From Hungary to Suez + an IA rant


Who was this year’s “Person of the year?”  in 1956 it was the Hungarian Freedom Fighter.  I wonder what the article says about our response?  One could speculate…

“The overwhelming first impression of American foreign policy from 1956 to 1961 was one of unrelieved failure”  I have been waiting 10 years for a student to use that damning quote effectively in an essay.  Maybe you will be the first.

So what were the failures?   The revolution in Hungary, as you will read or have read, as far as it has anything to do with America and USFP, was a travesty (some would say).  It laid bare the naked truth that the US would not confront the Soviets directly and the promises of liberation were empty.

Some might counter with the assertion though that possibly in the most dangerous of times Eisenhower succeeded.  If we had confronted the Soviets in Hungary, as we will confront them five years hence in Cuba, would we have unleashed nuclear war?  Maybe Eisenhower and his advisors knew that the cost of that even mere possibility was too great.  It has long been said that no one hates war more than a member of the military.  No one else sees the cost of war so thoroughly.  Eisenhower had seen plenty of war.  Maybe that “first impression” of failure in Hungary, in Cuba, in the Suez Canal crisis gives way to a more complete realization that there was some success.  We avoided war in a time when war had become more dangerous than ever, when decisions made by just a few men (men) could have kept you and I from being here and could have plummeted humamity into some dark Cormac McCarthy book.  Maybe we did succeed after all, if at least for that moment.

Now… on to your IAs.  Learn to cite stuff people!  Learn to do it right!

So far (a third of the way in) I’ve seen only one paper well cited. It has over 30 footnotes.  ALL of your papers should have over 30 footnotes or paranthetical citations.

Evaluation of Sources

Part C – Evaluation of Sources

John Lewis Gaddis’ “We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War history”, is the latest in a series of books focused on the Cold War from this celebrated historian.  Previously the Distinguished Professor of History at Ohio University and now the Robert Lovett Professor of history at Yale, regularly called on by the likes of CNN for comentary, his credentials could hardly be better.  This particular book, published in 1997, took advantage of the opening of the Soviet Archives, shedding new light on many events, including the coup in Czechoslovakia, heretofor clouded in mystery.  That all said though professor Gaddis himself admits that he did not (unfortunately) “(slog) dutifully through the archives in Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Berlin, Budapest, Bejing, Hanoi and Havana…”(viii) but admits that he relied heavilly on the work and scholarship of others translating those sources.  What sources were left untranslated we will never know, but regardless his expertise judges that enough is here to be meaningful if not comprehensive.

OK gang thats one source.  Follow my lead.  Stop describing sources.  Stop telling me what is NOT in the source.  This section of the IA is not your oportunity to rant about how little you could find.  Avoid big blanket statements , “he is an American and therefor biased” that could be said with equal emptiness about any American author.  In fact I would encourage you to not use the word “bias” at all in part C.  Do like the above for two sources.  If you can’t, then find another source that you CAN more thouroughly evaluate.

2 Responses to “From Hungary to Suez + an IA rant”

  1. Claire Olmstead says:

    I think that Eisenhower had a very responsible and realistic view of the Cold War. Spence makes the democrats during Eisenhower’s administration seem as though they are brazenly in favor of going to war, and that Eisenhower and the Republicans were seen as doing nothing. Um, props to Eisenhower, because nuclear war seems like a terrifying prospect, and the fact that he realized that and did everything in his power to avoid it is a fantastic thing.

    I thought it was interesting the way Eisenhower viewed the arms race according to Spence, that the more sophisticated weaponry one superpower developed, the world became more dangerous as the other side caught up.

  2. Maria Olea says:

    I found the clever way, though for Khrushchev it was “intolerable,” that Berlin was used to represent the sharp contrast between Communism and captialism. The successful West Berlin was the perfect “poster child” for the advantages of the Western way and their superiority. By using this as propaganda, the declaration of Khrushchev over taking over control of Berlin was sudden but understandable. Ambrose does a good job of describing the reasoning of the Soviet Union for what some thought to be an incomprehensible action.

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