Conservative Diplomacy in American Thought
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Conservative Diplomacy in American Thought
20 June @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Is there a set of principles, actions or commitments which characterise conservative approaches to diplomacy? With particular reference to the United States, are these characteristics different from traditional elements of diplomacy? This meeting marks the start of an academic research project, under the leadership of Dr Ashley Cox from SOAS University of London, which seeks to establish the principles of conservative approaches to diplomacy and examine their application by US republicans. At the moment these are provisionally identified as support for representative government, a free market and private property, religious liberty and freedom of speech. From there, it is intended that this research will develop a template by which the diplomatic and security policies of President Trump may be examined in the light of the conservative political tradition.
By kind invitation of Lord Howell of Guildford, the Henry Jackson Society and SOAS University of London are delighted to invite you to a discussion about the conservative diplomacy in American thought.
Dr. Ashley Cox is Lecturer in Diplomacy and Public Policy at SOAS University of London. He holds a PhD from the University of Leicester and was the Author of Wilsonian Interpretations of American Conflicts: the War of 1812 to the First Gulf War. He is the lead investigator on a new project investigating the role of conservative thought in American Diplomacy.
Erol Morkoç is an American entrepreneur, political strategist, and media spokesperson for RepublicansOverseas. He holds a B.A. in History with honours from the University of California, Berkeley along with an MSc in Economic & Social History from the University of St Andrews. He is a frequent commentator on British and international media in regard to American politics, President Trump and Republican strategic goals.
Dr. Mark McClelland holds a PhD in US foreign policy from the University of Birmingham. His doctoral research examined the evolution of neoconservatism after the end of the Cold War. After completing his studies, he worked as an Associate Director for Verisk Maplecroft, heading up the North America practice and advising energy companies investing in the US and Canada, before being appointed Head of Research for the Dods Group. He currently works in Parliament as Chief of Staff for John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Salisbury.
Dr. Paul Stott joined the Henry Jackson Society’s Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism as a Research Fellow in January 2019. An experienced academic, he received an MSc in Terrorism Studies (Distinction) from the University of East London in 2007, and his PhD in 2015 from the University of East Anglia for the research “British Jihadism: The Detail and the Denial”. He is a frequent commentator in both the British and international media on terrorism, security and the political fringe.
Lord Howell of Guildford has served the UK for over 50 years both as an MP & a Member of the House of Lords, the only Minister to have served in Ted Heath’s, Margaret Thatcher’s and David Cameron’s governments. Along with his other varied positions, such as as Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group & President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Lord Howell embraces technological innovation and has a clear, in-depth understanding of developments in energy, and of matters concerning the Commonwealth. He is currently Chairman of the Lords Committee on International Relations. His writing draws on vast experience in both business and government that gives him unique insight and wisdom in our perpetually changing world.
On the 20th of June, academics from the Henry Jackson Society and SOAS University London hosted a discussion regarding Conservative Diplomacy in American Thought. The event marked the beginning of an academic research project – led by Dr. Ashley Cox of SOAS University – that aims to explore recurring elements in conservative thought and their connection to American foreign policy. Cox initially presented these as support for representative government, private property, free market economics, religious liberty, and freedom of speech. However, contributions were also made by Erol Morkoç, Dr. Mark McClelland, and Dr. Paul Stott of the Henry Jackson Society. The event was chaired by Lord Howell of Guildford who, among other posts, sits as Chairman of the Lords Committee on International Relations.
Lord Howell opened the discussion by stressing the important, though often divisive place, that certain conservative principles hold in both Great Britain and the United States. Recalling his experience in the administration of Margaret Thatcher, he framed the debate that raged over free market economics and asserted the significance of effectively defining the terms within strands of conservative thought.
The discussion was then picked up by Dr. Cox who highlighted his background in the SOAS Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy and explained that working out ‘what constitutes conservative thought’ was the main aim of the discussion. Outlining the ‘increasing gap’ between internationalism and supranational institutions, he emphasised the nation state – with those aforementioned principles – as the pinnacle of sovereignty for conservatives in the current global climate.
He was followed by Mr. Morkoç, who related his role as a private entrepreneur and his close connections to the US Republican party as a spokesperson for RepublicansOverseas. Morkoç displayed the disparity between current conceptions of conservative thought under Trump and those that supported the Breton Woods era of ‘US hegemony’ – based on multilateralism. He outlined the importance of cooperation between the differing forms of American and British conservatism – particularly over areas such gay marriage. Moreover, he mentioned that American conservative diplomacy was ‘ripe for expansion’ in this period of international flux.
Taking a step back into the past of conservative thought in America, Dr. McClelland discussed its four main conceptions: Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Jacksonian, and Wilsonian. McClelland made the point that it is hard to pin a single term on US conservative thought, as it is a very flexible concept that has constantly changed over the last few decades. Starting from the Neo-conservatism of the Bush Administration, he related how US conservatism had shifted into isolationism around 2011, before ending up in its current Jacksonian form under Donald Trump. However, he maintained that nationalism, in a neutral sense of the word, and a scepticism of supranational institutions remained the core principle of American conservatism.
The discussion was closed by Dr. Paul Stott, who used the beliefs of that ‘tireless advocate of conservative principles’, William F. Buckley as the benchmark from which to test current American conservatism. Stott stated that Buckley believed in national sovereignty, a cautious approach to environmental conservatism, free trade, a society informed by faith, and military self-sufficiency. In this way, the protectionism of Trump seems to mark a departure from traditional conservative principles.
The discussion finished with a round of questions from the audience.
The event was co-organised with SOAS University of London.
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