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Trenchard Lecture – 27 June

27 June 2019

To be held at the University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 1LY at 6.30pm on 27 June in Room MC001, Millennium City Building.
The second successive RAF Museum’s Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies at the University of Wolverhampton will see Dr Graham Cross consider President Roosevelt’s thinking on air power in a Transatlantic context.

US officers with operational plans, 1944

TALK OUTLINE

Many historians view Franklin Roosevelt’s conception of military air power as lacking sophistication and depth. Across a broad range of events, from the Munich Crisis, Lend-Lease, the Combined Bomber Offensive to the decision to develop atomic weapons, they argue Roosevelt merely reacted to events or followed the advice of his military commanders. In the absence of much original thought or leadership, the president was unable to unlock the full potential of air power in an effective diplomatic strategy that neither made the United States more secure nor protected her interests.
This paper re-examines the president’s thinking on air power in a transatlantic context. It argues that Roosevelt did have a long-standing appreciation of the utility of air power as a diplomatic tool. This was evident in his geographic and spatial appreciation of the developing threat to the security of his country, his understanding of air power as both a coercive and supportive diplomatic tool and in his early appreciation of military air power technology as a key asset and interest of the United States.

Eleanor Roosevelt being assisted onto the wing of a Spitfire, n.d.

When Roosevelt responded to world events, he undoubtedly viewed them through a lens of practical domestic politics. Roosevelt also, however, drew on an understanding of the workings of international power and diplomacy developed in the time before he became president. The writings of naval theorist Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan (rather than more commonly cited theorists of air power), his service in the Wilson administration, his encounters with wartime allies such as the British, and his practical experiences of conflict in Europe during World War I combined to give him a sophisticated understanding of air power as a diplomatic tool. There were limitations in his use of it as president, but his conception continued to develop as American air power grew in strength during World War II.

LOCATION AND TIME

The lecture will be held at the University of Wolverhampton at 6:30pm on Thursday 27 June 2019.

TICKETS

This lecture is free of charge however we do ask that you pre-book a free ticket as seats are limited.
Booking places here.

ABOUT DR GRAHAM CROSS

Graham Cross completed his PhD at Cambridge in 2011 looking at the pre-presidential foreign policy thinking of Franklin D. Roosevelt supervised by Professor David Reynolds. He is author of “The Diplomatic Education of Franklin D. Roosevelt” published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2012. His current research interests include the Allied aerial campaign during World War II and the Anglo-American commemorative culture emerging from that conflict. He has been lecturer in American History at Manchester Metropolitan University since 2014 having previously taught at the University of Cambridge, University College Dublin and the University of Glasgow.

RAF MUSEUM RESEARCH PROGRAMME

The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies form a part of the RAF Museum’s Research Programme for 2019. This programme consists of the First World War in the Air Lunchtime Lectures at our London site, the Cold War Lunchtime lectures at our Cosford site and other events such as conferences. For further details about the Research Programme please contact: research@rafmuseum.org

The Trenchard Lectures in Air Power Studies are held in conjunction with the Royal Aeronautical Society and the War Studies Department at the University of Wolverhampton.

Please note that lectures are subject to change.


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