John Dumbrell (Durham) – The détente of the 1970s came to an end during Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1977-81) to be followed by a renewal of Cold War confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union. Drawing on newly released records, John Dumbrell explores how Carter’s presidency sought to engage with the Soviet Union in pursuit of peace but ultimately decided that a reassertion of US military power was needed to curb the Kremlin’s adventurism. In this regard Carter started the military build-up that Ronald Reagan would ultimately complete in order to compel the Soviets to recognize that they could not win a new arms race. The talk will also examine how Jimmy Carter’s relationship with the Soviet leaders has parallels in today’s Obama-Putin relationship and whether there are any lessons to be drawn from the past.
John Dumbrell is currently Professor of Government in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University. He has also held professorial appointments at the University of Leicester and the University of Keele. He is a former chair of the American Politics Group of the Political Studies Association. He has written extensively on US foreign policy, most recently Rethinking the Vietnam War (Palgrave Macmillan 2012). This examines competing interpretations of the war, contrasting traditional ‘orthodox’ (anti-war) interpretations with various revisionist analyses. John’s current project builds on his earlier book on Jimmy Carter’s human rights policy that will examine its global impact. This will culminate in a survey of the operation of the Carter human rights policy across the world. He is also working on a revised third edition of his study of Anglo-American relations. Previous volumes were published as A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations during the Cold War and After (2001) and A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations from the Cold War to Iraq (2006). The third edition will be published as A Special Relationship: Anglo-American Relations from the Cold War to Obama.