Events

Bursting the Plutonium Bubble: How Utopian Communities Made Dystopian Nuclear Landscapes

May 18, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Historian Kate Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia – the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias – communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Brown shows that the plants' segregation of permanent and temporary workers and of nuclear and non-nuclear zones created a bubble of immunity, where dumps and accidents were glossed over and plant managers freely embezzled and polluted.

The Swastika Epidemic: Global Antisemitism and Human Rights Activism in the Cold War 1960s

May 11, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Antisemitism is on the rise today in Europe and around the world, but there is no consensus about how the global community should respond. In this talk, drawn from his forthcoming book, scholar James Loeffler offers a historical perspective on this debate by looking back on the first major episode of global antisemitic violence after World War II, the “Swastika Epidemic” of 1960.

The Reagan Era: From a "New Cold War" to the "Washington Consensus"

May 04, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
In "The Reagan Era," Doug Rossinow gives a full and rounded view of how the foreign policies of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush took America—through a sometimes chaotic path, one marked with war scares, troop deployments, indirect warfare, scandal, and diplomatic triumphs—to the edge of a new era of American predominance.

Muslim, Trader, Nomad, Spy: China's Cold War and the People of the Tibetan Borderlands

April 27, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Lhasa leaving the People’s Republic of China with a crisis on its Tibetan frontier. Drawing upon never before seen Chinese sources, Sulmaan Khan tells, for the first time, the story of how non-state actors moving across the Tibetan borderlands exposed state weakness and caused the PRC to move from empire-lite to a harder, heavier imperial formation. That change transformed Chinese policy towards the third world and the Cold War.

2015 Ahtisaari Symposium: New Evidence and Perspectives on the Helsinki Accords

April 27, 2015 // 9:00am12:30pm
The Ahtisaari Symposium series, established at the Wilson Center in 2010 in honor of Nobel Laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, provides a forum for discussion of historical and policy perspectives on vital European security issues. In cooperation with the University of Helsinki, the Wilson Center also hosts a scholarship program for Finnish professionals from the scholarly, media, business and public policy communities.

Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America

April 13, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Rivalry and Alliance Politics in Cold War Latin America, the first systematic analysis of these conflicts among US allies, argues that bureaucratic interests, rather than international mistrust or diplomatic missteps, fueled protracted rivalry among allies. Author Christopher Darnton discusses four critical conflict-resolution initiatives between Argentina and Brazil from 1949 to 1980, based on research in both countries’ foreign ministry archives.

Murdering Patrice Lumumba

March 30, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
When Belgium relinquished control of the Belgian Congo in June 1960, a charismatic Patrice Lumumba became prime minister of the new Republic. Stability immediately broke down. The army mutinied, while Katanga Province seceded. Six months later Lumumba was murdered in Katanga; his undisputed rule as Congo’s first democratically elected leader had lasted ten weeks. Over fifty years later, the circumstances and symbolism of Lumumba’s assassination still troubled people around the world. Bruce Kuklick examines this defining event in postcolonial Africa. He reveals a tangled international political history in which many people—black and white, well-meaning and ruthless, African, European, and American—bear responsibility for the untimely death of a national dream.

Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana

March 16, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
From John F. Kennedy’s offering of an olive branch to Fidel Castro after the missile crisis, to Henry Kissinger’s top secret quest for normalization, to Barack Obama’s promise of a “new approach,” authors of "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana" William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh reveal a fifty-year record of dialogue and negotiations, both open and furtive.

Codename Nikolaus

March 16, 2015 // 1:00pm2:00pm
Dr. Bodo Hechelhammer, chief historian of the BND, will deliver a lecture on the early years of the German intelligence service, introducing the American and German agents behind Germany’s Cold War spy operation.

The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security

February 23, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
For four decades Brent Scowcroft has exerted a quiet, continued, and sometimes great influence over the conduct of US national security policy. Drawing on his new biography, The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security, Bartholomew Sparrow discusses how Scowcroft rose to become national security advisor under presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush.

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project