The Future of World Leadership

February 19, 2019 - 1:30 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC

Opening remarks:

Mr. Damon Wilson

Executive Vice President

Atlantic Council

A discussion with:

Mr. Bernard-Henri Lévy

Philosopher and Author

Dr. Graham Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Moderated by:

Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter


New America

Please join the Atlantic Council for an event entitled The Future of World Leadership: A Conversation with Bernard-Henri Lévy and Graham Allison on February 19 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. at the Atlantic Council headquarters (1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, West Tower Elevators, Washington, DC 20005).

A debate has broken out among scholars, experts, and politicians regarding the future of world leadership and the extent to which the United States will maintain its position of power. In his newest book, The Empire and the Five Kings, philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy argues that the United States is withdrawing from its traditional leadership role, and that five powers could potentially rise in its place and subvert the liberal world order: Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and radical Islamic fundamentalism.

At this event, Bernard-Henri Lévy will present his arguments and Dr. Graham Allison will provide a counter-point in a conversation moderated by Anne-Marie Slaughter. Dr. Allison’s article in the July/August 2018 Foreign Affairs, “The Myth of the International Order,” provides a preview of his thinking on this topic.

We hope you can join us for this timely debate.

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1:30 – 1:40 p.m. Welcome Remarks

1:40 – 2:00 p.m. Remarks

2:00 – 2:30 p.m. Moderated Discussion

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Audience Q&A

3:00 p.m. Conclusion


Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher, journalist, social critic, and a best-selling author in Europe. Mr. Lévy first became known in 1971 as a journalist, covering the Bangladeshi Liberation War for Albert Camus’ newspaper, Combat. In 1973 he turned his war experiences into his first book, Bangladesh: Nationalism in the Revolution. During the 1970s, Mr. Lévy played a major role in responding to post-1968 Marxist-idealism by founding the New Philosophy School and writing Barbarism with a Human Face (1977). During this time he taught philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and the University of Strasbourg. In 1981, Mr. Lévy published one of his most influential works, The French Ideology. Mr. Lévy’s 1994 documentary Bosna! turned the global spotlight on the conflict in the Balkans. In 2002 he served as French President Jacques Chirac’s special envoy to Afghanistan. In 2003 he travelled the world investigating Al-Qaeda’s execution of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. In 2009, he sounded the alarm on the war in Darfur with his book Left in Dark Times. In 2010 he reported on the Russian invasion of Georgia from South Ossetia. He spent the following year living with rebels in Libya. Mr. Lévy has contributed to dozens of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Project Syndicate, and Le Monde. Benard-Henri Lévy holds a degree in philosophy from École Normale Supérieure.

Graham Allison is the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is a leading analyst of national security with special interests in nuclear weapons, Russia, China, and decision-making. As founding dean of the modern Kennedy School, under his leadership, from 1977 to 1989, the program grew twenty-fold to become a major professional school of public policy and government. Dr. Allison has served as special advisor to the secretary of defense under President Reagan and as assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans under President Clinton, where he coordinated Department of Defense strategy and policy towards Russia, Ukraine, and the other states of the former Soviet Union. He has also served as a director of the Getty Oil Company, Natixis, Loomis Sayles, Hansberger, Taubman Centers, Inc., Joule Unlimited, and Belco Oil and Gas. Dr. Allison’s latest book, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? (2017), is a national and international bestseller. He received his AB from Harvard University, his MA from Oxford University, and his PhD from Harvard University.

Anne-Marie Slaughter is the CEO of New America. She is also the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009–2011 she served as director of policy planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Upon leaving the State Department she received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for her work leading the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, as well as meritorious service awards from the US Agency for International Development and the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. Prior to her government service, Dr. Slaughter was the dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002–2009 and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School from 1994-2002. Dr. Slaughter has written or edited eight books, as well as over one hundred scholarly articles. In 2012 she published the article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” in The Atlantic, which quickly became the most read article in the history of the magazine and helped spawn a renewed national debate on the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality. Foreign Policy magazine named her to their annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. She received a BA from Princeton, an MPhil and DPhil in international relations from Oxford, where she was a Daniel M. Sachs Scholar, and a JD from Harvard.

Damon Wilson is executive vice president of the Atlantic Council, serving as both a thought leader and manager with responsibility for strategy and strategic initiatives, program development and integration, and institutional development and organizational effectiveness. From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Wilson served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. Previously, Mr. Wilson served at the US embassy in Baghdad as the executive secretary and chief of staff. Prior to this posting, he worked at the National Security Council as the director for Central, Eastern, and Northern European affairs from 2004 to 2006. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Wilson served as deputy director of the private office of the NATO secretary general. Mr. Wilson completed his MA at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, where he also taught an undergraduate policy workshop on implementing NATO expansion.