Letter to the Network

Responding to Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies are intensifying sanctions. We note historic policy responses by Germany, NATO, and the European Union, while Moscow escalates threats to global security. Councils immediately published statements on the crisis (WorldOregon, WAC Atlanta, Vermont CWA) and are convening experts almost daily (see below). WACA has invited former Board Chair Roman Popadiuk, the first U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (1992-1993), to comment for this newsletter.

I enjoyed visiting with many of you during the informative and successful WACA National Conference in November. Since then, the international community has faced a mounting challenge from Russia – most alarmingly, Putin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. As WACA national chair, I had the opportunity to participate in Ukraine-related discussions with several Councils. I would like to take this opportunity to share some thoughts and to start a dialogue on issues that the war raises.

In the lead up to Russia’s February 24 invasion, public discourse about supporting Ukraine centered on the need to bolster democracy, stop Russian imperialism, and uphold international law. As we focus on these strong incentives for supporting Ukraine and its people, we must at the same time bear in mind the broader strategic challenge: Ukraine may well be the opening gambit in a much larger contest.

After World War II, the United States and its allies helped structure an international order based on two pillars: a system of values exemplified by human rights, democracy, free markets, and the rule of law; and an institutional structure, including the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, to help advance and protect these principles. This framework, despite some shortcomings, has been underpinned by United States leadership and has served to maintain international stability and economic progress, helping to spread the benefits of democracy and economic development to many countries.

We are now at a major crossroads. Russia and China both view themselves as victims rather than as participants in this post-war international system and are seeking to remake the world order to meet their needs. In place of the current order’s values, both states dismiss human rights, oppose democracy, and favor a state-controlled economy. Rather than respecting the individual, both powers extol the importance of the state over the individual. Both states seek to remake the international institutions or to supplant them, to structure an international system based on their authoritarian values and to recapture lands that have broken free from them. We are thus witnessing a concerted effort to change the rules of the game by actors who want to assert their preferences and set new rules.

While Russia and China appear to have drawn closer, there are differences that will eventually make their relationship fray. Their authoritarian values will plant seeds for their own downfall over time. In the near term, however, they can do much harm in the international arena. Their actions can embolden other authoritarian regimes, give initiative and support to anti-democratic forces in various countries, disrupt the international economic system, spark further aggression, and limit the freedom of choice of other nations.

The international community must understand that the rules of the game may be changing, and a more innovative and concerted approach is necessary to meet the challenges Russia and China pose. Ukraine has emerged as a crucial test case.

The international community is uniting and working to support Ukraine and, while it is too early to tell how events will unfold, it is not too early to examine the various questions the war raises and expand dialogue among WACA members. Such a dialogue can help the American public to better understand the conflict, to examine policies to deal with such situations, and to better appreciate the importance of the U.S. role in the world.

Roman Popadiuk
U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, 1992-1993
Former Board Chair of WACA, 2015-2020


WACA National Conference:

Save the Date!
2022 WACA National Conference
November 15-18, 2022
Mark your calendars for WACA’s 2022 National Conference. We look forward to welcoming you November 15 – 18 to The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Our signature annual event will explore new ideas, voices, and challenges transforming the foreign policy and international business landscape. Stay tuned for details!


WACA Conf 2021

WACA 2021 National Conference:
Bridging Divides at Home and Abroad

New!  Embassy Row Live!

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Join WACA’s Ambassadors Series, Embassy Row Live! Conversations That Bring Diplomacy to You.

A platform spotlighting distinguished diplomats discussing new ideas, policy developments, and possible solutions to critical international challenges.

Embassy Row Live! Archive: Watch the PLAYLIST!!



WACA Engage America Series 2021 recordings


Offered as a benefit to all current WACA Member Councils, Cover to Cover conference calls are opportunities for Council leaders, members, and supporters to engage with esteemed authors on critical issues. Cover to Cover authors often welcome invitations to speak at Councils. In short, the WACA National Office covers a topic with an expert so that Councils may discover a speaker and cover the topic in even greater depth in their own communities, spearheading a national conversation.
MAY 11 ~ 2-3 PM Cover to Cover
C2CauthorMayC. Fred Bergsten is the Nonresident Senior Fellow and Director Emeritus at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He was economic deputy to Dr. Henry Kissinger at the National Security Council, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for International Affairs, Chairman of APEC’s Eminent Persons Group and of the Competitiveness Policy Council chartered by the US Congress, and a member of the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations for 10 years.
On May 11 from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET, C. Fred Bergsten will speak about his new book, The United States vs. China. His book is the first to analyze the U.S.-China rivalry from the perspective of global economic leadership. Unlike other commentators, Bergsten sees reasons to be optimistic about future U.S.-China economic relations. He identifies ways in which both countries can lead, rather than destroy, the world economy.



WACA Hosted & Partnered Virtual Programs ~ EXPLORE the Archives.



SCWA Board of Directors President

José de Arimatéia da Cruz, Ph.D.

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On being elected to the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA) Board of Directors!

READ Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz latest publication on the Modern War Institute, at West Point website – Then COMMENT or CATCH him at our SCWA Monthly Programs to discuss!


ALSO CHECK OUT ~Dr. José de Arimatéia da Cruz’s Contribution to the book:

Brazil.gif_1Competition in Order and Progress examines the competition in statemaking between criminal enterprises (gangs, militias, and criminal armed groups) and the state. The title builds from Brazil’s motto Ordem e Progresso to capture the dynamics of state transition in Brazil’s favelas, prisons, and beyond.