As part of the Carnegie Council Centennial Thought Leaders Forum, Carnegie Council’s Devin Stewart spoke with Joseph S. Nye, Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
DEVIN STEWART: Professor Nye, thank you so much for coming today and participating in our Thought Leaders Forum. It’s great to have you here.
JOSEPH NYE: Nice to be with you.
DEVIN STEWART: Tell me about how you see the world today. How do you describe the world in moral terms? How is it unique today?
JOSEPH NYE: I think what’s different about the world today is the extraordinary complexity. I suppose if one lived in the Middle Ages, there was a fairly clear moral hierarchy and moral divisions. Today, with modern communications bringing so many different cultures together, with a whole new set of problems created by technologies, communications, there are many, many more choices that people have to make, and probably there is less of a clear moral hierarchy than there would have been in an earlier period. So, I suppose, if you sum that up in one word, complexity.
DEVIN STEWART: Please tell me a bit more about this moral hierarchy. Do you see the world as more flat or equitable today?
JOSEPH NYE: Well, there are some things that have become better—for example, the Millennium Development Goal of cutting world poverty in half looks like it will be met, partly because of the success of China and some other Asian countries. On the other hand, there are some parts of the world, the bottom billion, who have made virtually no progress. So that means that there is greater inequality. As some of the poor get richer, that increases the gap with the others of the poor. So I don’t think the world is more equal, but I do think there is something better in having had a billion people raised out of poverty.
In terms of moral complexity, though, poverty isn’t the only problem. There is also the question of getting people to understand different cultures and tolerate different cultures and acceptance of diversity. I think that in some ways we are making progress on that and in some ways we are not. There are some deep cultural divisions that are particularly difficult.
DEVIN STEWART: Do you have a sense of how we can resolve those cultural tensions?
JOSEPH NYE: I tend to be in favor of more contact, more person-to-person, face-to-face relationships. I think that helps to humanize each other. But, obviously, you can’t have everybody in the world meet everybody else. So you have to couple that increased contact with a respect for diversity.
Woodrow Wilson once said he wanted «a world made safe for democracy.» In my new book on American presidents and the creation of the America era, I’m fairly critical of Wilson. Perhaps what we need is more of what John F. Kennedy called «a world made safe for diversity.» [Editor’s note: Check out Joseph Nye’s Public Affairs talk on this book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.]…
Thought Leader Interviews (in Alphabetical Order)
Hawa Abdi is a Somalian human rights activist and doctor, specializing in gynecology.
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Kwame Anthony Appiah is the Laurence S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.
Louise Arbour is president and CEO of the International Crisis Group and former UN high commissioner for human rights
Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight.
Nancy Birdsall is the founding president of the Center for Global Development.
Alan S. Blinder
Alan S. Blinder is the Gordon S. Rentschler Memorial Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University and the vice chairman of the Promontory Interfinancial Network, a financial services firm based in Arlington, Virginia.
Ian Bremmer is founder and president of Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy.
Sir David Cannadine
David Cannadine is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University and an honorary fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.
Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric
Mustafa Ceric is Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Victor D. Cha
Victor D. Cha is the D. S. Song-Korea Foundation Chair in Asian Studies and is the director of the Asian Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is also senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Steve Coll is president of New America Foundation and a staff writer at The New Yorker.
Bineta Diop is the executive director and founder of Femmes Africa Solidarité, an NGO working on issues of gender, peace, and development.
Michael W. Doyle
Michael W. Doyle is Harold Brown Professor of U.S. Foreign and Security Policy at Columbia University.
Pankaj Ghemawat is the Anselmo Rubiralta Professor of Global Strategy at IESE Business School in Barcelona.
Jonathan Haidt is the Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor in the Business and Society Program Area at New York University Stern School of Business and a social psychologist at the University of Virginia.
Mary Ellen Iskenderian
Mary Ellen Iskenderian is president and CEO of Women’s World Banking, a network of microfinance institutions and banks.
Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, is a venture partner with Collaborative Fund, which focuses on investing in creative entrepreneurs who utilize emerging technology, and a visiting practitioner at Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society.
Robert D. Kaplan
Robert D. Kaplan is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a writer for Stratfor. He was recently senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Parag Khanna is a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation.
Rachel Kleinfeld is the founding president of the Truman National Security Project.
Hans Küng is a Catholic priest and president of the Foundation for a Global Ethic.
