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Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War

The received wisdom in diplomatic circles is that the beginning of the end of the Cold War came from changing policy preferences and that President Reagan in particular opted for a more conciliatory and less bellicose diplomatic approach. Simon Miles argues in Engaging the Evil Empire that Reagan and ranking officials in the National Security Council had determined that the United States enjoyed a strategic margin of error that permitted it to engage Moscow overtly. As US grand strategy developed, so did that of the Soviet Union. Engaging the Evil Empire covers five critical years of Cold War history when Soviet leaders tried for a number of reasons to reduce tensions between the two nations. Miles's narrative shifts the focus of Cold War historians away from exclusive attention on Washington by focusing on the years of back-channel communiqués and internal strategy debates in Moscow as well as Prague and East Berlin.

Date & Time

Oct. 19, 2020
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Location

Zoom Webinar

Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War

The received wisdom in diplomatic circles is that the beginning of the end of the Cold War came from changing policy preferences and that President Reagan in particular opted for a more conciliatory and less bellicose diplomatic approach. Simon Miles argues in Engaging the Evil Empire that Reagan and ranking officials in the National Security Council had determined that the United States enjoyed a strategic margin of error that permitted it to engage Moscow overtly. As US grand strategy developed, so did that of the Soviet Union. Engaging the Evil Empire covers five critical years of Cold War history when Soviet leaders tried for a number of reasons to reduce tensions between the two nations. Miles's narrative shifts the focus of Cold War historians away from exclusive attention on Washington by focusing on the years of back-channel communiqués and internal strategy debates in Moscow as well as Prague and East Berlin.

Simon Miles is Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. He is a diplomatic and international historian of the Cold War. Simon has published research in the Journal of Cold War Studies (2020), Diplomatic History (2016), and Diplomacy and Statecraft (2013) and his first book is Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow, and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War (2020). Simon holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University and the National History Center) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks its anonymous individual donors and institutional partners (the George Washington University History Department and the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest) for their continued support.


Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more

Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, and the region though research and exchange.  Read more

Global Europe Program

The Global Europe Program addresses vital issues affecting the European continent, U.S.-European relations, and Europe’s ties with the rest of the world. It does this through scholars-in-residence, seminars, policy study groups, media commentary, international conferences and publications. Activities cover a wide range of topics, from the role of NATO, the European Union and the OSCE to European energy security, trade disputes, challenges to democracy, and counter-terrorism. The program investigates European approaches to policy issues of importance to the United States, including globalization, digital transformation, climate, migration, global governance, and relations with Russia and Eurasia, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.  Read more

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