“Yemen: The War the World Ignores At Its Peril” with Ambassador Stephen Seche

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018


“Yemen: The War the World Ignores At Its Peril”



Ambassador Stephen Seche

Former Ambassador to Yemen

Executive Vice President of the Arab Gulf States Institute


What started as a Yemeni power struggle between competing domestic competitors, has morphed into a situation where Yeminis are the unfortunate pawns in a regional power-struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Even before war broke out between the Saudi backed government forces and Iranian backed Houthi rebels, Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East.  Now the United Nations calls this the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis, with three quarters of its population in need of humanitarian aid.  With headlines being grabbed by Syria, Venezuela, and the threat of terrorist attacks, it is incredible to think that a country devastated by war, on the brink of famine, and experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in modern history would not get more attention.  Instead, in the shadows of these other global crises, Yemenis continue to be a victim of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

What are the causes?  What are the solutions, if any?  Why should the world be concerned not just of the humanitarian tragedy, but of another failed state, a new Afghanistan or Somalia, that could foster the deadly combination of a proliferation of both weapons and global terrorism.

Ambassador Seche is uniquely positioned as a former US Ambassador to Yemen and still deeply engaged as the Executive Vice President of the Arab Gulf State Institute, to shine a spotlight on this true tragedy with no end in sight.


Stephen A. Seche is the executive vice president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

He spent 35 years as a career U.S. Foreign Service officer. From 2011-13, Seche served as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State, with responsibility for U.S. relations with the GCC states and Yemen. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Yemen from 2007-10.

During the 2006-07 academic year, Seche was a visiting fellow at the University of Southern California, where he taught public diplomacy in the master’s degree program. On his return from Yemen, he spent a year at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, leading a graduate seminar in the School of Foreign Service.

From February 2005 to August 2006, Seche served as charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria; he was deputy of chief of mission for the six months prior. This was his second tour in Damascus. From 1999 to 2002, Seche was the counselor for public affairs and the director of the American Cultural Center. He spent the two years between his Damascus assignments as director of the Office for Egypt and Levant Affairs at the Department of State in Washington, DC.

Seche spent the first seven years of his Foreign Service career in public diplomacy positions in Guatemala, Peru, and Bolivia. Other overseas assignments have included Ottawa, Canada and New Delhi, India. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and spent four years as a journalist before entering the Foreign Service.




Venue:  The Pacific Club

(4110 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660)

WACOC Member $75

Non-member $90

Student $50

Dietary Restrictions: Please e-mail or call our office (949)253-5751 by Wednesday, March 21st, 2018. Accommodations cannot be made after this date.

Refund Policy: Refund requests will not be accepted after the registration deadline. Cancellations must be made no later than the registration deadline.

Paying by Check: If sending in a check, please call our office by Monday, March 19th, 2018

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WACA 2017 National Conference – Scholarship Opportunity

WACA and Councils to provide 25 Student Scholarships for 2017 National Conference


The National Board of Directors of the World Affairs Councils of America is pleased to announce that WACA will offer 25 scholarships for undergraduate students from the Council network to attend our 2017 National Conference – The Future of American Leadership  November 15-17 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC.


This year’s WACA Conference promises to be a special opportunity for our network of Council leaders, members, friends, and students to engage with many leading policy makers and analysts about critical national security issues and America’s role in the world.


This is a competitive program. The scholarship includes registration fees plus $1,000 per student to be used towards travel, lodging, and/or incidentals. The Scholarship will be implemented as follows:

  •  WACOC will select one student who will be nominated for 2017 WACA National Conference
  • Nominated student will be reviewed by the National Office in consultation with the WACA
  • National Board of Directors. 25 students from around the country will be selected to attend the 2017 WACA National Conference
  • The candidate must be an undergraduate student-18 years and older. High school and graduate student are NOT eligible
  • Student must submit the Nomination Form along with their college transcript
  • Nominations are due by Tuesday, October 10th, 2017. Send the nomination form and the transcript to
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“The New Diplomacy: 21st Century Challenges in Foreign Policy” with Ambassador Cameron Munter

Thursday, March 1st, 2017


“The New Diplomacy: 21st Century Challenges in Foreign Policy”



Ambassador Cameron Munter

President & CEO of East West Institute

Former US Ambassador to Serbia & Pakistan


In the 21st century, many problems defy simple state to state solutions.  For example, what do we do about the ongoing refugee crisis, climate change, and cyber-security? Cyber-security for example, is the ultimate trans-national threat. It is a challenge that is understood by few, but impacts everyone.  It’s something to be dealt with by business, finance, governments, and individuals.  It’s something abused by terrorists, and something used by nation-states as a new means for weak nations to take on more powerful adversaries.

