Thursday, October 31, 2013

To be non-aligned...

If a country can avoid becoming entangled in the affairs of the Cold War, and do so successfully, it can pay dividends for the sovereignty and nationalism of that country.  How does this pan out in Egypt during the Suez Crisis and the construction of the Aswan High Dam?  How is Nasser able to manipulate Cold War sentiments in this situation?  Finally, why might non-alignment work for some regions--i.e. North Africa--but fail for a country desiring neutrality like Hungary?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cold War Ambiguities

This reading does little to evaluate each individual presidents' policies during the Cold War, but rather evaluates the ways in which the United States changes due to its longstanding anti-communist rhetoric.  It is important to acknowledge that while the US continued its military expansions to respond to the threat of the Soviet Union, it never faced its enemy head on.  Meanwhile the United States entered into a period of economic prosperity that remained largely unchecked until the 1970s.

So what is our takeaway from how the Cold War affected the Americas?  How did it change the image of the United States for developing countries in particular?  Was the Cold War necessary for the United States to become the country it is today?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Canal Debate

When Jimmy Carter entered the White House, he at first did not want to make the Panama Canal a major issue.  However, as he became more centered on the quest for human rights, he felt he needed to act.  Why did he make this crucial decision on the canal in 1977 and why was it so controversial?  What is the Republican (i.e. Reagan) response to it?  How did it fit into a Cold War framework?  Do you agree or disagree with Carter's decision?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jimmy Carter's Quest Continues

While Jimmy Carter began speaking on the importance of human rights while he was president, his actions after his administration are also significant.  What does your reading reveal about how Carter continued to work towards human rights ambitions in the years after his presidency.  What were his most significant achievements?  Why, according to the authors, were his motives in this matter controversial?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Democracy and Covert Action -- Uniquely American?

Covert operations in foreign countries and spreading democracy seem to be paradoxical ideas--yet the reading shows us how common US covert operations were in democratic as well as authoritarian countries after World War II.  How can these two agendas exist simultaneously?  How might this help us better understand the American foreign policy initiatives in the post World War II years?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Evaluating the Alliance for Progress

After reading the actual proposal for the Alliance of Progress followed by an article weighing its pros and cons, how do we evaluate such a plan?  What were the goals of the Kennedy administration in Latin America, as stated in the Alliance proposal, as opposed to how external and historical sources have evaluated them?  How might the Alliance for Progress help us evaluate President Kennedy's foreign policy as a whole?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why the shift?

Jimmy Carter grew up during WWII, and was directly influenced by Truman's containment policies.  Also, many members of his cabinet had also previous Cold War administrations.  Why did Carter engage in a shift in foreign policy towards human rights issues?  How might previous events such as Vietnam or interventions in Latin America have affected this choice?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Foreign Policy and Geographic Proximity

Johnson, Nixon, and Carter all had to deal with balancing foreign policy issues both close and very far from home.  In particular, Johnson and Nixon struggled with the conflict in Vietnam while attempting to apply containment and protect US economic interests in Latin America.  Although Vietnam was over by Carter's administration, he too had to deal with policies that concerned countries near and far.

Examine just one out of these three presidents.  What kind of balance do you see them achieving in terms of addressing foreign policy in areas much closer to the Soviet Union and places much closer to home?  Give examples. Why did you chose this president?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Kennedy's Flexibility

After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the United States faced its first real threat of imminent nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  Besides Castro's communist revolution, why was Cuba such a target for American hostility?  How does Kennedy correct his previous failures in dealing with Cuba by resolving the missile crisis?  Why did the United States continue to avoid contact with Cuba after the crisis was over?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pre-writing activity

Look on the portal in preparation for Friday's writing assignment:

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?

Monday, October 7, 2013

The end of the war?

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?

Friday, October 4, 2013

The most crucial stage of war

As we discussed in class on Thursday, 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)?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why were we 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?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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?