Cold War Goals in American Foreign Policy: Nicaragua and the World
This chapter provides additional evidence for the cultural predominance of two relationships in the cold war schema: the positive relationship between the United States and democracy, and the negative relationship between the United States and communism. It also provides evidence that the two beliefs (that the United States supports democracy and that it opposes communism) are tied together in the same belief system. Finally, this chapter provides evidence that many who held the cold war schema as a general stereotype applied it to U.S. intervention in Nicaragua, a specific case about which they were ignorant.
In these ways, this chapter provides additional evidence of Americans using the cold war schema and shows one way in which the schema has been manifested in perceptions of a specific case. The cold war schema produced a particular set of general perceptions of U.S. foreign policy goals, which were used to draw conclusions concerning actual foreign policies and realities about which little was known. In the absence of substantive information, Americans used schema-based perceptions to make sense of Nicaragua and U.S. objectives there. The application of the general schema to specific instances reinforced and reified the patriotic schema as it produced patriotic perceptions of important events.
"Scripts" are schemata for stereotyped event sequences; they are the schemata we use to make sense of events and actions. Schank and Abelson ( 1977) identified a number of components that scripts have, including settings, props, plans, roles, goals, and actions. When the general cold war schema is used to interpret international events and behaviors, it takes on a scripted form. Roles include the United States, freedom fighters, and democratic governments, as well as the