From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activists Transformed U.S. Foreign Policy

Forthcoming Spring 2018

From Selma to Moscow: How Human Rights Activists Transformed U.S. Foreign Policy advances a new interpretation of United States foreign policy in the long 1960s, showing that transnational connections and social movements spurred American activism on human rights. Using the methods of international and transnational history to focus on activism directed at abuses in the Soviet Union, Southern Rhodesia, Greece, South Korea, and Chile, Snyder demonstrates that Americans active on human rights in the long 1960s achieved congressional legislation that curbed military and economic assistance to repressive governments, established institutions to monitor human rights around the world, and shifted the patterns of U.S. foreign policy making for years to come. By highlighting the importance of nonstate and lower-level actors, Snyder offers a more complicated picture of U.S. attention to human rights during the Cold War.  She shows that activism in the years 1961-1976 established the networks and tactics critical to the institutionalization of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and thus facilitated the issue’s enduring significance. From Selma to Moscow also reveals that the challenges facing 1960s-era activists – in particular how to balance morality and adherence to American values with the preservation of national security as well as how to advance a policy agenda resisted by the White House – have continuing relevance to U.S. policy formulation today.

Image credits

Background: Henry Kissinger in his White House office. Courtesy: The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum (National Archives and Records Administration).