University College Dublin | An Coláiste Ollscoile, Baile Átha Cliath

UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland | Director: Professor Liam Kennedy

Global Irish Civic Forum
June 2015

Prospective Students

    President Clinton addresses the Institute Sept 2010

How the United States Ends Wars

23- 24 October 2015 


Dr. Jack Thompson




On 23 and 24 October 2015, the UCD Clinton Institute hosted a conference with the title “How the United States Ends Wars.” Noted experts in the field gave three impressive keynotes speeches: Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs; Professor Marilyn Young, of New York University; and Professor Toby Dodge of the London School of Economics. In all, scholars from four different continents presented sixteen papers over the course of two days. Several overarching themes characterized the conference. One that recurred throughout many of the papers was that, especially in recent years in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has found it difficult to end wars. One reason for this is a tendency for political leaders and military personnel to develop conflicting objectives. As one speaker noted, the US military is skilled in the art of killing; it has enjoyed far less success in conceptualizing military objectives that contribute to long-term political stability. One of the more frequent strategies for ending wars is that of Vietnamization, or turning the fighting over to local troops that have been trained by US (often special) forces. As in Vietnam, however, this rarely succeeds for a variety of reasons, including the unwillingness/inability of the United States to invest the long-term resources and presence necessary for such a strategy. On the home front, as several speakers noted, the Americans have a tendency to treat all US soldiers as heroes, regardless of their actions or individual experiences, and to consider them unconnected to any negative actions or consequences of the war(s) in which they fought. Indeed, there is a propensity for American society to embrace a collective amnesia about negative consequences of wars in general. In closing, a general consensus emerged that the United States in the future needs to: (1) be more careful about beginning/entering wars in the first place; (2) do a better job of connecting military and political goals once fighting has begun; and (3) do a better job of embracing accurate, including negative, narratives about wars in which it has fought.









·        Gideon Rose (Editor of Foreign Affiars): How Not to End Wars - The American Experience 

Vietnam Part One: Cultural and non-US Perspectives

·        James Curran (University of Sydney): “‘When Allies Turn on You’: Nixonian rage at Swedish and Australian condemnation of the Christmas Bombings”

·        Simon Toner (Dartmouth University): “How the South Vietnamese wanted to end the American War”


·        Marilyn Young (New York University): Cultural Impact of Wars on the US in the 21st Century (title TBC)

Vietnam Part Two: Legacies in the US

·        Sandra Scanlon (University College Dublin): “Negotiating Defeat: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Changing Meaning of Victory in Vietnam, 1969-1975”

·        Shaul Mitelpunkt (University of York): “‘Communism is something like the Army’: Military Service and American Imagination at the End of the Vietnam War”

·        Bevan Sewell (University of Nottingham): “‘Lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid’: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, the Lessons of History, and Constructing a Usable Past for the Vietnam War”

·        Nick Witham (Univeristy College London): “‘No More Vietnam Wars!’ Allegories of Anti-Interventionism in the Age of Reagan”


Ending the Cold War

·        Daniel Chua (Nanyang Technological University): “The End of the Cold War and the Decolonisation of the Philippines: Closing U.S. Bases in Clark and Subic Bay”

·        Stephen Rabe (University of Dallas): “Cold War Memories: Latin America versus the United State

Afghanistan and Iraq

·        David Fitzgerald (University College Cork): “‘Making Certain that We Here are Worthy of Them’: the Politics of Desert Storm Homecoming Parades”

·        Thomas Watts (University of Kent): “No Casket Warfare: How Iraq’s Shadow Has Shaped U.S. Military Intervention in Yemen”·    


·        Toby Dodge (London School of Economics): “Who lost Iraq? The Perils of Ending Wars of Liberal Intervention”

Strategy and Broader Lessons

·        Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham): “The US Does Not End Wars”

·        Jörg Noll (Netherlands Defense Academy): “Patronizing, patriotism, and power: How US Culture Influences Military Exit Strategies and Vice Versa”

·        Alexandre J. Vautravers (Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva): “‘Vietnamization in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq”



This event is being co-organized by the Clinton Institute for American Studies at University College Dublin and  School of History, University College Cork with the assistance of UCD Centre for War Studies