Project on History and Strategy

“The American approach to the world is profoundly unhistorical” — Zbigniew Brzezinski

In an era of renewed great power competition, technological revolution, and fundamental changes to the pillars of American strategy, the lessons of history for statecraft could not be more important. Policymakers confronting urgent situations with limited time and energy find themselves relying on platitudes about “a new Marshall Plan,” or “Vietnam all over again,” while professional historians have the time and expertise to dispel those notions and suggest more relevant metaphors. Rather than expecting policymakers to become historians, or vice versa, the solution is to create a marketplace where deep scholarly research can be tailored to the speed of Washington, translated to be useful, and pre-positioned to achieve maximum impact.

(Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Dr. Philip Zelikow joined Seth Center and PHS in September 2019 for a discussion on the decisions and processes that ended the Cold War.)

The Project on History and Strategy continues the Brzezinski legacy of rigorous, uncompromising pursuit of scholarship informing strategic analyses of the world’s most consequential geostrategic challenges. It is a marketplace where policy-oriented historical scholarship is made accessible and useful to current, future and former policymakers. The Project’s goals include encouraging policy-oriented historical research; identifying gaps in the research that would be relevant to today’s policy challenges; developing young and diverse scholars and networking them into the policy community; shaping a cadre of scholar-practitioners who value historical sensibility; and forging the connections needed for policymakers and historians to be more useful to each other.

PHS Insight Memos

Waiting for a Sputnik Moment? Insights from the Eisenhower Administration’s Response
Building an Innovation Infrastructure: Insights from the Rise of the NSF
Soviet and American Science & Technology Policies


(Historians Dr. Francis Gavin, and Dr. Melvyn Leffler joined CSIS Freeman Chair Jude Blanchette and PHS's Emma Bates in December 2019 to discuss the pitfalls and attractions of a Cold War analogy for today's competition with China.)