Liverpool John Moores University
19 May 2017
09:00 – 09:50
Dr Malcolm Craig (LJMU)
‘Death Cults, Hottentonts and Mad Mullahs: Race, Religion and the Bomb, 1945 – 2017’
Since the founding of the United States, race and religion have been two of the dominant themes in the nation’s history. Their influence has been felt in America’s interactions with the rest of the world, with attitudes towards race, religion, and ‘otherness’ have shaped US foreign policy since 1783. After 1945, these themes intertwined with the emerging atomic age to mould thinking about the potential use and spread of nuclear weapons. This paper will analyse how, when, and why race and religion have influenced nuclear policy. By so doing, it will argue that contemporary attitudes towards the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea are merely the most recent examples of trends that have persisted and mutated since before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Politicians, officials, strategists, scientists, academics, and the media have all contributed to this persistence, drawing a line from the deserts of New Mexico, through the cities of Japan, the islands of the Pacific, and the deserts of the Middle East to the mountains of North Korea and the coast of Iran.
09:50 – 11:30 Panel One
Policies and perceptions of supranational organisations in the Twentieth Century
Chair: Dean Clay
Emil Eiby Seidenfaden (Aarhus University)
‘Public Legitimization Strategies of the League of Nations, 1919-1925’
This paper discusses the early years of the Information Section of the League of Nations Secretariat in Geneva. This section was devoted to maintaining the League’s relationship to the “world public” in accordance with calls for an “open diplomacy” following the First World War.
Jan Werner-Müller has suggested that the dawn of the interwar period brought a need for states to publicly justify forms of rule and institutions. The paper provides an international perspective to this phenomenon by studying the first attempt of such public justification made by an international organisation. Thus, it contributes to historians’ understanding of how the international interacted with the national in terms of ideas of representation and democratic legitimacy in the interwar period.
The paper is based on archival material from the League’s Archives in Geneva and focuses on a small group of leading figures of the Information Section from 1919 to 1925 and how they established channels of communications with the public and invented formats of publications to spread the League’s message. Two main questions are asked: What kind of public legitimization strategies did they develop, and what challenges did they encounter in their effort?
The paper argues that officials of the Information Section were constantly confronted with dilemmas between, on the one hand, wishing to send a message of public transparency and devotion to the international cause, and, on the other hand, taking into account sensitive Great Power interests. The result was a varied selection of strategies sometimes complementing and sometimes undermining each other.
The paper is an offspring of my Ph.D.-project, which furthermore is part of the collective research project “Inventing International Bureaucracy – the League of Nations and the Creation of International Public Administration 1920-1960” headed by Karen Gram-Skjoldager at Aarhus University.
Dr Barbara Warnock (Birkbeck College, University of London)
‘The ‘First Bailout’ 1922: International Financial Diplomacy and the League of Nations in Austria’
This paper, based upon research conducted for my PhD, will explore the significance of the reconstruction programme for Austria launched by the League of Nations’ embryonic Economic and Financial Organisation in 1922. This scheme, which emerged out of the post-First World War peace settlements, was the first ever stabilisation programme organised under the auspices of an international organisation, and, as such, it was an innovation in international affairs.
As Keynes had argued, the economic and financial stability of Europe had been overlooked in the peace negotiations, and the League’s programme for Austria was an attempt to address this lacuna, and an effort to improve the chances that the new Austrian Republic would be able to survive post-war as an independent, autonomous entity.
This paper will argue that by prioritising the re-establishment in Austria of orthodox economic and financial doctrines, the Austrian reconstruction programme – which was to an extent an idealistic diplomatic innovation – actually had the effect of in some ways undermining the prospects for peace and stability in Europe. Austria did not ever effectively stabilise politically or socially in the 1920s, and the banking crisis that emerged in the country in 1931 had far-reaching consequences. Democratic politics had been destroyed, and leftist forces defeated, long before the Nazi takeover of 1938.
Ultimately, the examination of this first bailout programme reveals that the failure to take sufficient account of political and social conditions within a country in the design of such schemes can work to undermine, and not enhance, international order.
Dr Martin Ottovay Jorgensen (Aalborg University)
‘Linking International, Gender and Social History: What Does a Gendered Analysis of Everyday Life in the Gaza Strip Reveal of the First United Nations Peacekeeping Intervention, 1956-1967?’
