Cold War

Another Summit Meeting in Helsinki: Bush/Gorbachev

In early September 1990, George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Helsinki. There was much on their respective plates: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, the prospect of German unification, and the perennial challenges of arms control. Like this July’s summit meeting in Helsinki, both men sought to renew a spirit of collaboration.

Beyond "The Architect"

Accounts of US foreign policymaking in the years of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford’s presidencies rightly emphasize the centrality of Henry Kissinger.  Yet, my research on the intersection of policy formulation and human rights activism in these years suggests the history is more complicated, with several of Kissinger’s chief aides repeatedly pressing for more US attention to and action on international human rights violations.

Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski: East Germany's Back-channel Negotiator and Hard Currency Fundraiser

Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski was one of the pivotal political figures in Communist East Germany, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Erich Honecker’s negotiator in a variety of important talks with the Federal Republic of Germany, Schalck served as Undersecretary of State in the GDR’s Ministry of Foreign Trade. In addition, he was head of the GDR’s Kommerzielle Koordinierung (Koko), a secret commercial enterprise whose main goal was to bring foreign currency to the GDR.

Audrey Altstadt: Should Access to Truth Be a Human Right

A fellow at the Kennan Institute from September 2014 to May 2015, Audrey L. Altstadt is a history professor and co-director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

State Violence and Social Control in Communist Romania

A great amount of scholarship based on archival research has been produced so far on the organizational pattern, ideological drivers, and working methods of the Romanian communist political police, commonly known as Securitate. Following a totalitarian approach to the history of the Soviet-type regimes, scholars and former dissidents have described Securitate as a ruthless machine of institutionalized terror, focusing on the primary role physical violence and brutality played, especially in the first few years of communist rule.

Exporting the "Salvadoran Option" to Iraq and Beyond

Shortly after declaring “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, the United States confronted an “unexpected” development: an armed insurgency against the occupation. The outbreak of violence quickly demonstrated the disastrous shortcomings of the administration's pre-invasion policy and made a mockery of George W. Bush’s premature announcement. Within several months, violence plunged Iraq into the abyss. As Iraq disintegrated, US officials looked to the past for guidance, including a largely forgotten example, the US intervention in El Salvador (ca.

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