“Agonies of Empire. American Power from Clinton to Biden”. In Conversation with Professor Michael Cox

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“Agonies of Empire. American Power from Clinton to Biden”. In Conversation with Professor Michael Cox

28th February 2022 @ 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

The defeat of Donald Trump in November 2020 followed by the attack on the US Congress on 6th January 2021 represented a tipping point moment in the history of the American republic. Divided at home and facing a world sceptical of American claims to be the ‘indispensable nation’ in world politics, it is clear that the next few years will be decisive ones for the United States. But how did the US, which was riding high only 30 years ago, arrive at this critical point? And will it lead to the fall of what many would claim has been one of the most successful empires of modern times?

In his latest book, Michael Cox, a leading scholar of American foreign policy, outlines the ways in which five very different American Presidents – Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden – have addressed the complex legacies left them by their predecessors while dealing with the longer-term problems of running an empire under increasing stress. Can America continue to shape world affairs or is it now facing long-term decline?

The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to gather an expert panel to discuss Professor Michael Cox’s latest book “Agonies of Empire. American Power from Clinton to Biden”.



Michael Cox is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Founding Director of LSE IDEAS. He is an Associate Fellow in the US and Americas Programme at Chatham House where he established their original United States Discussion Group, is a member of the Scholarly Advisory Board of the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History in New York, and writes regularly for the US-based H-Diplo network. His most recent books include The Post-Cold War World (2018), a new l edition of J. M. Keynes’s The Economic Consequences of the Peace (2019), and a new volume of E.H. Carr’s Nationalism and After (2021).



G. John Ikenberry is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University in the Department of Politics and the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. He is also Co-Director of Princeton’s Center for International Security Studies. Professor Ikenberry is also a Global Eminence Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea. In 2018-19, he was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, Ikenberry was ranked in the top 10 in scholars who have produced the best work in the field of IR in the past 20 years, and ranked in the top 8 in scholars who have produced the most interesting work in the past 5 years.

Professor Ikenberry is the author of eight books, mostly recently “A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order” (Yale 2020), and  Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American System” (Princeton, 2011). His book, “After Victory: Institutions, Strategic Restraint, and the Rebuilding of Order after Major Wars” (Princeton, 2001), won the 2002 Schroeder-Jervis Award presented by the American Political Science Association for the best book in international history and politics.

Professor Ikenberry is the co-director of the Princeton Project on National Security, and he is the co-author, along with Anne-Marie Slaughter, of the final report, “Forging a World of Liberty Under Law”.  Among his many activities, Professor Ikenberry served as a member of the Policy Planning Staff in 1991-92, as a member of an advisory group at the State Department in 2003-04, and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force on U.S.-European relations, the so-called Kissinger-Summers commission. He is also a reviewer of books on political and legal affairs for Foreign Affairs.



Peter Trubowitz is professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science.

His main teaching and research interests are in the fields of international security and comparative foreign policy, with a special focus on American grand strategy and foreign policy. He also writes and comments frequently on US party politics and elections.

Before joining LSE, he was professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin. He has also held visiting positions at Harvard, Princeton, the University of California in San Diego, Universidad de Chile, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City, and the Beijing Foreign Studies University, where he was the J. William Fulbright distinguished lecturer in American foreign policy.



Helena Ivanov is a PhD Candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science and an Associate Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society. Her research focuses on the relationship between propaganda and violence against civilians. In her thesis, Helena examined the role propaganda played during the Yugoslav Wars and produced a model for studying propaganda which details the key phases, functions, discourses, and techniques of propaganda (the model itself is applicable to other contexts). Additionally, Helena also served as a Manager at the Centre for International Studies at the LSE.


“Agonies of Empire. American Power from Clinton to Biden” can be purchased HERE.






On the 28th February 2022, Helena Ivanov, Associate Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society, Professor Peter Trubowitz, Professor of international relations at the London School of Economics (LSE), Professor Gilbert Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, and Professor Michael Cox, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at LSE about Americas ability to shape world affairs and whether it is in a state of long-term decline.

Helena Ivanov began the discussion by introducing Professor Cox’s, and his book, Agony of Empire. Professor Cox then spoke about why he structured his work as a sequential analysis of American governments since 1993 as Presidents define foreign policy. He also spoke of how it is easy to criticise successive President’s handling of complex issues like globalisation and whether the US is declining. Professor Ikenberry argued that despite America being at its strongest at end of Cold War that in just 30 years people talk about how it is now in decline. He asked if anything could have been done to avert this and question why Professors Cox defined the US as an Imperial power and not as something different. Professor Trubowitz stated the book excellently describes the evolution of US foreign policy, and he argues that the collapse of the Soviet Union led to a geo-political vacuum that the US has struggled to fill. He asked Professor Cox if President Biden could restore American foreign policy and if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has ended the post-Cold War era.

The discussion then closed with a series of questions on the cause of US-Russian animosity, whether Eastern European security can be reorganised and what the impacts the current Russian-Ukrainian war will have for global security and rearmament.



28th February 2022
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm


United Kingdom


Professor Michael Cox


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