb. 3); The Future of Kurdistan (Feb. 10); Migration (Feb. 17); The Koreas (Feb. 24); The United Nations (March 2); Climate Change (March 9); and Cuba and the U.S. (March 16).  The instructors are all Ph.D.s who are active or retired professors from area universities and colleges.

The program is supported by a study booklet, a PBS television series on each topic, and a national opinion ballot at the end of the program.  The Great Decisions Program not only provides a wealth of information to participants but also provides those in government and the media a sense of how the informed public views these issues through the questionnaires on the issues which are compiled at the end of the series from hundreds of programs across the country.

The cost of the program is only $20 to cover the cost of the study booklet for classroom use. 

AWAC members and others interested in signing up for the course should phone the AWAC office.  Space is limited!

Oil and Politics—Talk to the Alabama World Affairs Council, October 20

Contact: James Nathan, Executive Director or Mrs. Dahdee Bullen—for reservations. 

26 September 2015

James Clad, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia, will speak to the Alabama World Affairs Council on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The public is invited to the event at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, which begins with a 5:30 p.m. reception followed by a 6:15 presentation.  

Mr. Clad, once a diplomat, and then went to journalism, He became well know for breaking  important stories across Asia. In 2007, Mr. Clad joined the GW Bush administration as deputy assistant secretary of defense. In 2009, he became a professor at US National Defense University, and, at the same time, wrote several documentaries for the BBC and PBS.

Mr. Clad is now is senior adviser at the CNA Corporation in Arlington, VA. 

A former member of New Zealand diplomatic service,Mr.  Clad’s career has focused on Asian commercial and security affairs. He has held senior fellowships from St. Antony’s College, Oxford; from the Carnegie Endowment; and from Harvard’s Center for International Affairs.   

 Mr. Clad’s most recent book is a volume on political geography, “The Borderlands of Southeast Asia.”

Mr Clad’s meeting at the Alabama World Affairs Council meeting begins with a catered buffet and a cash bar, followed by Mr. Clad’s talk at 6:15, with a question-and-answer period at about 7:00. The evening ends no later than 7:30 p.m. The charge is $20 for non-members of the Alabama World Affairs Council.

 The Alabama World Affairs Council is one of 96 councils nationwide, and its individual membership fees are among the lowest, while the quality of the programs is among the highest in the nation.

 For information about attending Alabama World Affairs Council events or joining the organization, please call (334) 244-3337 or visit 

Gen. Cleveland Says Thank You
By Lt. Gen. Charles G. Cleveland, USAF (Ret.)
10 August 2015

On May 20, my last Alabama World Affairs Council program as president after18 years in the job, I had some things I wanted to say to the attending members.  But I was thrown off stride when others shouldered me aside with presentations, and I was essentially struck dumb – I  couldn't think of a thing to say. The proclamation from the mayor, presented by his right-hand man Steve Jones (did you know that May 20 is Chick Cleveland Day in Montgomery in perpetuity?!), the nice words from the U.S. Congress and the Alabama Legislature (I'm sure engineered by Will Sellers), and the plaque from Buck Grinter were all too much. I loved them, I appreciated them, but I still have things to say.

It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as president of AWAC. I have thoroughly enjoyed it, and I think we did some good things. Jim Nathan has secured most of the speakers, and we ended up with what I consider a high-quality and a reasonably well-balanced program, year after year, at low cost. We were able to keep the dues low for so long because so many members voluntarily joined at a higher than minimum level, at the same time building up a modest reserve (which came in handy last year as we outspent the income by a good margin in bringing in extra programs). We have operated as essentially an all-volunteer organization, with the exception of one part-time contract employee, the redoubtable Young Gray. There are too many people to thank individually for their efforts, but the support from the Board of Directors and the members has been superb, and I do thank you for it.

I have been bestowed the grandiose title of president emeritus and will remain a member. I will never lose interest in the work of this council, but it needs new ideas and new energy.  We are very fortunate that the Transition Committee was able to locate a great new president, Dr. Grant Hammond from the Air University at Maxwell. Grant actually has experience as the founder and president of a World Affairs Council in Memphis. He has served on our Board before when he was a professor at the Air War College, and  recently was hand-picked as the provost at Air University, a more-than-full-time job. The Air Force and the World Affairs Council are fortunate to have Grant Hammond with us in leadership positions.

Bringing the World to Montgomery
By Grant Hammond
10 August 2015

Would you enjoy the opportunity to hear and speak with ambassadors, policy makers, award winning journalists, strategists, and academics from the US and abroad about current issues in world affairs in an environment where you can socialize with those of similar interests over drinks and a light supper?  If so, you will want to consider joining the Alabama World Affairs Council (AWAC) in this unique experience to participate in its upcoming year’s programs.

