Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The End of the Cold War



A. Aging Soviet Leadership—One of the concerns about Ronald Reagan was his advance aged when he was elected—but he was younger than either of the two Soviet Union premiers who held office in Reagan’s first term in office

B. The Soviet War in Afghanistan—in order to prop up a Soviet satellite government in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union sent troops to that country in 1979.

a. Olympic Boycott—In response to this Soviet “aggression,” US President Jimmy Carter decided to boycott the Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Moscow in 1980. This was not a popular decision with Olympic athletes, of course, but it prevented the Soviet Union from gaining a larger propaganda victory—and revenue from the Games.

b. Charlie Wilson’s War—the difficulty the Soviet Union faced in Afghanistan was seen by some in the United States as an opportunity to further that difficulty, and so clandestine support for the Afghan resistance—the mujahideen, who later were transformed into the Taliban—seemed a way to involve the Soviet Union in a proxy war at low cost to the United States. These Afghan rebels welcomed US aid at this time, however, as well as their Muslin co-religionists from around the globe, including the scion of a wealthy Saudi family, Osama (or Usama) bin Laden.

II. Re-igniting the Cold War

A. D├ętente—Under Nixon, the United States had pursued the “normalization” of relations with the Soviet Union (as well as establishing relations with Communist China, to play one against the other for US gain). This policy had been pursued as well by the Carter Administration; under Reagan, however, who viewed the Soviet Union as the “evil empire” referred to above, this policy was abandoned in favor of “tougher” rhetoric.

B. Arms build-up—in reaction to the events of Vietnam, and the move toward “normalization” of relations with the Soviet Union—as well at the economic stresses of the mid-1970s—had led to a diminishing amount of money spent on the military. Reagan reversed this trend, despite his promises to trim the federal budget—“Defense is not a budget item.”

a. “Winning the Cold War”—Reagan advocates claim that this policy was instrumental in the United States “winning” the Cold War, arguing that the economic pressure the arms build-up placed on the Soviet Union was a leading factor in the fall of the Soviet Union. The only problem with this argument is that there is no evidence that the Soviet Union made any attempt to meet this challenge with an arms build-up of their own. The demise of the Soviet Union, this suggests, came from economic problems that existed before the Reagan administration came to power.

C. Proxy Wars of Our Choosing

a. Sandinista Revolution—the Sandinistas were a guerrilla force fighting against the Nicaraguan dictator Anastacio Somoza. Helped by advisors from Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and combined with the lack of support by the Carter administration for the Somoza regime (in this instance, Carter’s stated policy of not supporting dictators was actually carried through), led to the establishment of a socialist democracy in Nicaragua—much to the consternation of old Cold Warriors.

b. Lebanon—the lack of a solution to the Palestinian homeland crisis since 1948 had destabilized the Middle East—in particular Lebanon, which was home to many of the largest Palestinian refugee camps. These camps, which by the Reagan administration had been home for two generations of displaced Palestinians, produced a number of disaffected young men (and a few women), who saw the only solution to their predicament being acts of terror carried out against the “occupiers” of their homeland (Israeli Jews). This in turn led to Israeli retaliation, as well as, by late 1982, the Israeli army turning a blind eye to the slaughter of Palestinian refugees by Christian Lebanese militias in the largest camp. This led the Reagan administration to step into what had by this time devolved into a Lebanese civil war, and attempt to maintain the peace. This worked initially, but as soon as Marines were perceived to take sides, they became targets for terror, and the suicide bombing of the barracks resulted in 241 military deaths. Although the Reagan administration made retaliatory threats, US military personnel were pulled to ships off shore, eventually out of the Mediterranean, as Lebanon sunk into a decade-long civil war.

c. Grenada invasion—This invasion was launched almost immediately after the disaster in Lebanon. Ostensibly the result of “threats” to a substantial number of US medical school students (Grenada was a favorite location for students unable to get into US medical schools) by government instability, in reality it was an opportunity to claim a victory against the Communist threat (the overthrown government had allied itself with Cuba)—and a chance to distract the American public from events in Lebanon.

d. Iran-Iraq War—with Anwar Sadat in disfavor in the Arab world due to the peace treaty he made with Israel, a power vacuum led Saddam Hussein to believe he could become the new leader of the Arab world. To achieve that, however, he felt it necessary to neutralize his non-Arab neighbor, Iran. Iran was still in the midst of its revolutions, and the time seemed ripe. With the blessing of the United States, and with some military assistance being provided after the American Embassy hostage crisis, the Iraqis had much initial success. The Iranians were able to turn the tide by the mid-1980s, however, and the war devolved into a bloody stalemate that included the use of biological and chemical weapons by the Iraqi forces—procured with some assistance by the United States.


e. Iran-Contra Scandal--in Reagan's second term, information came to light that indicated that the United States--despite its proclaimed policy of not making deals for hostages--had in fact traded arms to Iran (of all places) in return for government officials there appealing to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to release some American hostages. The money the United States made from selling arms to Iran was then funneled to anti-government forces in Nicaragua--the "Contras'--in direct violation of the Boland Act. Reagan denied any direct knowlege of these actions, but the investigation and scandal hungover much of the rest of his second term. Eventually, 11 members of the administration were initially convicted of violating the law; many of those were later released after successful appeals, and those who remained in prison were later pardoned at the end of Bush I's presidential term.


