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The Arthur Ross Foundation generously provided the American Academy of Diplomacy with a fund to create a series of discussions exploring the role of diplomacy in US foreign relations, and encouraging discussions of foreign affairs across the country.

Arthur Ross Discussions

The United States has asserted primacy in Latin America since 1823 when President James Monroe explicitly delineated the Western Hemisphere as the United States’ sphere of interest in what became known as the Monroe Doctrine.  However, for the next 200 years the United States frequently ignored this important region in our policy despite its importance to our trade and security.  One of the key aspects of U.S. engagement in Latin America has been and continues to be democracy, but economic interests have been crucial as well and often were said to dominate U.S. policy.  This year’s conference will bring together an historic perspective as well as three former senior diplomats with deep experience in Latin America to explore the overarching issues Involved in balancing political and economic issues with democracy promotion in this region. The introductory lecture will lay out the historic foundation of America’s commitment to democracy and the Monroe Doctrine and some modern implications of that history. The closing keynote address will examine what policies toward Latin America are in the US interest and why.

2023 – Democracy Promotion and the Monroe Doctrine: The Past and Present of US Policy Toward Latin America

November 17, 2023

This year’s discussion at Monticello took place on October 21 and welcomed Kenneth Brill, Catherine Novelli, Pamela White, and Michael Blaakman to examine, “Diplomacy and the Environment.” Vice President for Programs at Climate Central and former Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change at the State Department, Karen Florini delivered the keynote address.

2022 – Diplomacy and the Environment

October 21, 2022

This year’s discussion at Monticello took place on October 30 and welcomed Glyn Davies, David Pearce, Carol Giacomo, and Tyson Reeder to examine, “News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy.” PBS NewsHour foreign affairs and defense correspondent Nick Schifrin delivered the keynote address.

2021 – News, Propaganda, and Diplomacy

October 30, 2021

On Saturday, October 24, 2020, the American Academy of Diplomacy, The University of Virginia Center for Politics, and The Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello presented the 11th annual conference at Monticello exploring the question, “Does Europe Still Matter to America?” The panel featured Ambassadors Robert E. Hunter, Pamela Spratlen, and Shaun Donnelly, and was moderated by Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann. The keynote address, delivered by Ambassador Charles Rivkin, concluded the event.

2020 – Does Europe Still Matter to America?

October 24, 2020

Democracy promotion, broadly defined as foreign policy actions that foster transition to or improvement of democracy in other countries, has been a key component of U.S. foreign policy agenda since the 1970s. The Velvet Revolutions in Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War, and more recently the Color Revolutions in the former Soviet Republics and in the Middle East provided fertile grounds for various U.S. democracy promotion efforts. Yet the challenges that emerged alongside democratic transitions, such as instability, populism, extremism, anti-Western and anti-democratic sentiments and sectarian rivalries lead many experts, as well as the current administration, to question whether the U.S. should continue to make democracy promotion its foreign policy priority.

2019 – American Support for Democracy; a Path Full of Pitfalls

October 26, 2019

Since President Wilson’s time, American foreign policy has consistently supported the principle of “national self-determination.”  In the 20th Century, this concept initially focused on nation-states moving from under colonialism.  Today, ethnic and religious “tribalism” in the Middle East increasingly threatens the breakup of existing states, but Europe is not immune, as the Catalans in Spain and many Scots in the United Kingdom have demonstrated recently.

How should “tribalism” be defined in the international sphere?  Is self-determination really in the interest of the United States today?  If so, what lessons have we learned from our experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Balkans?  These are among the questions the conference addressed.

2018 – Tribalism and the Perils of Self-determination

October 27, 2018

A panel discussion offering different viewpoints on America’s Security alliances was held between Ambassadors Beecroft, McCarthy and Mussomeli, moderated by Ambassador Neumann. The panel discussion explored optional perspectives in regards to alliances, risk observed by neglecting key security alliances, and the risks of alliances outliving their usefulness, possible adjustments, and effective commitments.

2017 – America’s Security Alliances

October 28, 2017

The next US administration will confront a tumultuous world full of formidable diplomatic challenges. Any American response is complicated by the differing interests of parties and states whose cooperation is essential to finding solutions. Defending and further promoting our interests while also promoting our values-which sustain our country as well as our allies and friends-will be the core diplomatic challenge for the new president.

2016 – Diplomatic Challenges for the Next Administration

October 22, 2016

US foreign policy has a recurring problem when national leaders are elected but are increasingly autocratic in their actions while maintaining strong support from their electorate.  Does the United States accept dictatorial actions and human rights violations because leaders are democratically elected?  When do we decide they’re not democrats?   Do autocratic behavior and human rights violations trump our other interests?  Even if they do, how do we meld our dealings and interests into effective policies?  The panel will examine the related issues from several angles.

2015 – Diplomacy and Elected Autocrats

October 24, 2015

The conference Diplomacy and Violent Jihad is intended to define the long-term challenges to the United States in the face of jihad. Islamic extremists, dedicated to international violent jihad, are increasingly active in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Africa and Asia. The indiscriminate nature of their attacks against civilian targets, and the challenge of how to respond, strongly suggests that terrorism based on jihad is likely to be one of the defining policy issues for the U.S. over the next several decades. The declaration of an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq has added a new dimension to violent Jihad. The discussion will focus on several specific cases, with a view to developing a global focus on American anti-jihad policy and effective diplomatic responses.

2014 – Diplomacy & Violent Jihad

October 25, 2014

Massive transitions have been and are challenging the forms of government in the Arab world, toppling regimes in Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, and Egypt. Protest movements and insurgencies in Latin America and South Asia contribute to the need for the United States to be prepared to confront regime change and manage the pursuit of our interests in turbulent times.  Yet transition is not new.  The past has lessons of successes, failures and limitations that remain relevant for policy formulation and the conduct of American diplomacy.

2013 – Diplomacy and Transitioning Governments

October 26, 2013

The world today is witnessing domestic political turbulence on a scale not seen since the end of World War Two.  Popular discontent, centered on basic issues of quality of life and personal freedom, has already produced revolutionary, if unfinished, change in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, and is having a major impact elsewhere in the Middle East (e.g. Syria, Bahrain).  Beyond the Arab world, actual or potential revolutionary instability exists in outh Asia (e.g. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), sub-Saharan Africa (e.g. South Sudan, Somalia), Latin America (e.g. Venezuela), and Europe (e.g. Serbia/Kosovo). America’s diplomats, from the earliest days of our country’s history, have been called upon to interpret such revolutionary events and develop or influence the U.S. response, from the Place de la Bastille to Tahrir Square.

2012 – Diplomacy & Revolution

March 19, 2012

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