The Cold War is the name the U.S. has promoted to describe the international world order that lasted from 1945-1991. Norwegian Cold War historian Odd Arne Westad notes in his award winning work The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times that “the Soviets never used the term officially before the Gorbachev error.” Still. emerging from the destruction of World War II, two “super powers,” the USA and the Soviet Union, led two coalitions of nations in a world order based on a constructed simplified binary. Yet, this duality was never fully exclusive. Moreover, a third group, the Non-Aligned Movement, resisted the super power construct and vision of world order. Main countries involved included Indonesia, India, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Ghana. However, membership expanded to nearly 100 nations during the “Cold War Era.”
The ubiquity of standardized narratives reinforces a history that is rarely, if ever, challenged. In fact, more nuanced, analytical responses on tests that challenge the dominant explanation would be penalized or marked as wrong. The demands of contemporary education, globalization, and new scholarship about the Cold War invite alternative perspectives of the Cold War Era. Providing these opportunities for students develops critical thinking skills they will use to engage with information in a complex global world.
- How can Cold War periodization be altered beyond the standard rendition – 1945-1991?
- What are the limits of the Cold War binary narrative?
- To what extent does our understanding of the Cold War impact our contemporary political-ethical-cultural world views?
- What nations are given agency (the power to act) and what nations are presented as passive/marginal players during the Cold War?
- Scholar Screencast, by Joseph Golowka
- Recording: 23 Minutes
- “If we take a global view of the Cold War, the conflict looks very different. The thirty years following World War Two saw the rise of large revolutionary nationalist movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that sought to end foreign domination of their nation.”
- C3 Inquiry Lesson
- Secondary Sources/Informational Texts
- Odd Arne Westad, Rethinking Revolutions: The Cold War in the Third World in Journal of Peace Research (1992).
- Melvyn Leffler, Inside Enemy Archives: The Cold War Reopened in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75 (1996).
- CNN Cold War Documentary Series “The Cold War” – 45 Minutes, Episode #17, Good Guys, Bad Guys (1998).
- Podcast 28 minutes -Dialogue Radio, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Cold War: A New View. (2003)
- Sam Tanenhaus, A History Lesson Needs Relearning, New York Times Editorial (2014).
- C-SPAN Video: Foreign Intervention in Africa During the Cold War. Elizabeth Schmidt talked about how foreign intervention influenced emerging nations in Africa during the Cold War including tensions within the U.S. government over how to respond to Africa’s decolonization. (2016).
- Primary Sources
- Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1945).
- Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan (1951).
- Cable from China’s Embassy in Indonesia, “What the US is doing prior to the Asian-African Conference (1955).
- President Sukarno of Indonesia: Speech at the Opening of the Bandung Conference (1955).
- Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru:Speech at Bandung Conference (1955).
- Political Cartoon – Karl Knecht: The 29 nation Afro-Asian conference in Bandung against Communism.(1955).
- John Collins, “Tightrope Tito” political Cartoon (1955).
- Political Cartoon By Cummings, ‘The Daily Express’, Depicted: Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, Richard Nixon (1957).
- Photo Set – Departure Ceremonies for Sukarno, President of Indonesia from White House, Washington, D.C. (1961).
- Report sent to General de Gaulle President of the French Republic By Edgar Faure, on his mission to China (1963).
- “There are Two Intermediate Zones”, speech by Mao Zedong (1964).
- Additional Measures to Expose Imperialist Policies, Soviet Memo (1971).
- Joint Communique of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China (1972).
- Salvador Allende Speech to the United Nations – excerpts (1972).