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by Arnold offner

Download Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953 (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) fb2, epub

ISBN: 0804742545
Author: Arnold offner
Language: English
Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (January 25, 2002)
Pages: 656
Category: Military
Subcategory: History
Rating: 4.9
Votes: 151
Size Fb2: 1328 kb
Size ePub: 1928 kb
Size Djvu: 1621 kb
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SERIES: Stanford Nuclear Age Series. This book is a provocative, forcefully argued, and thoroughly documented reassessment of President Truman’s profound influence on .

SERIES: Stanford Nuclear Age Series. foreign policy and the Cold War. The author contends that throughout his presidency, Truman remained a parochial nationalist who lacked the vision and leadership to move the United States away from conflict and toward détente. Instead, he promoted an ideology and politics of Cold War confrontation that set the pattern for successor administrations. 9 people found this helpful.

Offner, Arnold A. Publication date. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. City. Truman, Harry . 1884-1972, Cold War. Publisher. Stanford University Press. inlibrary; printdisabled; ; china.

Arnold A. Offner (born September 6, 1937, Brooklyn) is an American historian, and Cornelia F. Hugel Professor . Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953 Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002. ISBN 9780804747745, OCLC 470193652. Hugel Professor of History Emeritus at Lafayette College  . The Origins of the Second World War: American Foreign Policy and World Politics, 1917-1941, New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973. ISBN 9780894643200, OCLC 847437948.

Offner argues that Truman's unsophisticated, confrontational approach to statecraft made the Cold War longer, meaner, and more expensive than necessary. His Truman is a sometimes bigoted, often ill informed, and always inflexible leader who contrasts sharply with the man in David McCullough's Rockwellian portrayal.

Soviet rivalry because he lacked vision and leadership qualities necessary to facilitate détente and avoid needless conflict.

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Truman viewed the US as the world's trustee for atomic power, sided with Cabinet advisers who thought .

Truman viewed the US as the world's trustee for atomic power, sided with Cabinet advisers who thought America's technological genius assured its supremacy in an arms race, and proved as resistant in many ways as Joseph Stalin, who sought atomic parity, to international control of atomic energy. He is author of numerous books, including Another Such Victory: President Truman and the Cold War, 1945-1953 (Stanford University Press, 2002) and American Appeasement: United States Foreign Policy and Germany, 1933-1938 (Harvard University Press, 1969). He is currently writing a biography of Senator Hubert H Humphrey.

Offner's book is also more focused on Truman's own personal role. Offner does provide more on the creation of Israel, and the partition of Germany, though he says little about the cold war's consequences in Latin America, where the confrontational atmosphere helped cut short a brief liberal interlude.

This book is a provocative, forcefully argued, and thoroughly documented reassessment of President Truman’s profound influence on U.S. foreign policy and the Cold War. The author contends that throughout his presidency, Truman remained a parochial nationalist who lacked the vision and leadership to move the United States away from conflict and toward détente. Instead, he promoted an ideology and politics of Cold War confrontation that set the pattern for successor administrations.This study sharply challenges the prevailing view of historians who have uncritically praised Truman for repulsing the Soviet Union. Based on exhaustive research and including many documents that have come to light since the end of the Cold War, the book demonstrates how Truman’s simplistic analogies, exaggerated beliefs in U.S. supremacy, and limited grasp of world affairs exacerbated conflicts with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. For example, Truman’s decision at the Potsdam Conference to engage in “atomic poker” and outmaneuver the Soviets in Europe and Asia led him to brush aside all proposals to forgo the use of atomic bombs on Japan.Truman’s insecurity also reinforced his penchant to view conflict in black-and-white terms, to categorize all nations as either free or totalitarian, to demonize his opponents, and to ignore the complexities of historic national conflicts. Truman was unable to view China’s civil war apart from the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. Belittling critics of his support for the corrupt Guomindang government, he refused to negotiate with the emergent PRC. Though he did preserve South Korea’s independence after North Korea’s attack, he blamed the conflict solely on Soviet-inspired aggression, instead of a bitter dispute between two rival regimes. Truman’s decision to send troops across the 38th parallel to destroy the North Korean regime, combined with his disdain for PRC security concerns, brought about a tragic wider war.In sum, despite Truman’s claim to have “knocked the socks off the communists,” he left the White House with his presidency in tatters, military spending at a record high, McCarthyism rampant, and the United States on Cold War footing at home and abroad.

