1092 Events

U.S President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev at the Hofdi House in Reykjavik, Iceland, during the Reykjavik Summit, 11 October 1986.

The Official CTBTO Photostream

Seminar - Open to the Public

Nuclear Abolitionism and the End of the Cold War

Thu., Feb. 7, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Stephanie Freeman, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

During most of the Cold War, U.S. and Soviet officials built a broad consensus among their publics that nuclear weapons provided essential security by deterring the actions of hostile states. In the 1980s, however, the radical goal of nuclear abolition enjoyed staunch support from both grassroots movements across the globe and the leaders of the two superpowers, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. This presentation will examine nuclear abolitionists' influence on the trajectory of the Cold War's last decade, from 1979 to 1989. It will assess anti-nuclear activists' impact on elite decision-makers and consider how their shared interest in nuclear disarmament transformed U.S. and Soviet foreign policy in the 1980s. This talk will demonstrate that nuclear abolitionists played a decisive yet unappreciated role in ending the Cold War.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Oxfam distributing water in the Horn of Africa during a severe drought, 24 February 2011.

Wikimedia CC/Oxfam

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Nexus between Internationalism and Localism in Civil Conflict: Insurgents' Policy toward Humanitarian Access

Thu., Jan. 31, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Ayako Kobayashi, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Why do some rebel groups restrict international humanitarian access to areas under their control, while others allow it? Some scholars posit that rebels strategically comply with international humanitarian law to legitimize their status in the international arena. Others underline the importance of exploring interactions between non-state armed groups and local populations from which protection norms may emerge. This interdisciplinary project will fill the gap between the internationalism and localism by proposing a new typology of rebel groups, addressing conditions under which rebels are more likely to allow humanitarian access, and through case studies illustrating the theory.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Map of Cold War–era Europe showing countries that received Marshall Plan aid. The blue columns show the relative amount of total aid per state.

Wikimedia CC

Seminar - Open to the Public

Borrowed Power: Financial Origins of Grand Strategy

Thu., Jan. 24, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Daniel Z. Jacobs, Grand Strategy, Security, and Statecraft Fellow, International Security Program

What are the sources of grand strategy, the relationship of national power to national interest? Answers to this question tend to emphasize domestic interests, cultural and ideational impulses, state capacity, or the distribution of military power. The speaker, however, argues that it is a state's ability to harness the wealth of others that shapes both what the state wants (i.e., national interest) and how the state goes about getting it (i.e., national power).

The core component of this argument is financial power; that is, the costs a state pays to facilitate public spending through borrowing. When these costs are relatively high, the state is likely to define its national interest narrowly and rely for its security on the self-correcting nature of the balance of power. By contrast, when the costs of borrowing are relatively low, the state will take a broader view of its national interest. As a result, the state is likely to reshape the balance of power in its favor and attempt to preserve this newfound distribution. Overall, scholars and policymakers can say that as a state's financial power rises, its grand strategy becomes increasingly ambitious.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Memorial to the Fighters for Soviet Power in the Far East, 1917–1922, Vladivostok, Russia

Paul Behringer

Seminar - Open to the Public

Reconquering the Russian Far East: Civil War, Intervention, and Centralization

Thu., Jan. 17, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Paul Behringer, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

In 1917–1918, the Russian state collapsed and its empire disintegrated. The Bolsheviks, having seized power in November 1917, managed to hold onto authority amid repeated challenges from domestic and foreign opponents in all directions. In October 1922, Lenin's party emerged victorious from the rubble of one of the most destructive civil wars in history. Historians have put forward several convincing arguments for why the Bolsheviks were able to win the overall struggle. But the fact that the new regime was also able to reconstitute much of the Russian Empire, extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean, is as astounding today as it was unlikely in 1918. This presentation attempts to explain this accomplishment by framing the civil war in the Russian Far East as a contest between geopolitical, social, ideological, and international forces of centralization and decentralization. Building on the most recent historiographic trends in the study of the Russian Civil War, it also speaks to political science research on the broader issues of intrastate conflict, foreign intervention, and violence.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

The public military degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus

Public Domain/Henri Meyer

Seminar - Open to the Public

Taking the Bizarre Seriously in Diplomatic History

Thu., Dec. 20, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

Speaker: Ben Rhode, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

In 1898, France's military attaché in London recommended that his superiors make a secret agreement with his anonymous Irish nationalist informant in order to undermine the British Empire and counterbalance supposedly hostile British behavior. Most historical assessments have either overlooked or discounted this attaché's recommendation, considering him untrustworthy or unsober. Such an interpretation is initially appealing, especially given the bizarre and conspiratorial material in the informant's unpublished reports. This seminar will challenge prevailing scholarship that ignores or deprecates this recommendation or the attaché's credibility. It will locate the episode within the context of French concerns over Britain's exploitation of the Spanish-American War, the Dreyfus Affair, and Fashoda; a preoccupation with supposed national subversion; and alarm over the phenomenon of "fake news." Using this episode as a case study, it will argue for taking alarming or peculiar observations in the diplomatic record seriously: neither downplaying their strangeness nor overlooking how, within their context, they could be sincerely believed and hold deep appeal.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Mutiny in Cote d'Ivoire in January 2017

Ultima Ratio

Seminar - Open to the Public

The Wartime Roots of Military Obedience and Defiance in Insurgent-Ruled States

Thu., Dec. 13, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Philip Andrew Martin, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Why do some winning armed movements build states with robust control over military forces after civil war, while others do not? Why, for example, did the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) succeed in building powerful and obedient post-war armies, while winning coalitions in Côte d'Ivoire (2011—), Libya (2011—), and Afghanistan (2001—) experienced military fragmentation and the growth of private armed networks controlled by ex-rebel commanders? While existing scholarship points to the role of ideology and external intervention, this book project argues that two wartime factors — threats to the survival of armed movements, and the social linkages between militant group commanders and insurgent-ruled communities — shape the bargaining power and behavior of ex-rebel commanders during transitions to postwar politics.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Map of the Persian Gulf

Wikimedia CC/Edbrown05

Seminar - Open to the Public

Changing Security Dynamics in the Persian Gulf

Thu., Dec. 6, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Dina Esfandiary, Research Fellow, International Security Program

For over a decade now, thinking on regional relations in the Persian Gulf has focused largely on the competition for regional hegemony between Iran and Saudi Arabia and the different layers of this rivalry. But recent events, in particular, the Arab Spring and Iran’s response, the announced U.S. pivot to Asia, and the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, served as catalysts for changes in the security dynamics of the Persian Gulf. Smaller Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, led by the UAE, previously content to align with the Saudi position, appear to be developing a growing self-awareness that represents a significant challenge to the existing order. The speaker will explore how these three events have affected regional developments and what these changes will mean for the region.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Dr. Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization in the United Kingdom, addresses the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism's first session — Understanding Violent Extremism Today — at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 19, 2015.

State Department/ Public Domain

Seminar - Open to the Public

Countering Violent Extremism: A Quest for Legitimacy and Effectiveness

Thu., Nov. 29, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Anina Schwarzenbach, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program

In the face of the increased number of individuals adhering to extremist ideologies in modern democratic states, governments have augmented the amount of public money spent on counter violent extremism strategies and programs. Despite this fact, systematic analyses of currently implemented strategies and programs are surprisingly sparse.

This seminar will discuss — by focusing on Germany, France, and the United States — which governmental approaches are most appropriate to counter violent extremism and what ought to be expected from the strategies and programs in terms of legitimacy and effectiveness.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Inadvertent Expansion in World Politics

Thu., Nov. 15, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

1 Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Nicholas D. Anderson, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Most existing theories of expansion and territorial conquest tend to focus on key actors at the center of great states and empires, and on their will and ability to engage in expansion. However, a number of important instances of territorial expansion in the history of great power politics do not align well with these theories, showing territorial expansion to be far more peripherally-driven and far less intentional than they would expect. Drawing on research on the British and Japanese Empires, as well as on America's westward expansion, this presentation will outline a theory of inadvertent expansion that helps account for these puzzling and counter-intuitive cases.

Please join us! Coffee and tea provided. Everyone is welcome, but admittance will be on a first come–first served basis.