Hunter College Schools
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Roosevelt House presents a live Zoom discussion of the new book Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World by Charles A. Kupchan. In it, Kupchan traces for the first time the complete history of isolationism from its roots in a speech made by George Washington to its 21st century resurgence. The author will be in conversation with the Ruth and Harold Newman Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Hunter College Andrew J. Polsky.
Comprehensive and objective, Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World offers a study of American foreign policy that reveals how American skepticism toward international commitment endures while the case for foreign engagement also remains compelling. From Kupchan’s analysis of these countervailing trends emerges the case for a policy that balances both—foreign involvement with separation, respectful cooperation with appropriate denunciation.
In so doing, Isolationism delivers not just an astute telling of the nation’s isolationist history, but a proposal for the future—arriving, importantly, during a time of contentious debate over the direction of the country’s foreign policy.
As author Odd Arne Westad put it, “The battle for the future of America’s foreign policy rages all around us. This learned, wise, and deeply engaged history of US isolationist impulses from the founding up to today is a much-needed book, and the selective commitments and judicious retrenchments it calls for are recipes for good policymaking.”
Charles A. Kupchan is Professor of International Affairs in the School of Foreign Service and Government Department at Georgetown University, and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2014 to 2017, Kupchan served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President on the National Security Council. He also served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration. His books include No One’s World: The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn, How Enemies Become Friends: The Sources of Stable Peace, and The End of the American Era: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Geopolitics of the Twenty-first Century.
Andrew J. Polsky is the Ruth and Harold Newman Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Hunter College, and Professor of Political Science at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He served as the editor of the political science journal Polity from 2005 to 2010. In addition to his widely published scholarly articles, he is the editor of The Eisenhower Presidency: Lessons for the Twenty-First Century and author of Elusive Victories: The American Presidency at War and The Rise of the Therapeutic State.
This event will be held online via Zoom.