Meeting the Communist Threat: Truman to Reagan (Oxford Paperbacks)
Thomas G. Paterson
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This provocative volume, written by the distinguished diplomatic historian Thomas G. Paterson, explores why and how Americans have perceived and exaggerated the Communist threat in the last half century. Basing his spirited analysis on research in private papers, government archives, oral histories, contemporary writings, and scholarly works, Paterson explains the origins and evolution of United States global intervention. Deftly exploring the ideas and programs of Truman, Kennan, Eisenhower, Dulles, Kennedy, Nixon, Kissinger, and Reagan, as well as the views of dissenters from the prevailing Cold War mentality, Paterson reveals the tenacity of American thinking about threats from abroad. He recaptures the tumult of the last several decades by treating a wide range of topics, including post-war turmoil in Western Europe, Mao's rise in China, the Suez Canal, the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, CIA covert actions, and Central America.
Paterson's vivid account of America's Cold War policies argues that, while Americans did not invent the Communist threat, they have certainly exaggerated it, nurturing a trenchant anti-communism that has had a devastating effect on international relations and American institutions.
in both legs, Europe and Asia. The patient could not survive, the soon-to-be Republican candidate for President warned, by saving only one leg. General Douglas MacArthur took time from administrative duties in Japan to inform the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the "Chinese problem is part of a global situation. . . . Fragmentary decisions in disconnected sectors of the world will not bring an integrated solution."9 Republican Senator William Knowland added that "it did not make sense to try
democracy." But in the late 1930s some anti-Communist writers began to apply "totalitarianism" to Soviet Russia and its one-party government. During World War II the word served the purposes of anti-Nazi propaganda; after the war it became an "anti-Communist slogan."6 As a tool of propaganda, the term "totalitarianism" lost its utility for systematic analysis of different political systems and their methods. While recognizing this problem, the diplomat and historian George F. Kennan has argued
less hostile to American foreign policy than W. E. B. DuBois, Rayford Logan, and the Pittsburgh Courier. All criticized the Truman Administration for demanding votes for Bulgarians in Communist Eastern Europe but not for blacks in white racist South Africa; for spending billions to rescue the British Empire but not for creating opportunity for black Americans; for extracting highprofit raw materials from black Africa but not for pressing Belgium to free the Congo. To many black leaders, white
tied to routine and menial tasks, too demanding of subservience to assigned missions. More than once he complained that his superiors, usually depicted as less able than himself, ignored his talents. He became chagrined that Foreign Service Officers found themselves "tidying up the messes other people have made, attempting to keep small disasters from turning into big ones," instead George F. Kennan and the Soviet Threat 117 of contributing fresh policy perspectives.4 He resented the
large public capital grants. Not until early December 152 Meeting the Communist Threat 1950 did the new Technical Cooperation Administration (TCA) within the State Department get a director. During these long months of unenthusiastic activity within the executive bureaucracy and Congress, a public debate on the merits of the Point Four got under way. Truman had early worried about opposition. He advised Elsey: "Just don't play into the hands of crackpots at home—no milk for Hottentots." The