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Systems Change

Vol. 8 No. 1 | 2021 Edition
Dr. Joseph Nye

Do Morals Matter?
A Conversation with Dr. Joseph Nye

Interviewed by Grady Jacobsen and Alex Betley

Fletcher Security Review (FSR): Welcome, Dr. Nye, to The Fletcher Security Review. Thank you very much for spending time with us today. Before we discuss your recent book, Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump, would you mind speaking first about the origins of your career? Many readers of FSR are young professionals pursuing careers in diplomacy and national security. I am sure they would appreciate hearing that background.


Joeseph Nye (JN): Well, I came to Harvard to do a Ph.D. Thinking I was going to go into the State Department, I thought it might be useful to have a Ph.D. but, in the process, I wound up doing some teaching and enjoyed it. I went and did my thesis in Africa and enjoyed writing about that. When Harvard offered me a job, I thought I would take it for a little while. A “little while” turned out to be quite a long while. I emphasize this to say that if you do not have all your career moves figured out at this stage, not to worry about it. Leave room for serendipity. In any case, as it turned out, I enjoy the writing and the research. After working in Africa, I went to Central America, and then spent some time in Europe looking primarily at regional integration and then broadened out to a number of things related to trade....


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Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and as Deputy Under Secretary of State, and won distinguished service awards from all three agencies. His books include The Future of Power, The Power Game: A Washington Novel, and Do Morals Matter? He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2014, Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun.

Rachel McCaffrey

Two decades after UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security was passed, the Biden administration appears poised to usher in a new era of female leadership. Why is this increase in cognitive diversity so important to American national security?


The U.S. national security enterprise is undergoing a profound transition. As the world moves toward cyber and information-centric modes of conflict, cognitive and intellectual diversity will arguably play a more decisive role in determining success—more so than the number of infantry divisions, aircraft carriers, or fighter wings a nation can deploy. National security organizations must therefore transform to fully leverage all available talent and innovation in the national security sector to drive success across the spectrum of conflict around the world....

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Rachel A. McCaffrey is Vice President for Membership and Chapters for the National Defense Industrial Association and Executive Director of Women in Defense.


The Essentiality of Cognitive Diversity
in American National Security

Written by Rachel A. McCaffrey
Kent E. Calder

National security has been classically conceived as a narrowly military and state-centric concept, especially in the Western industrial world. Security is, generations of strategists and statesmen have told us, a matter of defending core nation-state values and interests by force of arms. Two world wars across the first half of the twentieth century, and a long nuclear confrontation to follow, engrained this military and state-centric conception deeply into global consciousness and public discourse.


The tragic COVID-19 crisis now confronting us suggests that this logic may be flawed, or at least oversimplified. Over 2.3 million people worldwide died in the first year of this global pandemic, with well over 100 million infected. These figures are likely understated. Untold millions of people continue to suffer from “long COVID” maladies around the world....


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Kent Calder has served as Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins University SAIS since 2003. From 2018-2020 he also served as Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and International Research Cooperation at SAIS, and from 2016-2018 as Director of Asia Programs. Before arriving at Johns Hopkins SAIS in 2003, Calder taught for twenty years at Princeton University (1983-2003), and Harvard University (1979-1983). Previously, he served as Special Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1997-2001). Calder received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1979, where he worked under the director of Edwin O. Reischauer. He is the author of fourteen books on East Asian political economy, energy geopolitics, comparative urban politics, Japanese politics, and US-Japan relations.


The author would like to express special thanks to Hiroki Tanaka (Fletcher ‘20) for his comments on this manuscript, as well as to Hana Anderson and Luke Chen for research assistance.


Medical Security, Covid Challenge

and the U.S. - Japan Alliance

Written by Kent E. Calder
Benjamin J. Cohen

Currency Power
& International Security

Written by Benjamin J. Cohen

For anyone concerned about U.S. national security, international finance today poses an intriguing dilemma. On the one hand, in geopolitical terms, the United States seems to have entered a period of relative decline. Some commentators speak of a broad power transition from unipolar hyperpuissance to a new, more threatening multipolar world. Others focus more narrowly on the rise of China and the risk of a “Thucydides Trap.” Yet in global finance, the U.S. dollar remains undeniably dominant, still by far the most popular national monetary unit in use for international purposes. The greenback is as mighty as ever. Can this disparity continue, or should we expect that geopolitical decay will be followed by—perhaps even exacerbated by—an erosion of the dollar’s standing?...

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Benjamin J. Cohen is the Louis G. Lancaster Professor of International Political Economy at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to his time at UCSB, Professor Cohen taught at Princeton University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where in the latter he was the William L. Clayton Professor of International Economic Affairs.

After the United Nations’ (UN) 75th anniversary, it is easy today to forget that this most central and far-reaching of all multilateral organizations was born in very high hopes of its permanent relevancy in maintaining international peace and security. But by baking in a veto for each of the five victorious World War II powers—or deemed as such by the 1945 governments in Washington and London, the godparents of the UN Security Council—the seeds of its frequent spells of semiparalysis were sown, spells which have been intensifying for at least the past four years. Indeed, the council arguably operated at near-peak effectiveness only during the years between 1987 – 1994, when the Cold War was ending and then briefly, as of 1990, appeared to have ended. However, misjudgments in Washington over the extent to which Moscow’s alignment with the thinking of Western capitals could be taken for granted—an attitude bitterly resented at the time by the new Russian Federation—ended that brief spell....

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David M. Malone is an Under-Secretary General at the United Nations and Rector of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan.

The UN Security Council:
Stress Tested

Written by David M. Malone
David Malone
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