Candidate Profile

Provided by

History - General
Travel & Destinations
World Affairs
Joseph L. Shaefer, Brigadier General, USAF, Ret.

Born into a roving military family, Joe has lived in or made extended journeys to many nations and regions of the world. Joe has the good fortune to have had experiences in the military, diplomatic, civilian, academic and volunteer arenas.

He served 36 years in the Army and Air Force, Active, Guard and Reserve, from Private to Brigadier General. From Special Forces A-Team Commander to Chief of the Reserve Intelligence Forces for Air Combat Command, the US Strategic Command, and the Defense Intelligence Agency – with “interesting” stops along the way!

His undergraduate degree from UCLA and the University of Oslo Intl. Summer School is in International Relations and his Masters is from American Public University, where he was subsequently Professor of Security & Global Studies. He has presented at seminars at the George C. Marshall Center in Germany and at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Govt.

Joe serves on the Board of Advisors of think tank Omnis, Inc. He has worked with CIA and been a keynote speaker for the FBI National Academy. He has written one book and been published in the Wall Street Journal, Strategic Review, and other publications. As a volunteer, he has served as a Red Cross earthquake shelter manager, a ski patrol instructor, and with an NGO for orphans during the Bosnian War.

Joe’s passion is to research and speak about world affairs and the history and culture of other global destinations. Joe also enjoys reading, writing, skiing, hiking, kayaking, bicycling and diving.
Our Magnificent Water World ©
We call Earth the water planet, and so it appears from space, a big blue marble with rivers, waterfalls, alpine lakes, fresh snow, and rain, right? Not so fast. In fact, our most precious resource is in rapid decline. 97.5% of the water on this planet would be lethal if we drink it and the remaining 2.5% is mostly locked up as permafrost, polar ice caps, glaciers, and groundwater. Those that have what remains will survive; those that don’t will do anything to get it.

Crisis in the Arctic ©
Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in the Arctic region does not stay in the Arctic; it affects the entire planet. The rest of Earth's weather, our supply of potable water, and global climate regulation all flow from what happens there. Compelling environmental & security concerns cry out for immediate multinational action.

Does World Leadership in the 21st Century Belong to China? ©
Much has been written about the Chinese economic miracle and, by extension, the likelihood that the 21st century must be “The Chinese Century.” What created this supposed miracle, how much of it is true, and is it sustainable? Looking only at the numbers tells us nothing about the cultural upheaval, the horrendous demographic bubble, the level of debt taken on, the jobs conundrum, or the myriad historic failures of autocracy to provide long-term success.

Russia is in Decline: That Makes It Dangerous ©
Russia’s sheer size, comprising nine time zones, has made it historically difficult to govern, but today’s demographics, adventurism beyond its borders, and dependence upon a commodity-based economy make the future bleaker than ever. Add to these factors the rise of Islam in Russia, the one nation with more nuclear weapons and delivery capability than any other, and it has the potential to force US, European and world foreign policy makers into nightmares the world must prepare for now.

North Korea: What Now, What If? ©
Too many analysts believe that if diplomacy fails with North Korea, to prevent nuclear Armageddon the world’s only recourse is war. Nonsense. I suggest that diplomacy when *combined* with three additional actions short of warfare, we can avoid that fate. And if in fact the unthinkable must happen, the military and diplomatic arms of the Free World are charged with the responsibility to consider the unthinkable. I offer you my analysis of what that war would be like if it must come to be.

The Good News About the World Today ©
I write and speak about Big Issues that are complex and potentially dangerous. But I will not let that reality overshadow the incredible strides the citizens of this planet have made over our short history here. In particular, the unique coming together of nation-state democracy, capitalism and upward mobility have unleashed the greatest torrent of individual and collective accomplishment in history.

“A Boss Says ‘Go.’ A Leader Says ‘Let’s Go!’ ” ©
Every young infantryman in the United States Army learns the phrase “Follow Me!” Those two words encompass more about the essence of leadership than in a hundred or more books on the subject. Whether in the military, government, corporate or entrepreneurial world, here is how you separate leaders from mere functionaries.

Portugal’s Place in World History ©
Portugal's ocean-going shipbuilding prowess, cartographic and navigational skills, and vivid sense of imagination and adventure all combined to give Portugal the early edge in discovering lucrative new lands. It was from Porto, the city in Portugal's north, from which Henry the Navigator first conquered Moorish Ceuta, which led directly to Portugal’s rapid ascent among nations. Portugal launched and was an early recipient of the benefits of what Europeans call The Age of Exploration.

Poland From Then to Now ©
Riven by conflict from the earliest times, Poland’s geography has left it vulnerable to conquest by more powerful neighbors. More than once, the nation has been divided up and left for dead. But it has risen and reinvented itself. "Never again” is the cry in Poland today, as this rapidly emerging nation ascends the world stage as a key member of NATO and the European Union.

Traders, Raiders, and Law-Makers: The True Story of the Vikings ©
Most non-academic portrayals of the Vikings paint them as beautiful but powerless females and rapacious marauding males bent on nothing more than pillage, murder, and mayhem. Not so! The Vikings were also peaceful traders with many neighbors, explorers who sailed as far as North America, and law-makers – male and female. Their early parliamentary councils provided key foundations of English common law and, by extension, US and other democratic nations’ laws. Here is “the rest of the story.”

Roam the Entire World! But Do It Safely… ©
There is so much to see and to experience in this big, beautiful world! You can be certain that your cruise will avoid known geopolitical problem areas. But most of us will also sometimes fly to Peru to experience Machu Picchu or do volunteer work in Kenya or hire a car and drive to the great vineyards of Europe. I offer my experience in special operations and intelligence as well as living abroad to discuss pre-planning steps to ensure safety, situational awareness in-country, and cultural acclimation to enhance both your enjoyment and your safety.

All © JL Shaefer 2020
Royal Viking (if you remember them!) 1990 -- I had just written a book and was approached directly. The next year I was recalled to military duty for deployment, hence a rather lengthy hiatus.

I rejoined enrichment speaking in 2018 as World Affairs & Special Interest Speaker on Crystal Symphony, Silversea Spirit, and Sea Dream I.

In 2019, I was again World Affairs & Special Interest Speaker aboard Crystal Symphony, Silversea Wind, and Crystal Serenity.

For 2020, I am scheduled with Crystal, Silversea and Viking in the first half of the year. Currently available June 2020 onward.

Among the guest comments I have received are "You make the most complex current affairs issues understandable" and "You are by far the most compelling speaker I have enjoyed in my 20 years of cruising."
Under the category of "Special Interest," I have spoken about leadership and command, how foreign policy is made (or not) at the national level, told stories of exceptional unsung heroes now unclassified, little-known intelligence coups and disasters, timelines of history, what 'special ops' means and how each nation's forces interact, 'failures' who turned failure into success, and other topics of enduring interest to passengers.

Video presentations of three of the aforementioned topics (in their entirety if requested -- 24,36 & 39 minutes) are available via Dropbox or any other means of communication requested.

In addition, you may view three shorter, edited-for-time presentations on YouTube, here:
SYRIA Lessons Learned -- 18 minutes (
A serious look at the options to deal with NORTH KOREA nuclear capabilities - 11 minutes (
Crisis in the ARCTIC - 16 minutes (
(For your convenience, there are also partial clips of #s 2 and 3, at the bottom of my CV/bio above.)