Americans are a nation-building people, and in Liberty’s Surest Guardian, Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin looks to America’s history to see both what it has to offer failed states around the world and what it should avoid. Far from being cold imperialists, Americans have earnestly attempted to export their invention of representative government. We have had successes (Reconstruction after the American Civil War, the Philippines, Western Europe) and failures (Vietnam), and we can learn a good deal from both.
Nation-building is in America’s DNA. It dates back to the days of the American Revolution, when the founding fathers invented the concept of popular sovereignty—the idea that you cannot have a national government without a collective will. The framers of the Constitution initiated a policy of cautious nation-building, hoping not to conquer other countries, but to build a world of stable, self-governed societies that would support America’s way of life. Yet no other country has created more problems for itself and for others by intervening in distant lands and pursuing impractical changes.
Joining Suri on the panel is John R. McNeill, university professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Christian Ostermann, director of the Wilson Center's History and Public Program will chair the event.
- Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin
- University Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
- Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project