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HISTORY is CENTRAL Summer 2006. The Cold War. ( and the Cold War in Connecticut). Duck and Cover (1951). Roadmap. Foreign Relations & Cold War & Historians Leffler’s book NSC-68 Connecticut Vietnam. Foreign Relations. Orthodox Revisionist “Cultural Turn”.

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the cold war

HISTORY is CENTRAL Summer 2006

The Cold War

( and the Cold War in Connecticut)

  • Foreign Relations & Cold War & Historians
  • Leffler’s book
  • NSC-68
  • Connecticut
  • Vietnam
foreign relations
Foreign Relations
  • Orthodox
  • Revisionist
  • “Cultural Turn”
cold war historiography
Cold War Historiography
  • Traditionalists
  • New Left (Revisionists)
  • Post-Revisionists
    • John Lewis Gaddis
reagan as ultimate hero
Reagan as ultimate hero
  • Argument of John Lewis Gaddis and in “memory” of conservatives
    • Strong rhetoric, but practical
    • R. saw opportunity and seized it
    • R. pursued policy of strength
flaws in the gaddis argument and much popular perception
Flaws in the Gaddis argument and much popular perception
  • Fails to see full picture of 1980s U.S., USSR, Eastern Europe, and World
  • Fails to see power of containment over the long haul

Ideological competition and geostrategic threat made American officials aware of vulnerability of domestic political and economic institutions.

Anti-Communism provided a simple framework to view the world (78, 119-20)

Many groups used the Cold War to fight internal battles (25, 59-60, 79-80)

Many policymakers feared that if the USSR took advantage of power vacuums, it could only be defeated by making the US a garrison state. (30, 47-48, 57, 61-62, 96, 126)

vietnam historiography
Vietnam Historiography
  • Extraordinary passions and influence of war
  • Several key issues:
    • Origins: necessary or a terrible mistake?
    • Outcome: why unable to preserve South Vietnam? Unwinnable?
    • Meaning and lessons: what are they?
two main camps
Two main camps
  • Critical - Vietnam a bad war - the “Standard Interpretation”
  • Legitimate endeavor that could have been won
the standard interpretation
The “Standard Interpretation”
  • Critics dominated the early literature
    • Reversal of other war histories
  • Journalists and former officials start
    • The Bitter Heritage 1967 - Arthur Schlesinger Jr. - “quagmire”
  • “Quagmire” challenged by Pentagon Papers revelations
    • Presidents knew their actions might fail
Radical interpretation
    • Anatomy of a War Gabriel Kolko 1985
      • Structurally determined economic reasons
revisionist challenge
Revisionist Challenge
  • (Argue vehemently against anyone who says “trying to rewrite history”)
  • Started to appear at end of 1970s
  • Part of growing conservative rise and fueled by postwar conditions in Vietnam
Revisionists seek to justify war on either or both of these grounds:
    • Vietnamese Communists a part of a larger threat of Communism that was a real threat to U.S.
    • Moral reasons: to save the South from the ravages of Communism
Revisionists also seek to argue that war was winnable
    • U.S. Grant Sharp Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect 1978
  • But, two opposing views of how it could have been won
    • More conventional
    • More counter-insurgency
    • (each position claims the actual war was fought in the opposite manner)
recent scholarship
Recent Scholarship
  • Standard interpretation still holds for most historians
  • Herring’s book
  • What is being written now:
    • Broader in scope: Congress, other nations’ views
    • Archives from China and former USSR
    • Vietnamese side