III. Reagan’s Second Term

A. Influence of Nancy Reagan—President Reagan’s most trusted advisor was his wife, Nancy. Often derided in the press because of her trust in astrology, by her husband’s second term she was very concerned about his legacy, and did all in her power to see that that legacy would be something positive.

B. Rise of Mikhail Gorbachev—Gorbachev was of the first generation of Soviet leaders who had not come into the Party when it was controlled by Stalin. While he sought to maintain Party control of the governing apparatus, he also sought to implement a number of reforms to rejuvenate the Soviet economy, and to provide a slightly more open society.

a. Reykjavik Summit—meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev in Iceland; although no agreement was reached at the summit itself, this did lay the groundwork for the arms reduction agreements that were reached between the two countries.

IV. Fall of the Soviet Bloc

A. George H. W. Bush—with the end of Reagan’s second term, his vice-president George Bush was elected, and was president when the end of the Cold War occurred.

a. Berlin Wall—East German officials were attempting to implement moderate reforms, but without the threat of Soviet Tanks, the people in East Germany—and in particular East Berlin—were able to take matters in their own hands, and speed things along. Much to the surprise of American political leaders, in fact.

b. The End of History—a foreign policy scholar named Francis Fukuyama wrote a book by that title, since he predicted the spread of democracy (and capitalism) throughout the world since the threat of communism had been stifled.

c. Operation Desert Storm--a second attempt by Saddam Hussein to regain prominence in the Arab world began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The threat this invasion had for Saudi Arabia (which Kuwait borders), rather than concerns about Saddam controling the Kuwaiti oilfields or the right of self-determination for Kuwaitis, precipitated the allied invasion, led by the United States. The permanent placement of troops on the Saudi peninsula (another "infidel" invasion) that upset a number of devout Muslims--including Osama bin Laden

Monday, April 25, 2011

Globalization and Middle America



I.        Rise of the New Right – built on the ashes of the Goldwater fiasco in 1964, the Republican Party targeted white suburbanites, and particularly those suburbanites living in the South and West

A)    Watergate and Its Aftermath—Although apologists for Nixon point out that—rightly—that Nixon was not the first president to abuse the power of his office to strike back at his enemies. But Nixon was the first to do this in a systematic fashion, and to use the powers of his office to attempt to subvert a criminal investigation into the attempt on the part of his campaign to fix a national election.

1)      The Watergate break-in—the so-called “third-rate burglary” was an attempt to plant illegal listening devices at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.

B)     Tax revolts – conservatives were able to use the growing distrust against government to feed a movement to choke off funds for the government, namely taxes.

1)      California Proposition 13 – sold the idea that taxes merely funded wasteful government spending, particularly for things like education, welfare, and other social programs

2)      Rise of “code” language – while it became unacceptable to use racial slurs in the 1970s and 1980s, this did not mean that race disappeared as an issue in American politics—only that these references to race were now used in a “code” language, like “welfare queens” and “drug lords.”

C)    Christian coalitions

1)      Southern Christian academies – with the implementation of Brown v. Board of Education, white Christian academies opened as a way for parents to avoid sending their children to integrated schools.  The Carter administration tried to end the tax breaks these led to these various groups organizing to resist this

2)      Southern televangelists – preachers like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson used the technology of television to expand the scope (and number of contributors to) their “mission.”

3)      Reactions to gender politics

(a)    Abortion – Roe v. Wade linked control of reproductive rights to a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed rights to privacy.  To social conservatives, this upset gender roles and traditional patriarchy, and was considered an attack on “the right of a husband to protect the life of the child he fathered in his wife’s womb.”

(i)                  Opposition of Catholic Church – while the Church may not speak for all of its female members on this issue, it was able to mobilize a great deal of opposition to the decision.

(b)   Opposition to the Equal Rights Ammendent – as the long sought-after ERA got closer to passage by the states, political opposition to the Amendment got more heated; this amendment would have simply recognized legally the changes that had largely already taken place in the United States.  Right-wing politicians like Phyllis Schafly, Jerry Falwell were able to distort its effects and change (by comparing it to the perceived slights whites received under Affirmative Action programs) and sway public opinion about ERA enough to prevent its passage.

(c)    Gay Pride movement – the Stonewall Riot in Greenwhich Village New York signaled that gays would no longer accept the harassment and stigmatization that they had received previously.  As gays “came out of the closet,” however, they met increasing opposition from politicians on the Right.

D)    Right turn of the Democratic Party – after the McGovern disaster of 1972 (who many party members felt was too liberal), and Carter’s victory in 1976 (who was certainly more conservative than many of the voters who voted for him), the Democratic Party became increasingly more conservative in its movement toward “the center.”

