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American Studies Resources Centre at LJMU

Liverpool John Moores University

Conferences and Events

American Foreign Policy and The Cold War

A one day conference for A-Level and Access students held on Wednesday, October 22nd 1997 at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool



Conference participants Mike O'Grady, Dilys Horwich, John Dumbrell and Martin Foley in the Maritime Museum

Conference participants Mike O'Grady, Dilys Horwich, John Dumbrell and Martin Foley in the Maritime Museum

It was thirty five years ago today.........

The ASRC’s annual student conference (organised in conjunction with Dilys Horwich of Merseyside Maritime Museum), was again held at the museum and examined US Foreign Policy and the Cold War. The audience of 200 students and teachers from across the UK heard lectures from John Dumbrell (Keele University) on the American Involvement in Vietnam, Martin Foley (Brunel University) on the Cuban Missile Crisis and Mike O’Grady (Hope University College) on the Origins of the Cold War. The date of the Conference, October 22nd, was also significant as it marked the thirty-fifth anniversary of the height of the Cuban crisis. (Conference organiser Ian Ralston, attempted to convince the audience that this timing was totally intentional and not just a flook.)

The sessions highlighted the patterns of US policy. Mike O’Grady drew particular attention to one argument often ignored by historians; that the Cold War in fact began with the Russian Revolution and the American and British attempts to undermine the new regime. This, and his subsequent analysis laid clear foundations for the later presentations from Martin and John. The impact of Kennedy’s assertion that the US would "...oppose any foe, support any friend in order to secure the defence of liberty...." was seen as an important factor in discussing JFK’s role in both Vietnam and Cuba. Each lecture was followed by a lively and informed question and answer session; particularly on the point of Kennedy’s ‘plans’ to withdraw troops from Vietnam and new evidence regarding the Soviet military commanders authority to use battlefield nuclear weapons in Cuba if the US had invaded the island. It was clear that the relevance of all these issues had brought an added dimension to the students awareness of the hidden history of both Vietnam and Cuba.

The response all the speakers received and the subsequent feedback given by teachers, clearly indicated the success of the day.

Specific thanks go to all those who took part, but in particular Mike O’Grady, who stood in at the last moment following the sudden illness of Mike Pudlo (Liverpool John Moores). (Best wishes to Mike for a speedy recovery!) 

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