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Robertson School of Government Newsletter – September 2020

In this issue:

  • Just War in the Grey Zone by Dr. Joshua Hastey
  • A Conversation on the American Political Tradition with Governor Bob McDonnell
  • Revisiting the Theology of Exploration in Times of Disorder by Dr. Stephen Perry
  • Dean’s Corner
  • More from RSG Social Media
  • RSG Launches Facebook and Instagram
  • Former US Attorney General John Ashcroft Speaks with RSG Students and Faculty on Government Leadership
  • Featured Faculty: Dr. Kevin Cooney

Featured Media of the Month

Just War in the Grey Zone Dr. Joshua Hastey.

For Augustine, peace—defined as the presence of justice, not merely the absence of violence—is the ultimate goal of a just war. It is this pursuit of justice that permits actors with legitimate authority to engage in the use of force out of neighbor love with the goal of establishing the good and punishing evil. But in an age where the lines of warfare are increasingly blurred and the costs of conflict are ever more diffuse, grey zone conflicts present analytical and moral challenges to strategists and just war thinkers alike.

Ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, the South China Sea, and the Arctic demonstrate the salience of grey zone conflicts to security studies scholars. While a growing literature addresses the strategic elements of grey zone conflicts, there is virtually no discussion within the just war literature as to how to apply just war thinking to grey zone conflicts. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Government Dr. Joshua Hastey sought to initiate a conversation on just war in the grey zone in a recent publication in Providence. He presented a justification for thinking about grey zone conflicts in terms of just war theory and laid out an initial foray into just war thinking about the grey zone.

by Dr. Joshua Hastey

Read more of this article!

Governor of Virginia and Regent Distinguished Professor Bob McDonnell. A Conversation on the American Political Tradition with Governor Bob McDonnell

In this very special episode of his podcast, Blind Politics, Dr. Nolte interviews the former Governor of Virginia and Regent Distinguished Professor Bob McDonnell about the American Political Tradition. They discuss many facets of the American political tradition including its most important aspects, the greatest threats it faces, how it was developed, and so much more. This is an episode worth a listen, and you can find it here.

Revisiting the Theology of Exploration in Times of Disorder by Dr. Stephen Perry

An astronaut in space. Some academics and government scholars would question our utopian language about the benefits of space exploration. Their characterization space exploration as the supreme manifestation of human rationality, wrote Mark Royce, “were not sufficiently resisted at the time, nor are they properly understood today.”

In a reply article, RSG Interim Dean Stephen Perry reveals what may come as a surprise to many, that the space race was won amid critical bombardment on many of the same points Royce raised about the money being spent and the rationale behind exploring Mars. He notes that today’s “time of such profound domestic and international disorder, when… the very foundations of the liberal tradition are threatened with collapse,” is very similar to the 1960s when the space race was in full bloom…

Read more of this article!

Dean’s Corner

Dear friends,

Our technologies shape us. They become extensions of who we are as humans according to Marshal McLuhan and Neil Postman among others. But they also make it hard for us to continue to think and reason in the same way as before.

In a time of oral culture, the sages of the day worked stories into poems and songs. Catchy phrases helped people remember the wisdom of the age and pictures were drawn on cave walls to help memorialize momentous events.

Then came the printing press and, while catchy phrases didn’t disappear, the ability to record long lists of facts and to order things on a timeline or as a rank order list could easily be presented in text. People became oriented toward logical argument and debate. Dr. Stephen Perry, Professor and Interim Dean of Regent University's Robertson School of Government.

During the time of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, debates and speakers forums that presented information based in evidence and logical flow of thought abounded. People attended weekly Lyceum meetings in their towns to engage in listening or even participating in discussions of topics of national importance. But many meetings would focus on single topics with depth of lecture or debate content.

You can probably guess where this is going if you watched the initial 2020 Presidential Debate. Today we’ve come far from the print era. We passed through television with its emphasis on entertainment and have entered the era of the hyperlink where thoughts just link from one to another, dragging the consumer away from one source of thought and onto another. Now we are adding in social media and the meme world where we communicate in catchy slogans and images. Oh wait . . . Isn’t that the way it was in the oral tradition days?

