Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Using History to Make History: George H.W. Bush and the Revolution of 1989

West Study Group

Using History to Make History: George H.W. Bush and the Revolution of 1989

March 06, 2014 | 4:30 pm | Study Group on America and the West

About the Event

Study Group on America and the West

Chair: Ron Granieri, Executive Director, FPRI’s Center for the Study of America and the West

4:30 p.m. Seminar; 6:00 p.m. Dinner


For those making decisions rather than studying them, the past is not merely an illuminating narrative. It is also prescriptive. A policymaker’s reading of history provides a course for action and, of no less importance, a cudgel for influencing others. Historians, on the other hand, typically blanch when politicians divine historical laws or clumsily apply historical analogies. An awkward Cold War thus exists between the two groups, because whereas policymakers need the guideposts of history to make decisions, requiring in turn that historians produce fodder for their deliberations, historians exist in order to interrogate (some might say second guess) policymakers’ choices. How does this Cold War play out in our understanding of the End of the (actual) Cold War? Using the example of George H. W. Bush’s approach to the revolutions of 1989 and German reunification, Jeffrey Engel will lead us in a discussion of the uses and abuses of historical understanding in the modern age.




1528 Walnut Street, Suite 610
Philadelphia. PA. US. 19102


Open exclusively to university faculty, graduate students, and FPRI Members at the $1000 level.

Reservations are required. RSVP:

For more information contact 215 732 3774, ext 303 or


Jeffrey A. Engel

Jeffrey A. Engel - Jeffrey A. Engel, Director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, is an award-winning scholar and teacher, and an expert on the U.S. presidency and American diplomati...