Comments:

Faugami
Harry S. Truman, the accidental president from Independence, Missouri, has enjoyed a rebirth of popularity since the 1970s, after leaving office with exceptionally low approval ratings in January 1953. His more recent popularity revolves around the Truman story of humble origins, machine politics, and a good man having greatness thrust upon him. Truman rose to the occasion and demonstrated effective leadership in a time of crisis. He took decisive action to end the war and win the peace, carrying forward the plan to create a strong international entity in the United States and championing the Marshall Plan to help Europe recover from World War II among other initiatives. Moreover, his resolute resistance to the Soviet Union as the cold war began to dominate international politics in the latter 1940s proved critical to ensuring a democratic Western Europe. For most historians, especially those of the dominant consensus mindset that assign blame for the origins of the cold war to Stalin and Soviet adventurism, Truman acted forthrightly to counter Soviet might. Couple that with an apparent homeiness and frankness and Truman's resurrection was assured. That is essentially the story told in David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning Truman biography and a host of other publications.

Offner takes issue with this dominant interpretation and assigns the preponderance of blame for the origins of the cold war to Truman. Like revisionist historians of the 1960s and 1970s, he contends that Truman was essentially a small time politician from a backwater who proved unable to master the tides of history around him. While acknowledging his successes with the Marshall Plan and selected other initiatives, Offner finds that the Truman should nonetheless receive the lion's share of the condemnation for the cold war. Representative of many such statements in "Another Such Victory," Offner writes that "Stalin put the interests of the Soviet state before the desire to spread Marxist-Leninist ideology, pursued pragmatic or opportunistic agreements, recognized America's vast military and industrial power, and always calculated what he called the `correlation of forces'" (p. 27). In other words, Offner asserts that Stalin and the Soviet Union was never the threat that Truman believed. Truman's lack of experience on the international stage and a raft of character flaws made matters much worse than they ever had to be with the Soviet Union.

Offner presented a restatement of a standard revisionist conception about the origins of the cold war. Truman and several of his advisors, he wrote, "were American politicians of limited international experience and vision suddenly thrust into positions of global leadership. Their soles, their sensibilities, were undoubtedly hardened by witnessing a global war of unparalleled devastation and atrocities. They were appalled and frightened by Soviet advances in Europe and Asia and readily equated Communists with `Nazis and Fascists' or other imperial or `Tsarist' aggressors. They quickly persuaded themselves that if they got `tough,' they could make the Russians more `manageable' and willing to accede to American principles and interests..." (p. 99). At the same time, according to Offner, Truman mishandled the Soviet Union at every turn, misjudged intentions in Eastern Europe, failed in China and Korea, and engaged in nuclear threats and innuendo in an effort to force greater pliability from cold war rivals.

In the end, Offner's "Another Such Victory" is largely a restatement of the criticisms of American leadership offered in the revisionist work of such authors as Gabriel and Joyce Kolko's "The Limits of Power," first published more than thirty years ago, and Daniel Yergin's "Shattered Peace" (1977). Additionally, Offner's work abandons much of the nuanced criticisms present in Melvyn Leffler's masterful "A Preponderance of Power" (1992), which also seeks to roll back the arguments of the pro-Truman community but does so with more balance and reason. Indeed, a major criticism of Offner's book is that despite its in-depth research and detailed documentary approach, he says little in this book that moves the historiography beyond where Leffler left it more than 15 years ago. What he does do, and it is an important contribution, is provide a massively referenced presentation of the story well-grounded in documentary sources.

Beyond that, we learn that Truman was parochial, given to fits of rage, racist and biased toward others, limited in experience and judgment, and manipulative in his dealings with Stalin. He might have taken a different approach, Offner states, by seeking a true collaborative arrangement with the Soviet Union. His personality and limitations would not allow it, according to Offner.

