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.

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