Historians focusing on the United Nations peacekeeping during the Cold War have traditionally focused on mostly national decision-making and regional geopolitics. In contrast, scholars from the social sciences focusing on post-Cold War interventions, especially scholars in Feminist peace research, have increasingly turned to analysing the gendered everyday of peacekeeping operations and peacebuilding processes. Finding inspiration in feminist peace research, this paper consequently offers a theoretically informed and empirically based approach of first United Nations peacekeeping operation in Egypt and the Gaza Strip from 1956 to 1967.
Concretely, the paper focuses on how the local Palestinian local and refugee communities, families, and individuals reacted to and engaged with the international regimes in villages, towns and fields on basis of their agency, histories and aspirations to navigate the intersectional insecurities, inequalities, and vulnerabilities engendered by the decade long joint regime of the UN and Egypt in the Gaza Strip from 1957 to 1967.
In doing so, it unpacks how the joint UN-Egyptian regimes of governance in many ways represented a continuation and in some cases a worsening of the militarisation of everyday and pauperisation that the British mandate from the mid-1920s to 1948 and Israeli ethnic cleansing in 1948 engendered due to the UN’s lack of genuine attempts of sustainable peacebuilding and failure to counter Western and Israeli pressures.
Matt Jones (Keele University)
‘Britain’s Overseas Conflicts and the United Nations, 1982-2009: Reflections from the Mass Observation Project’
Scholars and political commentators in the UK are placing greater emphasis on the role of public opinion in foreign policy and international decision making – particularly since the Iraq War of 2003. The election of Donald Trump has reignited debate on both sides of the Atlantic as to what purpose the United Nations serves, and what role individual states should play within it. Popular sentiment toward the institutions of the UN should, I argue, be considered an important part of Britain’s international outlook and a factor which policy-makers must take into account.
This paper suggests that – as opinion polling and analysis indicates – the eruption of armed conflict forces members of the public and individuals to evaluate Britain’s relationship with the UN. It draws on responses to the Mass Observation Project in order to show the detailed, varied and conflicting interpretations of the United Nations as a forum for conflict resolution, the subjective character of which is not fully captured by survey and poll analysis. It argues that since 1982 repeated overseas conflicts have elicited a surprisingly stable and consistent range of ideas related to the United Nations in stark contrast to much of the rest of the content of their written accounts. The UN is repeatedly and equivocally described by the majority of observers as a noble institution based on desirable aims and principles, yet is simultaneously considered to be impotent and ineffective. Observers paradoxically desire full collective security, yet believe that overseas interventions are a symptom of, and produce more, institutional weakness.
Embedded in historical and personal memory, observers’ responses regarding the United Nations evidence a persistent difficulty in reconciling idealistic notions of global governance/consensus with pragmatic action and realpolitik.
11:30 – 11:40 Tea/coffee break
11:40 – 13:25 Panel Two
Cultures of British Foreign Policy, 1945 – 1983
Chair: Dan Feather
James Southern (QMUL/Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
‘The “Mystic Link between Colour and Security”: Race and the British Foreign Office, 1945-1993’
In December 1949, after a long argument with the Foreign Office and other departments about the employment of coloured people in the Civil Service, an exasperated Treasury official (the Treasury was then the department with power over Civil Service recruitment) wrote that nothing could be done about the ‘mystic link between colour and security’. He hit upon a question that plagued the Foreign Office throughout the second half of the twentieth century: could a black diplomat ever represent Britain?
This paper charts the story of ethnic minorities at the British Foreign Office in the second half of the twentieth century. Beginning with the 1948 Nationality Act, which represented the last significant attempt to reimagine the Commonwealth as a socially and culturally cohesive bloc, it investigates Foreign Office policy toward the hiring of “coloured” diplomats – a long and complex story which culminated with the appointment of Britain’s first ethnic minority Head of Mission, Indian-born Noel Jones, as Ambassador to Kazakhstan in 1993.
Using Foreign Office files held at the National Archives, the paper analyses the evolution of policy in the context of mass immigration and the changing social and cultural status of migrants and ethnic minorities from the 1940s through to the 1990s. It seeks to use the Diplomatic Service as a prism through which to view the relationships between race, Empire, nationality and elite institutions in twentieth-century Britain.
