Ucl institute of the Americas Presidential History Network Symposium 14. 00-17. 00

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UCL Institute of the Americas

Presidential History Network Symposium


27 March 2015

US National Security in the Early Cold War and Early Post-Cold War

All are welcome to attend this free event

but registration via Institute of the Americas is essential

Speakers and Presentations:

14.00-15.30 The CIA in the Early Cold War

Steve Long Failing the ‘Clinical Test’: The CIA’s Prototype Cold War Covert Operation against Communist Albania, 1949-54

Steve Long gained his PhD researching US Foreign Policy and Intelligence from the University of Birmingham in 2009. He is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University. He has published numerous articles on the early CIA and a monograph, The CIA and the Soviet Bloc: Political Warfare, the Origins of the CIA, and Countering Communism in Europe (I.B. Tauris, 2014). His presentation today is based on research for a new book.

Synopsis: In 1949 America’s newly established covert action unit inside the CIA, the Office of Policy Coordination, launched a top-secret operation in combination with Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service aimed at overthrowing the communist regime of Enver Hoxha in Albania. Described by OPC chief Frank Wisner at the time as the “clinical test” for the feasibility of CIA covert action against communist states, the Albanian operation under the codename BGFIEND was a calamitous failure. Drawing upon recently declassified US government documents, this paper will explore issues surrounding the nature of and reasons behind the failure of BGFIEND, evaluating the importance of strategic, tactical and security flaws which all undermined the venture. It will also consider the significance and implications of BGFIEND more broadly within historical narratives of CIA covert action and the Cold War. 

Hugh Wilford The CIA, Covert Action and American Society in the Early Cold War
Hugh Wilford was previously at the University of Sheffield and is presently Professor of American History at California State University at Long Beach. He is the author of several books on US Cold War culture and foreign relations, including The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Harvard University Press, 2008). His most recent book, America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East (Basic Books, 2013), won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s 2014 Gold Medal Book Award.
Synopsis: During the early Cold War, the CIA enjoyed extraordinary freedom to carry out covert operations domestically as well as overseas, for example creating ‘front' organizations of American citizens who advocated policies that contradicted the public U.S. Government line on a variety of issues.  This paper will examine the broader forces in American politics, society and culture that gave rise to this state of affairs, as well as considering the reasons for the decline in the CIA’s domestic reach and reputation that took place over the course of the 1960s.
15.30-16.00 Tea/Coffee
16.00-17.00 Bill Clinton’s Grand Strategy
James Boys will discuss and respond to questions regarding his recently published book, Clinton’s Grand Strategy: US Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World (Bloomsbury 2015)
James Boys is Associate Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond University and Visiting Senior Research Fellow in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London. He has published widely in the field of US grand strategy and is a regular columnist and broadcaster for various media organizations. His new monograph, Clinton’s Grand Strategy: US Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War World (Bloomsbury 2015), is the first of a projected trilogy on the Clinton presidency.
Synopsis: President Clinton's time in office coincided with historic global events following the end of the Cold War. The collapse of Communism called for a new US Grand Strategy to address the emerging geopolitical era that brought upheavals in Somalia and the Balkans, economic challenges in Mexico and Europe and the emergence of new entities such as the EU, NAFTA and the WTO. Clinton's handling of these events was crucial to the development of world politics at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Only by understanding Clinton's efforts to address the challenges of the post-Cold War era can we understand the strategies of his immediate successors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom inherited and continued Clinton-era policies and practices. James Boys’ talk sheds new light on the evolution and execution of US Grand Strategy from 1993 to 2001. He explores the manner in which policy was devised and examines the actors responsible for its development, including Bill Clinton, Anthony Lake, Samuel Berger, Warren Christopher, Madeline Albright and Richard Holbrook. He examines the core components of the strategy (National Security, Prosperity Promotion, and Democracy Promotion) and how they were implemented, revealing a hitherto unexplored continuity from campaign trail to the White House. Covering the entire duration of Clinton's presidential odyssey, from his 1991 Announcement Speech to his final day in office, his monograph draws extensively on newly declassified primary materials and interviews with key members of the Clinton administration to reveal for the first time the development and implementation of US Grand Strategy from deep within the West Wing of the Clinton White House.
17.00 End of Symposium and Drinks

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