Live Talks from the IWM Institute

Hindsight in 2020 is a monthly series of live talks examining the history behind the headlines. The series delves deep into the most important geopolitical issues of the day, from China/US relations, to online disinformation and hybrid war, to the impact of coronavirus on refugees around the world. 



Gulf War, 1990-1
Gulf War, 1990-1


How many wars have been fought over oil? It is often claimed that oil has been the leading cause of conflict in recent years, from Iraq to Crimea to the South China Sea. Petroleum played a key role in the Second World War - it fuelled the war efforts of both the Allies and the Axis, and countless battles were fought over control of oil reserves. This historic link between conflict and oil might seem obvious to many, but for some historians it is overblown.

Explore the debate with TIM WINEGARD, author of The First World Oil War and EMILY MEIERDING, author of The Oil Wars Myth: Petroleum and the Causes of International Conflict. Chaired by BBC Newsnight's MARK URBAN.


Re-watch the discussions

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Coronavirus and the Language of War

Are we at war with Covid-19? The language used by politicians and journalists would suggest so, with doctors and nurses often described as being on the ‘front line’ and the spirit of World War II invoked to raise national morale. BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, Historian Margaret MacMillan and The Times’ Philip Collins ask whether battling a contagious disease is really comparable to an army of enemy combatants.

Brave New World: The Post Pandemic Global Order

Can experiencing a crisis create opportunities to reimagine societies and will the Coronavirus emergency provide a chance to design a fairer and more resilient world? Join technologist Ben Hammersley, historian Lucy Noakes and journalist and author Kenan Malik to discuss the post pandemic global order.

Can History Explain Current China Tensions?

BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, economist Linda Yueh and China expert Rana Mitter examine how we can use history as a guide to better understand China’s actions and attitudes towards the West.
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Hindsight in 2020: The New Surveillance State

What lessons can be learned from previous controversies around surveillance? Since we're now witnessing levels of government intrusion not seen since the days of blackouts and rationing in World War II, how will this impact the relationship between citizens and governments in the future? 
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After The Caliphate: The New Age of Terrorism

Some experts claim that IS is now beginning to make a resurgence, orchestrating a wave of attacks across Iraq and Syria this year. So how will these organisations adapt? So how can governments around the world respond to a resurgence in terrorist activity without making the mistakes of the past? And what’s the best way to address the historic root causes of terrorism?
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Legacies of Empire: How Should We Memorialise our Past?

When protesters in Bristol pulled down a prominent statue of slave trader Edward Colston as part of the Black Lives Matter protests against the killing of George Floyd, it prompted a nationwide debate. How should we memorialise controversial aspects of our past? Watch a live debate on this topic, part of the IWM Institute's Hindsight in 2020 series.
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Hindsight in 2020: Misinformation in a Time of Crisis

Social media disinformation, misinformation and online hoaxes are key weapons of 21st century war. How does the misinformation of the past compare with that of the present? Join our panel of experts for a discussion. 
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HIndsight in 2020 | America First?

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the world’s dominant power, leading Western nations into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, playing a central role in multilateral organisations like NATO and the United Nations. But under the leadership of President Trump, we have increasingly seen the United States taking a different approach to foreign affairs. Rightly or wrongly, Trump’s ‘America First’ policies have precipitated comparisons with the isolationism pursued by the U.S. at numerous points throughout the 20th century.