Parsing the American ’empire’ |

Parsing the American ’empire’

Alex Miller
Gary Hart

VAIL – If American is an empire, can it survive a world without borders?That’s the framing question put forth by the Vail Valley Institute for the organization’s 15th annual seminar June 22-25 featuring former U.S. senator Gary Hart and historian Paul Kennedy.

Every summer, the Institute hosts some of the brightest minds in the country to come to Vail and spend time tackling the big questions. This year, the empire question embraces a number of ancillary issues, such as immigration and globalization, said Melissa Decker, the Institute’s executive director.”The question is do we have an empire, and if so, what are the threats?” Decker said. “All great empires have fallen, and I think a lot of people – whether it’s true or not – are concerned that immigration could be something that could tear our country apart – or at least be a detriment.”In addition to Kennedy and Hart, Wayne Cornelius, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, will be in Vail to lend his expertise on immigration issues. The author of “Controlling Immigration: A Global Perspective,” Cornelius comes to the discussion with a lot of facts and figures about immigration, Decker said.

Rounding out the field this year is William Odom, a retired lieutenant general with the U.S. Army who’s been highly critical of the tactics used in the Iraq war. He’s also associated with a conservative think tank and was head of the National Security Agency in the 1980s.The appeal of the seminar, Decker said, is the relatively laid-back atmosphere it affords, even as issues of great weight are discussed.”You hear both sides of all these issues reading the papers, what the seminar gives is the opportunity to have discussions and really lighthearted debate with people who hold alternate views,” she said.Facilitators at this year’s seminar include former Colorado governor Dick Lamm, Michael C. Johnston and Rebecca Love Kourlis.

What: The Vail Valley Institute’s 15th annual seminar: The American Empire – Will it Survive a World Without Borders?When: June 22-25; Keynote dinner with Paul Kennedy is June 23Where: Sonnenalp Resort, VailCost: $1,750 per person for full participants; $200 for keynote dinner; $500 for “mini-course” including keynote plus all four speakers’ presentations June 24Info and registration: 476-6608; Deadline to register is June 19.Alex Miller can be reached at 748-2931, or Daily, Vail, Colorado

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