Lecture: „Is this how a superpower works?“ by Michael Corgan on Thursday, 29th September

Dr. Michael Corgan, associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University gave a lecture on Thursday, September 29th from 16:00 to 17:00 at Lögberg 101. This lecture was hosted by the Institute of International Affairs and the Centre of Research for Small State Studies.

Michael Corgan addressed three questions that touch upon the role of the United States and whether it can still act as a superpower, with its politics and policy-making on the national and the global scale having changed in the last decade.

Firstly he discussed the role of factions in US politics. In the US, legislators must find a combination of compromises to accommodate the demands of all factions, otherwise each side can block the legislation from moving forward. Factions have a strong influence in Congress, where they can often block legislation  with the 2/3 requirements for legislative approval and filibusters in the Senate. Against this background, Michael Corgan will ask “Why do minorities rule in US politics and policy”?

Secondly, Michael Corgan talked about the Tea Party movement. What started off as a minor insurgency featuring protesters, favoring the GOP, could possibly move the electorate in 2012 to the far right. The Tea Party, although it is not an affiliated political party, mainly consists of conservative members and protesters, and presently, Republican presidential candidates who may determine the balance of power in the US Congress in the next presidential elections. The second question addressed in the lecture was therefore, “How far to the right will the Tea Party move the electorate in 2012”?

Lastly, the Unites States has played the role of the world’s superpower with its ideology of freedom and democracy, powerful military capabilities, economic success and the power to make unilateral decisions in global policy. Nevertheless, it seems as if the US is losing its superpower status, as its debt burden is mounting fast, internal politics are fragile and militaristic presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is now portrayed as warmongering. Furthermore, the Arab world has risen up against authoritarianism and corruption, and in Asia, capitalism and globalization are the driving forces of economic growth. This posed the question “Can the US stand against all these forces and why shouldn´t the US think it will always be number one”?

Slides from the lecture can be found here.