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Expert discusses global threats
Lecture part of ongoing series
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Forsyth County News

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• Feb. 14 — “China in Africa”

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According to a University of North Georgia professor, globalization, financial woes and climate change are some of the threats to American society.

Dlynn Armstrong-Williams, head of the department of international affairs and political science, tackled the topic “Threat Assessment” during the fourth installment of the Great Decisions lecture series Thursday night at University Center | GA 400.

Armstrong-Williams said the way Americans view threats has changed dramatically over the past few decades due to innovations like rapidly advancing technology.

“The issue about security threats is that [they] are changing dramatically … I talk to my students about when I was a graduate student, the big thing was Russia,” she said, noting that current students learn little about the former USSR.

Among the changes, Armstrong-Williams said, is a broadened global economy.

“Globalization is probably one of the most dynamic changes that has happened in this century,” she said. “The reality of globalization is that it has created some of the economic threats [that we see today].”

Among the most pressing threats facing the nation is debt, she said.

“One of the struggles for the U.S. is that we are currently utilized as the global currency,” she said. “Our currency is not just ours, it is the globe’s. So when you hear about the credit crisis … it was up to the U.S. to float the world economy.”

Armstrong-Williams noted that most developed countries continually carry some amount of debt, but the current problem is that the U.S. is being forced to consider cuts.

“No one cares if you have debt as long as you can pay for it. If you can’t pay for it, that becomes the problem,” she said.

Armstrong-Williams also touched on issues such as the growing influence of China and uncertainty in the Middle East.

“There is a strong phobia about China, and essentially we’re really afraid of rising, strong economic growth in China and the fact that they are the single largest holder of our government’s debt,” she said.

Social changes are also contributing to increased uncertainty in the Middle East, she said.

“We see that the Arab Spring has caused a lot of insecurity,” she said. “It’s caused insecurity for the United States because we can’t figure out who’s in charge, who should be in charge and if those who are in charge are pro-U.S. interests.”

Probably one of the greatest threats to the U.S. and the world as a whole, Armstrong-Williams said, is climate change.

“[This] causes some global warming issues, which cause the temperatures to go up, which allows diseases to be more active in areas they were not active before,” she said.