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April 22, 2024

The U.S. Role in the World: Looking Beyond the 2024 Presidential Election

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Not since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 has a U.S. presidential election appeared so consequential for the world. The sudden ascent of a black man to the highest office in the United States repositioned the country globally, after the disaster of the war on terror, as a beacon of multicultural democracy—a model for inescapably diverse societies everywhere. Subsequent administrations have failed to uphold that promise. While many in Washington, DC, might still see the United States as the leader of the free world, the crisis of its democracy and the failures of its foreign policy have undercut its authority and influence internationally.

How might the next administration realign U.S. foreign policy with the interests of peace and democracy in a multipolar world? Might we expect dramatic reversals or interventions in global theaters, from the Middle East and Ukraine to East Asia and Latin America? Whatever the election outcome, are we heading for a period of dangerous instability or one of precarious peace? Verónica Gago, Mohsin Hamid, Ece Temelkuran, and Ben Rhodes explored these questions in a conversation moderated by Leonard Benardo.

This event was part of the Georgetown Global Dialogues, which featured leading intellectuals from the Global South in forward-looking conversations with U.S.-based thinkers across a range of topics. It was co-sponsored by the Department of Government, Institute of Politics and Public Service, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution program, and Master of Science in Foreign Service Program at Georgetown University.

Participants

Verónica Gago

Verónica Gago

Verónica Gago, a professor of social sciences at the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of San Martín, is a prominent political theorist and activist working on issues of feminism and the global political economy. Her most recent books include A Feminist Reading of Debt (2021, with Luci Cavallero), Feminist International (2020), and Neoliberalism from Below: Popular Pragmatics and Baroque Economies (2017). She is also a leader in Argentina’s #NiUnaMenos (Not One Women Less) movement as both a theorist and an activist.

Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid is an acclaimed British Pakistani author known for creative fiction and commentary that address contemporary global issues. His recent novels include The Last White Man (2022) and Exit West (2017), which received the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. His book The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and later adapted into a successful film. Hamid’s engagement with themes of political turmoil, cultural displacement, and shifting individual and collective identities informs his influential essays on contemporary affairs in leading outlets including The GuardianThe New York Times, and The Paris Review.

Ece Temelkuran

Ece Temelkuran

Ece Temelkuran is a Turkish novelist, a political thinker, and a leading analyst of the erosion of democracy and the challenge of populism on a global scale. She is the author of Together: 10 Choices for a Better Now (2021) as well as the acclaimed How to Lose a Country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship (2019). Her novels are published in several languages. A frequent contributor to The GuardianThe New York TimesLe Monde, and other leading outlets, she is the recipient of the PEN Translates Award and the Freedom of Thought Award from the Human Rights Association of Turkey. In 2023 she received the El Mundo Award for her body of work.

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes is a writer, political commentator, and national security analyst. He is the author of the New York Times-bestsellers After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made (2021) and The World as It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House (2018). He is currently a contributor for MSNBC News; co-host of Pod Save the World; a senior advisor to former President Barack Obama; and chair of National Security Action. His work has been published in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Foreign Affairs.

Leonard Benardo

Leonard Benardo

Leonard Benardo is senior vice president for the Open Society Foundations where he directs the Ideas and Fellowships Collaborative that promotes and inspires heterodox thinking and cultural imagination around the world through the support of individuals, initiatives, and institutions. He has co-authored two books: Brooklyn by Name: How the Neighborhoods, Streets, Parks, Bridges, and More Got Their Names (2006); and Citizen-in-Chief: The Second Lives of the American Presidents (2010). His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the International Herald Tribune, Bookforum, the American Prospect, Project Syndicate, the New Statesman, and Prospect.