6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism: U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015

In Safeguarding Democratic Capitalism: U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, 1920-2015, author Mel Leffler’s wide-ranging essays explain how policymakers shifted their focus from balancing economic imperatives at home and abroad to a preoccupation with safeguarding America’s core values of democratic capitalism. While assessing U.S. policymaking from World War I to the present, he also interrogates the evolution of his own scholarship. Over time, he married elements of revisionism with realism to form a unique synthesis that uses threat perception as a lens to understand the making of national security policy.

Melvyn P. Leffler is the Edward Stettinius Professor of American History at The University of Virginia and Compton Professor at UVA’s Miller Center. He is the author of A Preponderance of Power: National Security, the Truman Administration, and the Cold War, which won the Bancroft, Ferrell, and Hoover Prizes, as well as For the Soul of Mankind: the United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, which won the American Historical Association’s George Louis Beer Prize. He is also the editor and author of many books dealing with the evolution of American foreign economic policy and national security strategy from Wilson to Obama. He has been president of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations as well as Harmsworth Professor at Oxford.
The Washington History Seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Philippa Strum (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.



  • Eric Arnesen

    Professor of History, The George Washington University
  • Philippa Strum

    Global Fellow
    Former Director, Division of United States Studies, Woodrow Wilson Center


  • Melvyn P. Leffler

    Senior Scholar
    Faculty Associate and Edward Stettinius Professor of History, University of Virginia and former Wilson Center Fellow