Adam Rolewicz (University of Kent)
‘Unfinished Business: Foreign Office Attitudes, the Brussels Breakdown and Britain’s Second Application for Membership of the EEC, 1964-7.’
In January 1963, Charles de Gaulle said ‘non’ to Britain’s application for membership of the European Communities. The General’s decision sent shockwaves through the foundations of the British political system, and marked the genesis of a decade-long struggle to get Britain into the Common Market. The gravity of the French veto was particularly significant for the Foreign Office. After years of caution and uncertainty, the department had gambled on membership of the EEC as a means of preserving the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ and Britain’s principal role in Western Europe and lost. What followed was a complete change in attitude towards the issue of British membership in the Foreign Office: one of defiance against French obstruction and an unyielding determination that Britain would accede. She had unfinished business.
This paper will demonstrate how the Brussels breakdown of 1963 was a ‘watershed’ moment for Foreign Office attitudes towards European integration and convinced the chief officials that the very future of Britain’s international standing was linked to membership. There was, of course, significant diversity in the officials’ views on Europe: some remained unconvinced; some were unabashedly ‘Europeanist’; others believed that it was a logical step towards maintaining British grandeur. In addition, this paper will argue that the Foreign Office’s views diverged with those of No. 10, and that reconciling these alternative perspectives on membership was fundamental to the inception of the second application. Britain’s second application for membership was pre-emptively aborted by de Gaulle, but this was largely a ‘Pyrrhic victory’ for the French President. The British government had succeeded in demonstrating their commitment towards Europe and laid the groundwork for accession in 1973.
Nina Rogers (Liverpool Hope University)
‘Sport as foreign policy: International Sport and the Thatcher Administration (1979-1983).’
This paper assesses the impact of both international developments and diplomatic factors upon the Thatcher administration’s response to British involvement in international sport between 1979 and 1983.
The Thatcher Governments (1979-1990), encountered many collisions between sport and international politics. The American-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is the most well-known example. Despite this, research regarding the British response is lacking. Thatcher’s support for the boycott is simply viewed as British compliance with U.S policies. However, this paper considers not only the significance of the ‘special relationship,’ but also Thatcher’s response to the Cold War, in shaping official support for the boycott. This research further examines other less explored instances of overlap between sport and international policy during the early Thatcher Governments.
Alongside the Olympic Boycott, the 1980s saw debate regarding British sporting contacts with Apartheid-ruled South Africa. Moreover, the Falklands War created uncertainty about British participation in the 1982 Football World Cup in Spain. The official response to all of these events differed. In contrast to its strong response to the Moscow Olympics and despite its commitment to the 1977 Gleneagles Agreement, the Government failed to prevent British contact with South African teams. Furthermore, despite public concerns about participation, it refused to prevent British attendance at the World Cup. This paper utilises a wealth of official material to demonstrate the importance of both domestic and international concerns in influencing the Thatcher Government’s response to international sport, and how sport became a foreign policy tool.
Louise Ann Clare (University of Manchester)
‘Gotcha’ and ‘Estamos Ganando’: Reflect or influence? British and Argentine newspapers and governments’ actions and policymaking during the Falklands’
The little known, far flung islands called the Falkland Islands or Las Islas Malvinas as they are known by the Hispanic world had been a source of dispute for centuries and a thorn in the side of diplomacy for both Argentina and Britain. However, in April 1982, the Argentine occupation of the Islands caught the attention of the world’s media. Works were being produced even before the War had ended, and a plethora has been produced since, yet work focusing on both British and Argentine media is virtually non-existent, despite the important role the media was playing in Cold War diplomacy and propaganda.
Throughout the various wars of the twentieth century, it has been argued by many historians, such as Philip M. Taylor, that during wars or crises particularly Suez and the First Gulf War, the media tended to reflect government views. However, this paper, looking at the media through the lens of a selection of both English language and Spanish language newspapers, will argue that the media and respective governments in the Falklands War were in a symbiotic relationship affecting government actions and policymaking. Ultimately, through examining this selection of English language and Spanish language newspapers, from specific dates, this paper will highlight the importance the media plays in policymaking and diplomacy by cataloguing how the media not only reflected but also influenced government actions and policymaking during the Falklands War.
