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  • Author: Andrew Preston, Darren Dochuk, Christopher Cannon Jones, Kelly J. Shannon, Vanessa Walker, Lauren F. Turek
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Historians of the United States and the world are getting religion, and our understanding of American foreign relations is becoming more rounded and more comprehensive as a result. Religion provides much of the ideological fuel that drives America forward in the world, which is the usual approach historians have taken in examining the religious influence on diplomacy; it has also sometimes provided the actual nuts-and-bolts of diplomacy, intelligence, and military strategy.1 But historians have not always been able to blend these two approaches. Lauren Turek’s To Bring the Good News to All Nations is thus a landmark because it is both a study of cultural ideology and foreign policy. In tying the two together in clear and compelling ways, based on extensive digging in various archives, Turek sheds a huge amount of new light on America’s mission in the last two decades of the Cold War and beyond. Turek uses the concept of “evangelical internationalism” to explore the worldview of American Protestants who were both theologically and politically conservative, and how they came to wield enough power that they were able to help shape U.S. foreign policy from the 1970s into the twenty-first century. As the formerly dominant liberal Protestants faded in numbers and authority, and as the nation was gripped by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, evangelicals became the vanguard of a new era in American Christianity. Evangelicals replaced liberal Protestants abroad, too, as the mainline churches mostly abandoned the mission field. The effects on U.S. foreign relations were lasting and profound.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, International Affairs, History, Culture, Book Review, Christianity, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Dustin Walcher, Lindsay M. Chervinsky, James F. Siekmeier, Kathryn C. Statler, Brian Etheridge, Seth Jacobs
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Seth Jacobs can write. Rogue Diplomats is a book that specialists and educated general readers will enjoy, and the reviewers agree with my assessment. It is, in Kathryn Statler’s words, “an absolute page-turner.” Lindsay Chervinsky writes that it “… is a serious diplomatic history that contributes to our understanding of the field and U.S. history, but is also fun – a quality that isn’t always associated with historical scholarship, but should be welcome.” Brian Etheredge finds that Jacobs’ “vignettes are beautifully told,” and that he “has an eye for the telling quote and writes with a verve and sense of irony that captivates.” He is “a master storyteller at the top of his game.” In sum, Jacobs elucidates important episodes of U.S. diplomacy and entertains in the process. That alone is a substantial accomplishment.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, History, Diplomatic History, Dissent
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas W. Zeiler, Grant Madsen, Lauren F. Turek, Christopher Dietrich
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: When David Anderson, acting as a conduit for editors at the Journal of American History, approached me at a SHAFR meeting in 2007 to write a state-of- the-field essay, I accepted, in part because we were sitting in a bar where I was happily consuming. The offer came with a responsibility to the field. I was serving as an editor of our journal, Diplomatic History, as well as the editor of the digitized version of our bibliography, American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature. Because these positions allowed me to survey our vibrant field, accepting the offer seemed natural. And I was honored to be asked to represent us. Did I mention we were drinking? I’m sure that Chris Dietrich accepted the invitation to oversee this next-gen pioneering Companion volume from Peter Coveney, a long-time editorial guru and booster of our field at Wiley-Blackwell, for similar reasons. This, even though there were times when, surrounded by books and articles and reviews that piled up to my shoulders in my office (yes, I read in paper, mostly), I whined, cursed, and, on occasion, wept about the amount of sources. What kept me going was not only how much I learned about the field, including an appreciation for great scholarship written through traditional and new approaches, but both the constancy and transformations over the years, much of it due to pressure from beyond SHAFR that prompted internal reflections. Vigorous debate, searing critiques, sensitive adaptation, and bold adoption of theory and methods had wrought a revolution in the field of U.S. diplomatic history, a moniker itself deemed outmoded.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher McKnight Nichols, Heather Marie Stur, Brad Simpson, Andy Rotter, Michael Kimmage
