New Lecture Series Debuts

By Frank Radosevich II
November 14, 2012

Opening his lecture on American grand strategy, Dr. Shah Tarzi said a seminal event in U.S. policymaking took place on 11-9.

“Not 9-11,” he said. “You heard me right; it’s 11-9.”

Dr. Tarzi, the Lee L. Morgan Chair in International Economic Affairs, said the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989, triggered a flurry of academic papers and a renewed interest in discussing the direction of American grand strategy, which is the collection of policies that guide the use of a country’s resources and capabilities to accomplish its objectives.

Part of a new lecture series from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dr. Tarzi delivered the inaugural address on the failures and possible alternatives of American grand strategy in his talk, “America and the World After the Presidential Election: With a Grand Proposal to Protect American Interests, Promote Our Values and Revitalize U.S. Power.”

The series was designed to be a celebration and recognition of what is happening within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Dr. Stacey Robertson, interim dean for LAS. She said the college hopes to host lectures twice a semester where students can learn firsthand about the research and writings of LAS faculty.

“My idea was to share the talent that we have within the college, and that talent ranges from philosophers to chemists to historians to mathematicians,” Dr. Roberston said. “We’re hoping to empower our junior faculty to present their scholarship as well as our more senior faculty.”

She added another goal of the series is to share professors’ work with the greater Peoria community.

During his speech, Dr. Tarzi discussed a number of grand strategies from America’s history, including the isolationism favored by the Founding Fathers, the containment policies of the Cold War and the coercive hegemony, or unilateralism, employed most recently by the George W. Bush administration.

He said it’s difficult, especially nowadays, to come to an agreement on American grand strategy given the shifting ground of today’s world.

“It is hard to agree on the nature and source of threats,” he said. “We live in a much more complicated world.”

A question-and-answer session followed Dr. Tarzi’s talk where he fielded questions on topics like ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the momentum of the Arab Spring and how the so-called Fiscal Cliff, a series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, could affect American grand strategy.

Wesley Enz, a senior from Chebanse, Ill., studying political science and international studies, said the talk presented specifics on global challenges and caused him to think more about the causes behind world events rather than the events themselves.

“He’s very open to the students,” Enz said, who is currently studying Middle East politics with Dr. Tarzi. “He likes to bring us together and hear what we think about different situations and provides context on a number of issues.”