Candidate Profile

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Politics & Current Affairs
World Affairs
Robert (“Bob”) Donaldson retired after 45 years of College teaching in Political Science, specializing on Russian and American Foreign Policy and World Politics. At the University of Tulsa, where he was President in the 1990s, he was chosen “Faculty Member of the Year” in 2013. Earlier he was President of Fairleigh Dickinson University and a professor and administrator at Vanderbilt University and the City University of New York.

Dr. Donaldson has three degrees from Harvard and is author or co-author of 6 books and two dozen articles and book chapters. The sixth edition of The Foreign Policy of Russia: Changing Systems, Enduring Interests, was published in October 2018. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former President of the American Committees on Foreign Relations, he has also served as a consultant in the U.S. intelligence community.

In addition to teaching at 4 universities, he has spoken to Foreign Relations Committees in 25 cities and has lectured for the U.S. State Department in Europe and the Indian Sub-continent. He has made 20 trips to Russia since 1969, and has led four study tours there. He was host on the Tulsa campus to important Russian political figures and also brought to the faculty Russia's great poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Dr. Donaldson has also traveled extensively to other areas of the world, including 12 visits to the Middle East and several trips to South and East Asia.

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Global Threats in the Twenty-first Century (3 lectures)

Part I: How did we get to this place in history, and why does it seem so dangerous here?
Relying on Cold War-era approaches and institutions in a post-Cold-War era has led to frustration and failure for the Western powers as challenges from non-state actors multiply.

Part II: Responding to the Threats: “Nation-Building” and its Alternatives
After the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while few doubt that the U.S. and its European allies have the will or resources to continue the post-2001 “global war on terror,” some critics believe the U.S. and its NATO allies need to rein in their global presence while others emphasize the need for even more Western attention and resources to be devoted to “nation-building” in weak and war-torn states as a way of ensuring security. Alternatives to withdrawal and to nation-building need to be closely examined, given the shortcomings of both.

Part III: Where should America and its Western allies go from here, and why does it seem so difficult to move forward?
The challenges of formulating a grand strategy to meet contemporary threats are many, but the Western powers need to prepare their publics for a future where unconventional dangers demand new approaches.

The Volatile Middle East (3 lectures)

Part I: The Volatile Middle East: After the “Arab Spring”
Beginning with a street vendor’s suicide in Tunisia, the popular movement against authoritarian regimes known as the “Arab Spring” quickly spread through the region, toppling authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Libya, igniting civil war in Syria, and threatening royal families in the Gulf region. And yet democratic change has taken root only in the country where the protests begin. We will survey the regions and assess the causes of the failure and the conditions for democratic change.

Part II: The Volatile Middle East: What Options for the West?
Following the collapse of hopes for a democratic awakening in the region, continuing crises and terrorist threats in the Middle East grab the attention of European and American policy-makers, raising the question of how involved—and how militarily committed--the U.S. and its allies must continue to be in this volatile region.

Part III: The Volatile Middle East: Israel’s Search for Security
For decades, the central conflict in the Middle East—Israel’s struggle against Palestinians and their Arab supporters who deny its right to exist—has focused global attention—and rivalries--on this regional conflict. Fifty years after the 1967 war that gave Israel possession of territories formerly in Arab hands, the search for a secure peace continues to bedevil internal politics of the regional actors as well as the international community.

Why All the Fuss about “Cyber-Security”?
Much is being said about the vulnerability of vital information networks to the probing intrusions of foreign governments, terrorist groups, criminal gangs, and various “hacktivists”—but what can be done to assure the security of vital cyber networks?

Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the EU’s Migrant Crisis
Since 2014 more than 10,000 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean to European shores. Already destabilized by monetary and fiscal crises, Greece and Italy have been especially hard-hit by the flood of migrants toward the EU, while Turkey has struggled to cope with migrants in the face of internal political crises and regional conflicts. How the European Union manages this crisis will have lasting effect on Europe and the wider international community.

The Challenge of China: Engagement or Containment?
In the fall of 2011, the Obama administration issued a number of pronouncements pledging a relative redirection of U.S. diplomatic and defense resources toward the Asia-Pacific region. Crises in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Gaza, as well as in Ukraine, seem to have trapped the U.S. in the Middle East and Central Europe, causing many to wonder--as the challenge of Chinese ambitions seemingly enlarges--whether the "pivot to Asia" can actually materialize, and how best to deal with China’s new activism.

Part I: How Russia’s Geography and Climate Helped Shaped the Russians
How has the “national character” of Russians been molded by vast expanse and forbidding climate?
Part II: The Enduring Legacy of the Tsars
A century later, Russia’s politics, society and culture reflect her imperial tsarist past.
Part III: USSR Redux? Is Putin Trying to Resurrect Moscow’s Empire?
Vladimir Putin will become less enigmatic as we examine his background, personality, and policies, and conclude with an analysis of conflicting perceptions of the crisis in the Ukraine and its implications for future Russian policy.
Part IV: How Much of the USSR’s Legacy Lingers in Today’s Russia?
After 25 years, it is still impossible to understand Russia without understanding the Soviet legacy.
Robert has lectured on Crystal, Azamara ("World Affairs"), Viking Ocean, and Celebrity (destination: Russia, Mediterranean).
Twelve engagements since 2014.
Good reviews and good attendance.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Queen Mary 2 M911 Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing 7 New York Sunday, May 5, 2019
Crystal Symphony V7225 Around the Cape of Good Hope 13 Port Louis Saturday, December 9, 2017
Viking Star ST171109 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Lands 14 Civitavecchia (for Rome) Thursday, November 9, 2017
Viking Star ST171026 Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Lands 14 Piraeus (Athens) Thursday, October 26, 2017
Crystal Symphony V7205 Far East Overtures 13 Singapore Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Crystal Symphony V6231 Isles of the South Pacific 11 Papeete, Tahiti Friday, December 9, 2016
Viking Star ST160515 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Sunday, May 15, 2016
Viking Star ST160501 Viking Homelands 14 Bergen Sunday, May 1, 2016