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: The title of this book evokes numerous Donald Trump tweets, statements, and threats over the past five years. It also raises questions: was Trump pro-West or not, and how does his administration and its policies compare to those of his predecessors? Trumpism and the related, inchoate policies of “America First” were firmly positioned against the organizational structures and assumptions of the so-called liberal international order, or rules-based order. Trump’s targets ranged from NATO to the World Health Organization (WHO). From his speech at Trump Tower announcing his run for office to statements we heard during his efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election, Trump promulgated racist, particularist claims about which peoples and groups counted (white ones), which immigrants should be allowed in (northern European) and which should be banned (Muslims, those from “shithole” countries), and what wider heritages they fit into or “good genes” they were blessed with.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Liberal Order, Donald Trump, Anti-Westernism, Rivalry, Clash of Civilizations, America First
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Bessner, Michael Brenes
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: The U.S. academic job market is in total freefall. As the American Historical Association’s (AHA) 2020 jobs report bluntly stated, “History Ph.D.s who graduated in the past decade encountered fewer opportunities and more competition on the academic job market than any cohort of Ph.D.s since the 1970s.”1 And this was before the COVID-19 pandemic, which, the 2021 jobs report noted, has resulted in numerous “program closures, enrollment declines, and faculty layoffs.”2 It’s not an exaggeration to say that, even if things improved tomorrow (which they won’t), there will be several “lost generations” of historians who will never secure stable academic employment. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) is well aware of these depressing and disturbing trends. Under the leadership of past-SHAFR presidents Barbara Keys and Kristin Hoganson, the organization recently established a Jobs Crisis Task Force to begin to deal with the new material and structural realities of U.S. higher education.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Higher Education, Academia, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Navin Bapat
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: The risk of terrorism is often overstated. Americans are more likely to die from everyday risks, such as driving, drowning, or being hit by lightning, than from terrorist attacks. I’ve often criticized the willingness of leaders to politicize terrorism, arguing that this results in ‘othering’ that harms racial and ethnic minorities, and, in some cases, in very large, costly, and brutal wars. I therefore do not say this lightly: In the case of the US, however, white supremacists like those who engaged in the mob attack on the US Capitol, are a clear and present danger to the human security of the American nonwhite population and to national security.
  • Topic: Violent Extremism, Far Right, White Supremacy, Racism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernández served as Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States (2017-2018). He played a prominent role in the negotiation of the United States of America, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA). Currently, he is managing partner of BEEL Infrastructure, a specialized advisory & asset management firm focused on the infrastructure sector in Latin America. He also provides strategic advice to businesses and governments on political risk, public affairs and communications and business development; and serves in the Board of Directors of U.S. – Mexico Business Association (AEM) and the Advisory Board of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. Brown Journal of World Affairs: During your time as ambassador, the U.S.– Mexico relationship was highly politicized due to President Trump’s rhetoric. How did you navigate balancing between building a relationship with the U.S. government and standing up for your country?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Immigration, NAFTA, USMCA
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Julio César Guanche Zaldívar, Sara Kozameh
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
  • Abstract: The United States must abandon Cold War-era foreign policies and accept that Cuba is a sovereign nation free to define its political future— even if that means continuing socialism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Sovereignty, Socialism/Marxism, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: United States, Cuba
  • Author: Katrina Forrester
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Toynbee Prize Foundation
  • Abstract: John Rawls was undoubtedly one of the most influential liberal political philosophers of the twentieth century. His most famous book, A Theory of Justice, was published in 1971. Prof Katrina Forrester, a historian of twentieth century political thought from Harvard University, tells the story of Rawls’s influence on liberal political philosophy in her recent book In the Shadow of Justice. Forrester shows how liberal egalitarianism—a set of ideas about justice, equality, obligation, and the state—became dominant, and traces its emergence from the political and ideological context of postwar Britain and the United States. In our conversation with Katrina Forrester we discussed Rawls’s creation of A Theory of Justice, how he responded to critiques of his theory, and how his work continues to shape our understanding of war and society up to the present day.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Inequality, Philosophy, Ideology, Justice, Liberalism
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States
  • Author: Kelly M. McFarland, Lori Clune, Danielle Richman, Wilson D. (Bill) Miscamble, Seth Jacobs, Vanessa Walker, Joseph S. Nye Jr.
