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American Statesmanship:
The Cold War

Throughout the ages, statesmanship has entailed employing a country’s tools of power to secure its interests on the international stage. Great statesmen, from Pericles to Churchill, had their greatest impact during crises, steering their nation away from potential disaster to ultimate victory. For modern purposes, no event better demonstrates the role of statesmanship than the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States navigated crisis after crisis, confronting a Communist adversary that spanned two continents, and ultimately securing an improbable victory despite long odds. By examining key decision points in the early Cold War—including the 1945 post-World War II negotiations, the Korean War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis—students will be exposed to political thinking in its most robust form. Engaging with primary texts like speeches, cabinet minutes, and policy telegrams will allow students to inhabit the minds of the “men on the spot.” We will grasp the agonizing difficulty of near-impossible political choices and understand how leaders navigated between surrender and Armageddon.