Cold War Rhetoric

Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor, and Ideology

Martin J. Medhurst
Robert L. Ivie
Philip Wander
Robert L. Scott
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Cold War Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    Cold War Rhetoricis the first book in over twenty years to bring a sustained rhetorical critique to bear on central texts of the Cold War. The rhetorical texts that are the subject of this book include speeches by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, the Murrow- McCarthy confrontation on CBS, the speeches and writings of peace advocates, and the recurring theme of unAmericanism as it has been expressed in various media throughout the Cold War years. Each of the authors brings to his texts a particular approach to rhetorical criticism-strategic, metaphorical, or ideological. Each provides an introductory chapter on methodology that explains the assumptions and strengths of their particular approach.

    eISBN: 978-0-87013-937-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Martin J. Medhurst

    In 1970, two books appeared that have special significance for the present study. One wasThe Origins of the Cold Warby Lloyd C. Gardner, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Hans J. Morgenthau. The other wasMoments in the Rhetoric of the Cold Warby Wayne Brockriede and Robert L. Scott.¹ The significance of the first work is structural in nature. Three scholars, each representing a different philosophical perspective on the origins of the Cold War, joined together to present their divergent views within the covers of a single volume. In so doing, these authors provided a broad overview of the...

  5. 1 Cold War and Rhetoric: Conceptually and Critically
    (pp. 1-16)
    Robert L. Scott

    On February 1, 1980, President Jimmy Carter addressed the National Conference on Physical Fitness and Sports for All. After a brief introduction in which he quipped about his well-known penchant for jogging being no threat to marathon runners Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter, the president said:

    This is a time of determination, a time of sober assessment, a time of challenge. I changed my prepared remarks at the last minute to say a few things that I think are important to the American people and particularly to you. I’d like to begin by paying a special tribute to a group...

  6. Part I: Strategy
    • 2 Rhetoric and Cold War: A Strategic Approach
      (pp. 19-28)
      Martin J. Medhurst

      A strategic approach to Cold War rhetoric is predicated upon a realist view of the world; not the world as it ought to be or as we might wish it to be, but the world as it currently exists with its varying political systems, governmental philosophies, economic assumptions, power relationships, and dominant personalities. By adopting a realist position, one also embraces an accompanying axiom: that systems, philosophies, assumptions, relationships, and personalities change and that one’s response to any given situation must change with them, reflecting reality as it currently exists or is perceived to exist rather than what existed last...

    • 3 Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” Speech: A Case Study in the Strategic Use of Language
      (pp. 29-50)
      Martin J. Medhurst

      More than thirty years later the deserts have not bloomed, famine is still a reality, and the nuclear reactor, once the hopeful sign of a better tomorrow, stands as a technological indictment of humanity’s inability to see beyond the visions of the moment.

      Dwight Eisenhower was not the first president to speak of the peaceful uses of atomic energy, yet it was his “Atoms for Peace” speech, delivered in front of the United Nations’s General Assembly on December 8, 1953, that marked the public commencement of a persuasive campaign the dimensions of which stagger the imagination. Planned at the highest...

    • 4 Rhetorical Portraiture: John F. Kennedy’s March 2, 1962, Speech on the Resumption of Atmospheric Tests
      (pp. 51-68)
      Martin J. Medhurst

      No single topic occupied more of John F. Kennedy’s time as president than the effort to bring nuclear weapons under some semblance of control. From his first presidential news conference in January, 1961, in which he announced the formation of a special group charged with the task of drafting acompletearms control treaty, to the actual signing of alimitednuclear test ban treaty in October, 1963, Kennedy put arms control at the top of his presidential agenda.

      But it must be remembered that the success represented by the limited nuclear test ban treaty was the direct result of...

  7. Part II: Metaphor
    • 5 Cold War Motives and the Rhetorical Metaphor: A Framework of Criticism
      (pp. 71-80)
      Robert L. Ivie

      A critique of Cold War rhetoric can serve many useful purposes, but none is more important than improving our understanding of the motives perpetuating America’s rivalry with the Soviet Union. Rhetorical motives for Soviet-American rivalry are as compelling and durable as any other source of sustained tension or potential conflict. They have evolved over four decades into powerful conventions of public discourse that diminish the political imagination, undermine the incentive to envision better alternatives, and thus reduce the scope of practical options available to leaders of both nations. In short, the received wisdom of the Cold War rhetor prescribes a...

