The distinguished historian Melvyn P. Leffler homes in on four crucial episodes when American and Soviet leaders considered modulating, avoiding, or ending hostilities and asks why they failed: Stalin and Truman devising new policies after 1945; Malenkov and Eisenhower exploring the chance for peace after Stalin's death in 1953; Kennedy, Khrushchev, and LBJ trying to reduce tensions after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962; and Brezhnev and Carter aiming to sustain détente after the Helsinki Conference of 1975. All these leaders glimpsed possibilities for peace, yet they allowed ideologies, political pressures, the expectations of allies and clients, the dynamics of the international system, and their own fearful memories to trap them in a cycle of hostility that seemed to have no end.
For the Soul of Mankind illuminates how Reagan, Bush, and, above all, Gorbachev finally extricated themselves from the policies and mind-sets that had imprisoned their predecessors, and were able to reconfigure Soviet-American relations after decades of confrontation.
The Specter of Communism is a concise history of the origins of the Cold War and the evolution of U.S.-Soviet relations, from the Bolshevik revolution to the death of Stalin. Using not only American documents but also those from newly opened archives in Russia, China, and Eastern Europe, Leffler shows how the ideological animosity that existed from Lenin's seizure of power onward turned into dangerous confrontation. By focusing on American political culture and American anxieties about the Soviet political and economic threat, Leffler suggests new ways of understanding the global struggle staged by the two great powers of the postwar era.
Melvyn P. Leffler and Jeffrey W. Legro have assembled an illustrious roster of officials from the George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations-Robert B. Zoellick, Paul Wolfowitz, Eric S. Edelman, Walter B. Slocombe, and Philip Zelikow. These policymakers describe how they went about making strategy for a world fraught with possibility and peril. They offer provocative reinterpretations of the economic strategy advanced by the George H. W. Bush administration, the bureaucratic clashes over policy toward the breakup of the USSR, the creation of the Defense Policy Guidance of 1992, the expansion of NATO, the writing of the National Security Strategy Statement of 2002, and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A group of eminent scholars address these same topics. Bruce Cumings, John Mueller, Mary Elise Sarotte, Odd Arne Westad, and William C. Wohlforth probe the unstated assumptions, the cultural values, and the psychological makeup of the policymakers. They examine whether opportunities were seized and whether threats were magnified and distorted. They assess whether academicians and independent experts would have done a better job than the policymakers did. Together, policymakers and scholars impel us to rethink how our world has changed and how policy can be improved in the future.
Contributors: Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago; Eric S. Edelman, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; Melvyn P. Leffler, University of Virginia; Jeffrey W. Legro, University of Virginia; John Mueller, Ohio State University; Mary Elise Sarotte, University of Southern California; Walter B. Slocombe, Council on Foreign Relations and Caplin & Drysdale; Odd Arne Westad, London School of Economics and Political Science; William C. Wohlforth, Dartmouth College; Paul Wolfowitz, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research; Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia; Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank Group
Leffler’s wide-ranging essays explain how foreign policy evolved into national security policy. He stresses the competing priorities that forced policymakers to make agonizing trade-offs and illuminates the travails of the policymaking process itself. While assessing the course of U.S. national security policy, he also interrogates the evolution of his own scholarship. Over time, slowly and almost unconsciously, Leffler’s work has married elements of revisionism with realism to form a unique synthesis that uses threat perception as a lens to understand how and why policymakers reconcile the pressures emanating from external dangers and internal priorities.
An account of the development of U.S. national security policy by one of its most influential thinkers, Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism includes a substantial new introduction from the author.
Originally published in 1979.
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In an increasingly polarized political environment, the first year of the new president’s term will be especially challenging. With a fresh mandate, however, the first year also offers opportunities that may never come again. The First Year Project is a fascinating initiative by the Miller Center of the University of Virginia that brings together top scholars on the American presidency and experienced officials to explore the first twelve months of past administrations, and draw practical lessons from that history, as we prepare to inaugurate a new president in January 2017.
This project is the basis for a new series of digital shorts published as Miller Center Studies on the Presidency. Addressing the theme of national security, this debut volume examines the first-year experiences of five previous administrations, including those of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. Presented as specially priced collections published exclusively in an ebook format, these timely examinations recognize the experiences of past presidents as an invaluable resource that can edify and instruct the incoming president.
Contributors: Hal Brands, Duke University * Jeffery Engel, Southern Methodist University * Michèle Flournoy, Center for a New American Security * Melvyn P. Leffler, University of Virginia * Marc Selverstone, University of Virginia * Jeremi Suri, University of Texas at Austin * Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia
Miller Center Studies on the Presidency