In the latest event co-hosted by the Center and the Council on Foreign Relations at the Council’s New York headquarters, Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley questioned Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas on the relationship between U.S. Presidents and war. Evan Thomas delves into the “psychohistory” of Theodore Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for the Spanish-American War and Roosevelt’s subsequent international decisions as President compared to other early twentieth-century U.S. presidents. The series, now in its third year, focuses on the connection between history and current foreign policy. The November 30 session was attended by more than 130 members of the Council and their guests.
Thomas used his recent book, The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, and Hearst and the Rush to Empire, 1898, as a springboard to a discussion beginning with Teddy Roosevelt and moving through history to the current administration. He argued that Roosevelt’s experiences in the conflict with the Spanish in Cuba broke his yearning for war. Thomas compared TR’s “carry a big stick” policy to Eisenhower’s efforts to keep the U.S. out of combat during the Cold War, remarking that both believed in the public display of awesome war power as a deterrent to its actual use. Thomas also answered questions from the audience.
Paul Kennedy’s conversation is entitled “The Sinews of Power” and makes a reference to John Brewer’s classic of the same name. Professor Kennedy examined some cases, over the centuries, of the intimate relationship between a nation’s fiscal strength and its politico-military activities and presence abroad. The discussion was focused on the relationship between national and international fiances and military policy. The implications for the United States in the world today are rather obvious. To watch the video of the conversation between Professor Kennedy and Dr. Haass, as well as the questions from the audience, click here.
On April 29, at the Council on Foreign Relations‘ headquarters in New York, David Fromkin, Professor of International Relations, History, and Law, Boston University, and Sir Harold M. Evans, Editor-at-Large for The Week Magazine, sat down for a conversation about the post-Ottoman Empire era in the Middle East. This meeting, entitled An Unsettling Settlement: The 1922 Middle East Peace Agreement As Seen Today, is part of the series with Council that has featured Ernest May, Fritz Stern, and Marilyn Young.
Professor Fromkin’s book A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East provided the basis of the conversation between the two men. The discussion moved from the break up of the Ottoman Empire after World War I with the 1922 Middle East Peace Agreement to the myth of Lawrence of Arabia.