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  • Book Club: Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump

Book Club: Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump

  • 12 May 2022
  • 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
  • Island Recreation Center, 20 Wilborn Rd., Hilton Head Island
  • 9


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Do Morals Matter? raises tough questions about how much ethics should shape a nation’s foreign policy. Joseph S. Nye, Jr. provides a concise yet penetrating analysis of how ethics has played out in US foreign policy since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency onward. For each president, he scores their foreign policy on three ethical dimensions: their intentions, the means they used, and the consequences of their decisions. He also evaluates their leadership qualities, elaborating on which approaches work and which ones do not. Since we so often apply moral reasoning to foreign policy, Nye suggests how to do it better. Most importantly, he shows that presidents need to factor in both the political context and the availability of resources when deciding how to implement an ethical policy -- especially in a future international system that presents not only great power competition from Russia and China, but also a host of additional transnational threats. Do Morals Matter? provides a helpful scorecard for judging the foreign policy of future presidents.

About the Author

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard.

He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a Deputy Under Secretary of State. His has published more than ten books on the dynamics of power. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers.

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