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The Lessons of Tragedy: Historical Amnesia & the Return of Great Power Competition - Dr Charles Edel

Event Date: 
Thursday, 22 August, 2019 - 12:30

The ancient Greek notion of tragedy was that apparently minor inattention or failings could inexorably lead to disaster.  By recognising this constant possibility they sought to spur citizens and leaders to take the difficult actions necessary to avert such a fate. Charles Edel and his colleague argue in their book that seventy-five years of great power peace have caused us to lose our sense of tragedy. This collective amnesia of the ease in which the world descends into violence and war leaves us ill-equipped for emerging dangers.  Tragedy is commonplace but not inevitable provided its potential is appreciated.

In this seminar, Charles Edel outlines the forceful argument made in the book for about twenty minutes, after which Lieutenant Colonel Clare O’Neill leads a discussion in which the relevance of tragedy is applied to the Chief of Army’s concept of Accelerated Warfare.

About the speaker: Dr Charles Edel is Senior Fellow at the U.S Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.  Prior to this he was Associate Professor of Strategy & Policy at the U.S. Naval War College, & served on the U.S. Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff from 2015-17. Advising on political and security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.  Previously, he has worked at Peking University's Center for International & Strategic Studies as a Henry Luce Scholar,  & was awarded the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship. An officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves, he is the co-author of The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order (2019) & author of Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic (2014).

Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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