Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Dartmouth Conference (1960–1990)

Longest-lasting bilateral dialogue between Soviet and American citizens. Founded in 1960 by American activist-editor Norman Cousins after a trip to the Soviet Union, the Dartmouth Conference brought together prominent Soviet and American citizens for regular meetings until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Although government officials did not take part in the Dartmouth Conference, many participants went on to assume prominent posts in government. On the American side, these included National Security Advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Other Americans who took part included David Rockefeller, playwright Arthur Miller, Buckminster Fuller, and senators and congressmen, among them Edward Kennedy, Al Gore, and Les Aspin, the latter of whom went on to become secretary of defense.

Many of the Soviet participants came from the Institute for the Study of the USA and Canada (ISKAN). These included Georgi Arbatov, the head of the institute; Vladimir Lukin, later the Russian ambassador to the United States; Andrei Kozyrev, who became the first foreign minister of post-Soviet Russia; and many other prominent Soviet Americanists. Still other participants included scholars and retired and active-duty military officers from Soviet institutes. These included Evgeni Primakov, who also became Russian foreign minister and then prime minister.

The Dartmouth Conference exerted significant but often subtle influence on policy in both countries. Participants who became policymakers were able to draw directly on what they had learned in the conferences. The participants communicated directly with policymakers in both nations, providing an additional source of information that Secretary of State George Shultz, among others, found valuable. Primakov has acknowledged the conference's influence on the joint U.S.-Soviet initiative in the Middle East in October 1977.

On occasion the political leadership of one country used the Dartmouth Conference to send a message to the other. Secretary of State Alexander Haig used it in this way soon after coming to office in 1981. Two years later, the Soviets seem to have done the same thing in regard to their policy in Syria. The conference helped shape the thinking of a generation of Russian and American elites.

The Dartmouth Conference continued in a variety of forms after the Cold War ended, including a continuation of its regional conflicts dialogue, the creation of a dialogue in Tajikistan, and a renewed conference focused on Russian-American relations.

James Voorhees


Further Reading
Evangelista, Matthew. Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999.; Voorhees, James. Dialogue Sustained: The Multilateral Peace Process and the Dartmouth Conference. Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2002.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer