Summer Salon #2: Vietnam and forgiveness in politics

Posted on July 26th, 2009 by

Mimi Gerstbauer (Political Science) sends the following invitation: 


It’s time for Summer Salon #2, celebrating the research collaboration between students and faculty happening on campus this summer….. As Martin Lang said in the invitation to the first salon – this is for anyone who likes to talk about smart stuff even if you don’t know a lot about it!  Faculty, students, friends all invited.  (A longer description of the salons is below).

Please join Geoffrey Alexander and Mimi Gerstbauer for the Second Summer Salon

*Tuesday July 28


*Phi Beta Kappa room (the room on first floor of Vickner with wood paneling and comfy chairs)

*Refreshments will be served!

Special thanks to Brandy Russell for her coordinating work and support!


The topic Tuesday will be “Forgiveness in Politics: Can the U.S. ever say I’m Sorry?”.   Geoff and Mimi are researching and writing a paper on reconciliation between the United States and Vietnam, particularly examining the relevance of forgiveness in this case.  What are the limits and possibilities of forgiveness in politics?  When, if ever, do or should nations apologize to or forgive one another?  We have chosen a short New York Times article and a YouTube clip for you to examine prior to the salon.  They both refer to the role of Robert McNamara in the Vietnam war.  He died a few weeks ago, ever a controversial figure.  Of course, everyone is welcome to bring their own perspective (or lack thereof!) on this topic. 


1) to article by Samantha Power,   “War and Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” New York Times Dec. 14, 2003

2) to YouTube clip of Robert McNamara:

The Summer Salons are an opportunity to share some of the valuable research going on this summer in a format that will give everyone an opportunity to participate.  These salons were inspired by the Italian and French traditions of gathering in a comfortable, amiable setting to share (and sometimes debate!) our ideas on a given topic.  No quizzes, no minimum knowledge requirements, just an open and inquisitive mind.

Each salon will be hosted by a student/faculty pair or team.  Participants in our Summer Salons will be encouraged to indulge in a wee bit of light, guided research on the topic in order to introduce and help frame the subject.  Those attending event will explore that subject in an unstructured and free-flowing conversation.  Opinions, questions, experimental thinking and devil’s advocacy are not only welcome but essential to a lively and engaging interaction–all steeped, of course, in an attitude of open sharing rather than cutthroat competition. 


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