The Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy, part of the Jackson Institute, hosted its annual conference, “Biography and Grand Strategy: Implications for Leadership and Global Affairs” on April 1-2, 2016. This was the fifth annual conference of the Johnson Center, which was made possible by Dr. Kissinger’s donation of his papers to Yale and a generous gift from Charles B. Johnson ’54 and Nicholas F. Brady ’52.

As a program of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, and in collaboration with International Security Studies and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, the Johnson Center brings prominent statesmen and academics to campus as Kissinger Senior Fellows and Kissinger Visiting Scholars, as well as hosts an annual conference and a variety of other events relating to international affairs.

This year’s speakers—a mix of renowned academics and practitioners—examined how biographies highlight the individual leadership characteristics of statesmen, and how these statesmen have grappled with complex challenges in a world of uncertainty.

President Peter Salovey and Elizabeth Bradley, the Brady-Johnson Professor of Grand Strategy and Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, opened the conference with welcoming remarks on Friday, April 1, at the Greenberg Conference Center.

Panels and speakers included:

Conversation Featuring the Honorable Dr. Kissinger 

  • Timothy Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History, Yale University (moderator)

The Art of Biography: Richard Nixon’s Place in History 

  • John Lewis Gaddis, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University (moderator)
  • Irwin Gellman, author, “The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961”
  • Margaret (“Peggy”) Noonan, author and columnist, The Wall Street Journal
  • Evan Thomas, author, “Being Nixon: A Man Divided”

Charles de Gaulle and Vladimir Putin: The Future of Europe and Russia 

  • David Cameron, professor of political science and director of European Studies, Yale University (moderator)
  • Jonathan Fenby, managing director, Trusted Sources, and author, “The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved”
  • Thomas Graham, Jackson Senior Fellow, Yale University
  • Steven Lee Myers, correspondent, The New York Times, and author, “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin”

Lee Kuan Yew and Xi Jinping: Leadership and Legacy in Asia 

  • Paul Gewirtz, director of the China Center, Yale Law School (moderator)
  • Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Ambassador J. Stapelton Roy, Distinguished Scholar and Founding Director Emeritus of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Anwar Sadat and the United States in the Middle East 

  • Emma Sky, Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University (moderator)
  • Ambassador Robert Ford, Kissinger Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University
  • Matthew Spence, Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University
  • Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair of Peace and Development, University of Maryland

See more photos from the conference on our Facebook page.