National History Center Director Wm. Roger Louis presented “Dag Hammarskjold, His Critics, and the United Nations in 1956” to the Washington History Seminar on Monday, September 26. Rashid Khalidi’s talk on Arab nationalism, originally planned for that date, has been rescheduled to September 10, 2012.
Hammarskjold, Louis argued, was more controversial as UN Secretary-General in his own time than the afterglow of later decades might suggest. At the time of the Suez crisis in 1956, his critics denounced him as pro-Egyptian while David Ben-Gurion of Israel proclaimed that he was “our number one enemy after Russia.” Yet Hammarskjold not only helped to resolve the Suez crisis but also set in place the UN Emergency Force, which became the conceptual centerpiece for all future UN peacekeeping operations.
Louis is Kerr Professor of English History and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. Twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, he is a past President of the American Historical Association and a founder of the National History Center, an initiative of the association. His books include The British Empire in the Middle East (1984) and Ends of British Imperialism (2006). With Avi Shlaim he is the coeditor of The 1967 Arab-Israeli War: Origins and Consequences, to be published by Cambridge University Press in January 2012.
A webcast of Louis’s seminar is available at Hammarskjold and his Critics.
The Washington History Seminar is co-sponsored by the Wilson Center and the National History Center, with the assistance of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. To be added to the e-mail list for announcements of seminar sessions, please contact National History Center associate director Marian J. Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.