In May of 1981, US President Ronald Reagan assured his audience at the University of Notre Dame that “the West won’t contain communism, it will transcend communism.” Reagan, like his predecessors, portrayed the Cold War as a competition between East and West, not simply the Soviet Union and the United States. This paper considers how Reagan and his administration viewed the Western nations’ role in waging the Cold War, exploring how US policy towards the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) evolved over Reagan’s two terms in office. It focuses, in particular, on US perceptions of the Cold War, the United States’ evolving view of “Western strength” over the course of the 1980s, and American frustration with the often cumbersome multilateral process of NATO decision-making. Despite the administration’s myriad frustrations with the Western allies, however, it highlights how Reagan’s rhetoric contributed to and strengthened the transatlantic partnership for the future by championing the alliance’s most valuable asset: the acceptance of disagreement as part of the democratic tradition.
“Staying in [but] in a different way”: The Nixon Doctrine and the Conservative Function of Reform, 1969-1970
Join us for this event with Matthieu Vallieres, PhD candidate, Department of History, University of Toronto, sponsored by the Graham Center’s Graduate Research Forum.
The First World War is commonly regarded as an event that affirmed Canadian nationalism and independence from the British empire. But did Canadian intellectuals truly believe that participation in the European war meant the end of their British connection? Drawing on the published works and private papers of three leading political journalists – John Willison of the Toronto News and the London Times, John Dafoe of the Manitoba Free Press, and Henri Bourassa of Le Devoir – this paper explores the impact of imperialism, ideology, and identity on their respective views of the Great War. While they disagreed about the future of the British empire, none believed that the war demanded a choice between Canadian nationalism and the political networks and values that constituted the ‘British world.’ This paper examines their arguments and debates to demonstrate how Canada’s Great War was defined, not only in the mud of Flanders, but by conflict at home over the ideas of nationalism, Britishness, and empire.
After considerable turbulence, the Cold War reached a period of relative stability in the early 1960s. The ouster of Nikita Khrushchev in October 1964 could have imperiled this inchoate accord between the United States and Soviet Union, but instead represented an acknowledgment in both Washington and Moscow of the importance of maintaining stability and consistency in superpower relations. Making extensive use of US and Soviet primary materials (especially from the Johnson Library), this paper outlines the successes and failures of American analysis during and after the leadership transition. The Johnson administration quickly came to understand that the Kremlin shared its goal of stability, and identified several important themes presaging a period of détente. This paper offers insight into policy making and preferences in the Johnson White House, the evolution of perceptions of the Soviet Union in the West, and the roots of détente.