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“ISIS should not top US foreign policy list” warns Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama, fellow at Stanford University and expert speaker on political philosophy, wrote in the Financial Times that ISIS risks distracting the US from more menacing foes.

Francis believes that the “focus of today’s debate [over Western intervention] ought to be: how should we prioritise the threats facing us and how bad are the most serious?” Authoritarian forces are on the move, as seen with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South and East China seas, and the collapse of the Iraqi government’s power. Francis argues that the latter is “the least consequential of these challenges in terms of core US interests.”

Instead, Francis contends that Russia’s annexation of Crimea crossed the most important threshold. He points out that the “entire post-cold war order in Europe rested on Russia’s acceptance that ethnic Russian minorities stranded in neighbouring states would remain in place. President Vladimir Putin has thrown all that into question, with effects that will be felt from Moldova to Kazakhstan to Estonia.” He goes on to say that “strategy is about setting priorities, saying that some things are more important than others and explaining why this is so.”

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To book Francis Fukuyama as a speaker, please contact Leo von Bülow-Quirk, at leovbq@chartwellpartners.co.uk or on 0044 (0) 20 7792 8000.

Neo-Maoist, Neo-Confucian or neither?

At the age of 90 one could be forgiven for dwelling on the past and the Chinese Communist Party is no exception writes Francis Fukuyama. In a world where liberal democracy dominates, China needs a legitimising narrative for its authoritarian government.

The older generation remembers the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, but political failure to hold Mao to account means that younger people look to China’s communist roots with nostalgia. Nonetheless, one song not promoted during the recent anniversary was the Internationale, a dangerously subversive tune for a government that demands conformity.

A Maoist past is tainted by uncomfortably recent memories. Thus there are those that look further back to Confucianism. Dynastic history is once more taught in Chinese schools, and academics are reviving Confucius’ teachings to justify China’s ‘unique existence’, outside of western thought or historical narrative.

Francis Fukuyama concludes that China needs to find its own way to modernity, and both traditions are being promoted as alternatives to democracy. Whether they will survive being (re) appropriated by the state remains to be seen. And can they peaceably co-exist?

Keynote speaker Francis Fukuyama  is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute, and author of ‘The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution’.

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