Under the leadership of President Dr. Grant Hammond, Provost of Air University, author, professor and former Dean of the NATO Defense College in Rome and Executive Officer Dr. James Nathan, the Khaled bin Sultan eminent Scholar at AUM, a former foreign Service Officer and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the AWAC brings an array of interesting speakers on a variety of world events and important international issues to Montgomery.  Founded in 1985 “to bring the world to Alabama,” the AWAC has over 400 members in the Montgomery area and is one of the largest World Affairs organizations in the Southeast.  The variety of perspectives, informed insights on world events and frank discussions presented at these occasions are unparalleled.

Over the last 18 months, a number of distinguished visitors have come to Montgomery, mingled with members and guests of the Alabama World Affairs Council (AWAC), given presentations on a variety of topics and answered questions from those in attendance at the AWAC meetings.  Recent guests have been former CIA agent and author Valerie Plame, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from the Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens, Ukrainian Ambassador Alexandr Motsyk, former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and member of the National Security Council P. J. Crowley as well as a group of professors form the USAF Air War College reporting on their recent visits to a variety of military and diplomatic posts abroad during their annual Regional and Cultural Field Studies. 

Among speakers for the coming year are a member of the US Federal Reserve Bank, a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, a noted Middle Eastern journalist and others yet to be confirmed.  In addition, plans are underway to add to the Council’s programs for the coming year to include a program for high school and college students, some smaller informal discussions for those interested in particular topics, and series of book club discussion groups.  The establishment of other chapters in the state, beginning with Birmingham, are also underway.

The AWAC meetings are held six or more events a year, usually held on Tuesdays at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, occasionally at Auburn University at Montgomery as well.  Each meeting begins with an informal reception at 5:30 with a cash bar, a catered buffet (included in the membership fee).  The lecture/presentation follows about 6:15 with questions and answers at 7:00.  Programs generally end by 7:30.

While the quality of its programs is among the highest in the nation, AWAC’s fees are among the lowest.  The dues structure allows wide participation.  Remembering that a light supper is included as well as the program for six or more meetings, the $40 dollars for a college student, $80 dollars for seniors (65+), $100 for an individual and $150 for a family.  Higher levels of membership are also available and include the opportunity to bring guests to the programs.  Further information can be obtained by calling the AWAC office at AUM at 334-244-3337 or by visiting the AWC website at

The AWAC Board of Directors is composed of leaders from the business community, academia, the military, non-profit organizations, the professions and citizens interested in global issues and events.  American foreign and defense policy, unfolding events in different regions of the world, the impact of increasing globalization and accelerating technology are all topics of concern and form a backdrop for more focused discussions for each program. 

Understanding how we are all interconnected—by environmental issues, information flows, international trade and finance, energy supplies, social media and their effect on our lives—is a part of personal knowledge and citizenship in the 21st century.  Events happening half way round the world have impact on Montgomery.  And events that happen in Montgomery—from the international business conducted here, the state’s multi-billion dollar exports, the education of military officers from across the globe, and the future of our youth—will have an impact on the world.  Come join us, better understand more about your world, your state and how they are connected, and meet others who share your interests.  Contact the AWAC office at 334-244-3337 or visit our website at

(Contact Dr. Grant T. Hammond, 334-819-4293 or Dr. James Nathan, 334-467-8666.)

Jim Nathan Garners Diplomat of Year Award
By Grant Hammond
15 February 2015

AWAC’s executive director, Dr. James Nathan, the Khalid bin Sultan Eminent Scholar at Auburn University at Montgomery since 1991, received the International Services Council of Alabama’s Citizen Diplomat of the Year Award earlier this year at the organization’s 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner in Huntsville. The award was presented by Claes Nobel, senior member of the Nobel Peace Prize family.

The ISC, which has subsequently been renamed Global Ties Alabama, manages a number of programs designed to bring the international community and the citizens of Alabama together to participate in the global conversation on important issues. It presented the award in March at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, where the organization is based. The organization is an affiliate of the national Global Ties America organization, and it works with AWAC’s national organization, the World Affairs Council of America, in promoting the State Department’s visitors program.

At the request of Global Ties and our national council, we hope to coordinate AWAC and Global Ties in Huntsville. The Global Ties of Alabama will hold a meeting at Alabama State University on Oct. 27. Global Ties works with Seth Johnson Elementary School and Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery, and helps the Montgomery School Board with retention efforts.

Dr. Nathan received the award because of his “exemplary support of our programming aimed at globalizing Alabama,” said the ISC (now Global Ties Alabama), citing his volunteer activities with international delegations and his leadership in presenting nationally and internationally known speakers at the Alabama World Affairs Council, where he has been executive director since 1992. In his remarks, Dr. Nathan said the award was really more to AWAC than to him personally.

Dr. Nathan is a political science and public administration professor at AUM, a former Foreign Service officer, and the author of seven books and more than 80 academic articles. He has written over 100 articles for the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, USA Today and other popular publications. He has also held senior posts at the Naval War College, Army War College, the University of Delaware and Johns Hopkins University, and been a Senior Distinguished Fulbright Professor in China, the Philippines, Australia and Korea.

A graduate of Indiana University, Dr. Nathan has a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

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