Click to Subscribe
▶  More from
‘The American Public Myth’
The Presidency: Dwight D. Eisenhower & The Cold War a lecture by Jeremy Black at the New York Historical Society
Jeremy Black is the author of Geopolitics and the Quest for Dominance. I have read other works of his and like him as a centrist modern thinker who has not swallowed the entire Neoconservative egg but does taste of its sulfurous substance.
It is very important for crackpots like myself to read as much by essentially unaligned historians who are focused on the mechanics of history and can explain the abstract rules.
First, he expresses the opinion that “A great man is one who does not think he is great.”
He is not one who thinks highly of the demagogic type like JFK and Hitler.
The concept that he brings up a few times, which really struck a chord with this viewer, was his estimation that Eisenhower, “Wasn’t an imperial president,” thereby suggesting that America, in his estimation, sometimes functions as an imperial polity, which is a hug admission for an establishment historian.
He describes with some measure of admiration the prudence of the men who lead the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War for avoiding the possibly apocalyptic hot war that could have been started so easily, as JFK demonstrated when he danced on the edge of the Nuclear Abyss in his tryst with the beetle-browed Soviet premier. His focus is on how a head of state responsibly decides what can and cannot be accomplished through war. His discussion of the China Question in American Soviet relations, and today in American Russian relations, is clearheaded beyond anything I’ve seen from other commentators. Of special interest is his analysis of Vietnam and Egypt as Cold War lynchpins.
Black’s lack of passion for a side; his cold uncaring for the protagonist nations, but rather his assessment of the means by which they are steered either to ruin, triumph or dissipation makes his work extremely valuable. For instance, he says, “Always look at military plans” when assessing the worldview of national protagonists. He gave as an example the fact that U.S. war planners in the 1950s had blueprints for an amphibious invasion of Wales! Such things, he points out, indicate that someone in power thought that there was a possibility of a general European debacle in which the Soviet Union took down Western Europe. Likewise such statements as, “You need to do it quickly. If you want to overthrow a government that is the rule,” and his disparagement of leaders as diverse as Woodrow Wilson, JFK [who he calls a “war monger”] and Hitler indicate that he examines leaders as managers rather than personalities.
His best response to questioning was his pointing out that Civil Rights concessions were primarily made in the U.S. in the 40s and 50s, not the 60s, and that this had nothing to do with “nice people making nice” but with “hardheaded men” making hard decisions about national sustainability, placing the so called Civil Rights victories of the Baby Boomer Brats in the lap of the same men who designed the Interstate Highway System for moving military equipment.
Jeremy Black gives an excellent lecture, and despite my antipathy for Gotham and what it stands for, I must rate the questions by the members of the audience that advanced them as much better than expected.
prev:  ‘What If’     ‹  gaming  ›     next:  Refighting Vietnam with Sam J.

Add a new comment below:
Sam J.May 10, 2016 7:20 PM UTC

I'm listening to Jeremy Black and I'm about 1/6 the way through and I believe he's making huge errors. Stalin's plan was always to get the Capitalist to fight each other then attack when they exhausted themselves. Stalin said so many times.

The real reason I object to his narrative is the basis he uses to unwind it is untrue. Hitler knew that Stalin was going to attack him. He attacked Stalin a few weeks before Stalin attacked him. The evidence for this is in a brilliant set of books by Viktor Suvorov. "Ice-Breaker: Who Started the Second World War?" and "The Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II". Suvorov brilliantly breaks down Stalin's intentions with the most important part of any war. Logistics. Logistics do not lie. If you are only making offensive weapons and not putting any money into defense then what are you doing? Offense. The evil, evil, Hitler, Hitler chants from the establishment means that Suvorov is completely ignored. He can not be if you want the truth.

Hitler as manic doesn't sell if you look at his actions rationally. France had taken territory from Germany and all other powers had taken territory from others. He wanted territory from Russia to feed his people. He knew that Germany didn't have the resources to make a great nation and due to location he played with the cards he was dealt. As for the Jews I see nothing he said about them that was not 100% factually correct. Their behavior in the US is exactly the same as it was in Germany, Fortunately they haven't gone as far in US as they did in Russia. Yet.

. The first book is Icebreaker. It's free but not as detailed as the second.

I finished it and he makes no mention of Jewish strategic policy affecting the US's choices. The whole Ukrainian, Iraq and Syria disasters are driven by Israeli objectives. There's no US interest in these policies. In fact they are anti-US in that we could have easily had good relations with Russia.
Sam J.May 10, 2016 5:14 PM UTC

Maybe you've already heard of this but if not it's probably one the most important big picture Geopolitical ideas there is. "The Geographical Pivot of History" was an article submitted by Halford John Mackinder in 1904. The basic idea is that Europe, the Middle East China, India, etc. are all one big Island and whoever controls the "World Island" controls the world. The major areas to watch are the areas in the middle. The pivot. The British balancing act on the Continent is totally and completely watching this pivot and not letting any one one power get control. It's also the basis for US strategic defense.

Now this is a huge and omnipresent idea that you will see ripples of in a lot of policies that don't always make sense if taken in isolation but do make sense looking at the big picture. Notice the Chinese huge multi-gazillion dollar silk road high speed train system is an end run around the US and it's Sea based strategy.

I will add a twist to this. Sam J.'s theory of why the "World Island" theory is no longer valid. Other people have hinted at this but as far as I know I'm the first person to directly state it's equivalence and supercedence to the "World Island" theory. With access to space whoever rules space rules the world. Owning the World Island no longer guarantees ruling the world. In the aforementioned example of the Chinese World Island train system you could easily drop rocks on the train system from space destroying it much faster than you could repair the train system. You can't do that to the sea.

The actual cost in energy to get to low Earth orbit is the same as taking a jet liner from Los Angeles to Australia. Not completely out of range. Unfortunately we throw away the space craft every time we make a trip to space. A jet liner costs around 250 million. Same as a rocket ship. Elon Musk is now landing and reusing first stages. Eventually we will reuse the whole thing and cost will plummet.
guestMay 10, 2016 4:57 PM UTC

I believe this is it:

While we're at it, Geopolitics of the American Revolution: