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Round Tables

What are Round Tables?
The NAFAC Round Tables are the foundation of our conference and provide a forum for students from all over the nation and the world to share ideas and discuss specific aspects of the general conference theme. Our round table topics vary from regionally specific topics such as our Arctic table, to thematic ones such as the round table discussing cyber. Delegates will spend the majority of the business day with their round tables discussing their topics. Each round table will be led by a Midshipman moderator, who is there to formulate ideas and guide discussion. The delegates, two from the Naval Academy and the rest from other schools, will then debate and argue the merits of their ideas and topic papers. There will be two senior advisers, who are academics or professionals in a field related to the topic,  on hand to provide insight and contribute their knowledge and experience to the discussion. One Midshipman reporter will on hand to take notes and provide a daily recap of discussion.
Arab Democratic Hope

Moderated by: 2/C CutlerCutler


The Relentless Hope for Democracy in an Arab Winter

Over the course of recent history, there have been many piecemeal attempts at establishing  functioning democracies in Arab countries throughout the Middle East.  However, the many road-blocks discovered during this transition illuminate the deep-seeded complexity of the situation. Widespread corruption, a lack of liberal institutions, foreign influence, and a long history of tribalism continue to trouble this already devastated region. How has Western presence in the political Arab World affected the rise of democracies in the Middle East? What have the effects of economic globalization been around the Arab world? How have fundamental differences between Eastern and Western civilization caused a clashing at the threshold of democracy and autocracy?

State Capitalism

Moderated by: 3/C Anderson

Anderson.jpg


State Capitalism and the Struggle for Economic Influence

State Capitalism and Free Market Economics are locked a power struggle. In Singapore, State Capitalism spurned successful and sustainable growth; yet in Saudi Arabia abuses of economic power are rampant. State Capitalist China basks in trade surplus, but a middle class grows as innovation lags and a soaring GDP loses upward thrust.The United States—historical champion of the liberal free market model—withdraws to an “America First” mentality and President Trump’s “principled realism”, all while Xi Jinping declares his State Capitalism the alternative to the Washington Consensus. Where, how and/ or when is this “trade war” of economic models resolved? Are liberal democracy and liberal economics as interdependent as we think?
European Uncertainty

Moderated by: 1/C Gasper

Gasper


The Uncertain Future of the European Project and the Resurgence of Illiberal Politics

In recent years, European states have seen a steady rise in the number of authoritarian political parties present within their electoral systems. Seizing on anti-migrant feelings, as well as discontent with the EU throughout Europe, these political parties have garnered a sizable following throughout Europe. What will this illiberal thinking do to the future of the European project? What does it mean for the future of NATO and other international organizations? Will the birthplace of liberalism also be the site of its demise?

Free Press and Media

Moderated by: 3/C Hosie

Hosie


State of Journalism as it Relates to Democracy

The status of free speech within a modern society is a signal of democratic vitality. Journalists have long been the subject of government persecution, censorship, and violence. Assessing journalistic freedom around the world is essential to understanding where democratic undoing is taking hold. Restrictions on the press signal obstacles to democracy in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. Moreover, outright censorship in established autocracies such as North Korea, China, and Russia demonstrate the consequences of journalistic oppression. While there are many dark omens for democracy around the world, there are beacons of hope that shine bright in these dark times. What is the state of journalistic freedom in the world today, and what does this say about the strength of democracy in the modern world? Where are the places of darkness where censorship reigns? Where are the bright flares of hope for democracy and free press today?

Democracy Promotion in Africa

Moderated by: 1/C Wolff

Wolff


An Essential Priority or a Roadblock to Development?

Africa is a continent of unparalleled challenges, and equally unparalleled potential. The strategic importance of Africa will continue to grow as African states’ economies and populations expand. Can we rebut the common and detrimental tendency of many in the West to view this continent of 54 individual states a monolith? What are the problems facing various African states, and what are the potential solutions to those problems? How much should democracy and liberalism be prioritized, if at all? What should America's goals be on the continent? As the continent continues to evolve, the approach the world’s powers take towards Africa must likewise adapt if they hope to remain relevant.

 

India Roundtable

Moderated by: 2/C Roser

Roser


A grass roots space program in an exploding Republic

India is at the forefront of technological innovation and economic growth, yet remains one of the most socially imbalanced democracies in the world. Prime Minister Modi has promised to institute positive changes in social welfare, urban development, and modernization. However, New Delhi has also witnessed a number of democratic reversals through centralization of power within the past decade. How will modernization and tech innovation affect this democratic behemoth? To what extent will centralization impact existing social structures?