As a counterpoint to the Truman revisionist position present in such works as David McCullough and Robert H. Ferrell, "Another Such Victory" may prove useful. Offner, however, goes too far in his zeal to tarnish Truman's image. Melvin Leffler's work is much more useful as thoughtful criticism of Truman and the origins of the cold war.
Reighbyra
In this book, Harry Truman is not the common man who makes good, but rather a small town politician who was unable to rise to the demands of high office. The narrow and petty viewpoint espoused by Truman and those advisors he trusted led to constant provocation of the Soviets and was a large factor in the division of Europe between Western democracies and Eastern satellites.
Offner reviews the key moments of early post-war foreign policy and uses each to demonstrate how Truman and his advisers were unable to win the peace and instead locked the world into Cold War trench lines that became as immutable as those on the front lines of World War I. Offner believes that American intransigence played a major role in provoking the USSR to descend its Iron Curtain. Seen by many as a usurper to Franklin Roosevelt's mantle, Truman was in no position to implement the decisions of Yalta or forge a new policy for the post-war world.
Offner contends that Truman's decisions from the beginning were confrontational rather than cooperative. The author presents Truman's initial meeting with Russian Foreign Minster Molotov and shows how the president dresses down the envoy and enjoins him to "keep his promises." It is with this attitude that Truman attends the Postdam Conference in July 1945
The ultimate disposition of Europe is a key area for Offner's analysis. The division of Europe that came in the post-war days was not the inevitable outgrowth of Stalinist greed, to Offner, but was rather the natural and expected reaction of a war-weary Russia that felt itself being once again encircled by hostile forces. The introduction of the Marshall Plan was viewed by the USSR as an attempt on the part of America to purchase Europe at cut-rates.
When the Western Powers announce a plan to rearm their sectors in Germany it is countered by a Soviet proposal to create a unified but unarmed and neutral county. The eventual separation of Germany into the Western Eastern halves is the result of years of increasing tension and the desire by the United States and Britain to re-arm their erstwhile enemy as a bulwark against the communists to the East.
By 1947 Truman was confident enough to promulgate his own policy and abandon the façade of the wartime alliance which had all but disintegrated. The Truman Doctrine was the central policy for the rest of the president's time in office. It stated a willingness to fight against communism anywhere it attempts to overthrow a non-communist government. It made no distinction between "outside pressure" as opposed to "armed minorities," thus linking internal revolutions with the perceived threat of the USSR and its attempts at world conquest.
Offner comes closest to proving his thesis when he discusses the disastrous events in Asia. Inheriting support for Chang Kai-Shek and his GMD from Franklin Roosevelt, Truman was boxed in by his own policies. Even sending over General Marshall as a mediator between Chang and Mao was pre-ordained to fail as long as the American government simultaneously supplied materiel to the GMD during the negotiations. The failure of the Americans to recognize the People Republic of China caused Mao to turn to the USSR for assistance creating, at least temporarily, the self-fulfilling prophecy of "Monolithic Communism."
The fear that China was the first of the Asian dominoes to fall caused Truman to misperceive the North Korean attack on South Korea as another attempt by the Soviets to expand their empire. The Truman Doctrine meant this could not be allowed to succeed. Korea quickly became a quagmire with three years of fighting and thousands of American deaths all to re-establish the status quo. Much of the delay was caused by Truman's refusal to return POWs on an "all for all" basis. Instead, he attempted to prevent any POW from being involuntarily returned to his home nation. This was in fact contrary to the custom of war and the most recent Geneva Convention. While Truman's reluctance in part came from the poor treatment the USSR had given to repatriated POWs from World War II, it was small comfort to those who fought and died while this point was debated.

Another Such Victory is a well-written overview of the key issues in foreign policy faced by Truman. Each chapter contains an introduction summarizing the events to be presented a content section with details of the events and decisions, and a summary/conclusion section to review the chapter. The tendency to use the same quote over and over again throughout the chapter can go beyond adding emphasis and lead instead occasionally to a feeling of repetitiveness on the author's part.
Offner gives short shrift to the domestic politics and attitudes that prevailed during the Truman years. Though the book centers on foreign policy, the Truman presidency did not exist in a vacuum and domestic pressures played a large role in the ongoing development of policy abroad. Certainly throughout this period the red-baiting of Joseph McCarthy, the passage (over Truman's veto) of the MaCarran Act, and the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee were forces to be considered in any decision involving Communism.

Offner has the advantage of time and perspective as he judges the actions that Truman took sixty years ago. However, lost in the distance of time is the context of the period in which these decisions were made. Munich may have become a tired analogy by the 1990s, but Truman was living with the results of Chamberlain's appeasement less than a decade after it happened.

Offner has the temporal advantage of sixty years and the editorial advantage of choosing what material he will include to develop his viewpoint, both of which he uses liberally. It is true that mistakes were made, but Another Such Victory falls short of a convincing condemnation of Truman for provoking the Cold War.

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