Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy.

Author:Drury, Sara A. Mehltretter
Position:Book review
 
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Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy. By Ned O'Gorman. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2011. 321 pp.

In May 1953, President Dwight D. E isenhower assembled a bright team of young minds to assess American national security strategy. Project Solarium produced policy recommendations but also something deeper: distinct and differing guidelines for how the United States should lead the free, democratic world in the Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union. This is the starting point of Ned O'Gorman's Spirits of the Cold War, an exploration of four early Cold War worldviews. Through a critical reading of primary source material against philosophy and intellectual history, O'Gorman analyzes how major players in Eisenhower's administration reflected and reified deeply embedded worldviews of American foreign policy discourse: stoicism, evangelicalism, adventurism, and romanticism. O'Gorman argues that each worldview contained a powerful "'world-making' capacity" that "transcend[ed] instrumentality" of individual policies and actions (pp. 10-11). Across four chapters, O'Gorman explicates the philosophical history and strategic applications of each worldview, associating each with a particular administration figure. For each worldview, O'Gorman also analyzes the dominant rhetorical mode (here, drawing on Kenneth Burke's master tropes of metaphor, metonymy, irony, and synecdoche).

The first worldview, stoicism, is associated with containment, and was represented in the administration by George Kennan. Here, O'Gorman examines the Greco-Roman tenets of stoic philosophy and the seventeenth-century revival of neostoicism. He argues that Kennan's Long Telegram, Mr. X article, and 195.1 book American Diplomacy, 1900-1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957) represented a deep reliance on stoic tenets of consistency and "nonreactivity" (p. 69). For Kennan, although the Soviet Union was a threat, the greater threat came from the fickle nature of the democratic American public, thus prompting the appeal to a foreign policy of constancy.

The powerful and outspoken figure of John Foster Dulles represented the strategy of massive retaliation, which O'Gorman pairs with the worldview of evangelicalism. Contrasting Kennan's stoicism and policy of containment, here, the author's analysis links Dulles's national security strategy with rhetorical practice. This worldview is not...

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