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    October 6, 2006
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Center explores the delicate balance of war, conversation

Robert McNeill Jr, Jared Weigley

Above, Robert McNeil Jr., longtime friend of CENFAD co-founder Russell Weigley and the University, and Jared Weigley, Weigley’s son, look through books in the Russell J. Weigley Seminar Room prior to the room's dedication ceremony on Sept. 29th. The room houses more than 3,000 volumes that were part of Weigley’s personal library. 

(Photo by Joseph V. Labolito / University Photography)

With parts of the Middle East in flames, North Korea and Iran defying the will of much of the world community, and Cuba’s lider maximo in a state of declining health, a nuanced understanding of international diplomacy and military might today is arguably more important than ever.

Enter Temple’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy, which serves as a training ground for the next generation of foreign policy and military experts. 

In 1992, under the leadership of nationally renowned military historian Russell Weigley, who died in 2004, and U.S. nuclear and naval strategy expert David Rosenberg, Temple’s history department began preparations for a center that would focus on the highly interdependent relationship between force and diplomacy.

The disciplines of military and diplomatic history are kept separate at many other universities, but the Temple professors believed you can’t understand one without the other.

 

Weigley and Rosenberg brought in Richard Immerman, a prominent diplomatic historian who was then enjoying his lush surroundings as a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii, as a senior appointment to handle the foreign policy angle of their program.

Their idea was a novel one. When they do exist, centers of this sort are usually housed in political science or international relations departments; at no other university had one found its home in a history department. This, said CENFAD director Immerman, is the key to what makes Temple’s center both important and successful.

             

“Historians’ fundamental premise is that ‘things change,’ and we examine the influence of that change over time,” said Immerman, who is working on a book titled Empire for Liberty?, which analyzes U.S. statesmen from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz. “By examining those changes, we gain insights that are different from those of political scientists, who tend to construct norms of behavior. Historians reject the notion that there are norms of behavior because everything is different. You can never say, ‘This is what absolutely happens.’ You have to study what happens over time.”

             

This study of change over time, said Immerman, often sheds light on current world events. Take, for instance, a topic that has been a hot-button issue in CENFAD since its inception: civilians in war zones.

CENFAD Fall Colloquia
October 17: Tim Castle (Central Intelligence Agency), "America's Secret War in Laos.”
November 14: Marc Gallicchio (Villanova University), "Rethinking the End of the Pacific War: Conservatives, New  Dealers, and the Politics of Unconditional Surrender."

November 28: Herbert Ershkowitz (Temple University), "Prelude to War:  The

Fight Over Aid to Britain in 1940-41."

“We’ve been particularly interested in the notion of civilian casualties of war and how that’s changed and affected the way people behave,” said Immerman, citing the international uproar over the number of Lebanese civilian causalities in this summer’s conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. “If you think about that in terms of the notion of total war, it’s a concept that has evolved over time.

For much of the American public, this only became a real issue during the time of Kosovo, which is when CENFAD started out.”

             

In its modern-day incarnation, CENFAD is home to 10 affiliated faculty members ranging from David Waldstreicher, who studies 18th and 19th century U.S. history, to Vladislav Zubok, whose interest lies in Cold War Soviet history. 

These faculty members and their graduate students host conferences and bi-monthly lectures in addition to bringing big name guest speakers — including U.S. General Wesley Clark in 2001 — to campus. The Workshop on International History is the center’s newest addition, and promotes the understanding of international, transnational and global history.

In its nearly 15-year existence, CENFAD has produced think-tank personnel, employees at the Department of Homeland Security and academics who teach at West Point, Annapolis and the Army War College.

Although CENFAD’s name seems merely a natural choice, it actually comes from the 18th century Frederick II of Prussia quote, “Diplomacy without force is like music without instruments.” That quotation sits atop CENFAD’s Web site — and is followed, in true diplomatic fashion, with a caveat from John Milton: “Who overcomes by force hath overcome but half his foe.”

For more information on CENFAD, please visit www.temple.edu/cenfad.

Alix Gerz

 

 


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