Two Meetings in Two Weeks: A letter from the Executive Director

Dear Members,

I’m sure that you have noticed by now that the next two monthly SECWAC meetings are occurring on consecutive Thursdays, April 25 and May 3. The reason for this relates more to speakers’ schedules than any planning on our part. But as it turns out, this is a fortuitous situation because of the topics of these two meetings: both will provide different perspectives on US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, and especially in the last 10 years.

On April 25, Steven Walt will visit from Harvard University’s Kennedy School to tell us about the role of foreign policy strategists in the changing position of the U.S. in international affairs. In his book “The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy,” Walt argues that the foreign policy establishment – academic political scientists, denizens of think tanks, and government advisers – have driven a decline in U.S. primacy, mainly through a misdirected foreign policy of “Liberal Hegemony.” He offers an alternative approach: “Offshore Balancing” … more about that on the 25th!

A week later we host Ivo Daalder (Chicago Council on Global Affairs) and James Lindsay (Council on Foreign Relations, New York City) who will speak to their book “The Empty Throne: America’s Abdication of Global Leadership.”  Daalder and Lindsay will present another angle on the changing role of the US in world affairs, focusing on President Trump’s apparent retreat from policies underlying liberal hegemony. They argue that the three pillars of the post-World War II foreign policy that America created – strong alliances, open markets, and a commitment to democracy and human rights – are under threat, and will lead to a reduction in U.S. influence as others take its place.

I am reminded of a quote from John Lewis Gaddis’s SECWAC presentation in June of 2018:

“Grand strategy … is the alignment of potentially unlimited aspirations with necessarily limited capabilities.”

If you attend the next couple of SECWAC meetings, I believe you will gain a greater understanding of where US grand strategy is in the early twenty-first century, and where it could lead our foreign policy and global relations.

Looking forward to robust discussions at both meetings,

Paul Nugent
SECWAC Executive Director

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Mission Statement

The mission of the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) is to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs by study, debate, and educational programming, primarily through a Speakers Series of 8 to 10 monthly meetings.