History and Theory of International Relations


From Coalition to Rivalry: The Soviet Union and United States at the Beginning of the Cold War

Speakers: Frank Costigliola, Melvyn P. Leffler, and Philip D. Zelikow
Introductory Speaker: Richard N. Haass
Presider: Andrew Nagorski

Frank Costigliola of the University of Connecticut, Melvyn P. Leffler of the University of Virginia, and Philip D. Zelikow of the University of Virginia join Andrew Nagorski, former president and director of public policy at the EastWest Institute, to discuss key events and ideologies that formed the origins of the Cold War.

See more in Russian Federation; United States; History and Theory of International Relations; Wars and Warfare


When Reagan Cut and Run

Author: Micah Zenko

On February 7, 1984, President Ronald Reagan withdrew the U.S. Marines from Lebanon—an action that was "perhaps the most purposeful and consequential foreign-policy decision of his presidency," Micah Zenko writes. In this article, Zenko discusses the unclear and unachievable mission of the United States in Lebanon, and Reagan's subsequent decision to withdraw.

See more in Lebanon; History and Theory of International Relations

Primary Sources

Chinese Communist Party: Communiqué on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere

This communiqué (also known as Document 9, 9号文件 ) outlines how the Chinese Communist Party can resist what the Party considers ideological threats from "Western value systems," such as civil society organizations and universal values. The document also offers a definition of constitutionalism and human rights for China. Originally published in September 2013 by Mingjing Magazine, the Asia Society's ChinaFile translated and republished it with permission.

See more in China; History and Theory of International Relations; Nonstate Actors and Nongovernmental Organizations


The Dunkirk Diplomat

Author: Benn Steil
History Today

Benn Steil's article in the June 2013 edition of History Today takes a critical look at John Maynard Keynes's performance as a diplomat during World War II, concluding that Britain had made a mistake sending him to Washington. His temperament and overinvestment in his personal legacy resulted in Britain paying a high political and economic price for American financial assistance.

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Ask CFR Experts

What is the effect of U.S. domestic political gridlock on international relations?

Asked by Joe Boutte, from United States

There is a well-known adage that politics stops at the water's edge, but this tends to be more hope than reality. American history is filled with examples in which political disagreement at home has made it difficult for the United States to act, much less lead, abroad.

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See more in United States; Congresses, Parliaments, National Legislatures; History and Theory of International Relations

Ask CFR Experts

Why did the United States fail to join the League of Nations?

Asked by Adepoju Adeola Praise, from Eastern Mediterranean University

The League of Nations was championed by President Woodrow Wilson in a fourteen-point speech to a joint session of Congress on January 8, 1918, and formally began its operations in January 1920. However, the League failed to win Senate approval and is forever remembered as a major example of a communications breakdown between the president and the Senate.

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See more in United States; International Organizations and Alliances; History and Theory of International Relations