How do we get beyond the traditional diplomats in an embassy working in a 19th century fashion?  Who are the people who should be involved in the new conversations that need to be taking place?  Are they young people?  Are they women?  Are they people who have been disenfranchised in the past?   The overriding question is, “Can we get the answers that we want?”  Can we get beyond the simple question that defines country to country?

As someone who has worked both as a diplomat at our nation’s highest levels, and as a CEO and President of a nonprofit, addressing these new questions, Ambassador Cameron Munter is uniquely positioned to explain the challenges, and contribute to the conversation of how the world can work together to solve these new 21st century issues.


VENUE: Center Club


TIME: Registration/ General Reception 5:30 PM

             Dinner/Speaker Program 6:45 PM



Dietary Restrictions: Please e-mail or call our office (949)253-5751 by Thursday, February 22nd, 2018. Accommodations cannot be made after this date.

Refund Policy: Refund requests will not be accepted after the registration deadline. Cancellations must be made no later than the registration deadline.

Paying by Check: If sending in a check, please call our office by Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

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WACOC’s 50th Anniversary with Ambassador Ryan Crocker – “Middle East Meltdown: Causes & Consequences for the U.S.”

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018


 WACOC’s 50th Anniversary

*Black tie optional*


“Middle East Meltdown: Causes & Consequences for the U.S.”


Ambassador Ryan Crocker

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon

Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom


Ryan Crocker

The World Affairs Council of Orange County will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary with one of the highest profile American diplomats of our generation, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.   Dubbed, “America’s Lawrence of Arabia” by former US President, George W. Bush, Ambassador Crocker has held our nation’s highest diplomatic positions throughout the Middle East, having served as US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

For decades, Ambassador Crocker has courageously and dutifully served our nation in leadership positions throughout the Middle East and South Asia.  In August 1990, Crocker served as Director of the Iraq-Kuwait Task Force following the Iraq invasion of Kuwait.  In 2002, he led a team that secretly worked with Iranian counterparts to capture Al Qaeda operatives in the days after 9/11.  Prior to the invasion of Iraq, he co-authored a memo for Secretary of State Colin Powell warning that overthrowing Saddam Hussein could unleash long-repressed ethnic and sectarian tensions in Iraq, potentially pulling in Iran and Syria, and warning that the US would be left to rebuild the country’s economic and political systems.  Most recently he was General David Petraeus’s civilian partner as US Ambassador to Iraq during the US troop surge in 2007.

Ambassador Crocker in his speech to our Council will address the causes and consequences of the current “meltdown” in the Middle East including the ongoing crisis in the various nations there.

Venue: Hotel Irvine

 (17900 JAMBOREE ROAD, IRVINE, CA 92614)

Time: 5:30 PM Registration/Reception

            6:45 PM Speaker/Dinner






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Annual Holiday Party & Sir Eldon Griffith’s Around the World Talk

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017


Annual Holiday Party & Sir Eldon Griffith’s Around the World Talk

“Global Challenges for the US & The World in the Coming Year”


Nubar Hovsepian, PhD.

Chair & Associate Professor of Political Science at Chapman University




Special Guest Performance by:

Cesar Sanchez



Francis Fukuyama declared that the end of the Cold War, was the triumph of liberal democracy. This triumph has fostered populist ideologies as evidenced by Brexit and Trump’s ascendance to the US presidency. The bi-polar international system enabled the emergence of unipolar world dominated by the US. However, this did not last. Instead, we have a new multipolar world that has weakened American hegemony. In view of these changes, will the US become more isolationist, and if so what are the implications for international trade, democracy, and major international conflicts?

Dr. Nubar Hovsepian is chair of Political Science at Chapman University. He teaches courses on Middle East politics, democracy and de-democratization, and globalization’s implications for democracy and peace. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the Graduate Center—City University of New York. He edited: The War on Lebanon (2007). His book: Palestinian State Formation: Education and the Construction of National Identity, was published in 2009. He is currently working on a book on Edward Said as a Oppositional Intellectual. In addition, he has written and edited four books (in Arabic), most notably on the Iranian revolution of 1979. He served as Political Affairs officer at the United Nations (1982-84), and has worked as publisher, journalist, and development specialist.



