Skip to main content
Support
Event

Rethinking American Grand Strategy

What is grand strategy? What does it aim to achieve? And what differentiates it from normal strategic thought-what, in other words, makes it "grand"? In answering these questions, most scholars have focused on diplomacy and warfare, so much so that "grand strategy" has become almost an equivalent of "military history." The traditional attention paid to military affairs is understandable, but in today's world it leaves out much else that could be considered political, and therefore strategic. It is in fact possible to consider, and even reach, a more capacious understanding of grand strategy, one that still includes the battlefield and the negotiating table while expanding beyond them. 

Date & Time

Monday
Sep. 13, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm ET

Location

Zoom Webinar

Overview

The Wm. Roger Louis Lecture

What is grand strategy? What does it aim to achieve? And what differentiates it from normal strategic thought-what, in other words, makes it "grand"? In answering these questions, most scholars have focused on diplomacy and warfare, so much so that "grand strategy" has become almost an equivalent of "military history." The traditional attention paid to military affairs is understandable, but in today's world it leaves out much else that could be considered political, and therefore strategic. It is in fact possible to consider, and even reach, a more capacious understanding of grand strategy, one that still includes the battlefield and the negotiating table while expanding beyond them. 

Rethinking American Grand Strategy assembles a roster of leading historians to examine America's place in the world. In their presentation Nichols and Preston will argue that just as contemporary world politics is driven by a wide range of non-military issues, the most thorough considerations of grand strategy must consider the bases of peace and security-including gender, race, the environment, and a wide range of cultural, social, political, and economic issues.

Christopher McKnight Nichols is Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Sandy and Elva Sanders Eminent Professor in the Honors College at Oregon State University, where is an associate professor of history. An Andrew Carnegie Fellow, Nichols is best known for authoring Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age (Harvard, 2011, 2015), and he is editor or author of five other books, including the recently published Rethinking American Grand Strategy (Oxford, 2021).

Andrew Preston is Professor of American History and a Fellow of Clare College at Cambridge University, and the 2021 President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR). He is the author or editor of nine books, and is currently writing a book on the idea of national security in American history as well as editing Volume 2 of The Cambridge History of the Vietnam War.

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 strives to make public the primary source record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world, to facilitate scholarship based on those records, and to use these materials to provide context for classroom, public, and policy debates on global affairs.  Read more

Event Feedback