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Conf/CfP - Willy Brandt and the Americas 1974-1992, 9-11 June 2016, Washington, USA

Publish Date: Jul 21, 2015

Deadline: Sep 30, 2015

Event Dates: from Jun 09, 2016 12:00 to Jun 11, 2016 12:00

About the Conference. Willy Brandt and the Americas

The deadline for proposals (in English) is September 30, 2015. Proposals should include a title, a single-spaced one page abstract (no more than 500 words), and a one page CV with a list of relevant major books and articles. Please make sure to send your files as attachments with the your name clearly visible on top of each page to: Prof. Dr. Klaus Larres, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or Dr. Bernd Rother, Bundeskanzler-Willy-Brandt-Stiftung Berlin.

Willy Brandt remained active in foreign policy beyond his resignation as Chancellor. Among his objectives were his attempts to turn Social Democracy and (western) Europe into serious global players. Brandt did not intend to leave peace and security to the superpowers. This included the United States who he was not shy to criticize frequently. As early as the debate over President Carter's neutron bomb proposal in 1978 severe differences of opinion occurred. This dispute escalated during the controversy about NATO's dual track decision, 1979-1983. At the same time the proposals of the North-South Commission, chaired by Brandt, were highly unpopular in Washington.

Brandt wished to overcome the bipolar confrontation of the Cold War and to offer Social Democracy as an alternative to the ideologies of the two superpowers. Brandt was keen on finding new partners in the so-called "Third World" for this endeavor, in particular in Latin American and the Caribbean. Many countries in the "global south" looked upon Brandt's initiatives very favorably. In the mid-1970s a rapprochement between the forces of reform in western Europe and Latin America could be observed. Both were interested in reflecting critically upon the ideas that characterized western values in both their philosophical and practical political dimensions.

Willy Brandt's expanding interest in Latin America and his activities on behalf of the Socialist International (SI), which he became chairman of in 1976, led to increasing conflicts with the Reagan administration. After all, for the first time in its history the SI supported the armed fight of liberation movements and opposed Washington's view that all conflicts in Latin America were due to the Cold War. Europe's Social Democrats and the liberation movements in Latin American agreed that the causes for many if not most conflicts were based on deep intra-societal problems in Latin America itself.

The disputes and controversies with the U.S. threatened to become a problem for West German politics. Brandt did his best not to be accused of "Anti-Americanism" and attempted to overcome the many prejudices in the U.S. toward Social Democracy. He did not find any helpful partners in domestic U.S. politics, however. Yet his prestige as antifascist, former Chancellor, and Nobel peace prize laureate as well as his huge personal network of contacts in the U.S. balanced this to some extent. On occasion, there were moments when Washington and Social Democracy in Europe agreed, such as during developments in Nicaragua in 1979, Chile in 1988, and of course during Reagan's cooperation with Gorbachev in the years after 1985.

New global challenges occurred in the course of the events of 1989-1991. Brandt largely agreed with Washington's policy toward the unfolding process of German unification. He was less enamored by the Bush administration's intention to resolve the 1991 Kuwait crisis by military means. Instead, Brandt recommended pursuing all peaceful means of reversing Iraq's annexation of Kuwait. This conflict strengthened Willy Brandt's endeavors to develop the debate about a new world order and enhance the role of the United Nations. He also reflected on the role of the U.S. as the sole remaining superpower and the post-Cold War tasks of NATO.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Europe as a global player? Willy Brandt's international project(s) after 1974
  • U.S. view of Willy Brandt as elder statesman
  • The U.S. perspectives on Social Democracy in Europe: unbridgeable divides?
  • Willy Brandt's network of contacts in the U.S. and Latin America
  • Debates within Social Democracy about western policy toward the "Third World" in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Social Democracy as a "third way" between communism and capitalism?
  • Latin America, SPD and Socialist International - support for liberation movements or loyalty to the U.S.?
  • The Brandt report as a manifesto against Reaganomics and Thatcherism: objectives, reception (especially in the U.S.) and legacy
  • The conflict between Central European Social Democrats and the Reagan administration over NATO's dual track decision and Dissent in Eastern Europe
  • Was Willy Brandt "anti-American"?
  • The role of Germany, the U.S., and the U.N. in the post-Cold War world: Brandt's vision for a new global order.

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