War and Peace in the 20th Century

History 130B

Fall 2005
20 Barrows
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-3:30

In the last 107 years (1898-2005) the United States has waged three wars in Asia (including WW2-Japan), three in the Middle East, fought in two great World Wars, and sustained a Cold War posture against its rival super-power, the now dismantled Soviet-Union, which spanned five decades (1946-1991). In intervals of comparative peace (1904-1917, 1918-1941, and 1991-2001), the United States either reinforced its stance as a global power or, as in the 1920's and 1930's assumed a policy of isolation from world affairs with ultimately disastrous and war-provoking results. We will focus on major episodes of United States international history beginning with Wilson and WW I through the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. However our texts will allow course members to explore and research the diverse and complex events of the last quarter century, to reflect how those years may have led to the present exigency precipitated by the terrorist attacks on US soil and the World Trade Towers, September 11, 2001 and the consequent mobilization of the country and military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Course coverage is entry into World War I, the Treaty of Versailles; Isolationism, President Franklin Roosevelt and the coming of World War II, World War II itself and the Summit Conferences, the early Cold War, Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Both the emergence of the US as an imperial power in the 20th century and the World Wars as well as the road to the Vietnam ";quagmire"; offer a template and some striking parallels to current actions and political debates. Lecture presentations will incorporate the ample audio-visual records available for this modern era, 1914-1975.