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Lecture | Book Launch

Book Launch 'Freedom on the Offensive'

Thursday 8 December 2022
Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis
Kloveniersburgwal 48
1012 CX 1012 CX
E 1.02

Book Launch Presentation and Discussion

In Freedom on the Offensive, William Michael Schmidli illuminates how the Reagan administration's embrace of democracy promotion was a defining development in US foreign policy in the late twentieth century.  Reagan used democracy promotion to refashion the bipartisan Cold War consensus that had collapsed in the late 1960s amid opposition to the Vietnam War.  Over the course of the 1980s, the initiative led to a greater institutionalization of human rights—narrowly defined to include political rights and civil liberties and to exclude social and economic rights—as a US foreign policy priority.  Democracy promotion thus served to legitimize a distinctive form of US interventionism and to underpin the Reagan administration's aggressive Cold War foreign policies.  

Using Reagan's undeclared war on Nicaragua as a case study in US interventionism, Freedom on the Offensive explores how democracy promotion emerged as the centerpiece of an increasingly robust US human rights agenda. Yet, this initiative also became intertwined with deeply undemocratic practices that misled the American people, violated US law, and contributed to immense human and material destruction. Pursued through civil society or low-cost military interventions and rooted in the neoliberal imperatives of US-led globalization, Reagan's democracy promotion initiative had major implications for post–Cold War US foreign policy. 

Event Co-sponsored by the Cold War Research Network; GER Department, UvA; Modern History Research Group, Amsterdam School for Historical Studies 

Contact: ruud.vandijk@uva.nl

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