In Uncertain Times: American Foreign Policy after the Berlin Wall and 9/11

October 13, 2011 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
International Security Studies
Cold War International History Project

Melvyn P. Leffler, former Wilson Center public policy scholar and Edward R. Stettinius professor at the University of Virginia will discuss his latest book, In Uncertain Times: American Foreign Policy after the Berlin Wall and 9/11 which considers how policymakers react to dramatic developments on the world stage. Few expected the Berlin Wall to come down in November 1989; no one anticipated the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001. American foreign policy had to adjust quickly to an international arena that was completely transformed.


Leffler and co-editor 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. Complementing and contextualizing these policy-veteran contributions, 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, examine whether opportunities were seized and whether threats were magnified and distorted. Together, policymakers and scholars impel us to rethink how our world has changed and how policy can be improved in the future.


Joining Leffler on the panel is Ambassador Eric S. Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense; and Philip D. Zelikow, White Burkett Miller Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in History at the University of Virginia.


Robert Litwak, Wilson Center Vice President for Programs and Director of International Security Studies will chair the event. 



5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Melvyn P. Leffler // Senior Scholar
    Edward Stettinius Professor of American History, University of Virginia
  • former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
  • former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • White Burkett Miller Professor of History and Associate Dean for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia
  • Robert S. Litwak // Vice President for Scholars and Academic Relations and Director, International Security Studies
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