- Local Consequences of the Global Cold War
“In nearly every field of historical inquiry,” writes Paul Boyer in the preface of this collection of essay, “the past generation has seen a broadening of perspective, a movement beyond the narrow occupation of earlier times” (p. xv). It is encouraging that the field of diplomatic history is now experiencing such a change. This book in its totality gains its strength through several important themes: the unintended consequences of Cold War decisions on many parts of the world, the complexity of the changes that localities experienced, and the efforts by local areas to manage the economic, social, and political changes that occurred. What results is a more complex and nuanced interpretation of Cold War policy “from the bottom up.”
Chapters by Jeremi Suri, Thomas Borstelmann, Alan P. Dobson and Charlie Whitham, Arvid Nelson, and Catherine McNicol Stock focus on the unintended local consequences of Cold War policies. Suri’s “The Cultural Contradictions of Cold War Education: West Berlin and the Youth Revolt of the 1960s,” discusses the student revolts at the Free University, a Cold War–created educational institution. Suri expands [End Page 225] sociologist Daniel Bell’s thesis on the “cultural contradictions of capitalism” within the Cold War context that “framed the development of capitalist institutions after 1945” (p. 57) and brings the underpinnings of the youth revolt in West Berlin into clearer focus. Borstelmann’s “The Cold War and the American South” expands on his thesis in The Cold War and the Color Line (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), which linked the changes in the American South after 1945, both economically and racially, to the international context of the Cold War, which in part created the Sun Belt and forced southern whites to confront the “meaning of ‘freedom.’” (p. 91).
In “Project Lamachus: The Cold War Comes to Scotland—The Holy Loch U.S. Nuclear Base and Its Impact on Scotland, 1959–1974,” Dobson and Whitham describe the economic, social, and environmental impact of Whitehall policy, backed by the Scottish Office, of allowing the United States to have a nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch in Scotland, which had several unintended consequences, including a rise in political awareness among the residents, in the form of Scottish nationalism and antinuclear protests. Nelson’s “Landscape Change in Central Europe and Stalin’s Postwar Strategy 1945–1949” vividly documents Iosif Stalin’s “war on the countryside” land reform policy as it was adopted in eastern Germany immediately after World War II, all but destroying the area’s diverse economy and producing irreversible environmental damage. Stock’s “Nuclear Country: The Militarization of the Northern Plains, 1954–1975” outlines the impact of the building of sites for long-range nuclear missiles in the Dakotas. Despite a long history of anti-statism, local leaders initially welcomed the project as an economic opportunity, but the long-term effects of militarization included the decline of the rural economy; the dearth of well-paying jobs for local workers; the secret, sometimes seemingly authoritarian policies of the federal government; and the eventual depopulation of the region when the government destroyed some of the sites for the missiles.
Other chapters in the book focus on the collaboration between national and local officials in shaping Cold War domestic policies and the transformative effects these policies have on local communities and regions. Hiroshi Kitamura’s “Exhibition and Entertainment: Hollywood and the Reconstruction of Defeated Japan” shows how Hollywood became a ‘“vital instrument” in the consolidation of U.S. power in postwar Japan through the collaboration of U.S. officials, Hollywood, and Japanese film exhibitors to gain a foothold in the market and to marginalize left-wing cinema. These efforts “reinforced American power by drawing Japan into its American orbit” (p. 51).
The three chapters on the military-industrial complex—Richard S. Kirkendall’s “The Impact of the Early Cold War on the American City: The Aerospace Industry in Seattle,” Michel Oden’s “When the Movie’s Over: The Post–Cold War Restructuring of Los Angeles,” and Anita...