Atomic Terror

 

Atomic Terror

Cale Cookenmaster

Since August 6, 1945 when the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the world feared the power of these mighty weapons.  It was not until August 29, 1949 that the Soviet Union detonated their first nuclear weapon, sparking fear of a nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Russia.

When Russia detonated their atomic bomb, the world leaders knew an arms race would begin and they did everything in their power to prevent it. Scientists demanded President Truman hold a conference with the governments of Great Britain and Russia to ensure an arms race would not begin while not hindering the scientific freedom to further research atomic energy (Blair, Terrors of Atomic War Hang Over Diplomacy, New York Times, 1945). At this conference, safeguards were put into place before the knowledge of harnessing nuclear energy would be released to the United Nations. Although these safeguards were implemented, everyone knew no number of safeguards will guarantee that aggressive countries will not produce atomic weapons secretly. Herbert Hoover proposed a way to limit the amount of uranium available was to take all known mines and turn control of these mines over to the UN to regulate and ration the uranium (Blair, Terror of Atomic War Hang Over Diplomacy, 1945).  Despite this conference, it did little to quell the general publics fear of nuclear holocaust. Dr. Harold C. Urey of Columbia University said that an atomic weapons race will force a dictatorship government to form in the US to enable it to act quickly against nuclear threats. “If everyone has them, it will be necessary for the United States to move quickly in a manner not now possible under our form of government. This means that we would have to concentrate power in one or a few individuals, and that would mean dictatorship.” (Blair, 1945). The prospect of nuclear war with Russia loomed over the heads of all American citizens, causing the people to fear communists even more than before. This fear led to one of the greatest “witch-hunts” of all time, that being Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy’s hunt for members of the Communist party within the United States government.

On the other side of the fight for nuclear superiority, the Soviet Union came out blaming the United States and capitalism for their need to increase their atomic weaponry. Stating in Bolshevik, the influential communist magazine, “Monopoly capitalism exists, and therefore so do the sources and forces giving birth to new imperialist aggression, new conflict and world wars.” Bolshevik also predicted an intensification in class struggle in the United States as well as all other capitalist countries that would lead to an economic crisis. They also believe the Americans were creating an Anglo-American bloc that would undermine all international cooperation and inevitably begin the arms race in which Russia would have no choice but to partake in.  (Middleton, West Breeds War, Soviet Press Says, New York Times, 1946).

All this threat of nuclear war inevitably led to nothing other than mass hysteria. Although it did force the international community to open their eyes to the fact that nuclear war is a grave threat to man-kind and moved toward preventing such atrocities. These preventative measures did little to stop an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union and the world still came very close to nuclear war several times during the Cold War.

 

Sources:

Blair, Felix. Terrors of Atomic War Hang Over Diplomacy. New York Times (New York City, NY), Nov 18, 1945. pg. 65.

Middleton, Drew. West Breeds War, Soviet Press Says. New York Times (New York    City, NY), Aug 1, 1946. pg. 12.

 

 

The Rise of Ronald Reagan and the New Right

The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of tremendous change in America. The “Greatest Generation” had returned home from a world war and started a new generation. This generation was bringing about an America that was much different from the one their parents grew up in. Major events were happening throughout America and the world as well. The Soviet Union had emerged as a dangerous superpower. America was fighting an extremely controversial war in Vietnam. On the domestic side, the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, a new feminist movement, the sexual revolution, legalized abortion, and the increasing implementation of a liberal political agenda were all fueling a massive change in culture. It was in this environment that a new political community rose to popularity called the “new right”, and brought with them a fearless leader: Ronald Reagan. There are three primary textual sources from this time period that help us better understand the rise of conservatism in America. They are “The Conscious of a Conservative” by Barry Goldwater, “Listen America” by Jerry Farwell Sr., and the “Evil Empire” Speech by President Ronald Reagan.

In “The Conscious of a Conservative”, Barry Goldwater lays out some principles of what would become the “Reagan Conservatism” of the 1980’s. Goldwater makes the case for limited federal government, lower taxes, belief in the individual, and never apologizing for being a conservative (Goldwater, 1960). “The conscious of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being…..Thus, for the American Conservative, there is no difficulty in identifying the day’s overriding political challenge: it is to preserve and extend freedom” (Goldwater, 1960, p. 5-6).  Conservative ideas have contributed to human progress and the extension and preservation of freedom more so than any others, and Goldwater argued that time is now to bring them back. As Goldwater wrote this source in 1960, the budding grassroots conservative movement considered him to be the “Chosen One” for the presidency. However, it was not the right time and he was not the right candidate. Perhaps it was his lack of charisma, the political mastery of Lyndon Johnson, or his inability to connect with mainstream voters that lead to Goldwater’s defeat in the 1964 presidential election. It would be almost 20 years before Goldwater’s ideas enjoyed large support from evangelical Christians, with the impactful endorsement of a prominent evangelical leader, Jerry Farwell.

