The Camden Conference 2012 Community Events Series begins soon. This diverse series of free and low-cost programs will focus around the theme of the 25th annual Camden Conference: The U.S. in a 21st Century World: Do We Have What It Takes?, Feb. 17-19, 2012.

Professor Paul Holman, will kick off the 2012 Camden Conference Community Events Series on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the Rockland Public Library with a discussion on “Gridlock and Stalemate: U.S. Foreign Policy for the Next Decade?” The event runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and is free and open to all.

What do global climate change and the “Arab Spring” have in common? At first glance, they seem quite different and unrelated. One reflects the impact of human behavior and natural phenomena on the entire planet Earth, while the other involves the struggle of one particular ethnic group to achieve freedom and dignity in their countries. Yet they are connected.

Holman will first explore an aspect of global climate change that has received too little attention from the media: the melting of the Arctic ice cap. It poses both threats and opportunities for America that are quite remarkable. The polar bears and other life forms may be endangered, yet new sources of energy and raw materials could benefit the growing population of the world. Indeed, the fabled Northwest Passage — which brought some of the first European explorers to these shores — is rapidly becoming a reality thanks to the melting of the pack ice. The United States, Canada, and Russia disagree sharply about who has the right to do what in the changing Arctic waters, and some experts predict a new arms race to dominate the region.

As for the so-called “Arab Spring,” it has involved some remarkable attempts to overthrow both pro-American and anti-American dictators. A few were mostly non-violent, but others have degenerated into civil wars. No one foresaw this upheaval, and no one can be sure how it will end. What is the likely impact on America’s friends and allies, such as Israel, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia? What are the implications for Al Qaeda and the Islamists? How will it affect the price of oil?

Holman will address these and other questions. They involve complex challenges for U.S. foreign policy, at a time when the economy is stagnant, the deficits are troublesome, and the political system seems dysfunctional. Gridlock and stalemate are possible but far from inevitable.

Holman is a visiting professor of International Relations for the University of Maine, Orono, serving concurrently as an Adjunct Professor at the Naval War College. He co-edited a number of books including the multi-volume series “Fundamentals of Force Planning, and Ethnic Nationalism and Regional Conflict.”

The mission of the Camden Conference is to foster informed discourse on world affairs through year-round community events, public and student engagement, and an annual weekend conference. For more information visit the website at, email or call 236-1034.