Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pre-Writing Activity

Look on the portal in preparation for the next paper 3:

1. “The outcome of the Vietnam War was determined not on the battlefield, but on the television screen.” To what extent is this statement true?


2. Why had President Nixon ended American involvement in the Vietnam War by 1973?

Address them both briefly. What pieces of evidence would be worthwhile to consider when addressing these questions.  Finally, how might the evidence surrounding the My Lai massacre serve to answer both questions?

The End of the Vietnam Conflict?

From an American perspective, the Vietnam war ended in 1973 with the Paris Peace accords.  Once American soldiers returned home, the vehement opposition to war could end, and the United States could shift their focus to domestic policies.

What do you make of Nixon's "peace with honor" speech?  How was it received by those outside of the United States?  Ultimately, what was the purpose of this 10 year conflict...indeed, America's longest war

The Most Crucial Stage of the Vietnam Conflict

As we discussed in class, the Vietnam war can be divided into three stages -- 1) US involvement in Indochina (without US troops actively fighting); 2) Escalation; and 3) Vietnamization.  The majority of your readings over the weekend take place during the Escalation period. 

What were some of the goals set forth in the escalation plans?  What knowledge do you think was driving the military actions?  How would you evaluate them (feel free to use the last document if you need help with your criticism)?

Why was the US in Vietnam?

"Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack.  We want nothing for ourselves--only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in its own way." -- Lyndon Johnson, April 7, 1965

This is LBJ's justification to the American public regarding the US escalation in Vietnam.  How do you assess this statement?  What are some of the objectives that you see behind the Vietnam conflict that Johnson did not mention here?

The Changing View of Vietnam

Oh, how quickly our friends and enemies change!  During World War II, the United States actually supplied Ho Chi Minh's guerrilla forces with weapons to fight against the Japanese.  Not long after the war's end, the Viet Minh were considered a threat--influenced by the Soviet Union and China, and evidence that no country was safe to the threat of communism.

How do we account for this change in view towards Vietnam?  Do we sympathize with Eisenhower's articulation of the domino theory?  Or are we shocked that we are straying so far away from the Atlantic Charter?

Monday, April 21, 2014

What is Eisenhower trying to say?

Eisenhower's farewell address comes across as a cautionary tale to his successor about the proliferation of nuclear weapons that took place under his leadership.  He clearly admits that the United States has entered a new era--that the buildup of such weaponry during peacetime has been unprecedented.

Is Eisenhower defacing his decisions or justifying them?  What seems to be the point of his warning of the potential dangers of the 'military industrial complex?'

The pros and cons of Eisenhower's New Look

Eisenhower and Dulles did not want to turn dramatically away from Truman's anti-communist stance, but they did want to change the direction of foreign policy to make it less expensive.  What, according to Dulles, were ways in which massive retaliation could reduce American military spending?  Why do you think the Soviets were reluctant to accept Eisenhower's plan for "Open Skies" after Stalin's death?

How "new" was the new look?

The election of Eisenhower in 1952 was a seeming transition in many ways.  The Republican party took control after a 40 year period of a Democratic administration.  The Korean War finally ended after a two year stalemate.  The country certainly saw Eisenhower's administration as an opportunity to shift foreign policy in a new direction.

So what was "new" about the new look?  Geographic focus?  Military strategy?  Focus on just one element that you feel to be new when compared to Truman, and consider whether or not the Cold War dramatically shifted in focus.

Korean Reunification

Despite some of the drastic differences between North and South Korea, the goal of reunification looms large over both halves of the peninsula.  We are already well aware of the political, economic, and cultural nature of these differences, and how a 60 year period of isolation has solidified them.  What, according to the reading, are some of the different possibilities for reunification?  Which ones seems more plausible?  What are some of the items at stake?

It may help to think of other instances of reunification from history--consider Germany, and even the North and South United States to help you grasp the concept.

Reasons behind American involvement in the Korean War

In the last readings, we read about differing positions as to whether involvement in Korea would thwart a potential third World War, or whether Korea's fall to communism would have minimal effects, so long as Japan, Taiwan, and the Phillipines remained under the United States' sphere of influence.  What is your position on this issue?  Do you think, now that you know how Korea ended, that the US and the UN made the right move by intervening in the Korean conflict?  Does Truman's reference to past events (large empires intervening in more vulnerable countries) carry weight in the answer to this question?

Korea: The Changing Views of War and the American Presidency

NSC-68 was outlined in your optional reading, but not in the excerpt from the IB text, so Secretary Acheson's defense may have been the first you have heard about it. 

In short NSC-68 was a paper written by the UN Security Council that placed the policy of containment at the forefront of foreign policy.  It stated that it was the responsibility of the government to not only 'contain' communism where it lay, but also it should take measures to thwart the potential for Soviet influence on other countries.  NSC-68 justified US intervention in Korea and further solidified the US and the USSR as enemies.

The era after WWII redefined the notion of war and broadened the scope of executive power.  How do you view Truman as not only the spokesperson against communism but also as the conductor--the person who actually commands ideology into action.  How is this a change from earlier presidents?

