January 4, 2022 09 AM Eastern Time.

Moderated by: Dani Rodrik, Harvard University

Speakers:John Mearsheimer, University of ChicagoSusan A. Thornton, Paul Tsai China Center, Yale Law School

Discussants:Jisi Wang, Peking UniversityYongding Yu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


Dani Rodrik (born August 14, 1957) is a Turkish economist and Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was formerly the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of the Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has published widely in the areas of international economicseconomic development, and political economy.

The question of what constitutes good economic policy and why some governments are more successful than others at adopting it is at the center of his research. His works include Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. He is also joint editor-in-chief of the academic journal Global Policy.

He is currently President of the International Economic Association, and co-director of Economics for Inclusive Prosperity.

On 8 November 2019, he received an honorary doctorate from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

On 21 January 2020, Pope Francis named him a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.


John Joseph Mearsheimer (/ˈmɪərʃaɪmər/; born December 14, 1947) is an American political scientist and international relations scholar, who belongs to the realist school of thought. He is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He has been described as the most influential realist of his generation.

Mearsheimer is best known for developing the theory of offensive realism, which describes the interaction between great powers as being primarily driven by the rational desire to achieve regional hegemony in an anarchic international system. He was a vocal opponent of the Iraq War in 2003 and was almost alone in opposing Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear weapons in 1994, predicting that it would invariably face Russian aggression without a nuclear deterrent.

His most controversial views concern alleged influence by interest groups over US government actions in the Middle East which he wrote about in his 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. In accordance with his theory, Mearsheimer believes that China’s growing power will likely bring it into conflict with the United States.

Mearsheimer shows that Liddell Hart managed to salvage his intellectual stature by convincing former Wehrmacht generals to credit him with the ideas that led to the development of Germany’s blitzkrieg strategy. Eager to restore their own tarnished reputation after the war, retired German generals such as Heinz Guderian allowed Liddell Hart to exaggerate his influence on blitzkrieg in their memoirs in exchange for helping them promote an image of themselves as having been military innovators first and foremost rather than Nazi henchmen.

 In the case of Guderian, Liddell Hart effectively acted as his “literary agent” for the English-speaking world (p. 185). Fritz Bayerlein, who served as General Erwin Rommel‘s chief of staff in the North African campaign, similarly helped Liddell Hart manipulate the historical record for a false portrayal of Rommel as having been his “pupil” (pp. 193–201). 

Mearsheimer concludes by emphasizing the importance of a robust intellectual community that can hold “defense intellectuals” accountable:

Defense intellectuals need to know that informed judgments will be passed on their views and their overall conduct and that charlatanism will be exposed. Absence of penalties for misbehavior means no brake on the spread of false ideas. Liddell Hart actually was held accountable at one point. The significant ebbing of his influence during and immediately after World War II was, in effect, punishment for offering flawed ideas for how to deal with the Third Reich. What is disturbing about Liddell Hart’s case, however, is that eventually he was able to escape from this predicament by rewriting history. The national security community, especially its historians, need to be alert to historical manipulation for selfish reasons (p. 224).

Susan A. Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a senior fellow and research scholar at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale University Law School; director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy; and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Until July 2018, Thornton was acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policymaking amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. In previous State Department roles, she worked on U.S. policy toward China, Korea, and the former Soviet Union and served in leadership positions at U.S. embassies in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, and China. Thornton received her master’s in international relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and her bachelor’s from Bowdoin College in economics and Russian. She serves on several non-profit boards and speaks Mandarin and Russian.


Wang Jisi (王缉思) is President of the School of International Studies at Peking University. He was Dean of the school from 2005 to 2013. Wang was born in Guangzhou in 1948. He worked as a farm laborer from 1968 to 1978, then obtained a MA degree at Peking University in 1983.

Wang taught at the Peking University Department of International Politics from 1983 to 1991. Wang was a visiting academic at Oxford University (1982–83), University of California, Berkeley (1984–85), University of Michigan (1990–91), and Claremont McKenna College (2001).

From 1992 to 2005, Wang was Director of the Institute of American Studies, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; he was invited to the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as endowed chair from 21 to 25 February and from 2 to 8 March 2002. at what was then known as Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, within the Nanyang Technological University.

From 2008 to 2016 he was a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

He was Global Scholar at Princeton University from 2011 to 2015, including 9 months at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Wang was on the International Crisis Group Board of Trustees. Wang has served on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Teach For China.

Wang has published numerous English articles in the fields of U.S. foreign policy, China’s foreign relations, Asian security, and global politics.In 2005 and again in 2012 Foreign Policy named Wang one of its Top 100 Global Thinkers.

Yongding Yu was born in Nanjing in November 1948 in a family with ancestry from Taishan, Guangdong. He graduated from Beijing Steel and Iron Institute in 1969, received an MA in economics from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1983, and a D.Phil. in economics from Oxford in 1994.

He worked at Beijing Heavy Machinery Factory (北京第二通用机械厂) from 1969 to 1979. In 1979 he joined the Institute for World Economics and Politics (IWEP) at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) where he worked for three decades; he remains an Academician of CASS. At IWEP he was a Junior Fellow (1979-1983), Research Fellow (1983-1987), and Senior Research Fellow (from 1987); head of the Department of Western Economic Theory from 1986 to 1988; and the Institute’s Director for over a decade from 1998 to 2009.

From 2003 to 2011 he was President of the China Society of World Economy and Editor-in-Chief of the journal China and World Economy. He has also been Editor-in-Chief of The World Economy and of the International Review of Economics. He is the winner of the 2000-2005 Sun Yefang Prize in Economics.

Yu Yongding has long been involved and influential in Chinese and international monetary, fiscal and macroeconomic policy debates.

In China, from 2004 to 2006 he was a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People’s Bank of China. He has also been a member of the Advisory Committee on National Planning of the National Development and Reform Commission (2005-2010), of the Advisory Committee on Foreign Policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

At the international level he has served on the UN Commission of Experts on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System (also known as Stiglitz Commission), UN Committee for Development Policy, UN High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (also known as FACTI Panel), and Advisory Committee of the Asian and Pacific Department of the International Monetary Fund.

He has also been a member of the Council on Global Governance of the World Economic Forum and of the Advisory Committee and Global Commission of the Institute for New Economic Thinking,[2] and an advisor of the China Finance 40 Forum.

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