On Wednesday 14th March at 5.15pm, Professor Phillips O’Brien from the School of International Relations, will give his Inaugural Lecture in School III, St Salvator’s Quad on: “Fleet Admiral William D Leahy. What can the life of one very conventional man tell us about the United States and the World?”
Fleet Admiral William D Leahy is practically unknown today. Yet for seven years he was the closest policy making individual to the President of the United States.
Between 1942 and 1947 he served as the Chief of Staff to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and then Harry Truman. He met with these presidents daily to analyse world events and decide on US policy. At the same time, he served as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest ranking serving military personnel in the history of the USA.
As such, he had an outsize influence on what the United States government did during both the Second World War and the origins of the Cold War.
The fact that he did so, and yet is unknown, is revealing about how the US government works and how we have, and continue, to confuse celebrity with authority.