Foreign Policy by Analogy: U.S. Decision-Making and the Uses of the Vietnam War | Wilson Center
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Foreign Policy by Analogy: U.S. Decision-Making and the Uses of the Vietnam War

Washington History Seminar
Historical Perspectives on International and National Affairs

Foreign Policy by Analogy:  U.S. Decision-Making
and the Uses of the Vietnam War

Mark Atwood Lawrence

Over the four decades since U.S. forces came home from Vietnam, Americans have fiercely debated the lessons that the nation should draw from one of its longest and most controversial wars.  The purpose of this talk is not to take a position on that question but to suggest a scheme for making sense of how historians, polemicists, politicians, and other commentators have used – and will likely continue to use – the Vietnam analogy in thinking about policy decisions.  Specifically, the presentation will argue that there are three main analogical traditions that continue to reverberate in American policy deliberations.

Mark Atwood Lawrence is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.  He earned his BA from Stanford University in 1988 and his PhD from Yale University in 1999.  He is author of Assuming the Burden:  Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2005) and The Vietnam War:  A Concise International History (Oxford University Press, 2008).  He is now working on a study of U.S. policymaking toward the developing world in the 1960s.

Monday March 10, 2014
4:00 p.m. 
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop


Reservations requested because of limited seating and will be accepted beginning one week prior to the event:

The seminar is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center. It meets weekly during the academic year. See for the schedule, speakers, topics, and dates as well as webcasts and podcasts. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for its support.