Professors from the Elliott School of International Affairs gathered at the National Press Club Monday to discuss their new report on differences between liberal and conservative approaches to foreign policies.
Twenty-nine Elliott School professors contributed to the report, titled “Divided Diplomacy and the Next Administration: Conservative and Liberal Alternatives.” Henry R. Nau and David Shambaugh, professors of political science and international affairs, edited the 167-page volume, which was completed during the past six months.
The report addresses four main topics: conservative and liberal grand strategies, as well as bureaucratic, functional and regional challenges in foreign affairs. Shambaugh said each chapter of the report addresses global policy challenges facing the next administration and outlines policy alternatives for conservatives and liberals.
“Whoever wins the election on Nov. 2, these underlying world views and divisions won’t disappear,” said Shambaugh, who joined contributing professors Nau, Leon Fuerth, James Goldgeier, Michael Moore, Joanna Spear and Walter Reich to discuss the publication at the press club Monday.
Shambaugh said Monday’s panel represented a number of political viewpoints, with some professors having worked for either Republicans or Democrats. Fuerth served as national security advisor to Vice President Al Gore; Nau served in the Ford and Reagan administrations.
“Liberals and conservatives differ not on the basics of facts,” said Nau, who serves as director of the United States-Japan Legislative Exchange Program and the U.S.-Japan Economic Agenda. “They see the world differently.”
He said the main conflict America will face in the coming years is between a fundamentalist Islamic world “that hates freedom” and the “free western world.” Nau added that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is “somewhat unclear about the dimensions of this conflict.”
Fuerth said those on the left of the political spectrum have a different viewpoint on foreign policy and presented a “liberal grand strategy.”
“Liberals are certainly aware that the world is dangerous,” he said, adding that America should not exclusively “focus on terror at the expense of other priorities.”
Complaining about a U.S. loss of positive international opinion, Fuerth also said America should devote itself to strengthening alliances abroad.
Each contributing professor discussed the report’s different issues, including relations with NATO members, alliances in Asia, trade issues and the roots of terrorism.
Reich, the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior, said liberals see terrorism as a product of poverty, political despair and U.S. involvement in the Middle East. He added that conservatives either have different reasons for terrorism or believe that liberal concerns “cannot be addressed.”
“(Conservatives) think that to satisfy terrorists would be to enable their demands,” Reich said. “(Liberals believe) if you get rid of the social causes of terrorism, you get rid of the disease.”
Another important topic of the day was the effort to end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. “Nonproliferation issues are the most important” part of American foreign policy, Spear said.
She added that the main issues in nonproliferation include states seeking powerful arms for deterrence, and non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, seeking to use weapons of mass destruction. Spear added that both Democrats and Republicans support non-proliferation efforts but take different approaches to enacting them.
“The reality is more nuanced,” she said. “The difference (between the Kerry and Bush administrations) would be more of style than substance.”