Emily Lau is a Hong Kong politician. She is one of two vice-chairmen of the Hong Kong Democratic Party and is a full-time member of the Legislative Council from the geographical constituency of New Territories East.
Richard Lugar is a former Republican Senator from Indiana. First elected to the Senate in 1976, he was the longest-serving senator in Indiana’s history and, for a time, the longest-tenured Republican member of the Senate. He was the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Rebecca MacKinnon is a blogger and co-founder at Global Voices Online and a Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation.
Kishore Mahbubani, diplomat and author, is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and professor in the practice of public policy at the National University of Singapore.
Somaly Mam is co-founder and president of the Somaly Mam Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports anti-trafficking groups and helps women and girls who have been forced into sexual slavery.
Syd Mead is a «visual futurist» and concept artist, best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as Blade Runner, Tron, and Aliens.
The Reverend Peter Morales is president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). He is the first Latino to hold this position.
Andrew J. Nathan
China and human rights specialist Andrew Nathan is Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and director of graduate studies in the political science department.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo is an Argentine lawyer and was the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs.
Enrique Penalosa is the former mayor of Bogota, Colombia and the president of the board of directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.
Thomas Pogge is professor of philosophy and international affairs at Yale University, research director in the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo, and adjunct professor in the Centre for Professional Ethics at the University of Central Lancashire.
Srdja Popovic is a co-founder and executive director of the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) and a former member of the Serbian National Assembly.
Named by TIME magazine as one of the most influential innovators of the 20th century, Tariq Ramadan is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College, Oxford University.
Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist based in Lahore, has covered Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia for over 25 years.
Mary Robinson is currently president of The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice and the chancellor of the University of Dublin (Trinity College). She is former president of Ireland and former United Nations high commissioner for human rights.
Carne Ross, a former British diplomat, is founder and executive director of Independent Diplomat, a diplomatic advisory group.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth and spiritual head of the United Synagogue, the largest synagogue body in the UK.
Brent Scowcroft is a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general and served as the U.S. national security advisor under presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. Currently he is the president of the Forum for International Policy, a think tank, and the Scowcroft Group Inc., an international business consulting firm.
Tomas Sedlacek is chief macroeconomic strategist at CSOB, one of the largest Czech banks. He previously served on the National Economic Council in Prague and as economic advisor to President Vaclav Havel.
Ambassador David Shinn is currently an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. During his 37 years at the Department of State, he served as ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and Burkina Faso (1987-90).
Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Juan Somavia is director-general of the International Labour Organization, a position he has held since 1998.
Nobuo Tanaka is the former executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Gillian Tett is a British author and award-winning journalist at the Financial Times, where she is markets and finance commentator and assistant editor.
Michael Walzer is one of America’s leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study and editor of Dissent.
Rowan Williams is an Anglican bishop, poet, theologian, and the master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. Previously he was the 104th archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from 2002 to 2012.
E. O. Wilson
E. O. Wilson is a biologist, researcher, naturalist, and author. He is a professor emeritus and honorary curator in entomology at Harvard University and is regarded as the «father of sociobiology.»
Jay Winter is the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University, where he focuses on World War I and its impact on the 20th century.
Ethan Zuckerman is a blogger and Internet activist, and the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media.
The 52 previous interviews are part of the Thought Leaders Forum Project
Gauging the Ethical Pulse of the Planet
With so many competing claims in our connected world, what’s the right thing to do? Thought Leaders Forum gauges the ethical pulse of the planet.
Thought Leaders are identified by Carnegie Council as people who influence global opinion on ethical issues and contribute positively to human development. Recognition by third parties, such as awards, mainstream press, and prominent institutions, helps to verify their status as thought leaders. Our interview project incorporates views from a diversity of regions and backgrounds.
We are asking selected Thought Leaders to identify the greatest ethical questions facing the planet and how individuals, organizations, and countries should respond. You can get involved: Learn about our Global Ethics Network, and join the conversation here.
Questions for Thought Leaders
- What is morally distinct about the age we live in? Is «connectedness» part of it?
- Are things getting better or worse?
- How do you define global ethics?
- What is the greatest ethical challenge or dilemma facing the planet?
- What should our priorities be, from a moral point of view? What should we do about it?
- How can the world reach its potential and what are the structural roadblocks?
- What would you like to see happen in the next 100 years? How do we get there?
- What does moral leadership mean to you?
- Is world peace possible?
- Who is ultimately accountable for the problems you have outlined?