Fordham Debate to Ask Whether Remaining the World’s Sole Superpower is in Nation’s Best Interest

It can be argued that the human and financial costs of many U.S. military operations, as well as the increased risk of retaliation that comes with “acting like the world’s policeman,” make unilateral action unwise and unsustainable. An extreme version of this argument would make the U.S. isolationist, while a moderate version would assert that we would be better off both economically and militarily as one among equals in the global community. 

To many people who support active engagement with foreign affairs, it may be that the U.S. is the sole nation with the ability to fill the role of international cop.  Absent the U.S., they ask, who will stand up to brutal regimes and protect common transnational interests, including regional stability, free trade, free elections, and humanitarian principles?

On Thursday, October 24 at 6:00 p.m., Nora Bensahel and Tom Farer will argue for and against the U.S.’s role as the world’s only superpower in the 30th Annual Fordham Debate, to be held in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.  Admission is free and open to the public.

Dr. Nora Bensahel

Dr. Nora Bensahel

In and of itself, the debate’s resolution, “Be it Resolved: That maintaining sole superpower status is no longer in the best interests of the U.S.,” prompts strong pro and con reactions, according to Professor Wayne McCormack, the co-organizer of the debate. “I am genuinely thrilled to have the opportunity to hear distinguished experts debate the future of the United States in relation to global enterprises,” McCormack said.

 Professor Amos Guiora, the event’s other organizer, predicts that the presence of two such prominent academics, each a passionate defender of his or her position, will lead to: “Intense discussion both during the debate and in the days and weeks thereafter given the importance of the question that Dr. Bensahel and Professor Farer will address and its extraordinary relevance to recent developments.”

Bensahel, the Deputy Director of Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, recently co-authored The Seven Deadly Sins of Defense Spending, Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity, and Sustainable Pre-eminence: Reforming the U.S. Military at a Time of Strategic Change. Her other research interests include stability operations, counterinsurgency, civilian capacity for operations abroad, and coalition and alliance operations. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, where she teaches M.A. classes and received the Alumni Leadership Council Teaching Award.

Professor Tom Farer

Professor Tom Farer

Farer, University Professor, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, is the former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS). He has also served as president of the University of New Mexico. Currently he is honorary professor of Peking University and director of the Center for China-United States Cooperation. Within the United States government, he has served as special assistant first to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense and then to the assistant secretary of state for Inter-American Affairs. He has taught law at Columbia University, American University, Rutgers, Tulane and Harvard and international relations at Cambridge University, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

Moderator Kirk L. Jowers is the Director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and Federal Relations. He also is an Associate Professor and the 2007 recipient of the University of Utah’s Par Excellence Award. 

The 30th Annual Fordham Debate will take place on October 24 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. The debate will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception in the foyer. Free parking will be available in the Rice-Eccles Stadium Parking Lot.  The debate is offered for 1. hour of CLE (applied for). 

The event will also be broadcast live on beginning at 6:00 p.m. 

The Fordham Debate is named in honor of Professor Jefferson B. Fordham, an outstanding legal scholar and defender of individual and civil rights who joined the University of Utah College of Law faculty in 1972. The annual debate addresses relevant contemporary public policy and legal issues.

For more information, call 801-585-3479.