Korea: The first test of the containment policy

An interesting Paper 3 question inspired this blog:

  • Assess the policies of President Truman, containment, and its implications for the United States.
This question is difficult because we understood what containment was, but how do you really describe it without coherent examples, or an actual case where the US took definitive action in order to 'contain' communism?

How does the Korean War actually show the containment policy in action?  Were there any limits to the ways in which the United States and United Nations would implement containment into military strategy?

"You're next!" The "Us vs. them" mentality of Cold War Culture

Watch the very ending of invasion of the body snatchers:

We did not watch the film in class, but the ending says a lot.  The man (Matthew) is now an alien.  The woman (Nancy) is the only person who successfully evaded the aliens.

So how does all of this relate to the Cold War?  Consider the ways in which Truman's Policy of Containment, as well as the McCarthy Era attempted to identify an "other" as the enemy.  Relate your understanding of the film to the historical context.  In what ways do you see the American government identifying and rejecting an "other" in their policies?  What was the threat posed to American society after the war?  Do we still see such fears and threats posed to our society today?

Is culture influencing the government or is the government influencing culture?

Our reading on theater suggests that the entertainment industry had a certain amount of independence from politics.  That is, they could subtly insert a message into their writing to critique or satirize the Cold War or Communism.  However, this is not permanent, as we see playwright like Arthur Miller face HUAC's interrogations.

But also, the government seems to be catching on to the large sphere of influence that entertainment (especially film and television) can have over American thought.  How does the government start to adapt media-like policies to send its own messages across?  Why, then, does the government focus so strongly on education?  Does the government see it as having a similar influence to entertainment?  How so?

Culture and the Cold War

How did the film trailers (Invasion of the Body Snatchers/The Crucible) as well as "Leave it to Beaver" demonstrate the mentality of the 1950s?  To what extent was it a commentary on the ideals of American society vs. "the Other"?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

McCarthy Questions

Answer questions 1, 2, 4, and 5 in BULLETED points below.  Thanks :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Paper 1 Practice

So good to see all of your shining faces today :)

For the practice Paper 1, read the documents on pp. 343-344 in the Blue Book.  I also scanned an electronic version and posted it on the portal.  In your comment, do the following:

Answer questions 1 and 2.  Then CHOOSE either 3, 4, OR 5 and answer.

Answers may be in bullet points.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Tough Years

The reason why an economic depression is worse than a recession is that it is longer.  Like many countries, Argentina struggled with a weak economy and unemployment for most of the 1930s.  What, in your opinion, were some of the more effective economic plans to pull Argentina out of the Depression?  How do they remind you of programs we have already studied?  Why?

Depression and Gender

On the one hand, the Depression could have empowering effects on women, such as how they could take on more leadership roles in the family and new careers. But, this sense of empowerment was also deemed as a major threat to those who were bearing the brunt of the depression. So, what, in your mind, made women stand out in this time? Note a handful of the documents from the reading to highlight your discussion.

Your life and the Union

When I opened up this collection of documents just now to prepare the blog, at first I was kicking myself, thinking, "Unions?!  This won't inform my class about society!"  My initial instinct was to dismiss unions as mainly economic and political, but after thinking more carefully, it is difficult NOT to see how unions were integral to the social development of the Americas during the Depression.  So, in your thoughts--what is the connection, if any, between labor unions and social status?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Arts in Argentina

One of the most fascinating parts of the Depression to me is the the way that the arts reflected and responded to the mood at the time.  Consider the ways in which music, art, dance, or other means of expression functioned in Depression Era culture.  What do you think these forms of art said about society at the time?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What changes you

I know we haven't finished the film yet, but you clearly understand now that Ernesto "Che" Guevara returned from his motorcycle trip with a new attitude towards the poor.  It is important to remember that Che sacrificed a life of privilege in order to wage his revolution.  

So, what changes a person?  Have you ever had something happen to you that dramatically changed your outlook on life?  If so, what was it?  If you are not comfortable talking about yourself, then theorize about what changed Che in the film.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who is Mao (but seriously, for real, you guys)??

Again, this reading should mostly be review.  It is interesting to read about the Soviet Union and China's communist institutions back-to-back, however. I immediately find myself thinking about how the leaders of respective countries tailor political ideologies to meet their country's unique culture.

In other words, China is old, and BIG.  With over 5,000 years of history, China has a long legacy of political greatness, resilience, and nationalism.  How (and why, for that matter), did Mao Zedong strive to implement communist policies that are unique to China's needs?

In Soviet Russia, Blog Writes You!

This reading contains quite a bit of history in just a few pages, but again it should be review for you.  Consider how tumultuous Russia was from the Bolshevik revolution to the end of Brezhnev's presidency.  To what extent was communism always in crisis, even during Lenin's leadership?  How did the 20th century Russian leaders try to prove communism's legitimacy?  How did these strategies evolve over time?

