FROM THE ARCHIVES: Hamilton Society for Genuine Debate

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Todd Harrison, CSIS; Thomas Donnelly, AEI; Ben Friedman, CATO, debate U.S. defense spending at The Alexander Hamilton Society’s first debate of 2016

This article was published in The SAIS Observer in 2011, and is part of our “From the Archives Section,” which aims to digitize consequential stories from the past. The Alexander Hamilton Society at SAIS, which had been dormant, was revived earlier this year. The Society held their first debate, “How Much is Enough? A debate on defense spending,” on November 2, 2016.


February 2011


Did you come to SAIS with a passion for international politics, yet you find yourself more often discussing which practical skills course is better for your resume? Do you find yourself debating a current international policy and realize you differ with the person on more than policy implications? That sometimes you differ on the crux of the issue — that your views of America’s role in the world are so different that it is difficult to look at a specific policy?

If yes, then the Alexander Hamilton Society at SAIS might be the place for you to find a voice, challenge your existing beliefs and discover a forum for you to debate policy.

AHS SAIS Chapter President Ryan Boone addresses attendees at the Society’s first event of 2016.(Photo: Patrick Kelley)

This year, SAIS has joined 13 universities across the nation in unveiling the new student-led organization. The aim of the Alexander Hamilton Society is to host debates and engage in discussions about foreign policy and security matters under the common understanding of the United States’ role in the world.

The Alexander Hamilton Society is based on the broad principle that the U.S. has been and will be a force for good in international relations. Members consider that the U.S. is not solely acting out of self interest in the international arena, but with a desire to spread certain values, namely freedom based on human dignity.

The Hamilton Society believes that there is pride in the success of the American experiment. U.S. foreign policy has been primarily a force for good in the world, such as the promotion of liberty, equality under the law, and human dignity.

The Alexander Hamilton Society is not a Republican or “right-wing” club. It is a non-partisan organization that seeks to bring members together to discuss current foreign policy issues. The group aims to bring together students and faculty from a variety of political inclinations, either in small working group sessions or public forums to promote constructive debate on basic principles and contemporary issues in foreign, economic and national security policy.

According to Diem Nguyen, the organization’s president, the most appealing aspect of the Hamilton Society, and the reason it was founded, is its emphasis on student perspectives and expression.

The club does not simply host a series of events, but creates opportunities for open debate of current foreign policy issues with peers and professionals. Ideally, the club will help realize and appreciate the complexity of policymaking as well as have the opportunity to fine tune their own opinions.

The Hamilton Society successfully launched this fall with a public debate, “Is New START Smart?”

The organization plans to host two debates this semester and hold group discussions on various foreign policy issues.

Allison Jacobs is a second-year M.A. candidate concentrating in Strategic Studies

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