Spirits of the Cold War
Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy
Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
Sales Date: 2011-11-01
In spring of 1953, newly elected President Eisenhower sat down with his staff to discuss the state of American strategy in the cold war. America, he insisted, needed a new approach to an urgent situation. From this meeting emerged Eisenhower’s teams of “bright young fellows,” charged with developing competing policies, each of which would come to shape global politics. In Spirits of the Cold War, Ned O’Gorman argues that the early Cold War was a crucible not only for contesting political strategies, but also for competing conceptions of America and its place in the world. Drawing on extensive archival research and wide reading in intellectual and rhetorical histories, this comprehensive account shows cold warriors debating “worldviews” in addition to more strictly instrumental tactical aims. Spirits of the Cold War is a rigorous scholarly account of the strategic debate of the early Cold War—a cultural diagnostic of American security discourse and an examination of its origins.
A fascinating exploration of the rhetoric of different historic approaches to U.S. foreign policy. The analysis of major strategic statements in the Cold War era reminds us of the limits and possibilities of our cultural and political repertoire, drawn upon for good and, from time-to-time, for ill, as we have learned to our sorrow and chagrin. Spirits of the Cold War is an illuminating and invigorating text.
—Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, University of Chicago
This book is excellent! It shows we still have much to learn about, and from, the Cold War. The diversity and poignancy of the quoted texts offer new illuminations and connections. It is the most powerful, convincing, and fertile piece of constructivist and discourse analysis I have read. It shows that hegemony is not a structurally given process, but a negotiated political outcome. By exploring the bedrocks of language that were the foundation of political rhetoric, the complex interaction between the consistency and fluidity of politics and strategy becomes clear.—Colin Flint, Director of the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security
National security depends on rational analysis of the realities of power, right? If it were so easy, we wouldn’t need books like Spirits of the Cold War. O’Gorman’s detailed study of four ideal types shaping American foreign policy discourse, demonstrates how decisions are difficult precisely because they always are about possible worlds. By taking foreign policy debate past the standoff between strategy and ethics, this book reminds us how political wisdom requires awareness of the limitations of one’s own language.—Robert Hariman, Northwestern University