Project on Military and Diplomatic History

The Project on Military and Diplomatic History was established to connect historians to the national security policy community in Washington, DC

In a world of increasing instability and uncertainty, history has a wealth of insights to offer on current policy issues, from emerging threats and opportunities to traditional challenges. To promote the application of history to contemporary problems, the center strives to bring military and diplomatic historians together with the men and women who develop and implement U.S. national security policy.


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Good policy is seldom beholden solely to the past, but it is even more seldom heedless of the past. Although policymakers routinely look to history for inspiration, leaders and staffs rarely have much time to acquire new historical knowledge of relevance to the policies they are making or implementing. Constraints on time and knowledge can encourage leaders to draw historical analogies between situations or policies without sufficiently scrutinizing the comparisons. Historians are uniquely qualified to assess analogies, and to identify alternative analogies that could be more useful.

In order to promote applied history as both a source of policy insight and a field of scholarly inquiry, the center’s activities include:

  • A book series that introduces military and diplomatic historians to policy makers and opinion leaders in Washington
  • Small group discussions that provide senior leaders in both the executive and legislative branches with insights on the application of history to present-day challenges
  • Public events showcasing applied military and diplomatic history, held at locations easily accessible to policy professionals
  • Annual essay competitions that offer opportunities for up-and-coming historians to engage the policy community in Washington, DC
  • Individual briefings for senior executive branch officials, congressional leaders, and candidates for elected offices