Foreign Affairs
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Episode 113
Featuring John Mearsheimer
John Mearsheimer speaks to Demetri Kofinas about the failures of American foreign policy, which he ascribes to a fundamental misunderstanding about the relationship between nationalism and liberalism, the limits of nation-building, and the realities of international conflict that the United States is at risk of instigating.

In this week’s episode of Hidden Forces, Demetri Kofinas speaks with John Mearsheimer, professor of political science and international relations at the University of Chicago. Dr. Mearsheimer’s intellectual contributions have had a profound influence on the thinking of an entire generation of students in international relations. He’s been a vocal critic of neoliberal hegemony, nation-building, as well as the so-called “forever wars” that America has been engaged in ever since the Bush administration’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He is most closely associated with the realist school, which views the international system as fundamentally anarchic, where the most dominant concern among the great powers is defined by their desire and competition for security that sometimes leads to war. 

This conversation focuses on two major themes of John Mearsheimer’s latest book “The Great Delusion,” in which he attempts to explain why American foreign policy since the end of the Cold War up until the present day has been such a colossal failure, and how much of this failure can be ascribed to a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of America’s foreign policy elite about the relationship between nationalism and liberalism. John Mearsheimer argues that nationalism is by far the more powerful of the two forces and that therefore, liberal hegemony was always destined to fail. Mearsheimer makes the argument for a more restrained, humble US foreign policy that acknowledges not only the limits of nation-building but also the realities of international conflict that the United States is at risk of instigating with countries like China and Russia with whom it is currently in a deep security competition.

You can access the overtime, transcript, and rundown to this week’s episode through the Hidden Forces Patreon Page. All subscribers also gain access to our overtime feed, which can be easily be added to your favorite podcast application. 

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas

Editor & Engineer: Stylianos Nicolaou

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John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He graduated from West Point in 1970 and then served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He then started graduate school in political science at Cornell University in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in 1980. He spent the 1979-1980 academic year as a research fellow at the Brookings Institution and was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs from 1980 to 1982. During the 1998-1999 academic year, he was the Whitney H. Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Professor Mearsheimer has written extensively about security issues and international politics more generally. He has published six books: Conventional Deterrence (1983), which won the Edgar S. Furniss, Jr., Book Award; Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988); The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001, 2014), which won the Joseph Lepgold Book Prize and has been translated into nine different languages; The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Stephen M. Walt, 2007), which made the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into twenty-four different languages; Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics (2011), which has been translated into twelve different languages; and The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (2018) which has been translated into five different languages.

He has also written many articles that have appeared in academic journals like International Security, and popular magazines like Foreign Affairs and the London Review of Books. Furthermore, he has written op-ed pieces for newspapers like the New York Times and the Financial Times dealing with topics like Bosnia, nuclear proliferation, US policy towards India, the failure of Arab-Israeli peace efforts, the folly of invading Iraq, the causes of the Ukrainian crisis, and the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Finally, Professor Mearsheimer holds a number of awards and honors. He received the Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching when he was a graduate student at Cornell in 1977, and he won the Quantrell Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Chicago in 1985. He was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 1993-1994 academic year. In that capacity, he gave a series of talks at eight colleges and universities. He received honorary doctorates from universities in China, Greece, and Romania; and in 2003, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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