Fundamentals of Communism

Much of this reading will come across as a review for us.  At this point in the year, we should be very familiar with the tenets of communism.  After reading the excerpt from Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto (locations 17-19), consider how the communist ideology aligns with the political practice. To what extent did any ONE (Mao, Allende, Castro, Stalin, etc.) communist leader live up to Karl Marx's ideals?

Predictions for Communism in Crisis

Communism in Crisis is our last and final unit in this class!  We will look at examples from several communist countries and consider how their governments are challenged.  1979-1991 is a pivotal period in history, as many communist governments declined or collapsed.  We will also finally learn how to write Paper 1!

It is fascinating to think about how many ways history repeats itself.  The Olympics are a perfect example.  Consider how controversial Sochi is in 2014, and compare to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.  Why did the United States initiate the boycott against the 1980 Olympics?  How do you see participating countries still reacting against Russia's policies now?

Castro: A Rebel Without a Cause?

This historiographical essay discusses conflicting ideas about Castro's true ideology.  Was he truly a communist, or did he do this simply to spite the United States?  To what extent does he use religion as a way to rally the masses behind him?  Consider the different historian's ideas about Castro--which do you feel are the most convincing, and why?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Argentina's Infamous Decade

Consider the political instability that existed in Argentina during the 1930s.  Do you think the experience is more violent than what we have studied in the United States and Canada?  Why or why not?  What do you think Argentina's government needed in order to provide for a more stable existence?  Did any political strategies work better than others?

What kind of autocrat are you?

While Peron was not as extreme of an autocrat as Hitler or Mussolini, the shift of Peronism in Argentina's political history still marks a curious transfer of power that is worth examining closely. Indeed, some historians argue that Peron had fascist tendencies, and that Argentina's military was sympathetic towards Nazi Germany. So...what do you think--would it be wrong to call Peron a fascist?

Argentina and the US

The relationship between Argentina and the US seems to become increasingly precarious throughout the Depression, particularly leading into World War II. Consider some of the events discussed throughout the article that shaped the American perception of Argentina in particular. Do they make sense to you? Why or why not?

All we are saying....is give Fascism a chance?

So, I won't lie. I always struggled with historical and modern imaginings of fascism. If we go by this definition, honestly, what do we NOT consider to be at least slightly fascist, especially when a country is experiencing an economic-related crisis? Why, when the author of "Depression and Recovery in Argentina" seems to be touting slow but steady recovery, is there still a move to introduce fascist policies to the state? Is there another moment in history (it doesn't matter when or where), that you can recall something along these lines happening? Please, share your examples.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Argentina's "A-ha" Moment

 Consider how Argentina experiences the early years of the Great Depression.  Why is it important to consider its national past? To what extent did the country follow the economic practices of the rest of the Americas in the early 20th century?

The Rise and Fall (?) of Economic Nationalism

Share your thoughts (with some textual substance please....ahem....) about the sources of economic nationalism in Argentina (or Latin America in general). What global factors influence Argentina to become more nationalistic in its economic policies? To what extent were these policies sustainable once the Depression struck the global market? Finally, why did Argentina turn to a military dictatorship when the US and Canada didn't?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Rallying the Masses, and the tumble thereafter

The Radical party attracted a number of newcomers by Yrigoyen's election in 1916. How had Argentina's politics changed in the previous years to account for this shift? What important industries were developing in Argentina that were still connected to foreign markets, and how did this contribute to economic nationalism? Finally, why was President Yrigoyen ousted by a military coup?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Great Depression in Canada: Key Historical Debates

When preparing a paper 3, it is always best to reference historical perspectives to earn the highest marks possible.  Consider historians like John Boyko on Bennett's conversion to New Deal policies.  How about Findlay's perspective on Canada and Keynsian economics?  How do historians such as Bumstead, Finkel, Conrad, and Strong-Boag address how the Depression led to the growth of a strong federal government in Canada?

The Impact of the War on Canada

Like the United States, Canada emerged from World War II with strong rates of production, low unemployment, including increased employment opportunities for women.  Compared to the United States, how much did the influence of Canada's federal government increase over the course of the Great Depression and the second World War?

The Impact of the Second World War on the USA

We have been talking about Canada for a while, but definitely always with a comparison to the USA in mind.  Consider how the war affected the unemployment rate, the GNP, and the gap between the rich and the poor.  What is the significance of the Smith Act and the fact that FDR was elected for four consecutive terms--how strong was the federal government going into World War II?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Return to Mackenzie King

Does the fact that Canada returned to its former Prime Minister MacKenzie King in 1935 show that it is completely different from the United States in terms of coping with the Depression?  While FDR did face some criticism the US kept him in office for four consecutive terms.  Is Canada much more precarious politically?  How effective, in your opinion, was King as Prime Minister the second time around?

Alternative Responses to the Depression

Consider how FDR was criticized from both the right and the left when he instituted his New Deal policies in the United States.  How did Canadians respond to their government's dealings with the economy?  How did this vary by region or by social class?