[WHS] Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography

NHC-Wilson Center

Please join us for the W.R. Louis Washington History Seminar Panel with Thomas A. Schwartz on Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography

Thursday, September 10 at 4:00 pm EST

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Thomas Schwartz, Vanderbilt University

Jeremi Suri, University of Texas at Austin

Diane Kunz. Duke University

Barbara Keys, Durham University

Henry Kissinger is the most famous and controversial American diplomat of the 20th century. Most previous studies focus on Kissinger’s ideas, his realpolitik ideology of foreign policy, policies that enhanced America’s political and military power and neglected values such as human rights and democratic reform. In contrast, Schwartz approaches Kissinger as a political actor, an adviser to Presidents who understood the centrality of domestic politics to foreign policy within the American system, and who adjusted his perspectives and recommendations accordingly. Schwartz also examines Kissinger’s skillful manipulation of the media, becoming America’s first celebrity diplomat, and enhancing his personal power and prestige. The tension between Kissinger’s own recognition of the limits of American power with his determination to exercise that power is central to understanding the significance of Henry Kissinger for the history of American foreign policy.

Thomas Schwartz is the Distinguished Professor History at Vanderbilt University. Educated at Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard Universities, he is the author of America’s Germany: John J. McCloy and the Federal Republic of Germany (1991), Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (2003), and with Matthias Schulz, The Strained Alliance: U.S. - European Relations From Nixon to Carter (2009) He is a past President of the Society for the History of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), and served on the State Department’s Historical Advisory Committee.

Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the University's Department of History and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Professor Suri is the author and editor of ten books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. His most recent book, The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office, was widely reviewed across the United States. Professor Suri's research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian Magazine named him one of America's "Top Young Innovators" in the Arts and Sciences. In 2018 he received the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas, and the Pro Bene Meritis Award for Contributions to the Liberal Arts. His writings appear widely in blogs and print media (including the New York Times, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Atlantic, Wired, New Republic, Foreign Policy, and others.) Professor Suri is also a frequent public lecturer and guest on radio and television programs. He hosts a weekly podcast, “This is Democracy,” available through his professional webpage: http://jeremisuri.net.

Diane B. Kunz, Esq. is Executive Director of the Center for Adoption Policy, a 501 (c) 3 corporation that has become the preeminent legal and policy institute engaged in adoption and family creation issues. Dr. Kunz has advised U.S. government agencies including the Department of State, USCIS, and the Centers for Disease Control. She was one of the architects of the Haitian Humanitarian Parole program which brought over 1,100 unparented children home to their identified adoptive parents after the devasting 2010 earthquake and co-authored the Help Haiti Act of 2010 which granted U.S. citizenship to the adopted children. From 1976 to 1983 Dr. Kunz practiced corporate law with the firms of White & Case and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (Cornell University, J.D. 1976, Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Columbia University, 1975-1976). She left the practice of law and studied diplomatic and economic history at Oxford University (M. Litt. 1986) and Yale University (Ph.D, 1989). From 1988 until 1998 she was Assistant, then Associate Professor of History at Yale University. While at Yale she wrote extensively on twentieth century history, including the prize- winning book, The Economic Diplomacy of the Suez Crisis and Butter and Guns: The Economic Diplomacy of the Cold War. From 1998-2001 she taught history and international relations at Columbia University and since 2010 has been associated in various capacities with Duke University. Her work in progress, The Importance of Having Children: A Diplomatic, Economic, and Social History of U.S. International Adoption, is under contract with UNC press.

Barbara Keys holds a Chair in U.S. and International History at Durham University. She received her PhD from Harvard University. She is the author or editor of three books, including Reclaiming American Virtue: The Human Rights Revolution of the 1970s (Harvard University Press, 2014), and dozens of articles and book chapters, including "Henry Kissinger: The Emotional Statesman" and "The Diplomat's Two Minds: Deconstructing a Foreign Policy Myth," both in Diplomatic History. After finishing a book manuscript on anti-torture campaigns since 1945, she is writing a book on the relationship between Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai. She is a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

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