The liberal arts are under attack. The governors of Florida, Texas, and North Carolina have all pledged that they will not spend taxpayer money subsidizing the liberal arts, and they seem to have an unlikely ally in President Obama. While at a General Electric plant in early 2014, Obama remarked, "I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree." These messages are hitting home: majors like English and history, once very popular and highly respected, are in steep decline.
"I get it," writes Fareed Zakaria, recalling the atmosphere in India where he grew up, which was even more obsessed with getting a skills-based education. However, the CNN host and best-selling author explains why this widely held view is mistaken and shortsighted.
Zakaria eloquently expounds on the virtues of a liberal arts education—how to write clearly, how to express yourself convincingly, and how to think analytically. He turns our leaders' vocational argument on its head. American routine manufacturing jobs continue to get automated or outsourced, and specific vocational knowledge is often outdated within a few years. Engineering is a great profession, but key value-added skills you will also need are creativity, lateral thinking, design, communication, storytelling, and, more than anything, the ability to continually learn and enjoy learning—precisely the gifts of a liberal education.
Zakaria argues that technology is transforming education, opening up access to the best courses and classes in a vast variety of subjects for millions around the world. We are at the dawn of the greatest expansion of the idea of a liberal education in human history.
If rich nations routinely become great powers, Zakaria asks, then how do we explain the strange inactivity of the United States in the late nineteenth century? By 1885, the U.S. was the richest country in the world. And yet, by all military, political, and diplomatic measures, it was a minor power. To explain this discrepancy, Zakaria considers a wide variety of cases between 1865 and 1908 when the U.S. considered expanding its influence in such diverse places as Canada, the Dominican Republic, and Iceland. Consistent with the realist theory of international relations, he argues that the President and his administration tried to increase the country's political influence abroad when they saw an increase in the nation's relative economic power. But they frequently had to curtail their plans for expansion, he shows, because they lacked a strong central government that could harness that economic power for the purposes of foreign policy. America was an unusual power--a strong nation with a weak state. It was not until late in the century, when power shifted from states to the federal government and from the legislative to the executive branch, that leaders in Washington could mobilize the nation's resources for international influence.
Zakaria's exploration of this tension between national power and state structure will change how we view the emergence of new powers and deepen our understanding of America's exceptional history.
In this edition of The Munk Debates - Canada's premier international debate series - former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and CNN's Fareed Zakaria square off against leading historian Niall Ferguson and world-renowned economist David Daokui Li to debate the biggest geopolitical issue of our time: Does the 21st century belong to China?
Highly electrifying and thoroughly engrossing, the Munk Debate on China is the first formal public debate Dr. Kissinger has participated in on China's future, and includes exclusive interviews with Henry Kissinger and David Daokui Li.
From Ukraine to the Middle East to China, the United States is redefining its role in international affairs. Alliance building, public diplomacy, and eschewing traditional warfare in favour of the focused use of hard power such as drones and special forces are all hallmarks of the so-called Obama Doctrine. Is this a farsighted foreign policy for the United States and the world in the twenty-first century — one that acknowledges and embraces the increasing diffusion of power among states and non-state actors? Or, is an America “leading from behind” a boon for the nations and blocs who want to roll back economic globalization, international law, and the spread of democracy and human rights?
In this edition of the Munk Debates, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bret Stephens and famed historian and foreign policy commentator Robert Kagan square off against CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and noted academic and political commentator Anne-Marie Slaughter to debate the legacy of President Obama. With ISIS looking to reshape the Middle East, Russia increasingly at odds with the rest of the West, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a standstill, the Munk Debate on Foreign Policy asks: Has Obama’s foreign policy taken the U.S. in the right direction?
For some, the case for a pre-emptive strike on Iran is ironclad. An Iranian bomb would flood the volatile Middle East with nuclear weapons and trap Israel in a state of perilous insecurity — along with much of the world’s oil supply. Others argue that a nuclear Iran could be the very stabilizing force that the region needs, as the threat of nuclear war makes conventional conflicts more risky. These same voices also ask: can the West and Israel afford to attack Iran when doing so could roll back the Arab Spring and re-entrench reactionary forces throughout the Middle East?
In this edition of the Munk Debates — Canada’s premier international debate series — former Israel Defense Forces head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin, Pulitzer Prize–winning political commentator Charles Krauthammer, CNN host Fareed Zakaria, and Iranian-born academic Vali Nasr debate the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran.
For the first time ever, this electrifying debate, which played to a sold-out audience, is now available in print, along with candid interviews with the debaters.
With tempers flaring between governments, the world’s oil supply in peril, and global security at risk, the Munk Debate on Iran tries to answer: Can the world tolerate an Iran with nuclear weapons?