The Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy, part of the Jackson Institute, hosted its annual conference, “Reflections on the Great War: The Lessons of World War I for American Grand Strategy,” featuring the Honorable Dr. Henry Kissinger on April 21-22, 2017. This was the sixth annual conference of the Johnson Center, which was made possible by Dr. Henry 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— explored the Great War and its aftermath, centered around the attempted implementation of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points. They considered how we understand World War I in historical perspective, and why it remains as relevant as ever to American Grand Strategy today.

Professor James Levinsohn, director of the Jackson Institute, and Professor Elizabeth Bradley, director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, opened the conference with welcoming remarks on Friday, April 21, at the Greenberg Conference Center.

Panels and speakers included:


The Meaning of World War I

  • Paul Kennedy, J. Richardson Dilworth Professor of History and Director of International Security Studies, Yale University (introductory remarks)
  • Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History and Warden of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University (keynote address)

World War I and the Liberal Economic World Order: Free Trade, Reparations, and Resentment 

  • Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University (moderator)
  • Marc Trachtenberg, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, UCLA
  • Charles Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University

World War I and the Collapse of the Balance of Power: Root Causes and the Wilsonian Ideal of Collective Security 

  • John Gaddis, Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History, Yale University (moderator)
  • Sean McMeekin, Professor of History, Bard College
  • Alexander Watson, Professor of History, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History, Cambridge University

World War I and the Dissolution of Empire: Self-Determination, Nationalism, and Ethnic Identity 

  • Nuno Monteiro, Associate Professor of Political Science, Yale University (moderator)
  • Mustafa Aksakal, Nesuhi Ertegun Chair of Modern Turkish Studies, Georgetown University
  • Iryna Vushko, Assistant Professor of History, Hunter College
  • Nancy Wingfield, Presidential Research Professor, Northern Illinois University

Lessons Learned for the United States and Russia in the Middle East 

  • Emma Sky, Jackson Senior Fellow and Director, Maurice R. Greenberg World Fellows Program, Yale University (moderator)
  • Robert Ford, Kissinger Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University; former Ambassador to Syria and Algeria
  • John Jenkins, Jackson Senior Fellow, Yale University; former UK Ambassador to Syria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia
  • Victoria Nuland, former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs; former Ambassador to NATO


See more photos from the conference on our Facebook page.