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Barack Obama and the Dilemmas of American Leadership


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​Join award-winning author and Italian scholar, Mario Del Pero, for an insightful look into the origins of U.S. foreign policy known as the “Obama Doctrine” -- examining its strategic assumptions, the role it attributed to military force, the connection between domestic and foreign policy choices, and the discourse used to narrate and convey such doctrine. During the luncheon, Mario discusses Obama’s foreign policy by focusing on the new challenges the post-2008 United States had to address, and by highlighting the consequences of the full manifestation of some inner contradictions in the model of leadership built and relaunched by the U.S. after the crisis, and apparent demise, of U.S. primacy in the 1970s.

During his eight years in power, Obama was called to confront a more general decline, absolute and relative, of U.S. power and influence, accelerated and intensified (but not caused) by the strategic mistakes of his predecessor. His response was to re-offer a cosmopolitan and internationalist discourse, centered on his persona and unique global biography, and to abandon some deeply ingrained imperial codes of contemporary U.S. interventionism. The mixed results and numerous ambiguities of Obama’s foreign policy notwithstanding, this strategic and rhetorical shift has marked a significant departure from some of the basic tenets of post-1945 U.S. global strategies.

​Mario Del Pero is Professor of International History and U.S. Foreign Relations at the Institut d’études politiques/ Sciences Po of Paris. His research focuses on the history of U.S. Foreign Relations, particularly during the Cold War. Among his most recent publications are Otto anni con Obama [Eight Years with Obama] (Milan, Feltrinelli, 2017, which won the Milan International Book Award); Libertà e Impero. Gli Stati Uniti e il Mondo, 1776-2011 [Empire and Liberty. The United States and the World, 1776-2011] (Rome-Bari, Laterza, 2011); The Eccentric Realist. Henry Kissinger and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy (Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 2009) and “’Which Chile, Allende’? Henry Kissinger and the Portuguese Revolution”, Cold War History, 4, 2011. He is currently working on a research on U.S. evangelical missions in early Cold War Italy.


​FREE for students | $25 members | $35 nonmembers

For questions or to RSVP, contact Dickson Monk, dmonk@columbiaworldaffairs.org or 803-252-2197