Mearsheimer lecture on the failure of liberal hegemony
On the 17th January, the Department of International Relations and the US Centre hosted speaker John Mearsheimer to discuss his new book The Great Delusion: liberal dreams and international realities.
The so called “Father of Offensive Realism” in international relations theory, Mearsheimer critiqued liberal US foreign policy and prescribed restraint and realism as a policy solution.
The event garnered major popularity, with over 1,400 people ‘Interested’ in the event on Facebook, despite only 450 places being available in the Old Theatre. By 6pm stewards began turning away guests for the 6:30 event.
“The United States pursued a grand strategy of liberal hegemony to remake the world in America’s image, and failed miserably,” Mearsheimer began. According to Mearsheimer, the US’ policy of spreading democracy globally and integrating as many nations as possible into international institutions and the economy backfired. He noted these policies could explain why Donald Trump was elected.
“This guy’s [Trump] never seen an institution he doesn’t loathe. He ran against liberal hegemony and won.”
Other arguments included liberal hegemony’s ‘dismal track record’, with US exploits in the Middle East, Ukraine, and China being attributed to the US’ current decline as a global superpower. With this in mind, Mearsheimer noted that today the ‘rise of China’ and ‘resurrection of Russia’ are more prevalent than ever.
The event concluded with a variety of questions ranging from topics about the threat of war with China, and the role of institutions.
On a lighter note, he answered: what he would do if he was Theresa May right now.
His answer?: “I read up on articles on it before I came so I would have something intelligent to say at dinner parties. Truth is I have nothing intelligent to say. I have no idea.”
An acclaimed theorist and writer part of many reading lists in LSE courses, Mearsheimer packed the Old Theatre for an unforgettable and educational night.
A podcast of the event will be available online on LSE Player shortly.