Seminar Series on the US Foreign Policy | "Are we going to fight wars in all these nations?" Citizen Responses from the end of World War II through Vietnam
Available in video:
Americans contested their country's militarized cold war expeditions more vigorously than previously acknowledged. Presidents, secretaries of state, senators and congressmen were inundated with letters of protest and doubt from across the country during the early Cold War, the "police action" in Korea as well as the deepening "quagmire" in Vietnam. Offering contextualized interpretations of this qualitative data, this presentation revises the conclusions of quantitative public opinion analyses that foreground partisan and elite cue models. Instead, self-identified Democrat and Republican voters reflected on their country's domestic order - economic, racial, and political -- and drew on their religious beliefs to articulate critiques of what many understood as imperial overreach and rejected as "acting as the world’s police force."
Studying foreign policy ideas and debates from the bottom up brings into view the full range of American sentiments and arguments on war, democracy, communism, national values and international responsibilities, revealing a complex, multi-dimensional opinion landscape that defies conventional binaries of conservatives vs. progressives, hawks vs doves, and unilateralism vs multilateralism. Indeed, these dichotomous labels float uneasily atop a much wider, deeper and more entangled body of public opinion that, examined in greater detail, provides us with crucial information about contemporary expressions of American nationalism, ideas about democracy and hopes for the U.S. role in the world.
Michaela Hoenicke Moore is an Associate Professor at the University of Iowa. At the center of her research lie two broad themes addressing the cultural underpinnings of international relations and liberal democracy respectively. She is interested in the relationship between the political culture of the United States and its foreign policy, on the one hand, and in European responses to ‘America’ as a democracy and a world power on the other. Her first book, Know Your Enemy: The American Debate on Nazism, 1933-1945 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), explored the political and intellectual context in which American popular and official conceptions of Nazi Germany were developed. It won the 2010 Myrna F. Bernath Book Award awarded by the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR).
This seminar series is organised within the program on American politics and international security by Institut d’Estudis Nord-americans (IEN) and IBEI.
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