The Cold War and the Culture of Secrecy

Hosted by LSE IDEAS Philippe Roman lecture series

Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House,


Professor Matthew Connelly


Professor Michael Cox

Official secrecy in the U.S. during the Cold War altered the culture of government and served many hidden agendas. Classified information became an institutional asset to be traded for other kinds of access and information. Security clearances became a way to police behavior, such that homosexuals and others deemed to be deviant could be driven from government. At the same time, senior officials who leaked classified information – such as false reports that the Soviets were opening a “missile gap” – could use tactic to gain higher office. The ship of state, it was said, was the only kind that leaked from the top.

Professor Matthew Connelly is Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Affairs at LSE IDEAS for 2014-2015. Currently a professor in the Department of History at Columbia University, Matthew Connelly is also founder and director of the LSE-Columbia University Double Degree in International and World History. His current research focuses on planning and predictions, and using data science to analyse patterns in official secrecy. He received his B.A. from Columbia and his Ph.D. from Yale He has authored a wide-range of articles and publications, including the award-winningDiplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s fight for independence and the origins of the post-Cold War era, which has won five prizes since its publication. His most recent book, Fatal Misconception: the struggle to control world population, was chosen as one of the best books of the year by The Economist and the Financial Times.

Professor Michael Cox is founding co-director of LSE IDEAS and emeritus professor in international relations.

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is a centre for the study of international affairs, diplomacy and grand strategy.

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