1)      Disenchantment of the poor – rather than mobilize voters who had historically made up their voter base (minorities, blue collar workers, and the poor), Democrats began to compete for the same suburban voters that Republican candidates were pursuing—white suburbanites


(a)    Decline of trade unions and urban machines – unions and machine politics had traditionally mobilized Democratic voters, and as these institutions declined, so did their effectiveness

E)     Election of Ronald Reagan – two bit actor, former president of the Screen Actors Guild, became spokesman for the vehemently anti-union General Electric Company in the 1950s, and began a rapid rightward descent.

1)      Presidential policies

(a)    Cut taxes – for the rich, anyway; Reagan got Congress to cut taxes for the rich from 73% to 28%,  but taxes for the poor actually went up, because they were hit with an increase in state and local taxes to make up for the shortfall as a result from the decline in federal tax revenue

(b)   Cut social programs – Reagan cut much spending on social programs, like welfare

(c)    Increase defense spending – corporate welfare for selected industries, fed boom on the West and East coasts (see below)

(d)   Results – federal tax revenues plummeted by $750 billion, and generated staggering federal deficits of $150 billion and $200 billion, which kept the prime interest rate in double digits.

F)     Reagan boom – the Reagan years were beneficial for a small, select group of people, but the era was one of increasing disparity between the few rich, and the increasing number of poor

1)      Growing disparity – between 1977 and 1990, the income of the richest fifth of the population grew by one-third, and that of the top one percent almost doubled; but the total income of the bottom 60 percent of Americans actually fell, and the incomes of the poorest Americans fell most sharply.

II)                 Reaganomics and its Effects on Working People

A)    Undermining of Unions – perhaps the greatest effect of Reaganomics was that it undermined the financial security of working-class people, by undermining the unions that represented their unions.

1)      The Reagan Recession (1981-1983) – one of the first effects of supply-side economics, or “Reaganonimics,” as it came to be called, was one of the worst recessions of the post-war era.

(a)    Demand from corporations for give-backs – corporations in financial trouble went to unions and its workers, and demanded concessions to remain in business.  Competitors then went to their unions and workers, to demand concessions to remain competitive.  The cumulative effect of this was at best to freeze the wages of working-class, and at worst to undermine the wage structure.

B)     Toledo AP Parts Strike--fifty years after the Auto-Lite strike, a Toledo firm provoked a strike by its unionized workforce. Despite the support of a mobilized community, the union and its workers largely returned to work months later largely on the company's terms. The company, however, quickly discovered that despite this "victory," however, the company quickly discovered that they were still unable to compete in the marketplace, and with a decade were out of business.

C)  Workers in Decatur, Illinois – Decatur is a small town in central Illinois, rising out of the prairie, which had a diversified (for the Midwest) manufacturing base, but which witnessed the full aftereffects (or aftershock, to use a nuclear analogy) of Reaganomics.

1)      A.E. Staley – locally-owned agricultural goods manufacturer, manufactured corn starch, corn syrup, soy products.  This company resisted buyouts through the early 1980s, but by the end of the decade was bought out by a London-based food processor.

(a)    Demand for 12 hour, rotating shifts – in order to more “efficiently” use its workers, management wants its workers to work twelve hour shifts, and do away with shift pay differentials; it also wants workers to move from one shift to another every other month (describe havoc this plays with lives of workers with families)

2)      Firestone – the tire industry was one of the largest casualties of the merger-mania of the 1980s, and Firestone was bought by Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone.

(a)    Demand for twelve-hour, rotating shifts; do away with annual pay increases—instead, have cost of living increases and productivity incentives.

(b)   Provoked strike – this strike proved costly not only to many workers (who lost their jobs, some temporarily, to strikebreakers), but ultimately to the company, as well—the replacement workers manufactured the AT Wilderness tires that went on Ford Explorers--and proved to be inferior tires, subject to blowouts that caused numerous rollover accidents, and led to Fords abandonment of Firestone tire (after an 80-year business association, and at least one marriage between family members).

3)      Caterpillar – the industry leader in the production of heavy equipment at the time it provoked a strike by UAW members over concessions that it wanted in its contract—namely, a six-year contract, complete control over production decisions.  In the end, this company handed the UAW the worst defeat in its history.

III)            The Reagan Hangover – is suffered by working people in this country, of course.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

History and Film

Students in the Main Themes in American History class have been provided an extra-credit assignment, which consists of writing a review of a movie that has a historical theme. This list of 100 movies reviewed by historians might prove helpful for this assignment.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly Assignment 14

From your documents reader, read the selection 26-3 Green Acres (1950) found on pages 320-321, and then answer the following question: What strikes you about the home described in the ad? For those of you without access to the reader, you can follow this link  and answer the same question.

