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American Diplomacy
Commentary and Analysis

April 2000

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Introduction to the Warburg 2000 Conference
 

COLLECTIVE SECURITY,
POSSE OR GLOBAL COP

 

The U.S. and Global Security at the Turn of the Century

by Erik Jensen

THE WARBURG CHAIR in International Relations was endowed by Joan M. Warburg, herself a Simmons alumna, jointly in her own name and that of her husband James P. Warburg, to bring to Simmons a personality of some eminence in international affairs. Over the years the incumbents have nearly all been former U.S. diplomats, ambassadors to a range of countries. The other Warburg Professors have been a distinguished writer and journalist on international issues, a former ambassador to Washington and former Under-Secretary-General of the UN.

It was this breadth of experience and the insights derived from it which made possible the Warburg 2000 Conference to mark the centenary of the founding of Simmons College. It was I myself, as the current Warburg professor, who devised the Warburg 2000 Conference as a special event, recognizing that my predecessors between them were uniquely qualified to address, from various perspectives and drawing on their knowledge of all the main regions, the critical problem of the U.S. and global security in today's world.

As the sole remaining superpower, the U.S. is faced with difficult decisions when crises arise: whether to act alone; or to tackle them in collaboration with like-minded allies, for example, through NATO; or to work for collective security principally in the United Nations Security Council. Hence the conference title: Collective Security, Posse or Global Cop.

Professor Stanley Hoffmann of Harvard University, the eminent authority on international relations, introduced the proceedings by analysing collective security in theory and practice before touching on recent ramifications. Sir Kieran Prendergast, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, delivered the keynote address providing an international perspective.

Each of the other speakers, all Warburg Professors, took a particular geographical area with which he or she was especially familiar and also tackled general issues:

  • Denis McLean dealt with the Pacific rim and the role of small states;
  • Elizabeth Pond focused on Germany, Europe, the U.S. and prospects for NATO;
  • Frank Crigler, African crises and a continent in continuing trouble;
  • Robert E. White, Latin America, and the U.S. and its near-abroad;
  • Monteagle Stearns, Greece and Turkey, and the clash of civilisations;
  • Harry F. Barnes, Jr., India and Pakistan, and the spread of nuclear weapons; and,
  • Summing up, I myself addressed the vexed and important question of humanitarian intervention and its implications for the U.S.

Sir Kieran's presentation and those of the first three Warburg professors listed above are available to readers of this issue of American Diplomacy (you may reach them by clicking on their names, above, or in the column to the left). The remaining four will be offered in the Summer 2000 issue of the journal. [Unfortunately, Professor Hoffmann's excellent presentation is not available at this time. ~ Ed.]

Gwen Ifill, moderator of "Washington Week in Review" and also a Simmons alumna, served as moderator during the morning session. The conference hall was packed throughout the day and a lively discussion followed the speakers.

We at Simmons College hope that readers of this Journal will find the Warburg 2000 Conference presentations as informative and useful as did those of us who took part personally.


Eric Jensen has been Warburg Professor at Simmons College since 1998. He retired in October of that year as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, after serving as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General during that year. He previously served in a succession of United Nations posts around the world, beginning in 1971. Born in England, he holds degrees from Oxford and Harvard universities.

What other Conference 2000 Speakers had to say:

Sir Kieran Prendergast , on U.S. and UN roles in collective security:
"In an era of increasing globalization and proliferating transnational problems, the relevance and utility of the United Nations can only grow. This is not a boast, but an acknowledgment that often there is no alternative."

Elizabeth Pond , on Europe's 20th Century transformation:
"
The cold war was not a freezer, but an incubator of European cooperation. . . . Europe is not and never will be a homogenized federation, but it is already far more than a confederation."

Amb. Frank Crigler, on U.S. interest in conflicts far from our shores:
"We cannot disengage from Africa because America’s own roots run too deep there and because we as a people are too deeply touched by the fate of Africans."

Amb. Denis McLean, on the U.S. role in the Asian-Pacific:
"The U.S. has a fundamental role to play in helping to put together the capabilities to meet these types of emergency [wars of nationalism and separatism]. But so too have other countries."

 

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