My Research

My PhD Thesis focuses on the relationship between the two gentlemen above in the cartoon, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and National Security Advsior Zbigniew Brzezinski. 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. Furthermore, my work will also assess how their backgrounds influenced their political views and approaches as well as analysing how both sought to influence President Carter. In this section I want to provide a little taste of the two individuals at the heart of my research as well as some of the issues that divided them.

Cyrus R. Vance was born in Clarksberg, West Virginia in 1917, the nephew of 1924 Democratic Presidential Candidate John W. Davis who the future Secretary of State would cite as having a lasting influence on his life and career. As a child a child he moved to New York before going on to study at Yale Law school along with future colleagues Sargent Shriver and William Bundy as well as Gerald Ford. After graduating and serving in the South Pacific during World War Two, Vance joined the New York Law firm Simpson, Thacher, and Bartlett eventually being made a partner. His first foray into politics came in the late 1950s when he was recruited by the then Senate leader Lyndon Johnson to act as a special counsel to the Preparedness Investigation Committee. That started a lasting personal and professional relationship between Vance and the future President as he returned to Washington to help LBJ with the Committee on Space and Aeronautics. When John F. Kennedy was elected President, Vance was appointed as General Counsel to the Defense Department on the back of Johnson’s recommendation. At the Pentagon, he eventually rose to be Secretary of the Army before being appointed as Deputy Secretary of Defense by Robert McNamara. war in Vietnam escalated not only after Vance was appointed and although supportive of American intervenion in South East Asia, both he and McNamara quickly turned against the war. Vance was later one of the ‘Wise Men’ who advised President Johnson should scaleback U.S. involvment and seek peace. A back injury had forced Vance to leave his position in 1967 but he quickly found himself recruited by LBJ, keen to utilise his skills and expertise serving as roaming envoy, mediating in the Turkey-Greece dispute over Cyprus,

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