Alternatively (or additionally), you may turn in a review of a movie with a historical theme. This can be a movie currently at the theater (The Conspirator, for instance, is playing at Levis Commons), or that you can obtain by another means (Netflix, video store, public library). I am interested less in a synopsis of the movie than in your analysis of how history is used in the film—does the movie give you a feeling of the time, how sophisticated the analysis of the events depicted were, etc

The New Normalcy



I)                   Political scene

A)    1952 Presidential Election

1)      “I Like Ike” – one of the heroes of the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had engineered the Allied victory in Europe

2)      8 Millionaires in the cabinet – displaying the linkage between the military and business from the war years
3)      Retained many New Deal programs

B)     Cold War on the cheap

1)      Reliance upon nuclear weapons

(a)    John Foster Dulles – believed that the US needed to remove the taboo from using nuclear weapons

(b)   Promise of “Massive Retaliation” – the doctrine of Massive Retaliation advocated by Dulles; the promise of total annihilation should the US ever face a nuclear attack itself (led to the understanding of “Mutually Assured Destruction” on the part of the US and the USSR).

(c)    Civil Defense – the ludicrousness of “survival” in the event of nuclear war.

II)                 Economic and social life in the 1950s

A)    Postwar Economic Boom – from the end of WWII to the early 1970s, the US experienced a period of unprecedented economic growth

1)      Car Culture – epitomized US society during these years; the car culture emphasized the consumption

(a)    Consumption of consumer goods

(b)   High wage jobs – (for union members, anyway), which allowed consumers to buy the goods that advertising convinced them that they wanted.

(c)    Movement to the suburbs – for whites

(d)   Example of Detroit

B)     Modified Keynesian economics – government was to use its power to tax and spend in order to regulate the consumer demand for goods and services (example: the price of gasoline, which had been kept artificially low in the US because it was a desirable policy to encourage the purchase of individually owned automobiles, rather than have the price reflect the true social cost of all of the automobiles on the road)

1)      Legacy of the New Deal

(a)    Liberals – wanted to sustain economic growth by sustaining consumer purchasing power through government spending on programs like public works, schools, housing, Social Security and unemployment insurance.

(b)   Conservatives – feared liberal programs would erode market incentives; advocated tax reductions for businesses instead

(c)    Stalemate – taxes remained high on business, but government spending on social programs grew slowly; much of the money went into the military build-up, which represented a means of government spending that conservatives found more palatable

2)      Labor and social programs

(a)    Health insurance – this benefit was bargained for by large unions, because they expected large corporations to balk at paying the costs for this, and would therefore lobby the government with the unions to create a European-styled national health plan—but instead corporations decided to pass the additional costs of theses plans on to consumers who bought the products they manufactured.

(b)   Wages – because of contracts, wages grew independently of market pressures, which shortened the length of recessions considerably.

3)      Military spending – by 1950, approximately half of the US budget was devoted to the military, and military “needs” affected a large portion of the rest of the budget.

(a)    Economic growth – especially in the South and the West Coast, where many military installations were located—and where the industries serving the military re-located—fueled much of the economic growth during this period.

(b)   Social programs – Educational programs (like the GI Bill), medical care (VA hospitals), housing (VA loans) all expanded during this period, unconstroversially.  Perhaps the post-war program that had the greatest effect on America, the Interstate and Defense Highway Program, was established in 1956 because of the perceived need for the military to be able to move around the country quickly

C)    Era of Labor-Management Peace – despite some rather high-profile strikes during the 1950 (like the steel strike in 1959—one of the longest in history, to that point—the era was marked by a new labor-management understanding in their relationship to one another.

1)      The labor-management tacit agreement

(a)    Management agrees to high wages for union members

(b)   Well-established unions were insulated from assault from corporations

(c)    Unions had to accept management decision making power on the shopfloor and in the boardroom

2)      Non-competition for workers – corporation in the same industries agree not to compete for labor, which helps to establish the era of pattern bargaining.  The rising cost of labor is met, however, by general rise in prices for the goods produced.

(a)    Only possible in maturing industries – industries where the number of firms within an industry had already been reduced by attrition and merger

(b)   Workers for these larger corporations were protected from inflation by the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA); first introduced during negotiations between the UAW and GM in 1948

(i)                  COLA was pegged to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

(ii)                Workers also got 2% “annual improvement factor” designed to give workers a portion of the productivity gains made by corporations.

3)      “Treaty of Detroit” – the 1950 UAW/GM contract

(a)    Unprecedented five year contract (which the union never repeated, because despite the economic innovations the wage rise did not keep up with inflation)

(b)   By the end of the 1950s, COLAs were a feature of even contracts for employees of non-union companies.

4)      What price peace?

(a)    End of the “wildcat strike” – companies insisted that production be uninterrupted during the life of the contract (like the Treaty of Detroit example)

(b)   Company insistence upon longer terms for contracts—which help them control labor costs

(c)    All disputes that arose during the life of the contract were to be handled only through official channels—usually through the established grievance process.  This meant that union officials became contract police; in effect the union became the arbitrator between the company and its employees, rather than the advocate for its members.

5)      Labor merger – in 1955, the AFL and the CIO merged; the new organization was headed by the former president of the AFL, a former plumber named George Meany, who boasted that he had never led a strike.

(a)    Merger of unequal partners – at the time of the merger, the AFL was twice the size of the CIO

(b)   Labor during this period became increasingly reliant upon the Democratic Party, while receiving less and less for this support.

