The United States repeatedly tried to overthrow foreign governments during the Cold War. More often than not, U.S. leaders chose covert regime change rather than overt military intervention. Their persistence suggests that the story of the Cold War has as much to do with secret maneuvers as it does with nuclear strategy or conventional military force. Again and again, Washington opted for the dark arts, despite its rhetorical commitment to liberal norms. There was something irresistible about manipulating foreign politics without claiming credit.
On November 9, 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called President-elect Donald Trump to congratulate him on his electoral victory. Perhaps fittingly, news of this exchange first appeared on Twitter. Subsequently, reports emerged in late November that then Indian foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was in the United States to meet with members of Trump’s transition team. Both the call and the visit were striking because they were a departure from the norm. Usually, if U.S. presidents-elect speak to their Indian counterparts, it is after, not before, phone calls to U.S. allies. Moreover, the Indian government has in the past tended to interact with presidential transition teams from Delhi or through its missions in the United States.
Columbia College did not require a major when I was an undergraduate. I didn’t take my first history course until my junior year, although I had worked earlier with Peter Gay, the great scholar of modern Europe intellectual history, when he was an assistant professor in the Government Department teaching Contemporary Civilization in Columbia’s core curriculum—lots of Freud. I enjoyed the survey of American history and enrolled in a wonderful colloquium in American history my senior year—8 students, 3 professors, weekly essays.
Military disloyalty and disobedience can take several forms. Some acts of disobedience are individual in nature—a single officer refusing to follow a direct order, for instance, or deserting his or her unit. Others, such as mass desertions or defections, coups d’état, and mutinies, are collective endeavors. While instances of collective disobedience have often been treated as broadly similar types of behavior, there are important distinction between them.
My parents were both raised and educated in California. My father, with ABD status at UC Berkeley, was hired as an instructor in the Philosophy Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1940 but—as a Norman Thomas socialist, anti-segregationist, and pacifist—was dismissed from that job two years later. He quickly took another job teaching elementary physics to “90-day wonders” in the officer training program in Chapel Hill until the end of the war. I was born in May 1944 in Duke Hospital in nearby Durham because Chapel Hill did not yet have even a hospital, much less a medical school. One year later we moved north. With dissertation in hand, my father taught briefly at Syracuse University before teaching virtually his entire career at Northwestern University.
Strategic Instincts: The Adaptive Advantages of Cognitive Biases in International Politics by Dominic D.P. Johnson is a welcome addition to the literature on Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA). The study of cognitive biases has a long and rich history within FPA, with classics penned by luminaries such as Robert Jervis, Richards Heuer, Yaacov Vertzberger, Philip Tetlock, and Yuen Foong Khong, alongside pioneering work among behavioral economists such as Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler. The ‘moral’ of much of this work has been that cognitive biases are liabilities that trip up rational decision-making, and foreign policy decisionmakers must work diligently to mitigate their influence.
The major theme of Cold War France’s foreign policy was the reassertion of the country’s traditional great power identity. France did not aspire to unseat the two superpowers as the most powerful states in the world, but French leaders believed that their country could and should also take a place at the global high table. As Charles de Gaulle memorably put it on the first page of his memoirs, “France cannot be France without greatness.”
Forewarned by a number of other world leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron was well-prepared for the infamous Donald Trump handshake. On 25 May 2017 at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels, the two world leaders met for the first time. With cameras clicking and video rolling, President Trump praised Macron’s “tremendous victory” in the 2017 French presidential elections that the “whole world is talking about” and expressed his eagerness to work with Macron on “terrorism” issues. Trump then extended his hand to the brand-new French president, which Macron gripped tight. An awkward, white-knuckled struggle ensued, with Trump wincing and trying to disengage multiple times before Macron released him. In the zero-sum game of testosterone laden death grip handshakes, the score: Macron 1, Trump 0.
I start with a cliché. I was destined to be a historian of international affairs. An early memory I have is sitting on my father’s lap, while he read the evening newspaper and smoked. This would be about 1953. I was five years old. My father had spent the day in hard physical work as a cable splicer, perched high on a telephone poll. Rene Emil Rabe (1923-1982) had numerous tiny holes in his face. He would rub his face and display to me the flecks of shrapnel that had worked their way to the surface of his skin.
Because Germany is Europe’s most populous country (excluding Russia), its most productive economy, and the European Union’s indispensable member, its elections are necessarily significant. Yet even by this standard, the federal election held on 26 September was particularly consequential and unusual. It marked the end of Angela Merkel’s sixteen-year tenure as Chancellor, during which she established herself as the preeminent figure in German domestic politics, an influential presence on the international stage, and a stabilizing temperament during a tumultuous era of global politics. As the forum’s contributors note, this election was the first in the Federal Republic’s history (except for the first) in which the sitting chancellor did not seek reelection. At the same time, the election exemplifies the gradual abandonment of some of the mainstays of postwar German politics. For instance, the standard center-left/center-right faceoff (between the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands and the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands–Christlich-Soziale Union in Bayern alliance) has given way to a fragmented political landscape in which no less than five parties claimed over ten percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the growing personalization of German politics explains the success of the Social-Democratic candidate Olaf Scholz, who played on his stature as Finance Minister in Merkel’s coalition government, as well as the lackluster performance of the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands candidate Armin Laschet. At the same time, the vote’s dispersal across multiple parties makes it probable that Germany will have its first three-party governing coalition since the 1950s. Another novelty resulting from the election is that the two leading kingmaker parties—the Greens and the liberal Freie Demokratische Partei —have committed to aligning their own platforms before deciding which party they will being to power.