American Corner Innsbruck

    Video Conference with Prof. David M. Rowe


    January 21, 2010, 5.00-6.00 p.m., Studio 


    (download invitation pdf)


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    “Yes, we can” host a video conference. The ACI virtually welcomed Prof. David M. Rowe, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of International Studies at Kenyon College, and Meg White, Cultural Attaché of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, who moderated the first video conference in the history of the Corner on the occasion of U.S. President Barack Obama’s first year in office.

    After having provided a brief retrospective of the last 365 days, Prof. Rowe concluded that, as far as his policies are concerned, the president has been fairly successful. However, he also stressed that Mr. Obama’s current approval ratings do not reflect these successes, mainly because they are not politically visible, i.e. manifesting themselves in the sphere of domestic policy. From an outside perspective, however, his accomplishments are considerable, given the fact that Obama has raised the standing and stature of the U.S. after the low of the previous presidency, averted a second Great Depression, has taken steps in winding down U.S. involvement in Iraq, and tries to come to grips with another conflict “inherited” from the Bush administration, the war in Afghanistan.

    The introduction on the successes and shortcomings of Obama’s first year on the job, the obstacles to pushing through his legislative agenda, and his achievements abroad was followed by a Q&A session allowing the audience to take advantage of Prof. Rowe’s insight into the presidential profile and plights. Questions raised covered a wide range including Mr. Obama’s economic stance, his reception of the Nobel Peace Prize (which, according to Prof. Rowe, the president was awarded mainly for “not being Bush”), or whether he would have had the same effect on American society and the international arena if it had not been for his predecessor.

    Whatever topic was breached, Prof. Rowe always stressed that a president who was elected on a ticket promising hope and change for everyone cannot meet all of these expectations, especially not after only one year in office in which presidents usually try to find out how the land lies as far as their legislative plans are concerned. Furthermore, he argued that by steering a middle ground in an attempt to reconcile Republicans and Democrats for his health care overhaul and overcome the difficulties posed by a highly fragmented political system, Obama runs the danger of being hard to locate on the political spectrum. This may cause him to fall from grace with core members of both parties and especially the independent voters who are always a decisive factor in elections.

    The American Corner team would once again like to thank Prof. Rowe for sharing his extensive knowledge with our audience as well as the U.S. Embassy Vienna for supporting and co-hosting the ACI’s first video conference, making this an event we are looking forward to being repeated.

    (text: Andreas Leisner)


    David M. Rowe has been teaching international relations, comparative politics, and political economy in the Department of Political Science and in the Department of Economics since fall 2001. He previously taught at Ohio State University. He has been the recipient of several prestigious grants and awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in International Peace and Security and grants from the National Science Foundation. He has been a resident fellow at Harvard's Center for International Affairs and Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. Rowe's research has focused on two major themes in international relations: economic sanctions and the causes of World War I. He has developed a nationally recognized course in terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

    Professor Rowe holds a Ph.D. from Duke University, an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a B.A. from Davidson College.


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