6)      Labor corruption – was especially prevalent in decentralized, highly competitive industries like trucking (Teamsters), restaurant (Restaurant Employees), and dock work (ILA)

(a)    Jimmy Hoffa and the McClellan Committee

D)    Deindustrialization

1)      Flight from the farm

(a)    Mechanization of cotton farming – did away with the need for cheaply employed labor; large landowners began encouraging sharecroppers to move north, to rid themselves of obligations.

(b)   Mechanization decreased the need for casual labor – farms that do still need casual labor come to rely more and more upon migrant labor, principally from Mexico and the border area with Mexico.

(c)    Black and white farmers and laborers continue to move north during the 1950s

Monday, April 18, 2011

The End of the Hot War – and the Beginning of the Cold War




I) End of the Hot War

A)    Victory in Europe – pretty much a forgone conclusion after the successful landing at Normandy; Allied forces were able to advance on German forces from left and right.

B)    Victory in Japan – the beginning of the Atomic Era

1)      Atomic Bomb – the Manhattan Project was able to produce three atomic bombs by the summer of 1945

2)      Why Japan?

(a)    Payback to Japanese for Pearl Harbor, Bataan (death march), other atrocities

(b)   Limit the amount of territory that would have to be surrendered to the Soviet Union for its “sphere of influence” in Asia

(c)    Limit number of American casualties – fears of massive casualties from an invasion of Japan.

(d)   Racist feeling toward Japanese, which also fueled earlier movement to use of internment camps.

3)      “Spheres of influence” – agreement between FDR, Churchill, and Stalin that would provide Soviet Union control of the countries immediately were surrounding the country so that the Soviets could maintain a buffer to decrease the likelihood that they would be invaded.

4)      Soviet entry into Pacific – the Soviet Union was scheduled to begin its role in the PTO by August 8

5)      Hiroshima – bomb dropped on August 6, 1945; 80,000 people burned to death instantly, tens of thousands died soon afterward from the effects of radiation; five square miles were leveled by the blast

6)      Nagasaki – bomb dropped August 8, 1945; 35,000 were killed instantly; 1 ½ square mile was leveled.

7)      Surrender – surrender formally signed on September 2, 1945—VJ Day

C)    Alternatives – Smithsonian controversy over the Enola Gay display; most veterans of the war do not want to hear of any alternatives to dropping the bombs, because they believe that dropping the bombs saved their lives.  There was strenuous opposition on the part of the generals advising Truman, however, who did not believe the intentional slaughter of civilians, which was clearly going to be the case in the two targets chosen in Japan, was any way to conduct a war (they wanted to limit civilian casualties to “collateral damage”).

1)      No invasion was planned until November 1945

2)      Japan had signaled a willingness to surrender months beforehand.

D)    Allied fallout

1)      Death of FDR – dynamics between the leaders of Great Britain, Soviet Union, and United States changed greatly with death of FDR; Truman less confident of abilities than FDR, nor did he initially inspire much confidence.  Truman was much more likely to follow the lead of Churchill, who was vehemently anti-Communists; Truman was anti-Communist himself, and distrusted Stalin greatly.
I)       The Cold War in Europe

A)    Truman and Communism

1)      Distrust of Stalin – although FDR had developed a relationship of statecraft with Stalin, Truman did not develop the same level of trust as his predecessor; in fact, Truman believed that Stalin was one of the most dishonest, evil men that he had ever known (a fact that is hard to argue with, certainly).

(a)    Cancellation of Soviet Lend-Lease Aid – at war’s end, Soviets denied any further access to lend-lease aid, which shut off their access to US military hardware.

2)      Influence of Winston Churchill – Churchill had never put the level of trust in Stalin that FDR did, so when Truman became distrustful of Stalin, Churchill was there to feed those fears, which he shared with Truman.

(a)    “Iron Curtain” speech – in a speech at a tiny college near St. Louis, Churchill delivered his famous Iron Curtain speech, where he encouraged isolating Western European countries from those under the domination of the Soviet Union.

3)      Nuclear terror – the US insisted, since it was the lone country that could possibly hold the interests of the whole world ahead of its own self-interests (or that its self-interests alone were of concern to the rest of the world), insisted that this country, alone, should control these new weapons of mass destruction.

(a)    Soviets successfully test Atomic bomb in 1949 – the acquisition of nuclear technology by the Soviet Union fed fears of the red menace at home.  Part of this hysteria led to the construction of backyard bomb shelters, and the identification of public buildings that could also serve as temporary bomb shelters.

(b)   Escalation by the US – after the Soviet Union acquired nuclear capability, the US went ahead with the development of the more powerful Hydrogen bomb, which had ten times the killing power of the atomic bomb.

4)      Policy of containment – an increased confidence on the part of the military and diplomatic elite after the US successes in the second World War led to a belief that the military might, or the threat of the use of military might, of the US could “contain” the influence of the Soviet Union as it was constituted in 1946.

