Santa Fe Forum Reviews U.S. Place in the World, by Patricia Kushlis

By Patricia H Kushlis

The 14th annual Santa Fe World Affairs Forum annual symposium focused on the question: “America’s Place in the World – Still Indispensable?”  It was held at and cosponsored by The Santa Fe Community College in Santa Fe, New Mexico April 25 and 26, 2024.

The Public Diplomacy Council of America provided scholarships to assist four New Mexico college or university students to attend. Several of these students participated in Friday’s student panel.  Other organizations supporting students included the American Foreign Service Association, the Albuquerque Sister Cities Foundation, UWC-USA and the University of New Mexico International Studies Institute as did several individual donors. In total, at least 30 New Mexico students attended this year’s event which was well attended and reviewed overall.

Santa Fe mayor Alan Webber and SFCC President Becky Rawley opened the two day event.   Expert speakers addressed the Russia-Ukraine War, the Middle East, East Asia, disinformation, the role of nuclear weapons in US foreign policy.  Two panels addressed the Havana Syndrome and foreign student views of America.  Mark Asquino, Ambassador (rtd) chaired and steered a group of seven students who represented different countries on different continents from Africa to Singapore.  Three panelists were graduate students at the University of New Mexico and four were IB students at UWC-USA in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The Havana Syndrome panel was a late addition because of the recent attention drawn to the still controversial and debilitating affliction by 60 Minutes and because former AFSA President Eric Rubin, who delivered the symposium’s overview speech, had previously closely worked with State Department victims to advocate on their behalf to help them obtain the treatment needed.

PDCA Board Member Nicholas Cull concluded the symposium with a talk on the history of Russian disinformation and its increasing complexity and proliferation into American politics and the electoral process.

SFWAF did not hold the event hybrid but will post some of the videos of the speeches on its website for public viewing depending upon the speaker’s wishes.   In addition to the annual symposium, SFWAF holds 5-6 lunch programs during the academic year for between 20 and 30 people and also runs a web-only series that expands its reach well beyond Santa Fe.
SFWAF is a non-affiliated 501(c)(3) largely volunteer organization that emphasizes adult international affairs education for Americans.  For more information, please visit our website or email us at    

(Photos courtesy of Patricia Kushlis. Photo shows PDCA member Nick Cull during his presentation on Soviet and Russian disinformation.)