Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 04.04.2013

April 4, 2013

Today: Christine Curtis: What’s New in Rice County Corrections (Rich)

Birthdays: Megan Tsui (4/6).

Next Week: We will meet at the United Methodist Church. Bill Davnie, a retired Foreign Service officer, will speak on Myanmar (Flaten).

Last Week:

The debate in Washington over defense spending is a proxy for the critical, ongoing fight for the soul of American foreign policy, says Tom Hanson, a retired Foreign Service officer.

He said the two competing views, the realists versus the idealists, frame the real issue behind Capitol Hill’s wrangling over budget deficits. The realists, President Obama and company, want to retreat from nation-building abroad and reduce defense spending. The idealists — think neoconservatives, including George W. Bush — are promoting increasing defense budgets to support the projection of American values and power abroad.

And, of course, the world does not stand still while we hash this out. This is what President Obama is hearing from the national intelligence community:

1) Along with an emerging global middle class, there is a widening disparity between rich and poor.
2) The world is becoming increasingly urban. The challenge is to make large cities livable.
3) While global population continues to grow, the population of developed countries is shrinking, which will slow economic growth.
4) Cyber-security is becoming our number one security threat.
5) There is a growing demand for food and water.
6) Energy independence is within reach for the United States.
7) American’s pre-eminence in world affairs is coming to an end. China will surpass our GDP by 2025.

Tom said President Obama is modeling his foreign policy after “realists” such as Dwight Eisenhower and Henry Kissinger. His primary objective is “nation building at home.” He wants a leaner military with a focus on naval strength. His counter-terrorism efforts will be concentrated in a small region in east Africa and the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, while he focuses on managing our relations with the rising powers in Eurasia.

This will be a formidable task as China increasingly spreads its wings and its influence in its corner of the world. The new Chinese premier, Li Kequiang, has close ties the Chinese military and recently made news with his meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who is often at odds with the U.S.

Many challenges lie ahead, but in the good news category, Tom says Africa, Mexico and the European Union are all enjoying stability. If you have questions, please see Bob Flaten.

Special Presentation:

Ryota Kihara, who lived among us in 2009 as an exchange student from Japan, shared a harrowing tale of surviving the Japanese tsunami two years ago.

He was working a shift at a restaurant when the alarm sounded. He fled for higher ground. When the traffic ground to a halt, he abandoned his car, and he was only able to survive a barrage of huge tidal waves by clinging to a telephone pole.

Eventually, he swam to a nearby building and found safety in its second floor. He lived in a car for a week before he was reunited with his family. They were without electricity for three months and without natural gas for five. He lost some dear friends and his dog in the calamity.

Ryota is now back in the United States. He is completing his associate degree at a community college near Seattle and is planning to pursue a degree in marketing.

 Guests: Kymn Anderson, president of the Faribault Rotary Club, (Fenton), former exchange student Ryota Kihara and Yosh Soltis (Estenson); and Mizuki and Cindy, our exchange students.

Scholarship Enhancement: Robert Craig


— Fred Rogers was quoted recently in the “gray lady,” the New York Times, for an article on financing a college education.

— Next week and April 18, we will be doing a full-blown trial run of the United Methodist Church as meeting place. The food will be prepared at the church by Maria Estrada, who would be the regular provider should we make the move.

— Dave Brown asked members to consider supporting Rotary Foundation when they respond to the quarterly statements. He reminded us that the foundation is the face of Rotary International.

Coming Up:

April 18 — Paul Mooty: The Faribault Woolen Mill (Barnes)
Meeting place: United Methodist Church.

April 25 — Adnan, Youth Exchange Presentation (Quinnell)