(a)    George F. Kennan – was the diplomat stationed in Moscow who came up with many of the theories, and the term, which we now refer to as constituting the policy of containment

(b)   Truman Doctrine – the Truman doctrine went hand-in-glove with the policy of containment. The Truman doctrine pledged to aid countries in their fight against “communist aggression.”

(i)     Plan was formulated in response to an ongoing civil war in Greece, which pitted forces that had fought against fascists in the world war (led by a number of communists) against those forces that had collaborated with the fascists forces (which of course was anti-communist, and therefore backed by the US government).  The aid the anti-communist forces received helped them to prevail in the struggle.

(c)    Marshall Plan – named after Truman’s secretary of state, Gen. George C. Marshall; was a $16 billion dollar plan (that’s $140 billion in today’s dollars) plan for the reconstruction of Europe.  Money was even offered to countries in the so-called Soviet bloc, if they would agree to strengthen economic ties with the West.  This plan worked great for countries with strong social democratic traditions (like Great Britain, France), but it mainly strengthened the grip of right-wing dictators around the world.

II)    Cold War in Asia – The Cold War was by definition a global conflict, and the United States took a much more active role in Asia after the World War than it ever had before—perhaps because the Soviet Union, like the United States, also was a Pacific Ocean power.

A)    Fall of China – the Red Army of Mao tse-Chung prevailed over the forces of Chang Kai-shek in 1949, and Chang and his followers were forced to withdraw to the island of Formosa, just off the Chinese coast.  Chang was a venal, corrupt leader, who lost this war despite the aid that he was provided by the United States; however, in domestic politics, Truman was blamed for the “loss” of China, and these domestic pressures in turn prompted and reinforced Truman’s commitment to militarily aid anti-communist governments in Asia

1)      NSC-68 – a proposal by the National Security Council to triple the amount of money that the United States spent on defense.  This increased defense spending in fact acts as a sort of welfare program for selected parts of the US industrial complex (mainly aeronautics, but also some other manufacturing concerns).

B)    The “Domino Theory” – the need to oppose communism anywhere and everywhere it arose was fed by the fear that if communism were tolerated in one country, it would spread country by country, like dominoes toppling one after another, until the threat undermined the freedoms of the people of the United States.

C)    Korea – Kim IL Sung attempted to reunite his country, which had been portioned at the insistence of the United States along the 38th parallel.  The US suspects that the Soviet Union is responsible for this intrigue, and immediately begins aiding anti-communist forces in the South, both with material and men.  After some initial difficulties, the US military operation after a brilliantly executed flanking maneuver utilizing a large scale amphibious assault was quite successful, and the combined forces are able to push the so-called North Koreans back well above the 38th parallel—in fact, in direct contradiction of the orders of his commander in chief, Douglas McArthur pushed the North Korean forces above the area claimed by China as its border with North Korea—at which time the Chinese Red Army joined the fight against the Allied forces.  The US was initially overwhelmed, but eventually recovered, and the fighting bogged down at the end of the year about where it had started, at the 38th parallel.

D)    Wars to end colonial domination – Because of the focus upon the battle against communism, the US government tended to support the re-establishment of colonial rule around the globe, rather than the indigenous populations which looked to the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution for inspiration.

1)      The French in Indochina

(a)    Opposed by the Vietminh – the Vietminh, led by Ho Chi Minh, had been supported by the US during the war against Japan, even though the OSS was aware that Ho was a communist.  This attitude quickly changed after the conclusion of the war, however, and the United States supported France’s efforts to re-establish control over the Indochina peninsula.  Because of the strong resistance of the Vietminh, the US had to increase the support it furnished the French throughout the early 1950s, even going so far as providing advisors.  In 1954, however, a large French force was surrounded near a little hamlet called Dien Bien Phu, and forced to surrender. The US quickly stepped in here, and declared that the country of Vietnam should be divided along the 49th Parallel, into North and South Vietnam, until a plebiscite could be held to choose a popularly elected government.  Former collaborators ran the south with the French, some of who had even converted to Catholicism.  The promised election never happened.
 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The War and the Homefront



I)       Roosevelt turns to internationalism – the growing international crisis during the latter 1930s gained more and more of Roosevelt’s attention as his New Deal policies began stalling; Roosevelt’s background left him well-prepared to handle this problem, as well.

A)    Threat of Fascism – the world-wide economic crisis of the 1930s led many countries to experiment with new forms of government; one of the most popular was what we call fascism

1)      Definition of fascism – government control of all aspects of life, promising a “third way” between Marxism and capitalism, emphasizing the organic national community; it glorified war and violence; it embraced the irrational (like the occult), and the presumption of revolutionary change.

B)    Italy

1)      Rise of Mussolini

(a)    Fascism – rigid, one-party rule which crushes opposition (especially on the left), retention of private ownership of means of production (which differentiates it from the tenets of Marxism), but which operates under centralized government control; belligerent nationalism (and sometimes racism); and the glorification of war.

(b)   Il Duce (the leader) – former socialist; appealed to Italian nationalism, and played upon the perceived slights to Italy from its participation on the First World War.

