Conference Program


85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky


Title: The Specter of Containment: U.S. Interventions in the Late Cold War and Early Post-Cold War Eras
Abstract: Containment has been an integral part of American foreign policy in one form or another since the onset of the Cold War. It re-emerged as the forefront of policy in the 1980s during President Reagan's presidency, but despite the fall of the very foe which prompted this strategy--the Soviet Union in 1991--containment has been used by subsequent American administrations to justify and contextualize new military and diplomatic policies and operations.
Breaking away from American-centric approaches, this panel will analyze containment through a global lens via military operations in Grenada, diplomatic aspirations in Iraq, and humanitarian responses in Kosovo. Ms. Salazar's paper presents Operation URGENT FURY from a joint operations standpoint and addresses questions surrounding the operation: was it merely part of a show of force for multiple branches of the American military and government, or truly a part of the overall containment strategy? Ms. Tietzen's paper will examine Iraqi interest in the new Russian Federation, arguing the collapse of the Soviet Union only reinforced and even strengthened Iraqi-Russians relations as both sought to counter American hegemony and to strengthen their respective economic and political situations. Ms. Walter's paper analyzes the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo in the late 1990s from the Albanian perspective, and therefore provide an example of how local considerations influenced, and perhaps even altered, overall American strategy in the conflict and the region.
There are three objectives for this panel. First, it seeks to break away from traditional interpretations of containment, and instead provide a global context. Second, it will show how containment is not uniquely American, that other global actors have used this policy for their own advantage as well. Finally, it will reveal how the specter of containment continued to influence United States military and diplomatic interests well past the fall of the Soviet Union.
 
Kate Tietzen, Kansas State University
Participant's Paper Title: "The Russian position is much more compassionate with us" : Iraqi-Russian Relations as a Counter to American Hegemony in the 1990s
Participant's Paper Abstract: The fall of the Berlin Wall stunned the world to say the least. For Iraq, however, the timing could not have been worse. The subsequent two-year demise of their bank, ally, and Cold War "big-brother" during the fallout of the Iran-Iraq War and the First Gulf War left Iraq scrambling through diplomatic channels to re-establish ties with the new Russian Federation. To add to the panic, the Russians initially brushed off their former client--just as the United Nations was imposing devastating sanctions on Iraq--as they had their own internal issues to deal with first, Eventually, Russia would re-enter a relationship with Iraq, leading the charge against the sanctions with France and China, much to the frustration of the Clinton administration.
Using the Ba'thist regime documents housed at Stanford University, this paper will illustrate the Iraqi perspective of the 1990s, arguing that the Russians-Iraqi relationship demonstrates a new interpretation of containment. Although this dynamic was founded early in the Cold War, it rematerialized to contain the seemingly victorious superpower and new world hegemon, the United States. The goal of this relationship was never solely about containing the Americans however. Instead, this unintended containment--especially viewed from the Iraqi side--helped advanced both Russian and Iraqi economic, diplomatic, and internal goals and interests. As was in the case during the Cold War, this partnership was plagued by mistrust and even contempt, and yet, these frustrations were overlooked because of convenience--given their respective situations--and common aspirations. Containment, therefore, served as a platform for both Iraq and the Russian Federation to navigate the post-Cold War era. This assessment thus demonstrates the connections, legacies, and consequences between the Cold War and the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Mary Elizabeth Walters, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Participant's Paper Title: Finding Shelter in Kukes: The Intersection of Albanian Grassroots Humanitarianism and U.S. Intervention during the 1999 Kosovo Crisis
Participant's Paper Abstract: Hundreds of tents stretched across Albanian fields in meticulously spaced rows. These tents reflected one of the U.S. military's first forays into military humanitarianism during the 1999 Kosovo Refugee Crisis, in which over 800,000 Kosovars fled Serbian ethnic cleansing. Research on the 1999 Kosovo Crisis focuses on the actions of the U.S. and international community. This paper flips the narrative by examining how the actions of Albanians shaped U.S. military operations. Focusing on the Kukes Prefecture in northern Albania, I argue that beyond providing context, the actions of Albanian populations heavily influenced. U.S. strategy both during the bombing campaign Operation Allied Force as well the humanitarian oriented Operation Shining Hope.

100,000 of Kosovar refugees arrived in Kukes during the first week of NATO's bombing campaign and another 320,000 would arrive by the end. Albanian-led refugee assistance efforts quickly emerged premised on Albanian cultural conceptions of mikpritja (hospitality) and ethnic identity. Albanian local government and villagers in the Kukes Prefecture decided it was their responsibility to help the Kosovar refugees, and in doing so provided the U.S. and NATO with almost three weeks to reorient assets, deliver supplies, develop infrastructure at airports and ports, and build refugee camps. Though the humanitarian responses of the U.S. military and Albanians began disconnected and unaware of each other, their interactions transformed the Kosovo Refugee Crisis in Albania into one of the most successful humanitarian responses in history.

Work on U.S. interventions, both during and after the Cold War, tends to focus on U.S. foreign policy and military. As a result of this, the roles of local are often overlooked. This paper argues that taking these populations seriously opens new avenues to understanding U.S. interventions and how military operations shape and are shaped by the actions of local populations.
Heather Salazar, Ohio University
Participant's Paper Title: Grenada: A Real Win over Communism?
Participant's Paper Abstract: Between 1973 and 1983, Grenada gained its independence from Great Britain and the leftist New Jewel Movement led a successful revolution overthrowing the Grenadian government. With the Cold War in full swing and the fear of Communism spreading through the American sphere of influence, President Reagan believed action was necessary. Other nations in the Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), also sensed the potential for instability, therefore requested America's help in resolving the issue in Grenada. Reagan, wanting to re-establish the American population's faith in the military, to prevent a domino effect in Latin America, and to reinforce the ideals and policy of the Monroe Doctrine, authorized a full, multi-force, but US dominated invasion of Grenada on October 25, 1983. The American people were told that the US military entered the island to stop Soviet and Cuban influence, to secure hundreds of American students studying at St. George's Medical School and prevent other American citizens on the island from a possible hostage situation. While ultimately, the students rescued, a secure government re-established, and the Cubans detained met the mission's objectives, several mishaps occurred throughout the operation. With very limited time to plan the operation, President Reagan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other administrative civilian and military officials designed the best joint operation available. While the plan allowed for a "mission accomplished" status on the operation, the tactical elements did not portray a complete success. Therefore, the question became why did this specific military operation in October 1983, on a small island in the Caribbean, become significant within United States military history? Was this intervention really to combat the spread of communism and enforce America's containment policy? Or was it just a demonstration of American power and dominance? This paper will seek to answer these questions.
Brian Laslie, North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command
Stephen Bourque, United States Army Command and General Staff College



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