    • 6 Diffusing Cold War Demagoguery: Murrow versus McCarthy on “See It Now”
      (pp. 81-102)
      Robert L. Ivie

      Edward R. Murrow’s celebrated confrontation with Senator Joseph R. McCarthy on “See It Now” introduced network television to the ancient rhetorical genre of accusation and defense. Murrow’s half-hour “report” on March 9, 1954, condemning McCarthy’s indiscriminate campaign against so-called “Fifth-Amendment Communists,” was the first instance of national television being used to attack an individual.¹ McCarthy defended himself a month later, on the April 6th edition of “See It Now,” by accusing Murrow of being “the leader of the jackal pack which is always found at the throat of anyone who dares to expose Communists and traitors.² Their exchange set off...

    • 7 Metaphor and the Rhetorical Invention of Cold War “Idealists”
      (pp. 103-128)
      Robert L. Ivie

      Since the beginning of the Cold War, those who have spoken out against Soviet-American confrontation have appealed foremost to the fear of nuclear holocaust, replete with visions of civilization destroyed. Their principal argument has been that the two sides must learn to cooperate in the abolition of nuclear weapons or risk extinction of the species.¹ E. P. Thompson’s metaphor of “exterminism” captured for many the essence of the survival motive on which contemporary peace advocates have heavily relied.² Yet, fear of total annihilation has failed so far to produce public pressure sufficient even to slow the arms race, let alone...

  8. Part III: Ideology
    • 8 Critical and Classical Theory: An Introduction to Ideology Criticism
      (pp. 131-152)
      Philip Wander

      Ideology criticism does not represent another technique, a new approach to criticism embedded in some mysterious European intellectual tradition. First introduced by French revolutionaries, the term “ideology” referred to the critical study of ideas. Napoleon, annoyed by attacks on his policies and the myths used to justify them, contrasted ideology with knowledge of the heart and the lessons of history. Ideologues, in his view, were mere intellectuals, impractical thinkers with subversive impulses. Marx appropriated the term and used it to mean the ruling ideas of the ruling class. He stressed the connection between established economic interests and the spiritual formulations...

    • 9 The Rhetoric of American Foreign Policy
      (pp. 153-184)
      Philip Wander

      Like any other body of stock phrases or standardized code of expression, the rhetoric of American foreign policy protects us against reality, that is, against the claim on our attention that any event or fact makes by virtue of its existence. If one were always responsive to such claims, writes Hannah Arendt, one would soon be exhausted, and yet such claims must be kept firmly in mind if one is to remain alert to matters too important to be obscured by language.¹ “Defending the Free World,” “protecting our National Security,” “weighing our National Interest,” “countering the Communist Menace,” the language...

    • 10 Political Rhetoric and the Un-American Tradition
      (pp. 185-200)
      Philip Wander

      In the foundation myth of this nation, there is a story about the rights of humanity or, as it was then known, the rights of “Man.” It tells of freedom from domination, individual joy, life itself. These rights were to be secured by a nation to come, but they did not depend, for their existence, on a new state. Rather they lived in the human breast. When government interfered with these rights, people had a God-given obligation to revolt and to fashion a new state, one ruled not by an elite few or by a monarch, but by the people....

  9. Part IV: Conclusion
    • 11 The Prospects of Cold War Criticism
      (pp. 203-208)
      Robert L. Ivie

      Even after the demise of the Soviet Union and the declared end of the Cold War, the legacy of more than four decades of rhetorical hostility demands a continuing critical response. The Cold War is embedded in America’s political culture.¹ The way we remember this era impacts upon our current sense of purpose and well being.² If it is represented as a final victory for the United States amounting to the end of a long ideological struggle between the forces of freedom and tyranny—as illustrated, for example. in Francis Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis—then the nation’s continuing quest...

  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 209-222)
  11. Index
    (pp. 223-230)
    (pp. 231-231)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 232-232)