(c)    Invasion of Ethiopia – the last independent state on the continent of Africa in the 1930s, but it received no help from other countries to fight of Italian aggression.

C)    Germany

1)      National Socialism (Nazi)

(a)    Hostile to all forms of democracy

(b)   Rise of Adolph Hitler

(i)     Appeals to pride in German culture

(ii)   Racism – believed in the “natural” superiority of the “Aryan” race (whatever that is); racism was a much more important ideology for German fascists than it was for Italians.

(iii) Compare Nazi ideas of the superiority of Aryans to the belief (backed by scientific “proof”) that Anglo-Saxons were destined by biology to rule the earth.

(c)    Burning of the Reichstag – fire of suspicious origin (which has been probably rightly been blamed on the Nazis) destroyed the meeting place for the equivalent of the German congress, which then did not meet any longer.

(d)   Kristallnach (November 9-10, 1938) – Nazis burned over 200 synagogues, and looted thousands of Jewish-owned stores

(i)     Signaled the beginning of a more aggressive anti-Semitism on the part of the German government

(ii)   Point of comparison – until Kristallnach, Jews in Germany suffered less discrimination in that country than they suffered in the United States (no restrictions on residence, or clubs they could not join).

(e)    Repudiation of the Versailles Treaty – moved arms into the de-militarized Ruhr Valley, also began claiming the right to “lebensraum” or living space, pieces of land that Hitler thought other European powers would not go to war to prevent him from claiming.

D)    Japan

1)      Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere – to ensure Japan’s continued access to raw materials to run their industries, forced on other East Asian countries by the military power of Japan.

(a)    Invasion of Manchuria – Manchuria lies between China and Russian Siberia, and had traditionally been part of China; had the richest deposit of minerals in Asia.

(b)   1937 Sino-Japanese War – the “Rape of Nanking” which resulted in 300,000 deaths of Chinese civilians; numerous women were carted off to serve as “pleasure girls” (prostitutes for the Japanese army—a practice which they also practiced in other areas in Asia)

2)      Racist stereotyping

(a)    Japanese superiority – Japanese thought that the Chinese were an inferior people, who gave them the rights to dominate; in the Japanese view, westerners like the US and British were decadent westerners who would crumble when confronted by the pure Japanese spirit.

(b)   US racism – US saw Chinese has helpless peasants, largely incapable of self-government; the Japanese, on the other hand, were the “yellow peril,” devious, and set upon ruining the West by exporting their cheap goods, and not buying enough western goods.

E)     Spanish Civil War – the Spanish Civil War served as a surrogate battle between fascist and communist forces, with the fascist forces prevailing.

F)     Isolationism – the foreign policies of the US government had long promoted isolationism from foreign entanglements, and this; although this had begun to dissipate, it had not disappeared.

1)      US Senate rejected membership in the World Court

II)    Neutrality Acts – mandated an arms embargo against both victim and aggressor in armed conflict; stipulated a narrower interpretation of neutrality rights; “cash and carry” trade policy for belligerents that would deprive them of access to US credit, ships, and military goods.

A)    Neutrality Act of 1935—isolationist sentiment in the United States—especially among Republicans, but strong also among Democratic politicians, as well—led to the passage of the Neutrality Act of 1935, which prevented the sale of arms by US countries to belligerents (the parties engaged in war), and warned US citizens that they undertook voyages on ships from belligerent nations at their own risk (to prevent another occurrence like the SS Lusitania)

B)    Neutrality Act of 1936—because the provisions of the 1935 Neutrality Act were set to expire in 6 months, a new act in 1936 extended those provisions an additional 14 months.

C)    Neutrality Act of 1937—With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in late 1936, Congress passed a new law that extended most of the provisions indefinitely, and extended them to cases of civil war (war between citizens of the same country), as well. In addition, this act forbade US ships from shipping arms or US citizens to countries at war.

1)      “Cash and Carry” Provisions—in a concession to Roosevelt, Congress did provide for the sale of arms to those countries able to pay cash for them, and then immediately transport the arms on their own ships. This, Roosevelt believed, would aid Great Britain and France in a subsequent war, because both nations were able to control traffic on the Atlantic Ocean, and would be able to take advantage of this provision, while other European countries would not. Congress provided for this exception for a two year period.

2)      Sino-Japanese War—when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1937, Roosevelt did not invoke the provisions of the Neutrality Act, since he favored the Chinese in this conflict—which caused a bit of consternation with Congress.

D)    Neutrality Act of 1939—after Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in early 1939, Roosevelt lobbied Congress to have the “cash and carry” provision renewed, but Congress refused. In September, when Germany invaded Poland and France and Great Britain declared war on Germany, Roosevelt invoke the Neutrality Act, but lamented that with no cash and carry provision, the US could not aid either France or Great Britain in their struggle against Germany.  Two month later, Congress passed a cash and carry provision to the act.

E)     End of the Neutrality Acts—after repeated attacks on US ships by German submarines, Roosevelt authorized the US Navy to attack U-boats in order to “protect” US shipping. All of this became moot, of course, after the events of December 7, 1941.

