Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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The Bush War Cabinet: Conversation with James Mann, Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, February 14, 2005 by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is James Mann. James Mann is Author in Residence at Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. For many years he was a diplomatic correspondent and the foreign affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He is the author most recently of The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet. His other two books were on China, and the second of those books was About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton.

  1. Background ... on not becoming a doctor ... loving writing
  2. Being a Reporter ... the diplomacy beat ... bringing Asia coverage to the LA Times ... inherent conflict with diplomats ... uncovering China's weapons sale to Pakistan ... the luxury of developing a story ... presidential administrations and the press
  3. The Vulcans ... foreign policy advisors from earlier administrations ... the Condoleeza Rice connection ... three post-Vietnam War perspectives ... Democrats' wish to limit US power ... some Republicans' opposition to détente ... cross-party push to rebuild US military power ... Vulcans' skepticism of international institutions and/or accommodation ... ideals linked to military force ... fourth school questions limits of powers
  4. The Cold War's End ... short-lived "peace dividend" ... series of failed rationales for not reducing the defense budget ... blueprint for "strategic depth" drafted by Wolfowitz ... resultant unilateralism in all recent administrations
  5. Continuity in Unilateralist Approach ... unilateralist action in Kosovo ... rejecting French aid against Taliban ... post-9/11 agenda normalizes unpopular strategy ... unilateralism in Clinton years
  6. Moralism and Military Power ... Wilsonian ideals ... Reagan's "evil empire" ... philosophy of Leo Strauss and Alan Blume ... wedding moral superiority with military power ... unilateralism in Clinton years ... neoconservative shift in stance on promoting democracy ... lack of alternative vision among Democrats
  7. Conclusion ... sense of irony in covering diplomatic affairs ... importance of historical perspective

Mann MannMann

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