The School of Foreign Service inaugurated the Mortara Center for International Studies at a reception Thursday afternoon in Copley Formal Lounge. Over 200 students, faculty and special guests, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, attended the event.

The opening events included speeches by Robert Gallucci, Dean of the School of Foreign Service, Professor John Ikenberry, the director of the new center and Virginia Mortara, the wife of the late Michael Mortara (SFS ’71), who envisioned the center for international studies. In addition, the center presented the first Georgetown University Book Prize in International Relations in memory of Joseph S. Lepgold to University of Chicago Professor John earsheimer and sponsored a panel discussion on the “future of America’s unipolar order.”

“This is a great moment for the School of Foreign Service and Georgetown University,” Gallucci said. “This is the realization of a dream that we’ve had for some time and the idea is to have a center at Georgetown that advances scholarship and thinking on international politics. The center will serve as a link between the policy major and the academic scholar to provide an improvement of the human condition that comes out of scholarship.”

Although Michael Mortara, who died in Nov. 2000, did not live to see his vision fulfilled, the School of Foreign Service and his wife have worked to make his dream a reality.

“The concept for the center wasn’t made overnight, and it is my hope that the love and vision for Georgetown will live on. The center will embody a lot of things Mike lived for,” Virginia Mortara said. “The center will be innovative, developing new ideas and research. The center will be unique and one of a kind, as a source for Georgetown and the nation’s capital once it opens its doors.”

The four focuses of the center will include globalization and its discontents, the revolution in information technologies and its impact on international relations, the future of international and multilateral organizations and the future of unipolarity for American foreign policy, Ikenberry said.

“We hope to undertake big issues that impact the world and make a contribution to the current discussions in international issues,” he said. “The world today is off balance – we have a superpower without a peer and many questions of great concern. What should the U.S. do with its power? We hope to work our way through this tangle of issues.”

Andrew Bennett, director of graduate studies for the government department, presented Mearsheimer with the book prize for his most recent book, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.

“The book was judged by everyone to be the single best book on international relations in 2001,” Bennett said. “The book combines a vast incisiveness and historical knowledge as it looks toward to the new millennium. Many of us have assigned the book for the first time this year and it will be on our book lists for many years to come.”

Mearsheimer expressed gratitude for receiving the honor.

“The fact of the matter is that I am thrilled to win this award and honored to accept it here tonight,” Mearsheimer said. “What makes this so special is that books become a part of you. When you throw your book out there, you often get criticized, as criticism is at the heart of the enterprise. But the truth is, nobody likes criticism; they like praise. And in this field it is something that rarely happens, [so] an award like this will be there forever.”

Mearsheimer also discussed the importance of the award’s relation to Joseph Lepgold, a Georgetown University government professor who was caught in a November 2001 hotel fire in Paris and tragically died a month later.

“I am also honored because [this award] will always be linked with Joe Lepgold,” he said. “Joe was committed to teaching. In the academic world, research is often privileged over teaching. There is absolutely no reason that the individual can’t combine the two – the two go together, and Joe was committed to his students and his research, and I’d like to think that I have been committed to both as well.”

As part of the Center’s inauguration, Mearsheimer, Georgetown professors Charles Kupchan and Robert Lieber along with University of Virginia Professor John Owen presented a panel discussion on the future of American unipolarity.

Mearsheimer opened the discussion, arguing that the United States is a hegemon in the Western Hemisphere but not in the world. “What we have today is a multipolar system with a prominent power,” Mearsheimer said.

Mearsheimer said that while the Cold War structure disappeared in 1991, the George Bush, Sr. administration and subsequent Clinton administrations managed to maintain the Cold War order, with Europe and Japan remaining strong allies throughout the 1990s. The current Bush administration, he said, has begun to break up this order with a “bandwagoning” foreign policy that places a “high premium on making military threats.”

“This is not the way the world works,” Mearsheimer said. “The forces that the Bush administration has unleashed are going to make [the world] much messier. If [the administration] deploys the forces that it is talking about, it will have a big mess on its hands.”

Kupchan disagreed, contending that the world is unipolar, if only temporarily. “What we are witnessing is a unipolar moment, not a unipolar era. As Europe unites together in character and voice and as the Euro replaces the dollar in some markets, we will see a Europe that can compete diplomatically and economically, if not necessarily on a military level, with the United States,” he said.

Offering a different opinion, Lieber maintained that not only was the United States a global hegemon, but its hegemony would also remain unchallenged for some time.

“American primacy is robust and durable. You can’t beat something with nothing,” he said. “Currently, there is no one capable of doing what the U.S. does; it is an indispensable country. What the U.N. could or should be, it isn’t. International organizations are devoid of any authority.”

Lieber said that criticism of the United States “came with the territory.” Policies of both isolation, as in Sierra Leone and Rwanda, or intervention, as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, have been met with criticism, he added. “These sentiments can be summed up with the phrase, `Yankee, go home, but take me with you,'” he said.

Owen asserted that the world was unipolar and that while many of America’s allies had disagreements, these countries “agree on the fundamental ends of society.” He maintained that the global balance of power would remain more robust and stable as long as the world’s major players continued to agree on what the goals of society should be.

Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, has written three books on security issues and international politics, including Conventional Deterrence (1983), which won the Edgar S. Furniss, Jr., Book Award, and Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (1988).

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