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My name is Christopher Wallis and I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Northumbria where I’m currently writing my thesis on the foreign policy of the Carter Administration, 1977-1981 working under the supervision of Prof. Sylvia Ellis and Dr. Michael Cullinane.
My thesis focuses on the international debates within the Carter administration (1977-1981) between Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Marked by differing ideologies, backgrounds coupled with differing interpretations of their respective roles, the pair frequently clashed with one another having a direct impact on the foreign policy of the administration in the process.
The Vance-Brzezinski relationship became a critical feature of Carter’s Presidency as both josstled with one another to influence the President and the administration’s foreign policy agenda. Vance, the WASP Wall Street Lawyer who ‘played by the Marquis of Queensberry Rules’ against Brzezinski, the academic ‘streetfighter’ and Cold War hawk. As the administration attempted to forge new approach to foreign affairs particularly in relation to the U.S.-Soviet relationship, nuclear weapons, human rights, the Middle East and the Third World the tensions between Vance and Brzezinski were never far from the surface while events in Africa, Iran and Afghanistan drove them further apart. My research examines their respective foreign policy roles and how their relationship affected the administration’s response to key events. Moreover, their conflict was supplemented by the institutional rivalry between their respective departments, as the National Security Council and the State Department engaged in an intense bureaucratic struggle to control and manage U.S. foreign policy. The competition between Vance and Brzezinski as well as the State Department and the NSC manifested itself for the duration of the Carter’s time in office, contributing to a tapestry of inconsistencies that resulted in the administration’s inability to create a settled foreign policy strategy and agenda.
This page/blog is primarily designed for me to showcase aspects of my research but also provide some general musings on PhD life, the universe and everything that goes with it.I hope you find this page useful and all feedback (good and bad) is welcome.
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So a little bit about me. Prior to becoming a PhD candidate, I was a Civil Servant during which time I completed my Masters thesis which also focused on the foreign policy of the Carter Administration, looking specifically at the memory of the Vietnam War and it’s impact on Carter’s foreign policy. I submitted by Masters thesis in September 2011 and that was also done at the University of Northumbria as well as my undergraduate degree in History and Politics.
In addition to working on my thesis, I have also taught an American Politics module in Semester One in 2015 where subjects included constitutionalism, federalism, the Presidency, the judicial system and the Supreme Court, social cleavages, lobbying, elections and campaign financing. An enjoyable and stimulating experience, I was commended on my ‘down to earth lecturing style’ although thankfully none have since recalled that I would put my mortgage on Hilary Clinton winnning the Presidency. Even the best of us get it wrong sometimes!
Outside of university life, I am passionate and frequently disgruntled Newcastle United supporter who conciously finds the time each day to listen to at least one Bruce Springsteen track. When I’m not whinging about football or air guitaring with The Boss, I find myself either trying to find a restraunt in Newcastle that I have not been too, re-watching old movies (the classics are the best) and trying to find the time and money to travel to new places with varying degrees of success.