In two lectures at UNC Pembroke on April 9, Dr. Charles Kegley, a leading authority on foreign policy issues, argued that the American “empire” is in decline. Dr. Kegley delivered the annual Gibson and Mary Anna Gray Lecture.
Dr. Charles Kegley and the namesakes of the Dr. Gibson and Mary Anna Gray Lecture Series
His first lecture was named for his recent book, “After Iraq: The Imperiled American Imperium” (Oxford University Press, 2007). At a second lecture, he addressed the “Rise and Fall of the Non-Intervention Norm.”
“This is an exercise in analysis and prediction,” said Dr. Kegley, a professor emeritus of the University of South Carolina. “It is about the consequences of a major decision that put the U.S. at a major crossroads of its future.”
The war in Iraq he said “has lasted longer than World War II with no end in sight.” A shift in American foreign policy after 9/11 has taken the nation down a new path characterized by unilateral action, pre-emptive warfare and little respect internationally.
“Empire implies an imperious attitude toward the rest of the world,” Dr. Kegley said. “We’ve told the world ‘you’re either with us, or you’re a terrorist.’”
Dr. Kegley said the strategy of fighting terrorism – by becoming an “occupying force” – is flawed and destined to turn occupied populations against the occupiers and give rise to more terrorists.
“The new doctrine of pre-emptive warfare is the first time any American president has articulated this idea,” he said. “This strategy violates the rules of international law as they apply to war and the ‘unjust war’ doctrine.
“The first nation to stand up and approve of the doctrine was Iran,” Dr. Kegley said.
The scholar argued that the world today may be characterized by chaos, ethnic violence and lack of strong international direction. With China, South Korea and other nations financing the war by purchasing U.S. dollars, the U.S. has become a debtor nation, he said.
Dr. Kegley called for retaking the high ground, or as the 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams once said about foreign policy: “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.”
The lecture series is funded by Dr. Gibson and Mary Anna Gray. Dr. Gray is a retired faculty member and long time chair of UNCP’s Department of Political Science.
Dr. Kegley is author of more than 50 books and founder of Kegley International, Inc., a publishing, research and consulting foundation.
A graduate of the American and Syracuse universities and a Pew Faculty Fellow at Harvard, Dr. Kegley held faculty appointments at Georgetown, Texas, Rutgers, the People’s University of China and the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales Et du Developpement in Geneva, Switzerland.