Ronald W. Pruessen has served as the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy’s Director for International Partnerships & Research and as Chair of the Department of History. His primary research and teaching interests are in 20th century U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Early work focused on the Cold War (e.g., John Foster Dulles: To the Threshold, 1888-1952), but attention to both transatlantic relations and U.S.-China tensions led him toward research on the over-arching global perspectives of post-1945 U.S. policy makers as well as the historical roots of “globalization.” He has also developed a strong interest in the relevance of historical research and analysis to the definition of current global challenges and the design of policies to address them.
Current research projects include:
“Cake Walks with Tigers: Choosing War and Making Mistakes, from John Adams to Donald Trump”. The book-length study places the Iraq and Afghanistan wars into a longer-term trajectory of misguided decisions, considering both the consequences and the sources of problematic policy-making. Particular attention is paid to a penchant for amnesia in American leaders and citizens – a resistance to seriously engaging with historic experiences when confronting new challenges.