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Restraint and National Security

February 6, 2020 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

The conference explored the intent, the causes, and the consequences of restraint in foreign engagement in the course of American history. 

Supported by both political parties, worldwide engagement has characterized American foreign policy for many decades. Debate has most often revolved around the nature and details of engagement strategies. But the presidency of Donald Trump has provoked contentious debate concerning American engagement with the world. Indeed, the Trump presidency has shifted that debate towards a more fundamental question: Is worldwide engagement a useful or valid expression of American political life? Moreover, recent works like Stephen Walt’s The Hell of Good Intentions and a recent Minerva Initiative study, The Political, Economic, and Social Effects of the United States’ Overseas Military Presence, are examples of fresh academic interest in examining and questioning the history and consequences of America’s broad foreign engagement. 

In view of this, the Clements Center, the Kissinger Center, and the Duke Program in Grand Strategy convened a conference in order to examine moments in the history of American foreign relations when policy makers and/or the American public have embraced or emphasized restraint in foreign engagement. We hoped to discover causes, connections, implications, and lessons that may inform our current moment, as leaders challenge the usefulness of a variety of engagement practices such as alliances, treaties, security assistance, détente, and direct military intervention. 

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Francis Gavin, Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Director of the Henry Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

Associate Professor John Schuessler, co-Academic Director of the Albritton Center for Grand Strategy, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University


February 6, 2020
8:00 am - 5:00 pm