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Fukuyama To Discuss Us-European Rift

12 August 2002

Fukuyama To Discuss Us-European Rift

In an address to be given in Wellington tonight, leading American political scientist Dr Francis Fukuyama, will ask whether the ‘West’ is really a coherent concept, and whether the United States and its foreign policy might themselves become the central issues in international politics.

Francis Fukuyama is in the country to deliver the New Zealand Business Roundtable's annual Sir Ronald Trotter Lecture. Dr Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University.

He is best known for his scholarly work, especially his 1989 article 'The End of History' and its expansion in a subsequent book which argued that history had culminated in modern liberal democracy and market-oriented capitalism. Tonight Dr Fukuyama will ask if the concept of the ‘West’ still makes sense in the first decade of the 21st century, and if the fracture line over globalisation is actually a division not between the West and the Rest, but between the United States and the Rest.

Dr Fukuyama says the idea of the West remains a coherent one, and there remain critical shared values, institutions, and interest that will continue to bind the world’s developed democracies, and Europe and the United States in particular. However Dr Fukuyama says, “there are some deeper differences emerging between Western democracies that will be highly neuralgic in America’s dealings with the world in the coming years that need critical attention by policymakers".

According to Dr Fukuyama, there is a critical issue of principle between the United States and Europe that will ensure that transatlantic relationships will remain fraught in the years ahead. “The disagreement is not over the principles of liberal democracy, which both sides share, but over where the ultimate source of liberal democracy lies,” he said.

The US-European rift that has emerged in 2002 is not just a transitory problem reflecting the style of current US administration or the world situation in the wake of September 11. “It is a reflection of differing views of the locus of democratic legitimacy within a broader Western civilisation whose actual institutions have become remarkably similar,” Dr Fukuyama said.

The underlying issue is essentially unsolvable because there is no practical way of addressing the ‘democratic deficit’ at the global level. But the problem can be mitigated by a degree of American moderation within a system of sovereign nation-states, he said.

Sir Ronald Trotter Lecture 2002
'Has History Ended?'
Dr Francis Fukuyama
Monday 12 August
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

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