All posts by mbarber

March 10: Mark Atwood Lawrence “Foreign Policy by Analogy: U.S. Decision-Making and the Uses of the Vietnam War”

Over the four decades since U.S. forces came home from Vietnam, Americans have fiercely debated the lessons that the nation should draw from one of its longest and most controversial wars. The purpose of this talk is not to take a position on that question but to suggest a scheme for making sense of how historians, polemicists, politicians, and other commentators have used – and will likely continue to use – the Vietnam analogy in thinking about policy decisions. Specifically, the presentation will argue that there are three main analogical traditions that continue to reverberate in American policy deliberations.

Mark Atwood Lawrence is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his BA from Stanford University in 1988 and his PhD from Yale University in 1999. He is author of Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2005) and The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (Oxford University Press, 2008). He is now working on a study of U.S. policymaking toward the developing world in the 1960s.

Report from the Field: To be announced

The Washington History Seminar, a joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, meets at 4 p.m. in the 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom at the Wilson Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, Federal Triangle Metro Stop. Reservations are requested because of limited seating: WHS@wilsoncenter.org

The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.

A webcast and podcast of the talk will be available here later.

March 3 (Rescheduled to April 28): James Graham Wilson: “The Triumph of Improvisation: Gorbachev’s Adaptation, Reagan’s Engagement, and the End of the Cold War”

In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar based on his book, The Triumph of Improvisation, James Graham Wilson takes a long view of the end of the Cold War, from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to Operation Desert Storm. Wilson argues that adaptation, improvisation, and engagement by individuals in positions of power ended the specter of a nuclear holocaust. Eschewing the notion of a coherent grand strategy to end the Cold War, Wilson illuminates how leaders made choices and reacted to events they did not foresee.

James Graham Wilson received his Ph.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Virginia in 2011 and his B.A. from Vassar College in 2003. He currently works on Soviet and National Security Policy volumes for the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series in the Office of the Historian at the Department of State.

Report from the Field: To be announced

The Washington History Seminar, a joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, meets at 4 p.m. in the 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom at the Wilson Center in the Ronald Reagan Building, 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, Federal Triangle Metro Stop. Reservations are requested because of limited seating: WHS@wilsoncenter.org

The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.

A webcast and podcast of the talk will be available here later.

February 24: Marilyn Lake: “Australia’s Historic Minimum Wage: A World History Approach”

Histories of the minimum wage are usually written within national analytic frameworks. Research in the New York Public Library on the first minimum wage, legislated in Victoria, Australia, in 1896, convinced historian Marilyn Lake that a world history approach was necessary, one that located this experiment in “state socialism” in the context of both the longue duree of imperial labor relations and encounters between the subjects of the British and Chinese empires in the new world of urban Melbourne. This presentation to the Washington History Seminar will take that approach.

Marilyn Lake is Professor in History and Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Her recent publications include Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Campaign for Racial Equality (2008), co-authored with Henry Reynolds; and the articles “Chinese colonists assert their ‘common human rights'” in the Journal of World History (2010) and “Colonial Australia in its Regional Context” in The Cambridge History of Australia, vol. 1 (2013).

Report from the Field: To be announced

The Washington History Seminar, a joint venture of the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, will convene at 4:00 p.m. in the Wilson Center’s 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom in the Ronald Reagan Building at 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, in Washington, DC, above the Federal Triangle Metro Stop (Blue & Orange Lines). Reservations are requested because of limited seating: mbarber@historians.org.