III) Pacific Theater of Operation (PTO)

A)    Pearl Harbor – Despite the fact that the US was well on its way toward full wartime mobilization, the Japanese attack was still a surprise to the US forces in Honolulu (discuss evidence that some in the US were aware that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent)

1)      Initial Japanese successes

(a)    Indonesia (Dutch)

(b)   Indochina (French; spawned the creation of the Vietminh, who with US backing carried on a guerilla war against Japanese—Vietminh were led by a previously exiled, French-educated Vietnamese who renamed himself Ho Chi Minh)

(c)    Hong Kong, Malay, and Burma (Great Britain)

(d)   Most of eastern China (China)

(e)    Philippines (US)

2)      US turns tide

(a)    Battle of Coral Sea – depleted navy fleet won its first battle of the PTO

(b)   Battle of Midway – US gained control of the Central Pacific

3)      1943 – US, with major assistance from Australia and New Zealand, and from many of the indigenous populations of the various Pacific islands and East Asia continental areas, regains the iniative.

B)    Island hopping – the strategy of choosing to battle Japanese fortifications on some islands, while skipping (or “hopping”) over others.

1)      Amphibious assault

IV) European Theater of Operation (ETO)

A)    Soviet Union – from mid-1941 on, the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war with Germany

1)      “Scorched earth” tactics – much of the eastern front had to be given up by the Red Army in a series of strategic retreats, but the Soviets burned to the ground anything that they could not carry with them, which prevented the German Army from obtaining the material, which caused the supply lines of the Germans to be stretched dangerously thin.

2)      Battle of Stalingrad – German Army was encircled, supplies from the West were cut off, and the Germans were starved into submission.

B)    Air War – to relieve some pressure on the Soviet Union before the Allies were ready to open a second front in Europe.

1)      “Precision bombing” – a misnomer; when attacks on industrial areas increased, Germany decentralized its industry, which led to the Allied bombing of population centers—like Dresden in Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five (much of the same thing was happening in the United States, as the government paid industry to build new factories in previously rural areas)

C)    Allied invasion of Europe

1)      D-Day at Omaha Beach – (show Private Ryan)

V)    The Home Front

A)    Centralized planning – 1941 was a banner production year for the auto industry, which was reluctant to abandon civilian production to make war material, and did so only under duress (and the promise of guaranteed profits of cost-plus contracts).

B)    “Dollar-a-year-men” – executives from the US firms who came to Washington to help the military plan the economy

1)      War Production Board – set prices and determined production

2)      Suspension of anti-trust laws – encouraged the formation of larger firms, which officials in the military believed would better meet their production criteria—and which made procurement easier.

3)      Construction of new factories – at the governments expense, or with low cost government loans (often, after the war, these factories that the government owned were sold to private industry for pennies on the dollar

4)      Cost-plus contracts

C)    War Labor Board – arbitrated labor-management disputes; set wage rates for all workers.  In return, labor officials promised to abide by a “no-strike” pledge, which individual workers supported, except when it involved their own grievances at work.

D)    Office of Price Administration – set price ceilings for almost all consumer goods.

E)     Selective Service – FDR administration followed the practice of Woodrow Wilson, and instituted a wide-ranging conscription program.

F)     War Manpower Commission – determined which workers work was vital to the war effort (which would prevent them from being drafted); also determined when a workers could change jobs.

G)    Concentration of the Economy

1)      Procurement system – fostered further concentration of the US economy; by the end of the war the top 100 companies held 70% of all civilian and military contracts, compared with 30% five years before.

2)      Industrial boom

(a)    By 1943 unemployment disappeared

(b)   Second Great Migration – whites and blacks leave the South for the Midwest and the West Coast, where most of the jobs created by this economic boom are to be found.

3)      Real income growth – 27% between 1939 to 1945

(a)    Redistribution of wealth – income of those at the bottom of the wage scale grew at a faster rate than the heavily taxed incomes at the top of the scale.

4)      Americanization push – although there were ugly, racist aspects of this new push toward Americanization, it was not anti-European immigrant; in fact, most propaganda celebrated the ethnic diversity of America.

H)    Rosie the Riveter – women began to move into industrial jobs in unprecedented numbers during the war years; although most were force to give up those positions at the end of the war, they fought hard to remain in those positions, and a significant number of women remained in the industrial workforce after the war.

1)      Male resistance – women who moved into these jobs faced tremendous amounts of resistance from the males who remained on these jobs (give examples of harassment)

2)      Working mothers – faced problems relating to the lack of childcare, and the related problem of the alleged juvenile delinquency that their neglect caused.

3)      Role of women in society – remained largely unchanged; many saw women in these kinds of positions as a temporary war expediency.

VI) Conclusion – the pressured of the war caused many of the programs to be implemented that the FDR administration had attempted to implement during the two phases of the New Deal; in fact what happens is the implementation of the military-industrial-government complex that a later president (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Allied Supreme Commander during the war) warned against in his farewell address in 1959.