Fukuyama And Ferguson: Obama Projects Weakness In A Dangerous World

At the Milken Institute Global Conference earlier this week, I sat down with political theorist Francis Fukuyama and historian Niall Ferguson to discuss global governance -– or the lack of it -- as the world teeters on the brink of conflict from Ukraine to the East China Sea.

Francis Fukuyama, now a professor at Stanford University, is perhaps best known for his post-Cold War classic, “The End of History and the Last Man.” His latest book is “The Origins of Political Order.” Niall Ferguson is best known for his book “The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World” and is completing a biography of Henry Kissinger. He is currently a professor of history at Harvard University.

The overall theme that emerged from our discussion is that “old-fashioned geopolitics is back.” The economic interdependence among nations today, in 2014, is no more immune from violent conflict than it was during the first globalization at the turn of the 20th century when it all broke down and ended in world war in 1914. Today, Fukuyama argues, economists and financial analysts who believe military conflict is out of the question have “their heads in the sand,” not recognizing the intensity of nationalist rivalry in East Asia.

In this dangerous environment, both Fukuyama and Ferguson contend, the U.S. is projecting weakness and uncertainty, thus inviting conflict instead of warding it off.

Excerpts of our discussion can be watched in the accompanying video .