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Week Two - Official Mindsets: Leadership Attitudes in the Cold War

The study of the Cold War before 1989 was traditionally divided between historians and political scientists, with the latter borrowing heavily from game theory and other rationally-based models to explain issues such as deterrence. Historians, too, tended to focus on the top-level decision-making in the Pentagon and inside the various foreign policy establishments, primarily of the West, but took many documents at face value. The fall of the Wall in 1989 has led to a welter of archive-based historical studies behind the former Iron Curtain, part of the so-called 'New Cold War history', many of which revealed communists talking 'newspeak' behind closed doors rather than 'rational' discourse. Consequently, and as a result of the growing interest in cultural history following the 'linguistic turn' of the 1980s, traditional areas of foreign policy have been revisited by historians interested in understanding underlying value systems rather than specific decision-making. Recent rhetoric surrounding the Iraq war has reinforced the importance of looking at language to explain ideology. This history of elite mentalities is how we intend to approach the first seminar.

- How were concepts of 'freedom' and 'class' deployed in leadership rhetoric in Cold War America and Russia?

- Did American and Soviet ideologists manage to square the circle of being 'anti-imperial imperialists'?

- Are these gendered discourses?

Core texts


George Kennan, ‘The Long Telegram', 22 February 1946 (text on containment policy)

National Security Council, ‘NSC 68’, April 1950 (text, especially sections I-VII)

John F. Kennedy, 'The New Frontier', 15 July 1960 (text and live recording)

ExComm, ‘Cuban Missile crisis’, 18 October 1962 (live recording)

ExComm, 'Cuban Missile Crisis', 19 October 1962 (live recording)


Churchill, ‘Sinews of Peace’ (iron curtain speech), 5 March 1946 (text and live recording)

Soviet Union

'The Novikov Telegram', September 1946 (text)

Zhdanov, ‘Founding of the Cominform’ (two camps speech), Sept. 1947 (text)

Cultural International Relations

Appy, Christian G. (ed.), Cold War Constructions: The Political Culture of United States Imperialism (Massachusetts UP, 2000). E.812.5.A7
Beer, Francis A., and Hariman, Robert (eds.), Post-Realism: The Rhetorical Turn in International Relations (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1996). JE.1.P6
Costigliola, Frank, ‘“Unceasing Pressure for Penetration”: Gender, Pathology, and Emotion in George Kennan’s Formulation of the Cold War’, Journal of American History, 83 (1997), 1309-39.
________, ‘The Nuclear Family: Tropes of Gender and Pathology in the Western Alliance’, Diplomatic History, 21 (1997), 163-83.
Dean, Robert D., ‘Masculinity as Ideology: John F. Kennedy and the Domestic Politics of Foreign Policy’, Diplomatic History, 22 (1998), 29-62.
________, Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001). E.812.5.D3
Hinds, Lynn Boyd and Windt, Theodore Otto, The Cold War as Rhetoric: The Beginnings, 1945-1950 (Praeger, 1991). JD.304.42.H4
Hopf, Ted, Social Construction of International Politics: Identities and Foreign Policies, Moscow, 1955 and 1999 (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2002), esp. ch. 3. JE.251.H6
Hunt, Michael, Ideology and US Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale UP, 1987). JE.242.H8
Medhurst, Martin J. et al., Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor and Ideology (Michigan State UP, 1997). E.183.8.R9
Rosenberg, Emily S., ‘“Foreign Affairs” after World War II: Connecting Sexual and International Politics’, Diplomatic History, 18 (1994), 59-70.
Westad, Odd Arne (ed.), Reviewing the Cold War : approaches, interpretations, theory (London: Frank Cass, 2000), esp. ch. 7. D.843.R3
________, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge: CUP, 2005).
Zubok, Vladislav and Constantin Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge, Mass.: HUP, 1996). DK.63.3.Z8