Nationalism: What Went Wrong?


This course addresses diverse yet interrelated domestic
and foreign policy issues — the recent growth around
the world of authoritarian nationalism, its domestic and
international implications and its effect on the plight
of refugees and asylum seekers. Question: does the
United States have a role in addressing these pressing
concerns? And if so, what is it?

After the fall of the Soviet Union in Europe in 1989,
our main foreign assistance arm, the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), provided substantial
development assistance to central and eastern European
countries, including support to advance the rule of law,
only to witness the leaders of many of these countries
turning today to a brand of authoritarian nationalism.

The United States also has supported efforts by
countries in Central America’s “Northern Triangle” (El
Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) and in several
African countries to advance their economies and provide
better lives for their citizens. But the results have
been mixed, if not disappointing. Too often, with poorly
managed and/or corrupt governments, lawlessness and
violence have taken over in many parts of the world. This
has cheapened citizens’ lives and put individuals and
families at great physical and emotional risk and harm.
Climate change, too, has created severe stress in many
areas. All of this has resulted in perilous migrations, often
across dangerous waters or miles of unforgiving lands to
seek asylum in Europe or the United States.

Our sessions will cover:

1. Nationalism and political power: Does globalization
have a future?
2. U.S. foreign policy and aid: Will it survive “A
New Americanism?”
3. The pros/cons of U.S. assistance to asylum
seekers fleeing violence in Central America’s
“Northern Triangle.”
4. Climate refugees: What remedies are needed?
5. Can/Should America develop a new “nationalism”
to address asylum seeker issues and the aimless
local violence and lawlessness under many tyrannical
governments we have supported or continue
to support?


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