Clements Center
Clements Center

What's the Role of America in American Foreign Policy?

Francis Gavin, Fredrik Logevall, Daniel Bessner Jul 06, 2020

In this episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Frank Gavin, chair of the editorial board of the Texas National Security Review, sits down with Fredrik Logevall and Daniel Bessner, authors of “Recentering the United States in the Historiography of American Foreign Relations,” which appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of TNSR. This article discusses a trend in the academic history community, to try to seek explanations other than the role of the United States for major events in the world. While this had salutary effects on the field, it has also had the perverse effect of underplaying the role of United States — the most powerful actor in the post-1945 world — on global politics. It also has led to overstating the role of international developments on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy which, the authors argue, was primarily driven by American domestic factors. In this wide-ranging interview, Gavin, Logevall, and Besnner, discuss the process of working on the article, the movements in history to which they are responding, as well as the response that they’ve seen to the article.