The Pacific Club

         4110 MacArthur Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92660


5:30 PM Registration/Hosted Champagne Reception

6:45 PM Dinner/Speaker Program

$72 WACOC Members/$87 Non-Members/$58 Student

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“Global Disaster Relief & Responding to Humanitarian Crises” with Kerri Murray – President of ShelterBox USA

Thursday, October 19th, 2017




“Global Disaster Relief & Responding to Humanitarian Crises”




Kerri Murray

President of ShelterBox USA


Currently, there are approximately 65 million people or close to 1% of the global population displaced due to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Caribbean, and US states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, the earthquakes in Mexico, and the millions of refugees in war-torn countries.  Since 2000 Shelterbox has been providing emergency shelter to people affected by disasters and humanitarian crises around the world.  Hear how they are reacting to the current crises closer to home, and how they have emerged as a major player in the field of international disaster relief.


$14 Student/ $30 WACOC Member/ $42 Non-Member

(20 % of YOUR ticket price will be donated directly to ShelterBox USA)


Location: Orange County Mining Company (10000 S Crawford Canyon Road, Santa Ana, CA 92705)

Time: 5:45 PM Registration/General Reception

7:00 PM  Lecture/ Q & A

Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served


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Annual General Membership Meeting with Ambassador Howard Gutman – “Europe: An Ambassador’s Perspective On What No One Will Tell You”

Wednesday, September 27th 2017




Annual General Membership Meeting

“Europe: An Ambassador’s Perspective On What No One Will Tell You”




Ambassador (Rtd) Howard Gutman

 Former US Ambassador to Belgium



Who is Europe and why are they saying those things about us?  Who is the second most dangerous threat to the U.S.-European relationship? Is Brexit the divorce that never happens?  How did the US snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the US-EU TTIP Trade Deal?  What none of the politicians know about climate and the Paris deal?  European terrorism and how to stop it?  The Odd Couples:  Merkel-Macron; Orban- Duda; Trump-Tillerson. An inside Washington perspective on other parts of the world as well.

Ambassador (Rtd) Howard Gutman served as the United States Ambassador to Belgium from 2009-2013.  One leading European newspaper dubbed him “the Ambassador who makes us love America again!”  while another described him as “the most popular Ambassador ever.”  A former United States Supreme Court law clerk (for Justices Stewart and O’Connor), former Special Assistant to the Director of the FBI (William Webster) for Counter-intelligence and Counter-terrorism; and former 27 year leading attorney is Washington DC (Williams & Connolly), Ambassador (Rtd) Gutman is now the Managing Director of The Gutman Group, an international consulting and investment firm.  He is a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Belgian television, a frequent speaker for companies and associations in Belgium, London and the US, serves on the board of directors of a publicly-traded Belgian company and privately held U.S. ventures, and publishes often in the Washington Post, Politico, and the Huffington Post on both US politics and geopolitics.  Along with his wife Dr. Michelle Loewinger, Ambassador (Rtd) Gutman spends roughly one week/month in Belgium and the remainder in Washington DC.


Location: The Pacific Club ( 4110 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92660)

Time: 5:45 PM Registration/ Reception

6:45 PM Dinner / Speaker Program

$50 Student/ $70 WACOC Member/ $85 Non-Member

Valet Complimentary




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“Losing An Enemy: Obama, Iran & the Triumph of Diplomacy” with Dr. Trita Parsi

Thursday, September 7th 2017




Dr. Trita Parsi

Founder & President of National Iranian American Council (NIAC) & Author



Dr. Trita Parsi is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert in US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale University Press 2007), for which he conducted more than 130 interviews with senior Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers. Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at the age of four to Sweden in order to escape political repression in Iran. His father was an outspoken academic and non-Muslim who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollah. He moved to the United States as an adult and studied Foreign Policy at John Hopkins’ School for Advanced International Studies where he received his Ph.D.

Parsi has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and extensive experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations. He is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Parsi has worked for the Swedish Permanent Mission to the UN, where he served in the Security Council, handling the affairs of Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan and Western Sahara, and in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, addressing human rights in Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.

