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US Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War in Africa - 29 September 2020

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Dr Flavia Gasbarri, Lecturer in War Studies (KCL) launches her new book US Foreign Policy and the End of the Cold War in Africa in conversation with Dr Marco Wyss, Director of the Centre for War and Diplomacy, and Reader in the International History of the Cold War (Lancaster University).

The iconic images from the night the Berlin Wall came down, and of the Soviet flag being removed from the top of the Kremlin have passed into history as intrinsically linked to the end of the Cold War. However, they document just one of the many ‘ends’ of the Cold War. The Cold War was a global conflict; from Berlin it radiated outwards and progressively invested new areas and regions of the planet. Consequently it had as many ends as there were numbers of battlegrounds in which it was waged and each ‘end’ of the Cold War opened a different series of new challenges and opportunities for the post-Cold War international system, led by the sole remaining American superpower.

This book looks at one of the most neglected extra-European battlegrounds, the African continent, and explores how American foreign policy developed in this region between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Drawing on a wide range of recently disclosed archival material, the book shows that the Cold War in Africa ended in 1988, namely one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It also reveals how, since then, some of the most controversial and inconsistent episodes of the post-Cold War US foreign policy in Africa, such the intervention in Somalia, are deeply rooted in the unique process whereby American rivalry with the USSR found its end in the continent. The book opens new and original perspectives on the study of the end of the Cold War, thereby challenging its traditional narrative, and provides new insights on the shaping of the US foreign policy during the so-called ‘unipolar moment’ of the early 1990s.

Dr Flavia Gasbarri is a lecturer in the War Studies Department, co-Chair of the Africa Research Group and member of the Centre for Grand Strategy, King's College London. She completed her PhD in War Studies at KCL in 2014, with a project entitled "The United States and the end of the Cold War in Africa, 1988-1994" for which she received a scholarship from the KCL Graduate School and three grants from the Royal Historical Society, the European Association for American Studies and the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs. After the end of her doctoral studies, Flavia Gasbarri worked as Teaching Fellow (2015-2019) in the Department of War Studies, covering a broad range of courses on politics, history and diplomacy. In January-July 2015, she was also appointed Teaching Fellow in the Defence Studies Department at the Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) in Shrivenham, where she worked as Academic Tutor for the British Armed Forces (both at junior and senior level). In 2018-2019, she was Academic Tutor at The Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS).

Dr Marco Wyss (FRHistS, FHEA) is the Director of the Centre for War and Diplomacy and Reader in the International History of the Cold War at Lancaster University, a Research Fellow at the University of the Free State, and an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. Previously, he was a Senior Lecturer in Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Chichester, and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich. He gained his PhD from the Universities of Nottingham and Neuchâtel, and currently works on Britain’s and France’s postcolonial security roles in West Africa. He is the editor of the International Journal of Military History and Historiography, and co-editor of Brill’s New Perspectives on the Cold War book series. He is, among other works, the author of Un Suisse au service de la SS (Alphil-Presses universitaires suisses, 2010), Arms Transfers, Neutrality and Britain’s Role in the Cold War (Brill, 2013), and co-editor of Peacekeeping in Africa (Routledge, 2014), Neutrality and Neutralism in the Global Cold War (Routledge, 2016), The Handbook of European Defence Policies and Armed Forces (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Europe and China in the Cold War (Brill, 2018). His new book, Postcolonial Security: Britain, France, and West Africa’s Cold War, will be published early next year with Oxford University Press.

At this event

Flavia Gasbarri

Flavia Gasbarri

Lecturer in War Studies Education

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