Christopher Fettweis will be at Cato on Monday, May 14, at noon to present and discuss his new book, Psychology of a Superpower: Security and Dominance in U.S. Foreign Policy.
Columbia University’s Warner Schilling once observed that “at the summit of foreign policy, one always finds simplicity and spook.” In his lively book, Fettweis elaborates and underscores that observation. Things are worst, suggests Fettweis, if the country is, or thinks itself to be, a superpower. And we all know what country that would be.
The book is a catalogue of delusion in high places. Like monarchs who believed their own propaganda about being divine, our superpower fancies itself to be indispensable, exceptional, all-powerful, and the sole entity that can bring order to a misshapen world. Yet it envisions existential threat from tiny bands of terrorists and finds its naval majesty besmirched by little artificial islands in the South China Sea.
As Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker (author of The Better Angels of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now) puts it, Fettweis uses “a trove of insight from psychological science” to present a “picture with a far better resemblance to reality.”
Fettweis is the author of three previous books and is associate professor of political science at Tulane University.
Commenting will be Keir Lieber, Director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. I will be moderating. And there is, as always, a luncheon to follow—except for those taking it in online.
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