There was a time when America spoke with a semblance of moral authority - not because the world believed the rhetoric, but because Americans did. Thus, America received the benefit of the doubt - even when self-interest was evidently mixed with a just cause. However, has America lost legitimacy? If so, then how did this happen and does it even matter? Does power really need legitimacy? If so, then can the situation be reversed? And in any case, why should we care?

United States Studies Centre Chief Executive, Geoffrey Garrett, participated in a debate organised by Intelligence Australia. The Chair of the debate was Simon Longstaff (Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre). Debating for the notion that "Australia has lost its moral authority" was Bob Carr (former Premier of New South Wales), Paul McGeough (former Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald) and Owen Harries (Visiting Fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy) and against the notion were Mark Carnegie (an investment banker who co-founded Carnegie, Wylie & Company), Geoffrey Garrett and Martine Letts (Deputy Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy).