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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Secular Missionaries

Americans and African Development in the 1960s

Larry Grubbs

In 1961, as President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the beginning of a “Decade of Development,” the United States embarked on its first coherent “Africa” policy. Guided by the precepts of modernization theory, American policymakers, diplomats, academics, and Peace Corps volunteers were dispatched to promote economic growth and nation-building among the newly independent countries of sub-Saharan Africa. At the outset, Larry Grubbs shows, many of these“ secular missionaries” were no less sanguine about their prospects for success than were their Christian predecessors a century earlier. But before long their optimism gave way to disillusionment, as rosy forecasts of sustained development collided with African political realities and colonial economies based on single-commodity exports subject to global price fluctuations. In this book, Grubbs presents a cultural history of this ill-fated American campaign to modernize Africa during its first decade of independence. Drawing on government documents and contemporary press accounts as well as an extensive body of scholarship on U.S.-Africa relations, he exposes the contradictions at the core of a self-serving idealism that promised to “win” the continent of Africa for the West in the context of the Cold War. While many Americans working in Africa considered themselves opponents of ethnocentrism, the modernization goals they served carried an ingrained, if unacknowledged, cultural and ideological sense of superiority and faith in American exceptionalism. Similarly, persistent myths about African backwardness and primitiveness continued to afflict U.S. policy, despite official pronouncements of confidence in the transformative power of Western expertise and can-do pragmatism in bringing African societies into the modern world. If the assumptions underlying U.S. policy toward Africa during the 1960s were simply relics of outmoded Cold War orthodoxies, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, Grubbs concludes, many of the same ideas imbue contemporary discussions of the ongoing “crisis” in Africa, from the campaigns to “Save Darfur” and stop the spread of AIDS to efforts to eliminate “blood diamonds” and forgive African debts.

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Vietnam's Southern Revolution

From Peasant Insurrection to Total War, 1959-1968

David Hunt

In Vietnam, the American government vowed to win the “hearts and minds” of the people. On the other side, among those who led and sympathized with the insurgents, the term “people’s war” gained a wide currency. Yet while much has been written about those who professed to speak for the Vietnamese population, we know surprisingly little about the everyday life of the peasants who made up the bulk of the country’s inhabitants. This book illuminates that subject. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews conducted by the Rand Corporation with informants from My Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, David Hunt brings to light the daily experience of villagers in the midst of war and revolution.The peasants of southern Vietnam were neither onlookers nor mere victims as fighting raged throughout their country. From the “concerted uprising” in 1959–1960 to the Tet Offensive of 1968, the revolutionary movement they created was in fact the driving force within the war. Known as the “Viet Cong” to their adversaries, the rebels called themselves the “Liberation Front.” They demanded an end to landlordism and an egalitarian distribution of the means of subsistence as well as a democratization of relations between town and countryside, parents and children, men and women. They hoped the Vietnamese people would achieve a fuller sense of their place in the world and of the power they possessed to fashion their own destinies, without reliance on supernatural forces.In the first half of the book, Hunt analyzes this cultural revolution. As fighting spread and became more destructive, especially after the U.S. escalation in 1965, villagers were driven from their homes, the rural infrastructure collapsed, and customary notions of space and time lost purchase on an increasingly chaotic world. In the second half of the book, Hunt shows how peasants, who earlier had aspired to a kind of revolutionary modernism, now found themselves struggling to survive and to cope with the American intruders who poured into My Tho, and how they managed to regroup and spearhead the Tet Offensive that irrevocably altered the course of the war.

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The Vietnam War in American Memory

Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing

Patrick Hagopian

A study of American attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the Vietnam War, this book highlights the central role played by Vietnam veterans in shaping public memory of the war. Tracing the evolution of the image of the Vietnam veteran from alienated dissenter to traumatized victim to noble warrior, Patrick Hagopian describes how efforts to commemorate the war increasingly downplayed the political divisions it spawned in favor of a more unifying emphasis on honoring veterans and promoting national “healing.”

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Washington's China

The National Security World, the Cold War, and the Origins of Globalism

James Peck

This book addresses a central question about the Cold War that has never been adequately resolved. Why did the United States go to such lengths not merely to “contain” the People’s Republic of China but to isolate it from all diplomatic, cultural, and economic ties to other nations? Why, in other words, was American policy more hostile to China than to the Soviet Union, at least until President Nixon visited China in 1972?The answer, as set out here, lies in the fear of China’s emergence as a power capable of challenging the new Asian order the United States sought to shape in the wake of World War II. To meet this threat, American policymakers fashioned an ideology that was not simply or exclusively anticommunist, but one that aimed at creating an integrated, cooperative world capitalism under U.S. leadership—an ideology, in short, designed to outlive the Cold War.In building his argument, James Peck draws on a wide variety of little-known documents from the archives of the National Security Council and the CIA. He shows how American officials initially viewed China as a “puppet” of the Soviet Union, then as “independent junior partner” in a Sino-Soviet bloc, andfinally as “revolutionary model” and sponsor of social upheaval in the Third World. Each of these constructs revealed more about U.S. perceptions and strategic priorities than about actual shifts in Chinese thought and conduct. All were based on the assumption that China posed a direct threat not just to specific U.S. interests and objectives abroad but to the larger vision of a new global order dominated by American economic and military power. Although the nature of “Washington’s China” may have changed over the years, Peck contends that the ideology behind it remains unchanged, even today.

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We Gotta Get Out of This Place

The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

Douglas Bradley and Craig Werner

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Younger Than That Now

The Politics of Age in the 1960s

Holly V. Scott

Retrospectives of the 1960s routinely include the face of youth rebellion: long-haired students occupying campus buildings, young men burning draft cards, hippies dancing at Woodstock. In Younger Than That Now, Holly V. Scott explores how the idea of “youth” served as a tactic in the political and social activism of these years. In the early part of that decade, young white activists began to learn from the civil rights movement’s defiance of racism. They examined their own lives and concluded that campus rules and the draft were repression as well. As a group, they were ripe for revolution, and their age gave them a unique perspective for understanding and protesting against injustice. In short, young people began to use their youth as a political strategy. Some in the New Left were dubious of this strategy and asked how it might damage long-term progress. Young feminists and people of color were particularly quick to question the idea that age alone was enough to sustain a movement. And the media often presented young people as impulsive and naive, undermining their political legitimacy. In tracing how “youth” took on multiple meanings as the 1960s progressed, Scott demonstrates the power of this idea to both promote and hinder social change.

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