Jerry Farwell Sr., a preacher and the founder of the Moral Majority, had a huge impact on the rise of the new right and Ronald Reagan. In his piece, “Listen America” he rallies against increasing liberal secularism and moral decay in American culture.  Farwell calls for a return “to basics, back to values, back to biblical morality, back to sensibility, and back to patriotism. Americans are looking for leadership and guidance” (Farwell, 1980, p. 415). Farwell believed that the leadership and guidance that Americans were looking for could be found in Ronald Reagan, and the Moral Majority threw their influential support behind the former California governor. This had a far reaching impact. Social conservatives, who were largely evangelical Christians, turned out in droves for the Reagan-Bush team in the 1980 election. They agreed with Farwell. They had had enough with the culture rot of the past decade and a half. They saw in Ronald Reagan a strong leader whose Christian convictions would make sure America stayed true to its founding. Reagan would not let them down. He did all he could to deliver, and he highlighted his agenda in the next primary source, an address to the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983. Ronald Reagan’s address at the association’s annual convention would become known as the “Evil Empire” speech.

In the Evil Empire speech, Regan highlighted his support for religious freedom, school prayer, and open recognition of America’s Christian heritage. He also voiced his opposition to abortion and atheistic Soviet communism, and famously referred to the Soviet Union as “The Evil Empire” which must never be appeased: “There is sin and evil in this world, and we’re enjoined by scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might” (Reagan, 1983, p. 421). This speech invoked issues that were very important to evangelical Christians, who made up a large portion of Reagan’s support base. Reagan acknowledged that their support was reciprocated: “I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities- the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God” (Reagan, 1983, p. 420). Touching on his pro-life, pro-family, and religious liberty credentials, Reagan also made sure to take a stand against the atheistic underpinnings of soviet communism and the need for Jesus behind the iron curtain. Reagan’s tough and uncompromising position on the Soviet Union, as depicted in this speech, would eventually contribute to the demise of the communism empire and the inception of freedom in Eastern Europe.

There is a large amount of complex history to uncover in order to better understand the rise of Ronald Reagan and the new right. In his work, “From the Bible Belt to the Sun Belt”, Darren Dochuk (2011) argues that a great wave of migration from the deep south-eastern United States to Southern California caused a wave of growth of evangelical Christianity that coincided with the breakthrough of a regional and national conservative revolution that had been brewing for years. Dochuk illustrates that with the growth of conservative Christian numbers and activism in California, the liberal state’s political landscape began to change. After being let down by Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election, Southern California conservatives turned to state level politics to rebuild their movement. They turned to a rising star and candidate for governor that would put both himself and the Sun Belt evangelical conservative movement front and center of the national political scene: Ronald Reagan.

The election of Governor Reagan in 1966 was only the beginning of rise of the new right. Dochuk (2011) points out that developments in the 1970’s including the legalization of abortion on demand, the proposition of the Equal Rights Amendment, the resignation of President Richard Nixon, and the success and popularity of Governor Reagan changed the goal and the make-up of the new right. In order to win the abortion war, stop the ERA, recover from the Watergate disaster, and bring conservatism back to the white house, the new right realized that it needed to be very inclusive and diverse. As a result, groups with longstanding differences began to tear down walls and work toward common goals. Catholics and Protestants, long time republicans and democrat defectors, and “Reagan conservatives” and “Reagan democrats” seemed to begin working together more to bring a conservative agenda to the national stage. The new right continued to unite through the 70’s, as Reagan lost the GOP primary to Gerald Ford, which eventually resulted in democrat Jimmy Carter capturing the white house. As Carter’s presidency dragged on with a weak foreign policy, liberal domestic policy, and a stagnant economy, the new right was getting ready to take their country back.

