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From General to Statesman: President Ulysses S. Grant, Military Realism & Foreign Policy

Thu, Feb 9, 2023, 5:00pm - 6:00pm
Featuring: Dr. Peter Campbell
Location: The Institute of World Politics - 1521 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, United States

You are cordially invited to attend a lecture on the topic of

From General to Statesman: President Ulysses S. Grant, Military Realism & Foreign Policy


Dr. Peter Campbell
Associate Professor of Political Science at Baylor University


Thursday, February 9, 2023
5:00-6:00 PM EST


The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th St. NW
Washington D.C. 20036
Marlatt Mansion, Commodore Barry Room
Getting to campus

***This event is in partnership with Baylor University***



About the Lecture

Is American politics and foreign policy being militarized? Is the health of American civil-military relations being compromised? With former military officers occupying traditionally civilian political positions and retired officers stepping into the partisan political fray, these dangers cannot be dismissed out of hand. One danger, some argue, is an increased chance of war because the military mind is too focused on using force to solve problems. Others see the military mind as inherently parochial, always seeking more resources, prestige, and autonomy for its organization, even at the expense of sound strategy and foreign policy. To understand the full implications of increased military influence in American politics, strategy, and foreign policy, we need a more complete picture of the military mindset. Peter Campbell argues that this can be accomplished by using the theory of Military Realism to identify some of the underappreciated tendencies of the military mind. When considering the use of force, the military realist focuses on the interactive nature of violence, the ever-present frictions in war, and the uncertainty generated by the use of force for political ends. Campbell argues that President Ulysses S. Grant’s approach to foreign policy was informed by a Military Realist perspective. At times, Grant’s military realism and political inexperience were a liability in foreign policy. Overall, however, Grant’s military realist outlook tempered calls for the use of force in foreign policy during his administration. Along the way, Campbell shows that Grant was a preeminent strategic thinker and that unique aspects of his character also shaped his leadership and foreign policy. When we appreciate the military realist perspective, we can better assess the potential implications of military influence on American politics, strategy, and foreign policy in the future.

About the Speaker

Dr. Peter Campbell is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Baylor University. He holds an M.A. in war studies from King’s College London and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of Military Realism: The Logic and Limits of Force and Innovation in the U.S. Army (University of Missouri Press, 2019). His areas of research include national security decision-making, civil-military relations, strategy, international relations scholarship and policy relevance, insurgency and counterinsurgency, the just war tradition, and cyber warfare.

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