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.