 He is fluent in Persian/Farsi, English, and Swedish. Parsi’s articles on Middle East affairs have been published in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, and The American Conservative. He is a frequent guest on CNN, PBS Newshour, NPR, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

LOCATION:  Orange County Mining Co.  (10000 S Crawford Canyon Road, Santa Ana, CA 92705)


Time: 5:45 PM        Registration/ Reception

                                              Hors d’oeuvres will be served

                                  7:00 PM         Lecture/ Q & A/ Book Signing Event


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“The US and China, Allies or Adversaries in Resolving the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”

Wednesday, July 12th 2017


Discussion with


 Ambassador Christopher Hill

Former Head of the US Delegation to the Six Party Talk on the North Korea Nuclear Issue

Former Ambassador to the Republic of Korea




Clayton Dube

Executive Director of USC U.S.- China Institute


“The US and China, Allies or Adversaries in Resolving the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”



Ambassador Christopher Hill is a former career diplomat, a four-time ambassador, nominated by three presidents. Prior to Iraq, Hill served as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs during which he was also the head of the U.S. delegation to the Six Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Earlier, he was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea (2004-2005). Ambassador Hill’s last post was as Ambassador to Iraq (April 2009-August 2010) and was also the Special Envoy to Kosovo. He also served as a Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director on the staff of the National Security Council. Ambassador Hill is the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, a position he has held since September 2010. In addition to overseeing the Josef Korbel School, Ambassador Hill is author of the book “Outpost: A Diplomat at Work“; a monthly columnist for Project Syndicate; and a highly sought public speaker and voice in the media on international affairs.


clayton-dube-EditClayton Dube heads the USC  U.S.-China Institute, which focuses on the multidimensional and always changing U.S.-China relationship. Dube has earned teachings awards at three universities. Trained as a historian, he first lived in China in 1982-85 and carried out research there in 1989-1991-92. He’s visited another fifty-plus times for research, teaching, and to lead groups of students and teachers. Dube is a director of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA) and serves on the editorial boards of Education about Asia and the International Review of Chinese Studies. He was previously associate editor of Modern China. Dube has produced several documentary films and consulted on others. The best known of these is the twelve-part Assignment:China series on American media coverage of China since the 1940s.


LOCATION: Orange Hill Restaurant (6410 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869)


TIME: 5:00 PM Private Reception

                         5:45 PM General Registration/Reception

                         6:40 PM Dinner/Speaker Program

Private Reception & Dinner $100

Dinner + Program (Private Reception not included) – WACOC Member: $65

 Dinner + Ptogram (Private Reception not included) – Non-Member: $80

  Dinner + Program (Private Reception not included) –  Student: $40

Valet Complimentary





Refund request will not be accepted after the registration deadline (July 6th)

Cancellations must be made no later than the registration date (July 6th)

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“Crisis in the Persian Gulf – Saudi Arabia et al. vs. Qatar – Where Will This Lead? with Dr. Jerrold D. Green – President & CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy

Monday, June 26th 2017


Dinner with Dr. Jerrold D. Green

President & CEO of the Pacific Council on International Policy, Research Professor of Communications, Business & International Relations at USC


  “Crisis in the Persian Gulf – Saudi Arabia et al. vs. Qatar – Where Will This Lead?”


Jerrold Green1


The worst Gulf crisis since the invasion of Kuwait ignited last week (beginning of June).  The small but influential and wealthy Persian Gulf monarchy of Qatar found itself the recipient of a surprise air, sea, trade, and diplomatic blockade launched by several countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, following a trip to the region by US President Trump.

Over the last few decades Qatar has become a major player in the region and global economy, becoming the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter, launching Al Jazeera, the Arab World’s most influential media network, planning to host the 2022 World Cup, and positioning itself as a key US ally.  Qatar’s Al Udeid Air Base is the largest US airbase in the region.  The base became crucial for US operations in the region after Saudi Arabia asked US forces to leave after the 9/11 attacks, ultimately providing a regional headquarters for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and more recently, against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

While acting as an important US ally, Qatar has been accused at the same time of funneling money to extremist groups in the region, cozying up to Iran, and stoking the ideology of political Islam which many neighbors see as a threat to the monarchial ruling system in the Gulf. Many see these aggressive moves by the Saudi lead coalition as another manifestation of the power struggle between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia for hegemony in the Gulf region.

A failure to mediate the stand-off could disrupt the stability of the world’s energy resources, rupture the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, and have grave consequences for the US and its allies in their operations in the region. A further destabilization of the Middle East, after Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and of course the simmering Israeli/Palestinian conflict may lead to a regional conflict which could have world- wide and super power consequences.  By adding the Qatar crisis to this already fragile region a “tipping point’ may soon be reached.


The Golden Orange Award


will be presented to

Mr. Errol Mathieu


Location: Westin South Coast Plaza (686 Anton Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)



                                            6:45 PM DINNER/ SPEAKER PROGRAM


 $75 Members/ $90 Members/ $55 Student


$6 Self Parking 



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