Skip to content

Visiting Scholars Seminar: New Research on Europe

The Second Cold War: Carter, Reagan & Intermestic Politics


March 8, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
March 8, 2017
12:15pm - 1:45pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

Recent decades have seen international history approaches dominate the study of American foreign relations, and the late Cold War. Historians have assessed U.S. and Soviet policy at a state-to- state level, or through the dispositions of leaders, dividing attention between Washington and Moscow within the global context of the 1980s. With the end of the conflict, and the onset of globalization, alternative methods have been in vogue. Scholars have drawn upon sources further afield to explain foreign policy, often adopting a bottom-up approach. Here much of the focus has been placed on the roles of human rights networks, NGOs, and social movements, emphasizing the collective pressure applied on world leaders. Such works have deepened our understanding of how actors around the world, state and non-state, influenced the Cold War. But the ‘transnational turn’ has come at a price. Lost in the discourse amid the global tide has been the role of domestic politics. The result is a distorted portrayal of the context in which U.S. policymakers made their decisions. Too much agency is assigned to external circumstances, without a corresponding examination of domestic forces, and the parameters they set for foreign policy. This paper argues that the East-West policy reversals of both Carter and Reagan – and with it, the course of the ‘Second’ Cold War (1979-85) – were driven by ‘intermestic’ politics, where the international and domestic agendas became entwined.

Sponsors

Close