April 10, 2014
Last weekend, the Alexander Hamilton Institute (AHI) held its seventh annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona. As the AHI’s largest event of the year, the Colloquium features an opening keynote speech followed by two days of panel discussions featuring a variety of scholars, businessmen and other experts.
This year’s theme was “War and the West: Strategic Issues Past, Present, and Future,” featuring a keynote speech by Michael Swaine, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert in U.S.-China relations. Dr. Swaine delivered a lecture on the military, economic and geopolitical issues shaping the United States’ relationship with China and Asia in general. Rather than encouraging listeners to vilify China as the West’s next major geopolitical foe—à la the Soviet Union—Dr. Swaine attempted to outline a more nuanced understanding of China’s perspective, as well as the profound cultural differences that shape their strategic decisions.
Dr. Swaine did not dismiss the possibility of future conflicts with China—economic, military or otherwise—particularly over territorial disputes in Taiwan, the South China Sea and elsewhere. He suggested, however, that the U.S. could leverage its economic interdependence with China to maintain peace. He reminded the audience that China is just as reliant on America’s economy as the U.S. is on Chinese manufacturing. Above all, the tone of Dr. Swaine’s lecture was one of reflection and moderation.
The remaining two days of the Colloquium featured six panel discussions on issues related to the topic of warfare, including “The West, Women, and War,” “Technology, Ethics, and War” and “The West and the Near East–Past and Present.” The panelists included Hamilton Professor of History Alfred Kelly, Matthew Zeller ’04 of the American Security Project, former Hamilton Professor of History Chris Hill, Eric Hannis of the American Foreign Policy Council, Edward Barrett of the U.S. Naval Academy and Miri Eisin of Haifa University in Israel.
Professor Robert Paquette, the AHI’s executive director, congratulated some of the AHI’s distinguished members, including Ben Swett ’14, Paul Carrier ’14 and Max Schnidman ’14. Schnidman and Carrier delivered speeches highlighting their experience with the AHI over the course of their college careers.
Paquette also announced a new partnership with the Rochester Institute of Technology. An RIT student remarked that the Colloquium was among the most intellectually diverse and engaging events she has ever attended.