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In the Oval Office: Presidential Decision-Making

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Richard Immerman

This interview stems from “The CIA and the Question of Torture: Reading the Senate Report on CIA Detention and Interrogation,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2015. Click to watch full event video.


The CIA’s Historical Resistance to Change - Richard Immerman explains that the CIA has historically been impervious to institutional change, which has made policy reform very difficult. 

Was the White House Misled by the CIA? - Richard Immerman discusses the shortcomings of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program.  While the report states that the White House was misled by the CIA, Immerman argues that this is a mischaracterization and that the Executive was probably briefed on the program more than reported. 

Has the Enhanced Interrogation Program Ruined the American Image Abroad? - Richard Immerman discusses the consequences of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report outlining the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques for US standing abroad. The contents of the report are incredibly damaging to the U.S. image and have erroded American power internationally, especially among America’s allies. The costs of being associated with the enhanced interrogation program, according to Immerman, far outweigh any potential benefits for the United States.

The CIA’s Place in the Post-9/11 World - Richard Immerman argues that, ultimately, historians will view the CIA’s role in the post-September 11 world in a mixed light. While some criticisms of the CIA’s culpability for September 11th are exaggerated, Immerman argues that the militarization of the CIA has underminded its fundamental mission of intelligence analysis. 

Assessing the Congressional Oversight of the CIA - Richard Immerman discusses the emergence and effectiveness of Congressional oversight of the CIA. 

Reforming the CIA - Richard Immerman outlines the reforms that he believes would be beneficial to the CIA and the intelligence community more broadly. According to Immerman, there should be more collaboration and cooperation between the agencies that make up the national intelligence community. Accordingly, he argues that the CIA should concentrate on intelligence analysis instead of paramilitary missions. 

Hal Brands

This interview stems from “The Grand Strategy of Ronald Reagan,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.

James Graham Wilson

This interview stems from “The Grand Strategy of Ronald Reagan,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.


Did Reagan End the Cold War? - James Graham Wilson argues that it would be erroneous to mark the end of Reagan’s administration as the end of the Cold War. By the time George H.W. Bush came to office, Wilson explains, the terms of the Cold War had shifted and the United States was no longer at ideological war with the Soviet Union, but it had not yet concluded.

Explaining the “Triumph of Improvisation” - In his new book, The Triumph of Improvisation, James Graham Wilson explains how four individuals improvised, adapted, and engaged to end the Cold War. Instead of acting upon a firmly planned grand strategy, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Shultz, and George H.W. Bush, Wilson explains, responded to changes in the international order in very unexpected ways.

The Effects of Iran-Contra on Reagan’s Foreign Policy - James Graham Wilson discusses the effects that the Iran-Contra scandal had on Reagan’s goals of strategic arms reduction negotiations with the Soviets.

The Evolution of Reagan’s Views towards the Soviets - James Graham Wilson explains Ronald Reagan’s ambivalence towards developing a firm strategy to deal with the Soviets. In this clip, Wilson examines the evolution of Reagan’s stance towards Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.

Was Reagan out to Destroy the Soviet Union? - Although some observers have argued that Reagan set out to destroy the Soviet Union, James Graham Wilson offers an alternate reading of Reagan’s strategy towards the Soviet Union. Wilson explains that despite Ronald Reagan’s ambitious goal of complete arms reduction, he did not operate through a grand strategy.

Malcolm Byrne

This interview stems from “The Grand Strategy of Ronald Reagan,” filmed at the Miller Center in 2014. Click to watch full event video.


Could Iran-Contra Have Changed U.S.-Iran Relations? - Malcolm Byrne examines how the handling of the Iran-Contra affair was a missed opportunity for a new relationship between the United States and Iran.

Iran-Contra and Ronald Reagan’s Legacy - The Iran-Contra affair, according to Malcolm Byrne, has had lasting effects on the legacy of Reagan’s presidency. Iran-Contra brings into question Reagan’s decision making processes, as well as his ability to manage and supervise those in his administration. In this clip, Byrne discusses how Iran-Contra can influence the study of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Iran-Contra Shows “How Easy It is for Presidents to Go Off the Path” - Malcolm Byrne explains why the Iran-Contra scandal illustrates how easy it can be for the president to “go off the path.” According to Byrne, Iran-Contra, rather than being an aberration, has a lot to teach us about how “government can work.”

Israel’s Role in Iran-Contra - Malcolm Byrne explains Israel’s key role in shaping the events that came to be known as the Iran-Contra affair.

The Events that Set the Stage for Iran-Contra - Malcolm Byrne explains how the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Hezbollah hostage crisis shifted Ronald Reagan’s geopolitical calculations in the Middle East and helped set the stage for Iran-Contra.

The Origins of Iran-Contra - Although the identity of the true architect of Iran-Contra is contested, Malcolm Byrne explains how Oliver North and the Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar negotiated the scheme to divert arms sales profits from Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.

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