 

Modern Autocracy

Moderated by: 1/C Sullivan

Sullivan


The Future of Liberty Within the Middle East

Seven years ago, the Arab Spring movement set off a trend many thought might bring democracy to the region. The Middle East today, however, is still home to many states with uncertain futures. From increasing criticism of Rouhani and Khamenei at Iran’s rallies, to government inefficiencies in other Middle Eastern states exposed by falling oil prices, recent events have forced governments in the Middle East to tread delicately on the issue of autocracy. For which states may democracy seem suitable in the region? And for those which do not, what alternatives are in the interest of the citizens, the government, and the foreign actors?

 

Popular Uprisings

Moderated by: 2/C Bentley

Bentley


The Story of Civil Wars and the Quest for Democracies

Democracy is a process rather than an event, and its story cannot be told without first telling the story of civil wars and revolutions.  In any civil war, the great contention is the question of greed versus grievance, or  social deprivation versus structural opportunity. In more recent history, some distinguishing examples include the Arab Spring attempting to right a social grievance while the Catalonians attempt to establish a subsection of Spain for geographical and ethnic reasons.  It seems that now more than ever people are more willing to start violent movements in pursuit of a common goal.  What do people go to war over? Is there an inverse relationship where the contest simply creates instability? What are the requisites for civil war to turn into democracy?

 

Resilience or Repression?

Moderated by: 1/C Becker

Becker


 Case Studies in the Struggles of Democracies around the World

John Adams famously stated that democracies never last long and die by suicide. In a world of democratic undoing, and the rise of illiberal democracies around the world, it may be tempting for many democracies to take steps to prevent their own demise. In doing so, they run the risk of dismantling the very same liberal institutions which they seek to maintain. How have democracies sought to counter the rise of illiberalism within their own borders, and abroad? Have some democracies compromised their own values in order to remain democratic?

 

Return of the Russians

Moderated by: 2/C Sparks

Sparks


Subversion of Global Democracy

Russia’s actions under President Vladimir Putin in Georgia, Ukraine, and the Baltics has challenged NATO and American desires to steer former Soviet states to liberal democratization and destabilized the region. Does the claim of “protecting ethnic Russians” allow for the potential to topple democracies and annex parts of countries without sparking an international response? Despite Russian willingness to push boundaries of international agreements have Russian diplomatic efforts as an arbiter in WMD talks with Syria, Iran, and North Korea  helped promote them as a responsible alternative to US interventionist tendencies?

 

Social Media and Democratization

Moderated by: 3/C Marapese

Marapese


Citizen’s Tool or Dictator’s Weapon?

As social media becomes an increasingly important aspect of modern society, the means and methods of citizen participation and influence and government have increased. Meanwhile, those in positions of power who have recognized the change have begun to use social media as a platform for control, propaganda, and manipulation. Does social media guarantee social activism and mobilization, or does it propagate misinformation and minimize privacy?

 

Have the Strong Men Gone Soft?

Moderated by: 1/C Steber

Steber


Exploring the Soft Powers of Authoritarian Regimes

When Joseph Nye first proposed the idea of soft power, it was assumed that democratic states would possess a monopoly over its use since it favors the attraction of liberal societies over the coercion of authoritarian dictatorships. Today, authoritarian regimes around the world regularly exercise soft power in the hopes of influencing the international system. Examples include Russia’s successful  information operations throughout the West, and China’s humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. What are the implications of these states’ use of soft power? What are the limits imposed by the nature of soft power on its use by authoritarian states? How liberal democracies effectively respond to the efforts of authoritarian regimes at gaining strategic influence in key regions without resorting to the use of force?

Syrian Refugees in Europe

Moderated by: 2/C Melinosky

Melinosky


What Future for Refugee, Country and European Union?

Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, over five million people have been internationally displaced from the country; many of whom have fled to Europe in search of opportunity and liberty. This massive migration places enormous economic, political, and social strains on European countries, specifically those closest to Syria. In response, Europe has witnessed a rise in nationalist parties opposed to the immigration, and often to membership in the European Union. How are these nationalist leaders changing the European political climate? What implications does this have for the future of the European Union? What will be the fate of immigrants already in these countries? What will be the fate of Syria itself?

The Venezuelan Identity

Moderated by: 2/C McInturff

McInturff


Can Venezuela Survive the Struggle?

Venezuela, once a shining example of the democratic model, has since descended into chaos and autocracy under President Nicolás Maduro. In order to understand the current crisis, it is first important to put current events into a historical perspective. From prior President Hugo Chávez to current President Maduro, political actions undertaken by these men in office made drastic changes to the Venezuelan political system and society as a whole. Venezuela offers us a unique opportunity to examine how increased power centralization without balance can lead down a slippery slope of autocracy. Will Venezuela be able to correct its course? How has society been affected within the country? What are the international implications of domestic political conflict within this important South American country? The eyes of the world are upon Venezuela as it undergoes the trials and tribulations of democratic undoing.

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