The Clare Spark Blog

January 10, 2020

The Cold War, a moderate liberal version

Filed under: Uncategorized — clarelspark @ 6:47 pm

The Cold War, liberal version I have just finished Louis J. Halle’s infuriating accounting of the Cold War As History (1967), a book that was assigned to me at the UCLA graduate program in US History, a book that I had avoided until now, possibly because of “The Bomb.” I was only 9 years old when the threat of nuclear warfare commenced, and I still remember the headlines. But Halle minimized our trauma (shared by many, I surmise), by initially claiming that the USA had a virtual monopoly of nuclear secrets (ignoring the historical record, where the Soviet Union had been working on physics since early in the 20th Century, and certainly during World War II (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_atomic_bomb_project.) So there was no question about the importance of nuclear warfare early in the Cold War. Although the moderate man Halle changed his line in later pages, this blatant error changed my estimation of this historian, and I began to see Halle’s rendition as a liberal apologist, whose emphasis on “globalism” and other values was characteristic of the UCLA history department.

This blog is about his other claims, some of which were similarly startling, for instance that Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist, but not a communist (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh.) Similarly, Chairman Mao is not a regular Red, but a unique figure, because the Chinese Revolution in 1949 pitted peasants, not workers, against Chiang Kai-shek. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao_Zedong, also my review of Moreira’s book https://clarespark.com/2011/06/30/links-to-review-essay-on-hemingway-spy-mission-to-china/)

But the most egregious error was the typical liberal emphasis on McCarthyism as a factor in the Cold War, as if the Venona Project had never existed (though it may not have been declassified at Halle’s time of composition, so I can’t finger Halle for this error, though liberal historians blame McCarthy for messing up US history, see https://clarespark.com/2014/02/05/joe-mccarthy-and-the-warrior-spirit/).

Then there is the elevation of “white supremacy”, a typical liberal trope from the late 1960s. Finally, Halle came out against science and Enlightenment in his elevation of myth. (I have had this argument before, in a public fight with another liberal.)

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