Dean Acheson and the Creation of an American World Order

March 18, 2009 // 3:30pm5:00pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
History and Public Policy Program

Robert J. McMahon, author of Dean Acheson and the Creation of an American World Order, Anna Kasten Nelson, distinguished historian in residence at American University, and Elizabeth Edwards Spalding, associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, will discuss the life and career of Dean Acheson, one of America's foremost Cold War diplomats and strategists. As a top State Department official from 1941 to 1947 and as Harry S. Truman's secretary of state from 1949 to 1953, Acheson shaped many of the key U.S. foreign policy initiatives of those years, including the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the rebuilding of Germany and Japan, America's intervention in Korea, and its early involvement in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Right up until his death in 1971, Acheson continued to participate in major policy decisions and debates, including the Cuban missile and Berlin crises and the Vietnam War.

Robert J. McMahon is Ralph D. Mershon Professor of History at Ohio State University. He is the author of several books on U.S. foreign relations, including The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction, The Limits of Empire: The United States and Southeast Asia Since World War II, and The Cold War on the Periphery: The United States, India, and Pakistan.

Anna Kasten Nelson is the distinguished historian in residence at
American University where she teaches courses related to United States foreign policy. She is the author of a number of books, articles, essays and reviews that have appeared in major historical journals including the Journal of American History, Diplomatic History, Journal of Military History, and Political Science Quarterly. Her most recent article is "The Evolution of the National Security State: Ubiquitous and Unending," in The Long War, Andrew Bacevich, Editor. She is the editor of The Policy Makers: Shaping American Foreign Policy from 1947 to the Present (November 2008) and the State Department Planning Staff Papers, 1947-1949.

Elizabeth Edwards Spalding is an associate professor of government and Washington program director at Claremont McKenna College, where she teaches courses on United States foreign policy during and after the Cold War, international relations, and the U.S.-European alliance relationship. She is the author of The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment and the Remaking of Liberal Inernationalism (2006), and a contributor to a number of edited volumes, encyclopedias and journals. Her most recent works include a chapter in the edited volume Religion and the American Presidency: George Washington to George W. Bush with Commentary and Primary Sources (2009) and article contributions to the Encyclopedia of the Cold War (2008).

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project