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  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Norman Birnbaum: JFK’s Presidential Courage—June 10, 1963

    Norman Birnbaum is professor emeritus at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was on the founding editorial board of New Left Review and is a member of the editorial board of The Nation. His most recent book is After Progress: American Social Reform and European Socialism in the Twentieth Century (Oxford).The Cold War did not end with the opening of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. By the time of these events, it had already lost much of its earlier intensity. A skein of international agreements, some formal and explicit, others tacit and even denied, averted the dangers of unintended confrontations. More importantly, the populations on both sides of the Iron Curtain were disinclined to think that the risk of nuclear obliteration was worth incurring.

  • Originally published 06/09/2013

    When presidential words led to swift action

    WASHINGTON — These days it is hard to imagine a single presidential speech changing history.But two speeches, given back to back by President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago this week, are now viewed as critical turning points on the transcendent issues of the last century.The speeches, which came on consecutive days, took political risks. They sought to shift the nation’s thinking on the “inevitability” of war with the Soviet Union and to make urgent the “moral crisis” of civil rights. Beyond their considerable impact on American minds, these two speeches had something in common that oratory now often misses. They both led quickly and directly to important changes.

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Brent Budowsky: JFK Then, Obama Now

    Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.On June 10, 1963, at American University, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech about the world that changed the world. On Nov. 22, 1963, America lost a historic man of presidential greatness in the first of three murders within five years that did incalculable damage to the world, the nation and the progressive ideal.In 1963 a world leader, for the first time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, offered a vision and charted a course to save the world from nuclear extermination. Kennedy did not count the number of missiles or drones he would launch. He issued a call to action to the world on behalf of the water we all drink, the air we all breathe and the children we all love who will live or die because of what grown-ups do.

  • Originally published 03/12/2013

    Lelia K. Washburn, history professor at American University, dies at 90

    Lelia K. Washburn, 90, who taught ancient and modern European history at American University from 1959 until her retirement in 1977, died Feb. 15 at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She was a District resident.Mrs. Washburn had cancer, her son, Alexandros Washburn, said.Elisavet Georgia Kanavarioti was born in Athens and was a 1946 graduate of the American College of Greece. In the late 1940s, she moved to New York City to work at the United Nations. She received a master’s degree in American studies from Harvard University in 1953 and moved to the Washington area in 1958....