This meeting was another in the "Ideas in American Foreign Policy" series sponsored by the Division of International Studies, which showcases important new books in the international relations field. Past speakers in the series have included John Ikenberry of Princeton University, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, Joseph Nye of Harvard University, and Frank Fukuyama and Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins SAIS.

In the presentation on his new book, From Empire to Community, Professor Etzioni argued that pressing contemporary international problems ranging from AIDs to terrorism, and from cybercrime to environmental degradation, are beyond the capacity of nation-states to address. Although proposals for world government have long been disparaged, these challenges require fresh thinking about the creation of an additional layer of governance whose jurisdiction will be commensurate to the scope of these global problems. In shaping such a new global architecture, Etzioni made the case for a third way – one that draws upon both neo-conservative and liberal ideals.

His thesis is that the development of these new modes of global governance will be reminiscent of those that evolved with the forging of the modern system of nation-states. That is, they will start with a narrow scope upon which a consensus can be built and expand from there. As with the nation-state the starting point of this new system of global governance will be physical safety itself. Thus, the first wing will be a "global police department" focused on the core challenges of terrorism and halting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Etzioni argued that the Iraq war had shown the limits of American unilateralism and marked an early end to notions of an American "empire." The postwar realities on the ground have refuted the assertions by empire advocates that the UN is irrelevant, that the United States does not need allies, and that the United States has all the military power it needs to achieve its desired political outcomes. The Bush administration has belatedly discovered the importance of international legitimacy and the utility of allies. Against the backdrop of this recent experience, he concluded that the creation of a system of global governance – a new form of international community – must be based on both political legitimacy (deriving from a multiplicity of cultural traditions) and recognition of the shared interest in meeting these transnational challenges.