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first_img Harvard expert explores what the international community can do When the Cold War ended, the U.S. stood as the world’s pre-eminent power and looked forward to a new age of peace and prosperity. But a foreign policy overly focused on spreading American values dashed that promise, argues Stephen M. Walt in his new book, “The Hell of Good Intentions.”Walt, the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School, says that failures linked to a strategy of “liberal hegemony” championed by Washington’s foreign policy elite have undermined the goal of advancing ideals like democracy and free markets and diminished the nation’s power and influence.The Gazette spoke to Walt about his critique of U.S. foreign policy and his belief that the remedy lies in a more restrained approach.Q&AStephen M. WaltGAZETTE: How do you define “liberal hegemony” and why has it been such a destructive foreign policy approach for the United States?WALT: Liberal hegemony refers to a strategy that seeks to use American power to spread liberal values far and wide, and in a sense try to transform the world in America’s image. So it’s not “liberal” in the sense of being left wing. Rather, it is about spreading the classic liberal ideals of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and markets all over the world. These are wonderful principles that Americans rightly defend. The problem is that trying to spread them around the world doesn’t work very well, as we’ve seen for the past 25 years.First of all, non-democracies are threatened by this strategy and they resist in various ways, and sometimes quite effectively. Second, when we succeed in toppling a dictatorship and then try to create a democracy, it turns out to be an extremely difficult task, as we’ve seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and other places. So instead of spreading our values, we end up with failed states, insurgencies, and terrorism. Third, this project involved the United States committing itself to protect countries all over the world, which meant we took on more and more security burdens without having more resources to accomplish those aims. This policy allowed allies to get a free ride and in some cases act recklessly under the protection of the United States.Liberal hegemony also involved spreading financial markets rapidly and trying to get more and more countries into our trading order, and rapid globalization just didn’t deliver as promised. We ended up with greater inequality here in the United States, stagnant lower and middle-class incomes, and eventually a major financial crisis.Stephen Walt. Harvard file photoGAZETTE: What is some of the evidence for your argument? And was there a pivotal moment when the mistakes began?WALT: The pivotal moment is really the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the unipolar era. The United States was really on top of the world in the early to mid-1990s, and it was an era of great optimism. Our relations with the major powers were good, including Russia and China. Democracy was spreading in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Markets were expanding. Iraq had been disarmed in the first Gulf War, and Iran had no nuclear enrichment capability. The Oslo peace process had begun. So there was this widespread belief that American ideals were going to spread around the world and that this was going to be relatively easy to do.But if you look at the situation we face today, relationships with Russia and China are quite poor, and those two countries are now cooperating quite closely against us. Democracy is in retreat in many parts of the world and under threat in places like Poland and Hungary. Even worse, American democracy itself is increasingly dysfunctional. India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all tested nuclear weapons in this period. The Oslo peace process was a complete failure and the two-state solution that we favored is further away than ever. And countries like Iran are now on the threshold of being nuclear weapons states if they decide they want to be. So given where we were in the early 1990s and where we are today, it’s pretty clear that American foreign policy didn’t accomplish what we thought it would. We are not solely responsible for all of those negative trends, but our fingerprints are on a lot of them.GAZETTE: Instead of relentlessly seeking to spread American values, what should the nation be doing?WALT: We should be focusing our foreign policy on trying first and foremost to make Americans safer and more prosperous here at home and to defend those core American values here in the United States. We should continue to stand up for these values and encourage other countries to embrace them, but primarily by setting a good example, by showing that these values work well in the United States. In terms of foreign policy I argue for a strategy that is sometimes termed “offshore balancing,” where the United States commits itself militarily only when there are threats to the balance of power in critical strategic regions like Europe, Asia, or the Persian Gulf. If no one is threatening to dominate these areas, the United States can stay “offshore” in terms of its military deployments, while remaining engaged around the world economically and diplomatically. Today, the only serious great power rival to the United States is China, and therefore the United States should focus most of its attention on maintaining a favorable balance of power in Asia so that China does not dominate that region. Offshore balancing is a much more restrained foreign policy than we have been following, but it is not isolationism or disengagement.GAZETTE: Is there a danger that if the U.S. shifts to a more restrained foreign policy, the vacuum would be filled by nations that do not support liberal values?WALT: I think that idea is mistaken. The United States has not been able to dictate politics in many parts of the world, despite repeated and sometimes costly efforts. As powerful as we are, we don’t control the evolution of local politics and political alignments in most of the world. We have some influence, but we have not been able to dictate what happens in the Middle East, we can’t determine the fate of Afghanistan after 17 years of war, we have not been able to steer the politics of a country like Hungary or Poland, which are moving in an illiberal direction. If the world’s most powerful country cannot do that, then other countries are not going to be able to do that either. We can do a lot to shape the balance of power in critical areas, but our ability to mold the politics of these regions and tell other countries how to organize their societies is very limited.GAZETTE: Had the U.S. followed the collapse of the Soviet Union with the policies you advocate, what would the world look like now?WALT: We would not have expanded NATO eastward in an