Gavin Introduces the Next Issue of the Texas National Security Review
May 27, 2021 |
Frank Gavin, Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University, recently published the introductory essay of the Texas National Security Review’s most recent issue. In his essay titled “Revise!” Professor Gavin emphasizes the importance of “challenging our assumptions about the past.” He begins by emphasizing that history is not merely retelling what has happened but also “the way we decide to remember, recount, and make sense of the past.” To illustrate this important distinction, Gavin begins by interrogating a common framing of the Cold War: that there was a clear point in time marking the pre- and post-Cold War eras. In the years immediately following the end of the Cold War, Gavin notes, American hegemony did not appear inevitable, as the country was emerging from a period of weak grand strategy execution and uncertain economic prospects. Gavin also notes the early years of the post-Cold War era were characterized by broad geopolitical uncertainty that was not limited to superpower rivalry. Historical revisionism of this variety allows us to “push against our natural, if somewhat unhelpful, tendency toward retrospective or outcome bias.” Gavin then provides a brief overview of the other essays in the TNSR issue, all of which also grapple with the assumptions of history. He concludes by noting that “Historical revisionism —to ruthlessly examine and wrestle with our most treasured beliefs and assumptions — is a critical path to humility, understanding, and wisdom.” Read the full essay here.