7 Events

Satiric drawing from the Catalan newspaper "La Campana de Gràcia" in 1896 satirizing the USA's intentions about Cuba. Upper text (not displayed) reads (in old Catalan): "Uncle Sam's craving (by M. Moliné)." Text below (not displayed) reads: "Saving the island so it won't get lost."

"La Campana de Gràcia" in the May 23, 1896 edition

Seminar - Open to the Public

1898: "Precautionary War" and the Three Myths of American Empire

Thu., Feb. 28, 2019 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Aroop Mukharji, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

President William McKinley's foreign policy ranks among the most consequential of all U.S. presidents. At the start of his first term, the United States was primarily hemispheric in its foreign policy orientation. By the start of his second term, the United States had brought down a European colonial power, had begun governing seven new overseas territories, and had fought two additional wars in Asia.

This presentation focuses specifically on the Spanish-American War and why McKinley decided to intervene. Three myths about his motivations continue to persist: (1) that the United States waged an economically imperialist war to open up trade opportunities, (2) that the rhetoric of manliness pressured McKinley into taking a more aggressive stance, and (3) that the yellow press whipped up a public frenzy that led to the declaration of war. These influences are greatly overstated. Instead, this presentation will argue that the Spanish-American War was partly a humanitarian war, but also a "precautionary war" (author's term) that was based on a general fear of disorder, uncertainty, and instability and waged to ensure conditions that better facilitated regional stability and peace.

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

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

One 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.

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

One 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.

 Capt Richard C. Zilmer leads his Company F, Battalion Landing Team 2/8 Marines ashore from the landing ship Saginaw (LST 1188) at the port of Beirut on 29 September 1982.

U.S. Navy

Seminar - Open to the Public

Reagan's Retreat: Lebanon and the Limits of U.S. Power, 1981–1985

Thu., Mar. 1, 2018 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

One Brattle Square - Room 350

Speaker: Alexandra Tejblum Evans, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program

This presentation will evaluate U.S. policy toward Lebanon from 1981–1985, tracing the gradual expansion and rapid contraction of American efforts to stabilize a complex civil and regional conflict. By situating the United States' diplomatic and military interventions within a broader effort to strengthen American influence in the Middle East, it will demonstrate how the experience shaped the Reagan administration's perception of threat—and opportunity—in a moment of structural change. It will identify persistent barriers to U.S. interests in a vital region and shed light on how American leaders learn through crisis.

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

The History of Cyber and Intelligence Operations

Mon., Feb. 27, 2017 | 5:15pm - 6:30pm

Taubman Building - Nye A, 5th Floor

Please join us for a panel discussion with Command Historian Dr. Michael Warner and Historian of GCHQ Professor Richard Aldrich, moderated by the International Security Program's Dr. Calder Walton and the Cyber Security Project's Director Dr. Michael Sulmeyer. This event is open to the public, but seating and admittance will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Seminar - Open to the Public

Tinker, Tailor, Ally, Spy: The Origins and Evolution of Anglo-American Intelligence Relations

Thu., Feb. 2, 2017 | 12:15pm - 2:00pm

Littauer Building - Belfer Center Library, Room 369

Speaker: Calder Walton, Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy, International Security Program

Stretching from the Second World War to the early Cold War, this seminar will examine the origins, evolution, stresses, and strains of British and U.S. intelligence relations—the closest intelligence relationship between two powers in history. Using a series of case studies, from signals intelligence-sharing agreements to atomic espionage and covert action during Britain's end of empire, it will explore the impact that British and U.S. intelligence had on post-war international relations. While collaborating together in unprecedented ways, it will be shown that, in some instances in the post-war years, British and U.S. intelligence worked at cross-purposes—and were also disastrously penetrated by their opponents, Soviet intelligence. This seminar will also offer some (arguably much-needed) policy-relevant historical lessons for governments and intelligence communities today.

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