What Happened to the West? An Evolving Idea in American Foreign Policy
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What Happened to the West? An Evolving Idea in American Foreign Policy

Join us on Wednesday, July 1 from 6-7 p.m. for What Happened to the West? An Evolving Idea in American Foreign Policy. The IRC will welcome Michael Kimmage and Dr. Vince Houghton for an examination of American foreign policy. The program will be moderated by Jeffrey Gedmin. Presented in partnership with the U.S.-Europe Alliance.

When: Wednesday, July 1, 2020
6-7 p.m. CT
Where: Zoom
United States
Contact: Evan Verploegh

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Conceptions of the West guided and led American foreign policy for decades during the 20th century. Historian Michael Kimmage argues in his new book, The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy, that the U.S. should revive the idea of the West “to counter authoritarianism abroad and inspire unity at home.” Vince Houghton, curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, will join Kimmage to examine the impact of this idea for transatlantic intelligence relations and keeping threats to American national security at bay.

About the Speakers
Michael Kimmage specializes in the history of the Cold War, in twentieth-century U.S. diplomatic and intellectual history and in U.S.-Russian relations since 1991. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Secretary's Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio.

His next book, The Decline of the West: An American Story, is forthcoming with Basic Books. It is a study of transatlantic relations and U.S.-Russian relations from World War I to the present.

Professor Kimmage has published three books to date: The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers and the Lessons of Anti-Communism (Harvard University Press, 2009); In History’s Grip: Philip Roth's Newark Trilogy (Stanford University Press, 2012); and Wolfgang Koeppen’s Journey through America (Berghahn, 2012), a German-language travelogue published in 1959 and translated by Professor Kimmage. 

Professor Kimmage has written articles and books reviews for the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jewish Review of Books and Los Angeles Review of Books. He has been a visiting professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and at Vilnius University in Lithuania.


Dr. Vince Houghton is the historian and curator at the International Spy Museum. Vince specializes in military and intelligence history, with specific expertise on late-WWII and early-Cold War eras. Prior to joining us, Vince was a history professor at the University of Maryland, and is also former military, having served in the U.S. Army. He is the author of two books – Nuking the Moon: and Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board and The Nuclear Spies: America's Atomic Intelligence Operation Against Hitler and Stalin. 

About the Moderator
Jeffrey Gedmin is the Editor-In-Chief of The American Interest. He also serves as a nonresident senior fellow for the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council and as a senior fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Previously, Dr. Gedmin was president and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), where he shaped the organization’s strategy and oversaw its $100 million budget of multi-media broadcast operations, including radio, television, internet, and social media. He also served as president and CEO of the London-based Legatum Institute, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and executive director of its New Atlantic Initiative.

Dr. Gedmin is the author of several books, including “The Hidden Hand: Gorbachev and the Collapse of East Germany” (1992) and served as co-executive producer for two PBS documentaries, “The Germans, Portrait of a New Nation” (1995) and “Spain’s 9/11 and the Challenge of Radical Islam in Europe” (2007). He received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University in German Area Studies and Linguistics. He earned his master’s degree in German Area Studies from American University and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from American University. Jeffrey Gedmin is an American scholar and author. He is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University and at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. He was President and CEO of the Legatum Institute in London from 2011 to 2014 and the former President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty from 2007 to 2011.

Gedmin also serves as honorary co-chair of US-Europe Alliance.

Program Partner