EPIIC Archives

2004 Dilemmas of Empire and Nation Building

Against the backdrop of the history of Empires - their rise and demise - and the pressures that created them, this year-long colloquium will explore the enduring American search for security and other grand strategies, such as the promotion of democracy and free markets. It will consider the question Is this the era of American Empire? And it will probe the challenges, benefits and consequences of U.S. primacy in the context of globalization.

The world is far from the vision of Kant of perpetual peace. How will the ongoing violence and occupation in Iraq end? How will the war on terrorism continue? What are the responsibilities of American power? In the Middle East, specifically with regard to using its influence to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict? In Afghanistan, as peace remains elusive and development is stalled? In Africa, as much of the continent suffers from civil war, underdevelopment and struggles with the AIDS epidemic? What new trusteeship or other arrangements, might be created to contend with failed or bankrupt states? Particular attention will also be paid to the current U.S. policies and their contexts, in places that range from Afghanistan to Kosovo to Haiti to Iraq.

What will be the future role and leverage of the United Nations and other international organizations in a post-Iraq world? What is the future of NATO and the European Union? The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? Are they evolving, experiencing vital reconfiguration, or are they shattered alliances?

Extreme visions of the United States might place it as either a demonic, hegemonic hyperpower or an indispensable, altruistic nation. Where does it fall on the continuum? How do the international views of the U.S. differ from those of its own self-image? What if the U.S. is perceived as an empire, whether or not it sees itself that way? How might that affect its bilateral and multilateral relationships?

From human rights to the environment, from the International Criminal Court to the ban on land mines, from arms control to IMF policies, from peacekeeping to intervention, the U.S. has exerted its power, sometimes in accordance with the international community and sometimes in direct contradiction. Is the U.S. a rogue state or a responsible actor? Has 9/11 instigated a fundamental break in American diplomatic traditions?

Will the traditional dynamic of balance of power and the emergence of counter coalitions rise to challenge American preeminence? Where will the future challenges to U.S. power come from? An integrating Europe? Islamic fundamentalism? An emerging China? In the realpolitik of world politics, do all empires face inevitable decline, diminishment or defeat?

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