To cap off a movement years in the making, Ronald Reagan was elected the 40th President of the United States in November, 1980. The new right had built a broad collation of conservatives that brought about the “Reagan Revolution”. In 1984, Reagan was re-elected in a landslide, as the Reagan-Bush ticket carried 49 states. The rise of the new right in the years leading up to and during Reagan’s presidency is important to our understanding of modern politics and culture. The then “new right” has evolved since the 1980’s, turning into a large part of the modern republican party. Evangelical Christians have continued to be a force in modern American politics. Their conservative positions on abortion, LGBT issues, and national security are influential in the American political process. For example, in 2016, evangelicals and conservatives turned out in large numbers for GOP candidate Donald Trump, and propelled the New York businessman to victory. Trump and Reagan are similar in the fact that they heavily courted evangelical Christians for votes, knowing that their support was crucial. Another similarity is that some Christians and conservatives were skeptical of Ronald Reagan, the former democrat and movie star, just like they were of Trump, also a former democrat and casino owner who seemed to have some serious moral failings in his past. Nonetheless, both enjoyed large support from those who were part of the new right of the 70’s and 80’s. The rise of the new right had a direct effect on the rise of Ronald Reagan in the 1970’s and 80’s, it had a direct effect on the rise of Donald Trump in 2015-16, and it continues to have a lasting impact on American politics and culture today.

References

Dochuk, D. (2011). From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: plain-folk religion, grassroots politics, and the rise of evangelical conservatism. New York: W.W. Norton.

Falwell, J. (1980). Listen, America! Bantam Books.

Goldwater, B. M. (1960). The Conscience of a Conservative. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Reagan, R. (1984). The Evil Empire (1983). In Public papers of the Presidents of the United States, Ronald Reagan, 1983 (pp. 419-422). Washington: GPO.

 

Effects of WWII Around the World

     Leading up to World War II worldwide depression had helped to undermine a political order that had been shaky. This brought distrust in politics and government for the United States, and even to Europe and Asia. The result was a large drop in international trade, making unemployment rise (Out of Many). All these factors played a role in World War II. Once war broke out, America would struggle a great deal to recover from it. Some say it was worth the price for world freedom and world peace. Two primary sources that explain the effects of World War II are Truman Doctrine and The American Century. Although these documents were written at different periods, Truman Doctrine was written before America joins the war and The American Century was written after the war, these articles had a similar view. These two articles went in depth on America being a leading country who promoted freedom and peace.

     In the American Century, Luce discusses the war that was going on. He wrote as if he were explaining what had happened step by step to citizens. He seems to write slightly sarcastically because the government has not been entirely honest it seems. In his article he says, “The trouble is not with the facts,” he continues, “The trouble is that clear and honest inferences have not been drawn from the facts,” (Luce). We see this problem happening today even. The reason we were invested in this war is because of defense. We were fighting to defend democratic values across the world, not our territory. America wanted to avoid war, however Luce claims that we were already in the war. If America were to go to war we can look forward and move on with peace. Luce views war as a positive occurrence in this article and tries to motivate his audience by writing this. He finishes his article saying the opportunity of leadership is ours. “The big, important point to be made here is simply that the complete opportunity of leadership is ours,” (Luce). If we want it we can take it, and if we refuse well that is on us too. He believes that through this war, we can create the first great American Century. This article is primarily focused on America and Europe, shifting to Truman Doctrine we will look into Greece and Turkey.

     This article was a call to war directed to the President. The Truman Doctrine went in depth with the issues Greece and Turkey face. In this it states that Greek Government has been operating under chaos and extremism. No government is perfect, and they all have their flaws but Greek Government is in need of aid. Providing them aid does not mean we are condoning what they may or may not do, but we advice tolerance now. Turkey is in need of financial assistance and as of now the United States is the only country who can help. The main argument of this article was that the United States need to help free people in order for them to stay free. “The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms,” (Truman Doctrine). He finishes his article by saying that if we do not show leadership we could ruin the peace of the world.

     Both these articles show that the United States is powerful and a leader for the rest of the world. We are the country that others come to when they are in need. We have the upper hand and we need to keep that position. During this time period the audience would have been empowered after reading these which was important at this time, given they had just gotten over a depression. I believe that is what both these authors were trying to do when they wrote these articles.

References:

Henry Luce, “The American Century,” Life, (February 17, 1941): p 64-65,

“Truman Doctrine, ‘Recommendations for Assistance to Greece and Turkey’,” March 12, 1947

Faragher, John M. Out of Many: A History of the American People. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.

 

Welcome!

This site is the home of my 2018 U.S. History II course. On it you will find a number of student’s research essays reflecting their genuine historical research governing a variety of different chronological periods and fields within the larger branch of American history.  Each of these essays is the product of synthesis, pushing the student to not only understand the historical contexts of the era being studied, but the details associated with the event/idea/person that bring the topic to life in clear and cogent understanding.