University of Massachusetts Press

Culture, Politics, and the Cold War

Christian Appy

Published by: University of Massachusetts Press

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Culture, Politics, and the Cold War

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Imperial Brotherhood

Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy

Robert D. Dean

This provocative book begins with a question about the Vietnam War. How is it, asks Robert D. Dean, that American policymakers—men who prided themselves on "hardheaded pragmatism" and shunned "fuzzy idealism"—could have committed the nation to such a ruinous, costly, and protracted war? The answer, he argues, lies not simply in the imperatives of anticommunist ideology or in any reasonable calculation of national interest. At least as decisive in determining the form and content of American Cold War foreign policy were the common background and shared values of its makers, especially their deeply ingrained sense of upper-class masculinity. Dean begins by examining the institutions that shaped the members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment—all-male prep schools, Ivy League universities, collegiate secret societies, and exclusive men's clubs—that instilled stoic ideals of competition, duty, and loyalty. Service in elite military units during World War II further reinforced this pattern of socialization, eventually creating an "imperial brotherhood" imbued with a common global vision. More than that, according to Dean, the commitment to tough-minded masculinity shared by these men encouraged the pursuit of policies that were aggressively interventionist abroad and intolerant of dissent at home. Applying his gendered analysis to the McCarthy era, Dean reveals how the purge of suspected homosexuals in the State Department not only paralleled the repression of the political left, but also reflected a bitter contest for power between the foreign policy elite and provincial Congressional conservatives. He then shows how issues of manliness similarly influenced the politics and policies of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Just as programs like the Peace Corps were grounded in ideals of masculine heroism, decisions about intervention in Vietnam were inextricably bound up with ideas about male strength and power. In the end, Dean makes a persuasive case that these elite constructions of male identity fundamentally shaped the course of American foreign policy during the early decades of the Cold War.

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Invisible Enemies

The American War on Vietnam, 1975-2000

Edwin A. Martini

Beginning where most histories of the Vietnam War end, Invisible Enemies examines the relationship between the United States and Vietnam following the American pullout in 1975. Drawing on a broad range of sources, from White House documents and congressional hearings to comic books and feature films, Edwin Martini shows how the United States continued to wage war on Vietnam "by other means" for another twenty-five years. In addition to imposing an extensive program of economic sanctions, the United States opposed Vietnam's membership in the United Nations, supported the Cambodians, including the Khmer Rouge, in their decade-long war with the Vietnamese, and insisted that Vietnam provide a "full accounting" of American MIAs before diplomatic relations could be established. According to Martini, such policies not only worked against some of the stated goals of U.S. foreign policy, they were also in opposition to the corporate economic interests that ultimately played a key role in normalizing relations between the two nations in the late 1990s. Martini reinforces his assessment of American diplomacy with an analysis of the "cultural front"—the movies, myths, memorials, and other phenomena that supported continuing hostility toward Vietnam while silencing opposing views of the war and its legacies. He thus demonstrates that the "American War on Vietnam" was as much a battle for the cultural memory of the war within the United States as it was a lengthy economic, political, and diplomatic campaign to punish a former adversary.

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Kent State

Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties

Thomas M. Grace

On May 4, 1970, National Guard troops opened fire on unarmed antiwar protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others, including the author of this book. The shootings shocked the American public and triggered a nationwide wave of campus strikes and protests. To many at the time, Kent State seemed an unlikely site for the bloodiest confrontation in a decade of campus unrest—a sprawling public university in the American heartland, far from the coastal epicenters of political and social change. Yet, as Thomas M. Grace shows, the events of May 4 were not some tragic anomaly but were grounded in a tradition of student political activism that extended back to Ohio’s labor battles of the 1950s. The vast expansion of the university after World War II brought in growing numbers of working-class enrollees from the industrial centers of northeast Ohio, members of the same demographic cohort that eventually made up the core of American combat forces in Vietnam. As the war’s rising costs came to be felt acutely in the home communities of Kent’s students, tensions mounted between the growing antiwar movement on campus, the university administration, and the political conservatives who dominated the surrounding county as well as the state government. The deadly shootings at Kent State were thus the culmination of a dialectic of radicalization and repression that had been building throughout the decade. In the years that followed, the antiwar movement continued to strengthen on campus, bolstered by an influx of returning Vietnam veterans. After the war ended, a battle over the memory and meaning of May 4 ensued. It continues to the present day.

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Liberty and Justice for All?