13:25 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:30 Panel Three
China in the Twentieth Century
Chair: James Brocklesby
Tom Harper (University of Surrey)
‘The Emperor’s New Clothes: China’s Global Position and how the Experiences of the 20th Century Shapes it’
China is often regarded as one of the Great Powers of the 21st century, but for much of the previous century, it was a ramshackle medieval empire and later an unstable republic preyed upon by the imperial powers and warlords. As China’s role and identity changes, so too do the perceptions of it. This has shifted from the traditional image of China as an exotic, hostile enemy of Western civilisation, as epitomised by Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, to fears over China’s growing economic and military power, as well as Beijing’s increasingly confident stance. It is often feared that China will seek to challenge the current international status quo, dominated by the United States, or to change this into one desired by Beijing. As a result, many accounts of China’s rise have often looked back to the lessons of the 20th century, where revisionist powers sought to do this, a move that often ended in conflict.
In this sense, the purpose of this paper is to explore how the present perceptions of China and of Chinese foreign policy are often influenced by the experiences of the 20th century, with the Anglo German rivalry of the pre WW1 era and the Soviet-American conflict of the Cold War being cited in the depictions of China’s uneasy relationship with the United States. All of these serve to create the assumption that China is unhappy with the present international system and will seek to revise it as Wilhelmine Germany and the Soviet Union sought to in the previous century. It is also these assumptions that the perceptions of China have shifted from being an exotic enemy in the mould of the Yellow Peril to an ascendant Great Power, treading the path of the 20th century’s Great Powers.
Dr Simon Hill (LJMU)
‘Glaswegians in China 1976-1977: The PRC’s Open Door Policy Reconsidered & the Legacy of British Imperialism’
Through its association with shipping, banking and industry, Glasgow was arguably the second city of the British Empire. Henceforth, the city developed several ties to Britain’s ‘informal empire’ in China. These business networks stood to lose with the establishment of the communist People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. However, these losses proved relatively brief, as US President Nixon and Chinese leader Mao Zedong met in Beijing in 1972 – thus heralding the start of East-West Détente. Glaswegian prospects in China seemed to improve even further under Deng Xiaoping’s leadership in the late-1970s and early-1980s, when Beijing initiated an Open Door policy to western enterprise to accelerate China’s modernisation.
Drawing upon records obtained in the Mitchell Library, this presentation re-tells the story of a trade delegation sent from Glasgow to the PRC between 1976 and 1977. It considers the organisation, membership, activities, and outcomes of this party. In doing so, the presentation suggests (1). That although Deng Xiaoping’s much lauded Open Door policy of the 1980s was instrumental in boosting ties between the PRC and Britain, it was actually the Nixon-Mao meeting of 1972 that paved the way for this (2). That during the planning stages of this delegation to China, the British government was keen to avoid any perception of the British Empire returning to China – a sign of the weakness of the neo-colonialist interpretation, and that imperial legacies cast a long shadow even in the era of Decolonisation (3). That provincial towns, such as Glasgow, were part of the Cold War too – not just national capitals.
Christopher Wallis (Northumbria University)
‘Playing the China Card: Normalisation and the Bureaucratic Wars of the Carter Administration’.
On 1 January, 1979, the United States and the People’s Republic of China issued a joint communiqué that established diplomatic relations between the two nations. Although a significant diplomatic and historic achievement for President Jimmy Carter, normalisation was beset by internal disagreements within his administration, emanating from the institutional rivalry between the National Security Council and the State Department.
The relationship between the two departments produced a number of struggles for control of U.S. foreign policy over the years but the centralisation of decision making within the White House during the Nixon/Ford administrations increased the stature of the NSC and weakened the State Department’s influence. A sense of competition between the two departments duly arose. While various studies have focused on the evolution of the NSC there has been a tendency to overlook relations with the State Department, particularly during the Carter Presidency when the conflict intensified.
Foreign policy decision making during the Carter years became marked by divisions between Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Their desire to control and manage U.S. foreign policy was characterised by bitter infighting between their respective departments. As Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin recalled, ‘under Carter there was probably more controversy and heated debate among top officials than under any modern president.’
This paper examines how the conflict between Vance, Brzezinski and their respective departments during the Carter years impacted on the administration’s attempts to establish diplomatic relations with China. Normalisation exposed ideological and bureaucratic fault lines, which contributed to the struggles between the principals and fuelled the departmental rivalry. As this paper will illustrate, the disagreements were clearly evident and had a significant impact on the administration’s foreign policy agenda.
