New! Peter Stearns Interview: "An Explicit Commitment to Peace"

Peter Stearns

Peter Stearns is University Professor at George Mason University, where he also served as provost from 2000 to June 2015. His areas of research and teaching include world history, social history, globalization, and the history of emotions. Dr. Stearns has served since 1967 as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Social History and has published widely in his areas of expertise. This interview covers themes related to his 2014 title, Peace in World History. Provost Stearns spoke with Ikeda Center publications associate Mitch Bogen on September 16, 2015.

You’ve had a long and distinguished career as an historian. Why peace? Why now?

There are two related answers to that. First of all, I lived through the Cold War, and as the Cold War eased, I began to realize that some of the things I had assumed during the conflict were inaccurate. I had simply accepted the notion that the United States needed a very large military to repel aggression, and initially I felt that the Vietnam War was justified. I now do not think it was justified. So part of my answer is that in my own life I learned that I had not grown up with a proper appreciation for peace and the values of peace and the need to cut through some of the common arguments for military activities and wars. That’s one answer.

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