Series

Lessons From History

This meeting series was endowed by David M. Rubenstein in 2015 to use historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in consequential historical events or from experts and historians.
  • Energy and Environment

    In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall as one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever hit the United States, causing tens of billions of dollars in damage and dozens of casualties. A decade later, climate change has continued to intensify the impacts of hurricanes in the United States, as made evident by recent Hurricane Ian. Our panelists discuss lessons learned in climate resiliency over the past decade, and how the United States can better prepare for natural disasters moving forward.  The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
  • Foreign Policy

    In early 1947, Harry Truman announced that the United States would give assistance to countries under threat from authoritarian forces. Later that year, George C. Marshall addressed Harvard University on the urgent need to help European recovery. In the year that followed the Marshall plan was enacted. Please join our panelists as they discuss the legacy of the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine seventy-five years later and the lessons to be learned for U.S. foreign policy today. The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
  • Foreign Policy

    Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discusses leadership in the twentieth century and lessons for contemporary foreign policy. The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
  • Asia

    On the anniversary of President Nixon's February 1972 trip to China, our panelists examine the significance of the trip and its influence on U.S. foreign policy, how U.S.-China relations have fared in the fifty years since the visit, and the challenges ahead for the two countries. The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
  • Diplomacy and International Institutions

    Panelists discuss the history of setting “red lines” in U.S. foreign policy, whether they have helped to achieve diplomatic goals, and how these statements affect current policy priorities. The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
  • Israel

    Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, only two years after he shook hands with Yasser Arafat on the White House South Lawn following the signing of the Oslo Accords. Panelists discuss his legacy, achievements, and the ramifications of his assassination on the Middle East peace process twenty-five years later. The Lessons From History Series uses historical analysis as a critical tool for understanding modern foreign policy challenges by hearing from practitioners who played an important role in a consequential historical event or from experts and historians. This series is made possible through the generous support of David M. Rubenstein.
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    PLEASE NOTE: CFR members are encouraged to watch the documentary Desert One prior to the virtual discussion. A link to view the film will be sent to registrants on Friday, August 21.  Please join our panelists for a discussion of the Iranian hostage crisis and the implications of the failed rescue attempt for U.S.-Iran relations for the next forty years. From two-time Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, Desert One tells the story of America’s secret mission to free the hostages of the 1979 Iranian revolution.
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    Following the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War on June 25, please join our panelists as they discuss the how the war altered U.S. foreign policy, divided Korea, and had long lasting effects in the region.
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    Please join our panelists for a discussion on the lessons medical professionals and policymakers have learned in combating past pandemics and how such lessons can be applied in the fight against COVID-19 and future crises.
  • United States

    Panelists discuss The Human Factor and the history of the Middle East peace process. This documentary examines the decades-long pursuit of peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict chronicled by the American diplomats and negotiators working behind the scenes.
  • South Africa

    Panelists present firsthand accounts of the end of apartheid in South Africa, specifically the involvement of the United States and Great Britain, and the repercussions of their policies for South Africa twenty-five years later. This meeting is held in memory of Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who passed away in August 2018. Ambassador Lyman was the first holder of the Ralph Bunche endowed chair in Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Iran

    Panelists reflect on the events that unfolded during the Iranian Revolution in 1979, how the United States responded, and the consequences for today.
  • United States

    Panelists discuss the policies and priorities of the Jimmy Carter administration and the lessons to be learned for U.S. foreign policy today.
  • United States

    Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jay Winik discuss presidential leadership and the definitive qualities that presidents throughout history have exemplified to overcome adversity. 
  • Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    Panelists discuss the HBO documentary film The Oslo Diaries as well as the years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the legacy of the agreements, and the future of the peace process.
  • United States

    Speakers discuss the founding of the United States, the priorities and goals debated during the framing of the U.S. Constitution, and what eighteenth century politics can teach us about modern U.S. foreign policy.
  • Vietnam War

    Panelists discuss the fiftieth anniversary of the Tet Offensive, launched in late January 1968, and the lessons learned or forgotten from the Vietnam War for the United States today. 
  • Ireland

    Panelists discuss the relative success of the Northern Ireland peace process almost twenty years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
  • Middle East and North Africa

    Experts discuss the legacy of the 1967 Six Day War, its influence on U.S. policy in the Middle East for the last fifty years, and the prospects of negotiating a lasting Arab-Israeli peace deal.
  • Political History and Theory

    One hundred years ago this month, the United States declared war on Germany and thereby entered World War I. Experts discuss why the United States entered "the Great War," the consequences it had for American society and foreign policy, and what lessons it holds for Americans going forward.
  • Iraq

    Experts discuss the successes and failures of the 2007 U.S. military surge in Iraq, its implications for U.S. strategy in the region over the past ten years, and lessons moving forward.
  • United States

    Experts discuss the policies and priorities of the Ronald Reagan administration and the lessons to be learned for U.S. foreign policy today.
  • United States

    Experts discuss developments in counterterrorism and intelligence gathering in the past fifteen years, including lessons learned since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • United States

    Experts discuss the foreign policy initiatives of the Obama administration, its successes and failures, and the issues that will become President Obama's lasting legacy.