15:30 – 15:40 Tea/coffee break
15:40 – 17:10 Panel Four
Developments in American Political and Foreign Affairs in the Cold War
Chair: Todd Carter
Darius Wainwright (University of Reading)
‘Selling the American Way of Life: The United States and the Teaching of the English Language in Iran, 1953-58’
Between 1945 and 1979, Iran was of strategic importance to American diplomats. The country was a vital oil source and its membership of the Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) made the Iranian government a vital ally in the Cold War against the Soviet Union in the Middle East. From February 1958 however, the country’s importance to American interests was amplified. Governments espousing Arab Nationalist ideals – most notably neutrality in the Cold War – had emerged in Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Eager to capitalise on this, the Soviet Union increased the number of pro-communist Arab and Farsi language broadcasts to the Middle East.
This paper examines the United States’ cultural diplomacy in Iran between 1953 and 1958. It identifies how US officials sought to attract Iranians towards the American way of life and the extent to which they were successful. The paper pays particular attention to the role played by the United States Information Agency (USIA) in Iran. The institution had been established in August 1953 at the Eisenhower administration’s behest to inform and promote US policies, values and lifestyles to foreign publics. It discusses how USIA officials in Iran devised English language courses to students of all abilities, while also promoting American music and Hollywood films.
The paper makes three original contributions. First, it is an original take on American relations with Iran. Instead of considering military and economic interactions, the paper examines the topic through the prism of soft power. Second, it explores how the United States responded to its emergence as a global superpower. Third, It explores how, despite the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’, the US competed with the UK to be the dominant western power in the Middle East. Both countries had different regional priorities, with the US State Department suspecting their Foreign Office counterparts of harbouring imperialist motives towards the Middle East.
Dafydd Townley (University of Reading)
‘The Late, Late Candidate: Frank Church, the CIA, and the 1976 Democratic Nomination’
The Congressional intelligence investigations of 1975 had a significant impact on the US presidential elections of 1976. In particular, the fallout of the so-called Year of Intelligence affected the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an effort to gain public approval for the Senate’s bipartisan investigation’s recommendations for reform to intelligence oversight, Senator Frank Church (D-ID) took the struggle into the public domain. Church, chair of the Senate’s select committee to investigate the intelligence community, used the press, television and public appearances to promote the work of the Church Committee.
Church’s efforts to garner the support of the nation were criticised by Republican and intelligence loyalists as being self-promoting. Evidence for such accusations came with Church’s declaration as a candidate for the Democrat nominee for the 1976 candidacy. Church always maintained that such accusations were false and wholly unsubstantiated. Church failed in his bid for the candidacy, losing to former Governor Jimmy Carter who won the presidency in a tight race with incumbent Gerald R Ford.
Using oral history interviews and archival evidence this paper contests the accusations of those opposed to the Church Committee. It argues that Church’s tactic of going public was necessary to highlight the intelligence community’s undemocratic methods, and as a consequence to ensure that the Church Committee’s intelligence reforms were adopted. In addition, this paper will show that Church’s chances in the race for the White House were hindered by his sincere insistence on completing the Church Committee investigations prior to any bid for higher office and, as a result, his aspirations were never realistic.
Elliot Newbold (University of Nottingham)
‘The “Perfect Place to Win Friends and Influence People”: Paul V. McNutt, the Cold War, and the Fledgling Philippine State, 1945-1947’
This paper examines the formation of the Philippine state against the backdrop of a global Cold War. The United States granted the Philippines independence on the 4th of July 1946 after almost fifty years of intermittent colonial rule. This critical event in Philippine-American history intersected with the emergence of a truly international Cold War, in which inherent ideological divisions between the Soviet Union and United States produced distinctly different visions of the decolonizing world. Using the career of Paul V. McNutt (first ambassador to the newly independent Philippines) as a lens to explore how the Cold War informed America’s decolonization of the islands, this paper examines the transnational influences that underscored US perceptions of imperialism. Illustrative of the power of local agency to inform and accentuate international politics, McNutt’s tenure in the Philippines focused on folding the newly independent Philippine state into the US Cold War alliance-network. Competing against local ideas of communist revolution, the burgeoning threat of a communist China, and the emergence of the Soviet Union as a world power, McNutt and his staff sought to “win friends and influence people” in the global battle for hearts and minds by positing an Americanised vision of decolonization in the Philippines.