From Yalta to Disarmament: Cold War Debate

By Joseph P. Morray | Go to book overview

1
The Contest of Ideologies

The Cold War is a contest between ideologies. In this ideological Olympics, powerful states confront each other in a global stadium contending for the prize of leadership. With the rapid disintegration of the colonial system old champions have dropped from the competition. The ideology of European imperialism has lost its grip after centuries of renown. The world watches as Churchill and Elizabeth II, de Gaulle, the Queen of the Netherlands, the King of Belgium pass more or less gracefully from the first rank of history. These proud heirs of empires they can no longer rule, surprised and humbled by the universal and irresistible demand for a right of selfgovernment free from foreign domination, find themselves reduced to rearguard actions, their greatest hope an orderly retreat after a little more delay. Mr. Churchill escaped presiding over the liquidation of the British Empire by ceasing to preside. The setbacks he has watched for the imperialist system he cherished and symbolized are irretrievable. Mankind expects a new champion, a new ruling ideology, to be cited for glory by the jury of history. The Cold War is a struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States of America for this envied award.

A major contest in the ideological Olympics is debate. Since Thueydides described the intercity parleys of the Peloponnesian War, constructing quotations of what he thought the historical situation required ambassadors to say, advocacy and counterargument have been regarded by historians as serious weapons of state, whether as screens for treachery or as swords of truth. Our task is to examine and criticize, not what statesmen might have said or should have said, but what they have said in the international guerre de plume from 1945 to 1961.

In the Cold War words have come to possess unprecedented importance as weapons. Three reasons for this new emphasis can readily be assigned. One is the character of fire power available to the military men who stand in the background waiting for words to cease. Hot war

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