Coverage of the December 4, 2013 inaugural gala dinner for the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum for the Study of Diplomacy and Governance at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, attended by friends of the American Academy and of the late Richard Holbrooke. Chairman and president A. Michael Hoffman welcomed guests, followed by a short excerpt of David Holbrooke’s film about his father, The Diplomat (which this video excludes because the film has not yet been released). The evening's guest of honor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then spoke to philanthropist and former Academy trustee David M. Rubenstein, followed by Michael Ignatieff, who will lead one of the Forum's first working groups, and former US Ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy, followed by a speech by the Academy's vice chair, Gahl Hodges Burt. The evening concluded with Kati Marton, who conveyed her gratitude to guests, friends, colleagues, and donors for their support of the Forum and for so fondly remembering her husband. The dinner was chaired by Vincent A. Mai, Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney, and David M. Rubenstein. For a full list of the donors, please download the Richard C. Holbrooke brochure.
Historian Warren Breckman investigates how a thinker indelibly associated with the cynical practice of amoral politics has inspired a number of modern philosophical projects aimed at deepening and fostering democratic practice. By looking at European political thought from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century (specifically Arendt, Strauss, and Schmitt), Breckman explores how theorists have mined Machiavelli’s ideas for addressing contemporary challenges to democracy and for imagining a more robust democratic practice in their own times.
University of Chicago historian Tara Zahra traces emigration from East Central Europe in the period 1889 to 1989 and interrogates how emigration shaped ideals of freedom, new forms of social protection, and border controls in both East and West. After the Second World War, Zahra argues, the “captivity” of East Europeans stood as symbol of Communist oppression. But the link between freedom and mobility was contested long before Communists closed the Iron Curtain. Well before 1914, Zahra says, Austrian officials began a campaign to curtail emigration, insisting that East Europeans would emigrate to a new kind of slavery. Security and social solidarity instead of mobility comprised an alternate vision of freedom.
The dramatic rise of China has created concern about a possible “China threat” to the interests of the US and its allies in Asia. But seen from Beijing, the global scene is a terrain of hazards. Columbia University's Andrew Nathan points out in this lecture that China’s regime security and territorial integrity are threatened by forces of social and cultural change that are connected to its embrace of globalization. Despite growing influence, China’s prospects for dominance are weaker and its interest in the global status quo is stronger than proponents of the “China threat” theory perceive.
Literary historian Thomas Schestag's lecture addresses the work of the French writer Francis Ponge (1899 – 1988), best known for a collection of short prose pieces entitled Le Parti Pris des Choses (Taking the Side of Things), published in 1942. He also addresses Ponge's hesitations in approaching the question of the sun in his writings. Indeed, while the “sun” is just one word designating just one thing among others, Schestag explains of Ponge's concerns, it does not simply designate a phenomenon among others. The sun is also, as Ponge writes in 1949, “the formal and indispensable condition of (our) existence,” of life and death. What is at stake in the desire to approach the sun and to take its side in finding an appropriate language is no less than the task of addressing the very condition of phenomenality, of language, and existence.