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Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations: New Histories

Ideology drives American foreign policy in ways seen and unseen. Based on their just-published book Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations, Christopher Nichols and his collaborators argue that, for example, hotly contested conceptions of civilization and freedom have helped to drive U.S. foreign policy since the 18th century; racialized notions of subjecthood and civilization underlay the political revolution of eighteenth-century white colonizers; and neoconservatism, neoliberalism, and unilateralism propelled the post–Cold War United States to unleash catastrophe in the Middle East. In contrast to the Obama Administration's explicitly anti-ideological approach, Nichols and co-editor David Milne observe that ideologies order and explain the world. Ideologies project the illusion of controllable outcomes, and often are vital to perceptions of success and failure. This talk and conversation will draw on cutting-edge findings and a new field defining project to explore how the history of U.S. foreign relations appears differently when viewed through the lens of ideology.

Date & Time

Monday
Nov. 14, 2022
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET

Overview

Registration for the Zoom webinar is required to join the session.

Ideology drives American foreign policy in ways seen and unseen. Based on their just-published book Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations, Christopher Nichols and his collaborators argue that, for example, hotly contested conceptions of civilization and freedom have helped to drive U.S. foreign policy since the 18th century; racialized notions of subjecthood and civilization underlay the political revolution of eighteenth-century white colonizers; and neoconservatism, neoliberalism, and unilateralism propelled the post–Cold War United States to unleash catastrophe in the Middle East. In contrast to the Obama Administration's explicitly anti-ideological approach, Nichols and co-editor David Milne observe that ideologies order and explain the world. Ideologies project the illusion of controllable outcomes, and often are vital to perceptions of success and failure. This talk and conversation will draw on cutting-edge findings and a new field defining project to explore how the history of U.S. foreign relations appears differently when viewed through the lens of ideology.

Christopher McKnight Nichols is Professor of History and Wayne Woodrow Hayes Chair in National Security Studies, at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, at The Ohio State University. An Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, and award-winning teacher and scholar, Nichols is the author or editor of six books. He is most well-known for Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age and most recently has published Rethinking American Grand Strategy and Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations. A frequent public commentator on the historical dimensions of U.S. foreign and domestic policy and politics, Nichols specializes in the history of the United States and its relationship to the rest of the world, particularly in the areas of isolationism, internationalism, and globalization. Ideology in U.S. Foreign Relations: New Histories is the recipient of the 2023 Joseph Fletcher Prize for Best Edited Book in Historical International Relations given by the International Studies Association.

The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is organized jointly by 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 partner (the George Washington University History Department) for their continued support.

Panelists

Mary L. Dudziak

Mary L. Dudziak

Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law, Emory University
Michaela Hoenicke Moore

Michaela Hoenicke Moore

Associate Professor of History, University of Iowa
Penny M. Von Eschen

Penny M. Von Eschen

Professor of History and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American Studies, University of Virginia

Hosted By

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program makes public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, facilitates scholarship based on those records, and uses these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

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