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Debate: Is America a Force for Good in the World?

With Samuel Moyn and Shadi Hamid

The United States of America has been the world’s foremost economic and military power, in the aftermath of World War II President Truman set out his Four Point Plan which stated that the U.S must uphold its unique responsibility to promote democracy and economic development around the world.

Many in the world see the influence of the United States as a force for good. It applies pressure on authoritarian regimes such as Iran to abide by human rights, and it supports nations such as Ukraine defending themselves against imperial aggression. But others argue that the Afghanistan and Iraq interventions show that American exceptionalism and the attempt to play the world’s policeman have wreaked irrevocable havoc which the rest of the world is still paying a price for today. So who’s right? In early November 2022 we were joined by foreign policy experts Shadi Hamid and Samuel Moyn as they went head-to-head on whether American power is a force for good.



Shadi Hamid

Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The Problem of Democracy

Author, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and contributor for The Atlantic. His books include Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World and the new book The Problem of Democracy: America, the Middle East, and the Rise and Fall of an Idea. He also hosts the podcast Wisdom of Crowds with Damir Marusic which examines why 'bad people' believe what they believe.   

Samuel Moyn

Professor of Law and History at Yale University

Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and History at Yale University. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. He has written several books in his fields of European intellectual history and human rights history, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History, Christian Human Rights and most recently Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War. He has written for several leading publications including Boston Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dissent, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.  

Philippa Thomas

Journalist and academic, who has anchored daily live news shows on World TV and the BBC News Channel

Journalist and academic, known for her high-profile broadcasting career with BBC News. Most recently, Philippa anchored daily live news shows on World TV and the BBC News Channel. She spent many years as a foreign correspondent based in Washington DC and before that was a political correspondent at Westminster. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Thomas has chaired the independent Trust in News conference, focusing on information warfare in Ukraine and beyond, and later in May she will be on stage at the Oslo Freedom Forum interviewing Amnesty International Secretary-general Agnes Callamard about the ways the world has responded – and failed to respond – to the crisis in Ukraine.

Speakers are subject to change.