Rethinking Politics in Cold War America

edited by Kathleen G. Donohue

From the congressional debate over the “fall of China” to the drama of the Army–McCarthy hearings to the kitchen faceoff between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev, the political history of the early Cold War was long dominated by studies of presidential administrations, anticommunism, and foreign policy. In Liberty and Justice for All? a group of distinguished historians representing a variety of disciplinary perspectives—social history, cultural history, intellectual history, labor history, urban history, women’s history, African American studies, and media studies—expand on the political history of the early Cold War by rethinking the relationship between politics and culture. How, for example, did folk music help to keep movement culture alive throughout the 1950s? How did the new medium of television change fundamental assumptions about politics and the electorate? How did American experiences with religion in the 1950s strengthen the separation of church and state? How did race, class, and gender influence the relationship between citizens and the state? These are just some of the questions addressed in this wide-ranging set of essays. In addition to volume editor Kathleen G. Donohue, contributors include Howard Brick, Kari Frederickson, Andrea Friedman, David Greenberg, Grace Elizabeth Hale, Jennifer Klein, Laura McEnaney, Kevin M. Schultz, Jason Scott Smith, Landon R. Y. Storrs, and Jessica Weiss.

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Making the Desert Modern

Americans, Arabs, and Oil on the Saudi Frontier, 1933–1973

Chad H. Parker

In 1933 American oilmen representing what later became the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) signed a concession agreement with the Saudi Arabian king granting the company sole proprietorship over the oil reserves in the country’s largest province. As drilling commenced and wells proliferated, Aramco soon became a major presence in the region. In this book Chad H. Parker tells Aramco’s story, showing how an American company seeking resources and profits not only contributed to Saudi “nation building” but helped define U.S. foreign policy during the early Cold War. In the years following World War II, as Aramco expanded its role in Saudi Arabia, the idea of “modernization” emerged as a central component of American foreign policy toward newly independent states. Although the company engaged in practices supportive of U.S. goals, its own modernizing efforts tended to be pragmatic rather than policy-driven, more consistent with furthering its business interests than with validating abstract theories. Aramco built the infrastructure necessary to extract oil and also carved an American suburb out of the Arabian desert, with all the air-conditioned comforts of Western modern life. At the same time, executives cultivated powerful relationships with Saudi government officials and, to the annoyance of U.S. officials, even served the monarchy in diplomatic disputes. Before long the company became the principal American diplomatic, political, and cultural agent in the country, a role it would continue to play until 1973, when the Saudi government took over its operation.

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Modernizing Repression

Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century

Jeremy Kuzmarov

As American troops became bogged down first in Iraq and then Afghanistan, a key component of U.S. strategy was to build up local police and security forces in an attempt to establish law and order. This approach, Jeremy Kuzmarov shows, is consistent with practices honed over more than a century in developing nations within the expanding orbit of the American empire. From the conquest of the Philippines and Haiti at the turn of the twentieth century through Cold War interventions and the War on Terror, police training has been valued as a cost-effective means of suppressing radical and nationalist movements, precluding the need for direct U.S. military intervention and thereby avoiding the public opposition it often arouses. Unlike the spectacular but ephemeral pyrotechnics of the battlefield, police training programs have had lasting consequences for countries under the American imperial umbrella, fostering new elites, creating powerful tools of social control, and stifling political reform. These programs have also backfired, breeding widespread resistance, violence, and instability—telltale signs of “blowback” that has done more to undermine than advance U.S. strategic interests abroad.

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The Myth of the Addicted Army

Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs

Jeremy Kuzmarov

The image of the drug-addicted American soldier—disheveled, glassy-eyed, his uniform adorned with slogans of antiwar dissent—has long been associated with the Vietnam War. More specifically, it has persisted as an explanation for the U.S. defeat, the symbol of a demoralized army incapable of carrying out its military mission. Yet as Jeremy Kuzmarov documents in this deeply researched book, popular assumptions about drug use in Vietnam are based more on myth than fact. Not only was alcohol the intoxicant of choice for most GIs, but the prevalence of other drugs varied enormously. Although marijuana use among troops increased over the course of the war, for the most part it remained confined to rear areas, and the use of highly addictive drugs like heroin was never as widespread as many imagined. Like other cultural myths that emerged from the war, the concept of an addicted army was first advanced by war hawks seeking a scapegoat for the failure of U.S. policies in Vietnam, in this case one that could be linked to “permissive” liberal social policies and the excesses of the counterculture. But conservatives were not alone. Ironically, Kuzmarov shows, elements of the antiwar movement also promoted the myth, largely because of a presumed alliance between Asian drug traffickers and the Central Intelligence Agency. While this claim was not without foundation, as new archival evidence confirms, the left exaggerated the scope of addiction for its own political purposes. Exploiting bipartisan concern over the perceived “drug crisis,” the Nixon administration in the early 1970s launched a bold new program of federal antidrug measures, especially in the international realm. Initially, the “War on Drugs” helped divert attention away from the failed quest for “peace with honor” in Southeast Asia. But once institutionalized, it continued to influence political discourse as well as U.S. drug policy in the decades that followed.