One wonders if the way we think about electing people for governmental leadership positions has reverted to the tools of the pharaohs. We now can’t afford hours at the lyceum, or focus on a thick book from the local library. Now a 10-minute YouTube video is probably too long, but a 10-second meme – that’s just about right.

Presidential debaters apparently can’t wait to listen to an opponent and present a logical rebuttal. If an opponent talks for 10 seconds uninterrupted, it must be time for a response. Flow of arguments are weak, and for those of us in academics, that just doesn’t cut it. Will debates ever be restored to even the Clinton/Bush or Regan/Mondale flavor? One can only hope.

But if you have a response to this Dean’s Corner or to the newsletter in general, please don’t send a long email. A response in meme form would be perfect.


Stephen D. Perry, Ph.D.

Interim Dean and Professor

More from RSG Social Media

Blind Politics: Jewish-Christian Cooperation and the Future of the Conservative Movement

Findings with Dr. Mary Manjikian: Health Data Privacy

Eight Principles for Christian Realism by Eric Patterson

Blind Politics: Counting COVID with Ryan Murnane

Recent Events:

RSG Launches Facebook and Instagram

In order to keep all of our wonderful RSG supporters up-to-date with our latest happenings, RSG is launching Facebook and Instagram accounts! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to hear all about our latest updates!

Former US Attorney General John Ashcroft Speaks with RSG Students and Faculty on Government Leadership

Since social events are currently limited due to COVID-19 concerns, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft was invited to speak to the Robertson School of Government (RSG) community during a “virtual Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. brunch with the dean” on Friday, September 25, 2020. General Ashcroft has been a Distinguished Professor of Law and Government at Regent University since 2005 and has had the pleasure of spending time with over three thousand Regent students.

During the “virtual brunch” zoom session, which included RSG professors and students from all over the world, the General emphasized several key leadership principles. Specifically, he talked about how leaders must identify noble objectives and not be swayed by the winds of public opinion. Also, he discussed the importance of the transmission of values from one generation to the next. Finally, he explained why a true leader leads from the front and not from behind.

RSG Interim Dean Stephen Perry who hosted the meeting said, “Ashcroft brings such a wealth of experience with his wisdom on leadership, and he does so with a humble spirit and patient demeanor. He answered several student questions and would have answered more if time had allowed. I can’t wait to have him back in the future.”

This “virtual brunch with the dean” was a true success particularly for the online students and highlights the General’s commitment to the Regent University community. In addition to these types of events, General Ashcroft teaches the following two courses for Regent law and government students: Case Studies in the Development and Implementation of National Legal Policy and Human Rights, Civil Liberties & National Security.

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Kevin Cooney

RSG Adjunct Professor Kevin Cooney Assumes Presidency of Wilberforce Academy

The Board of Directors of the Wilberforce Academy, a Christian non-profit dedicated to training international students and scholars as redemptive change agents, announced that on September 1, 2020, Regent Adjunct Professor Dr. Kevin Cooney assumed leadership as the organization’s new President. Dr. Kevin Cooney, Adjunct Professor of Regent University's Robertson School of Government.

Cooney said: “I am humbled by the board’s trust and confidence in me to take the Wilberforce Academy to the next level. It is exciting to now be a part of what God is doing through the organization as we explore together new direction for empowering redemptive change agents”…

Cooney has his PhD in International Relations from Arizona State University, He earned tenure at Union University in Tennessee and obtained the rank of Full Professor in both Political Science and Business. Currently he teaches both at Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University in Japan as well as at Regent University. He has published widely, including the 2007 book, Japanese Foreign Policy Since 1945, and for the past ten years has led the Liberty Tree Seminars series, funded by grants from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.

RSG Interim Dean Stephen Perry said, “Dr. Cooney is always eager to offer his vast expertise and knowledge to the students in the Robertson School. He has been called on to teach at the last minute twice this year, and he willingly stepped in to do so. We are proud of his latest appointment to the presidency of this academy, even while he continues to bless Regent students with his guidance.”

Read more about this!