open-ended fashion and our relations with Russia would be substantially better. In fact, over time, we would have slowly drawn down our commitment to Europe and encouraged Europe to take greater responsibility for its own defense. I think if we had done that beginning in the 1990s Europe would be in better shape today. The United States would not have adopted the strategy of dual containment in the Persian Gulf in the 1990s, which required us to keep troops in Saudi Arabia to deter Iran and Iraq simultaneously. Our presence there was one reason Osama bin Laden decided to attack the United States, so Sept. 11 might not have happened. Had we adopted a more even-handed approach during the Oslo process, we might have actually gotten a two-state solution. Needless to say I would not have invaded Iraq in 2003. And a more measured approach to globalization would have made sense as well. I’m not suggesting a different policy would have produced a foreign policy nirvana, but it’s pretty easy to see how a less ambitious and more realistic approach to foreign policy would have left us and much of the world in better shape today.Interview was edited and condensed. The latest violence in the Middle East Netanyahu, in the driver’s seat Israeli election results promise more settlements and warnings on Iran, with scant chance of a Palestinian state, Walt says center_img Peace in our times? Harvard Kennedy School panel explores: ‘Is War on the Way Out?’ Relatedlast_img read more

first_imgSteph Sherrodd is our guest on episode 46 of The CUInsight Experience podcast with your host Randy Smith, co-founder of CUInsight.com. Steph is the President and CEO of TDECU in Houston, the largest credit union in Houston and the 4th largest in the state of Texas. Their purpose is to improve the lives of their members, employees, and communities.Steph is very passionate about developing team members to become leaders of the future and adapting to the changes to make sure they get the greatest talent in the right positions. She knows from her experience that great mentors are necessary when making great leaders. Steph feels that when employees see other employees being developed, getting promoted, and working on great projects, it tends to lead a culture of positivity for advancement.She speaks about how being involved with national credit union boards allows her to see what’s going on outside of her credit union. She gets exposed to other parts of the industry, best practices, new technologies, and new perspectives to bring back locally. Being around other top leaders across the country helps keep her mind sharp, keeps her energized, plus it increases brand awareness.Steph believes that credit unions need to find a compelling way to tell their stories and let people know all the good they do to help their communities. She chats about the ways building a team has changed and that leaders need to have experience with change management. She says that young leaders tend to make the mistake of thinking the job is about doing when it is actually about building.Listen to this insightful conversation from someone with a lot of experience and knowledge in the credit union industry, and we are lucky that she is taking the time to share with us. Get ready to take notes because this is an episode you can learn from. Enjoy!Subscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, StitcherHow to find Steph:Steph Sherrodd, President and CEO of [email protected] | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Show notes from this episode:Check out all the amazing work Steph and her team are doing at TDECU.Shout-out: Denise Wymore at NACUSO where Steph is currently on the board.Shout-out: to our friends at CUES.Shout-out: Mollie BellShout-out: Tansley StearnsQuestion Steph asks often: “What does great look like?” for Cy Wakeman’s book – No Ego.Shout-out: John SpenceAlbum mentioned: Queen – Greatest HitsBook mentioned: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (one of my all-time favorites too)Sorry Steph about you Astros. It was one heck of a World Series to watch.Previous guests mentioned in this episode: Tansley Stearns, Mollie Bell, John Spence, Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18 & 37)You can find all past episodes of The CUInsight Experience here. In This Episode:[01:36] – Steph, welcome to the show![02:37] – She talks to us about mapping development for the team members to help them succeed.[04:22] – Developing employees allows a feeling of positivity in the workplace; it’s not just another dead-end position.[05:52] – They discuss having a learning and growth plan to help the development cycle.[06:34] – Steph explains the credit union’s vision and how that ties to the development of leaders.[07:48] – How does your credit union benefit by you being involved nationally?[09:57] – Steph says that focus on what offers the most value and keeping it simple for the members and employees.[11:58] – She talks about finding the right niche in the marketplace, and finding a compelling way to tell the credit union story is a way to keep them relevant in the future.[13:27] – She says what motivated her to take the position at the credit union is to enable the members to sleep better at night.[14:33] – Has your inspiration changed with your time on the job[16:03] – Her leadership style has evolved in the way she builds a team and working with the team.[18:07] – Having change management experience is crucial in the industry today.[18:30] – The most significant strength her team has is their enthusiasm and optimism.[18:58] – “What does great look like?” and “Don’t ever confuse activity with results” are two quotes that she uses a lot.[19:59] – What mistakes do you see young leaders make today?[21:31] – She holds onto advice from a former leader who said, relationships don’t happen in meetings, its what happens outside the sessions that make you more productive[22:21] – How do you clear your head if you are hitting a wall and can’t come up with the answer[23:19] – She keeps her message fresh by being consistent and tying it back to what they are doing and where they are.[24:45] – When she has a day off, she cycles with friends and runs.[25:52] – The first time she got into memorable trouble was jumping into wet concrete.[26:40] – She works out every day, or her routine gets messed up, and she needs coffee.[27:11] – Best album of all time?[27:46] – Favorite book that you give out the most?[28:20] – Perspective on the gift of time has become more critical, and having a clean house has become less important.[29:24] – When she hears the word success, she thinks about her husband.[31:06] – Steph’s final thoughts are GO ASTROS! 18SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Randall Smith Randall Smith is the co-founder of CUInsight.com, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust.As one of the co-founders of CUInsight.com he … Web: www.CUInsight.com Detailslast_img read more