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The Other Side of Grief

The Home Front and the Aftermath in American Narratives of the Vietnam War

Maureen Ryan

The lingering aftereffects of the Vietnam War resonate to this day throughout American society: in foreign policy, in attitudes about the military and war generally, and in the contemporary lives of members of the so-called baby boom generation who came of age during the 1960s and early 1970s. While the best-known personal accounts of the war tend to center on the experience of combat, Maureen Ryan’s The Other Side of Grief examines the often overlooked narratives—novels, short stories, memoirs, and films—that document the war’s impact on the home front. In analyzing the accounts of Vietnam veterans, women as well as men, Ryan focuses on the process of readjustment, on how the war continued to insinuate itself into their lives, their families, and their communities long after they returned home. She looks at the writings of women whose husbands, lovers, brothers, and sons served in Vietnam and whose own lives were transformed as a result. She also appraises the experiences of the POWs who came to be embraced as the war’s only heroes; the ordeal of Vietnamese refugees who fled their “American War” to new lives in the United States; and the influential movement created by those who committed themselves to protesting the war. The end result of Ryan’s investigations is a cogent synthesis of the vast narrative literature generated by the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Together those stories powerfully demonstrate how deeply the legacies of the war penetrated American culture and continue to reverberate still.

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Perfectly Average

The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America

Anna Creadick

At the end of World War II, many Americans longed for a return to a more normal way of life after decades of depression and war. In fact, between 1945 and 1963 the idea of “normality” circulated as a keyword in almost every aspect of American culture. But what did this term really mean? What were its parameters? Whom did it propose to include and exclude? In Perfectly Average, Anna Creadick investigates how and why “normality” reemerged as a potent homogenizing category in postwar America. Working with scientific studies, material culture, literary texts, film, fashion, and the mass media, she charts the pursuit of the“normal” through thematic chapters on the body, character, class, sexuality, and community. Creadick examines such evidence as the “Norm and Norma” models produced during the war by sexologists and anthropologists—statistical composites of“normal” American bodies. In 1945, as thousands of Ohio women signed up for a Norma Look-Alike contest, a “Harvard Study of Normal Men” sought to define the typical American male according to specific criteria, from body shape to upbringing to blood pressure. By the early 1950s, the “man in the gray flannel suit” had come to symbolize what some regarded as the stultifying sameness of the “normal-ized” middle class. Meanwhile, novels such as From Here to Eternity and Peyton Place both supported and challenged normative ideas about gender, race, and sexuality, even as they worked to critique the postwar culture of surveillance—watching and being watched—through which normalizing power functioned. As efforts to define normality became increasingly personal, the tensions em-bedded in its binary logic multiplied: Was normal descriptive of an average or prescriptive of an ideal? In the end, Creadick shows, a variety of statistics, assumptions, and aspirations converged to recast “normality” not as something innate or inborn, but rather as a quality to be actively pursued—a standard at once highly seductive and impossible to achieve because it required becoming perfectly average.

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The Pro-War Movement

Domestic Support for the Vietnam War and the Making of Modern American Conservatism

Sandra Scanlon

In the vast literature on the Vietnam War, much has been written about the antiwar movement and its influence on U.S. policy and politics. In this book, Sandra Scanlon shifts attention to those Americans who supported the war and explores the war’s impact on the burgeoning conservative political movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Believing the Vietnam War to be a just and necessary cause, the pro-war movement pushed for more direct American military intervention in Southeast Asia throughout the Kennedy administration, lobbied for intensified bombing during the Johnson years, and offered coherent, if divided, endorsements of Nixon’s policies of phased withdrawal. Although its political wing was dominated by individuals and organizations associated with Barry Goldwater’s presidential bids, the movement incorporated a broad range of interests and groups united by a shared antipathy to the New Deal order and liberal Cold War ideology. Appealing to patriotism, conservative leaders initially rallied popular support in favor of total victory and later endorsed Nixon’s call for “peace with honor.” Yet as the war dragged on with no clear end in sight, internal divisions eroded the confidence of pro-war conservatives in achieving their aims and forced them to reevaluate the political viability of their hardline Cold War rhetoric. Conservatives still managed to make use of grassroots patriotic campaigns to marshal support for the war, particularly among white ethnic workers opposed to the antiwar movement. Yet in so doing, Scanlon concludes, they altered the nature and direction of the conservative agenda in both foreign and domestic policy for years to come.

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