Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Ethics and Foreign Policy: Conversation with Father J. Bryan Hehir, Secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Catholic Conference; Senior Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University; April 2, 1987, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation on Ethics in Foreign Policy. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Father J. Brian Hehir, who is the Secretary of the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Catholic Conference. Father Hehir is also senior research scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, and research professor of international politics at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

  1. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops ... analytical and legislative functions ... background in policy and religion ... Catholic tradition of examining power through the lens of morality ... the First Amendment ... interest group for moral values ... why and how an issue is raised ... addressing arms control ... Central America
  2. The Changing Politics of the Catholic Church ... four major issues in the 1980s ... influence of Vatican II ... face-offs with authoritarian governments ... a transnational institution ... exercising leverage in U.S. foreign policy
  3. The Pastoral Letters ... different national tones ... no first use ... moral questions enter the strategic debate ... a catalyst ... taking the lead at the right time
  4. The Debate on Strategy ... intellectual ferment in the 1950s-60s strategic community ... Vietnam puts nuclear issues on back burner ... renewed public interest in late 1970s ... new interest groups: physicians ... dissent among strategy elite
  5. The Bishops' Decision ... analogy seen to inaction of German Catholic Church in 1930s ... analogy to abortion issue ... willingness to stop outside normal procedures ... the committee ... studying the issues for 18 months ... impact of the letter ... intellectual arena ... ecumenical impact ... impact on individual Catholics ... on the Reagan administration
  6. The Public Debate on Weapons ... telling the truth ... the MX and MERVing ... U.S. role in the Third World ... role of Catholic Church ... going beyond the geopolitical view ... the role of the individual

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