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February 21, 2014

Three-Part Lecture Series at the Kluge Center Looks at Foreign Policy Through the Lens of Realpolitik

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress presents a three-part series on Anglo-American foreign policy in the past, present and future through the lens of realpolitik, an approach to the world that puts national interest before morality or ethics.

The series, "The Return of Realpolitik: A Window into the Soul of Anglo-American Foreign Policy," is hosted by John Bew, who holds the Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Kluge Center, and also will include noted historians Robert Kagan and Martyn Frampton. The programs, according to Bew, will start by examining what realpolitik means in practice, then examining its flaws, before offering a new definition of the word—fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

Series Schedule

  • At 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, "America, the Muslim Brotherhood and Realpolitik: Understand the Other," with Bew and Frampton
  • At noon on Thursday, March 27, "Realpolitik and American Exceptionalism," with Bew and Kagan
  • At 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, "Real Realpolitik: A History," lecture by Bew.

The three events—free and open to the public—will be held in room 119, on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. No tickets are required. On rare occasions, event times and locations may change; please check the Kluge Center website prior to each program, www.loc.gov/kluge.

"Realpolitik is back in fashion again in Washington, D.C.," said Bew. "It’s a term used by both scholars and practitioners in discussions of international affairs. Yet it is one of those words borrowed from another language that is much-used but little understood. This series will explore what realpolitik looks like in practice as well as theory, and will ask the question: how relevant is realpolitik to the international challenges faced by the West in the 21st century?"

Bew began in October 2013 as the 13th holder of the Kissinger Chair. He is a reader (distinguished senior academic) in history and foreign policy at the War Studies Department at King’s College London and director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. Bew also is a contributing writer for the New Statesman.

At the Library of Congress, Bew is researching and writing a history of Anglo-American realpolitik, to be published by Oxford University Press. His prior monograph, "Castlereagh: A Life," was named one of the books of the year for 2011 by the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Telegraph, The Spectator, BBC Parliament Booktalk and Total Politics.

Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, a columnist for the Washington Post and a well-known foreign-policy commentator. Kagan served at the State Department from 1984 to 1988 as a member of the policy planning staff, as principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz, and as deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. His most recent book, "The World America Made," is a New York Times bestseller and was publicly endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama, and referenced in Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address.

Frampton is a senior lecturer in modern history at Queen Mary University of London and the author of three books on the conflict in Northern Ireland. Frampton recently received funding for a new project studying the relationship between the west and the Muslim Brotherhood, based on English and Arabic documents.

The Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library for a period of up to 10 months. Using research facilities and services at the Library of Congress, the scholar is expected to engage in research on foreign policy and international affairs that will lead to publication. The annual appointment of the Kissinger scholar is made by the Librarian of Congress upon the recommendation of a selection committee consisting of representatives from the academic community and foreign-policy experts.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 14-030
02/21/14
ISSN 0731-3527

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