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Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS)

Barack Obama and the dilemmas of American Hegemony

  • Mario del Pero (Sciences Po Paris)
Monday 6 February 2017
Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS) year 2016 - 2017
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)

The presentation will discuss the basic matrices of a putative “Obama Doctrine”, examining its strategic assumptions, the role it attributed to military force, and the discourse used to narrate and convey such doctrine. It will discuss Obama’s foreign policy by focusing on the new challenges the post-2008 United States had to address, and by highlighting the consequences of the full deflagration of some inner contradictions in the model of hegemony built and relaunched by the U.S. after the crisis, and apparent demise, of U.S. primacy in the 1970s.

During the last eight years Obama has been called to confront a more general decline, absolute and relative, of U.S. power and influence, accelerated and intensified (but not caused) by the strategic mistakes of his predecessor. His response was to re-offer a cosmopolitan and internationalist discourse, centered on his persona and unique global biography, and to abandon some deeply ingrained imperial codes of contemporary U.S. interventionism. The mixed results and numerous ambiguities of Obama’s foreign policy notwithstanding, this strategic and rhetorical shift has marked a significant departure from some of the basic tenets of post-1945 U.S. global strategies.

About Mario del Pero

Mario Del Pero is Professor of International History and U.S. Foreign Relations at the Institut d’études politiques/SciencesPo of Paris. His research focuses on the history of U.S. Foreign Relations, particularly during the Cold War. Among his most recent publications are Otto anni con Obama [Eight Years with Obama] (Milan, Feltrinelli, 2017); Libertà e Impero. Gli Stati Uniti e il Mondo, 1776-2011 [Empire and Liberty. The United States and the World, 1776-2011] (Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2011); The Eccentric Realist. Henry Kissinger and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 2009) and “’Which Chile, Allende’? Henry Kissinger and the Portuguese Revolution”, Cold War History, 4, 2011. He is currently working on a research on US evangelical missions in early Cold War Italy.


Please e-mail Anne-Isabelle Richard to register.

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