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Political Theory, International Relations Theory, Political Science, American Presidency, Morality
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Theodore M. Brown
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A little more than two months ago, U.S. President Donald Trump began to lash out at the World Health Organization, blaming it for what he claimed were missteps, failures, and prevarications in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Then, on April 14, after several days of threats, he announced that U.S. funding for the WHO would be frozen for sixty to ninety days while his administration conducted a review to “assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus.” Widely seen as a transparent attempt to deflect attention from his own inconsistent, incompetent, and irresponsible response to the crisis, Trump’s threatened withdrawal of funds from the WHO at a critical moment drew widespread condemnation from medical and public health leaders. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of Lancet, called Trump’s decision a “crime against humanity.” Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, “denounced” the Trump administration’s decision to halt U.S. contributions to the WHO, which, he said, would “cripple the world’s response to COVID-19 and would harm the health and lives of thousands of Americans.”
  • Topic: International Cooperation, World Health Organization, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Chester Pach, Cindy Ewing, Kevin Y. Kim, Daniel Bessner, Fredrik Logevall
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Daniel Bessner and Fredrik Logevall, “Recentering the United States in the Historiography of American Foreign Relations”
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, International Relations Theory, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Engel, R. Joseph Parrott, Heather Marie Stur, Steven J. Brady, Timothy Lynch
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Roundtable on Timothy J. Lynch, In the Shadow of the Cold War: American Foreign Policy from George Bush Sr. to Donald Trump
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, American Presidency, Post Cold War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: On January 3, 2020, an American drone strike killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, and one of the most influential military and political figures in Iran. It is an extraordinary event—former American army general and director of the CIA David Petraeus called it “more consequential” than the killing of Osama bin Laden—with potentially profound implications for US-Iranian relations, and the entire Middle East. Here, international relations experts from UC San Diego discuss why the Trump administration killed Soleimani; what might come next; and the implications for US domestic politics. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
  • Topic: International Law, Military Intervention, Assassination, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • Author: Todd Estes, William E. Weeks, Walter L. Hixson, David C. Hendrickson, Jasper M. Trautsch
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Jasper M. Trautsch, The Genesis of America: U.S. Foreign Policy and the Formation of National Identity, 1793-1815
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas J. Knock, Nicole M. Phelps, Jeremi Suri, Robert David Johnson, Ellen D. Tillman, Jack (John M.) Thompson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on John M. Thompson, Great Power Rising: Theodore Roosevelt and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, American Presidency, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amanda Demmer, Richard A. Moss, Scott Laderman, Luke A. Nichter, David F. Schmitz, Robert K. Brigham
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Robert K. Brigham, Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War, History, Vietnam War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Vietnam
  • Author: Calder Walton
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Spies, poisonings, Russian election meddling, disinformation, FBI scandals, international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, mass surveillance, cyber espionage, and data harvesting: the use and abuse of intelligence is one of the most contested and scrutinized subjects in contemporary news and current affairs. It generates almost daily news headlines across the globe. For anyone on social media, it often seems as if barely an hour passes without another spy scandal breaking. Such scandals are the subjects of many heated dinner-party conversations on university campuses.
  • Topic: International Relations, Intelligence, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Katrina Ponti
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: I n its early years the United States, a nation attempting to distinguish itself from the monarchal norms of Europe, sought to arrange its own rules of foreign engagement. What was the diplomacy of a republic supposed to look like? Who would conduct the activities of foreign affairs? Thanks to the formidable digital project Founders Online a cooperative effort from the National Archives and the University of Virginia Press, one can begin to trace the development of American diplomacy through its first thirty fragile years, 1783–1812.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Laura Hein, Michael J. Hogan, Aaron O'Connell, Carolyn Eisenberg, Curt Cardwell, Grant Madsen
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Grant Madsen, Sovereign Soldiers: How the U.S. Military Transformed the Global Economy After World War II
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, World War II, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States