Ghosts of the Cold War

Ghosts of the Cold War

Ghosts of the past haunt the political scene. Epithets like “cold war,” “isolationism,” and “appeasement” are heard again. While the Administration is trying to normalize relations with China or to find ways of accommodation with the future rulers of Africa, it hears charges from all sides: that it is selling Taiwan down the river, abandoning our allies in Africa, “playing the China card,” which may provoke the Russians, and that its dilly-dallying between moderates and guerrillas in Africa may yet lose us the last chance to catch up with history on that continent.

Carter finds himself pretty much in the same quandary that Truman did 30 years ago: on the one side, the patriots accused him of “losing” China; on the other, Henry Wallace charged that he was missing the peace bus to Moscow. George Kennan, who had originally formulated the policy of “containment,” now opposed the military implementation of that policy (NATO and German rearmament). Walter Lippmann, who had coined the term “cold war,” gave Truman his candid advice to name Thomas Dewey secretary of state and then to resign so that a hopelessly compromised regime could be replaced speedily by the inevitable winner of the coming election.

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