GE3V17049 The Cultural Cold War

Class 4 Exploring cultural diplomacy in the Third World

1. Introduction

2. Eisenhower

3. Kennedy

4. Lyndon B. Johnson

5. Conclusion

Class Description

Next step: Assignment & Readings


1. Introduction

Different presidents develop their public diplomacy not only towards Western Europe, Eastern Europa, but also toward the Third World.

2. Eisenhower

In his memoirs, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote about how decolonization had overwhelmed him: “In flood force, the spirit of nationalism had grown in all Africa.” The determination to attain “self-rule . . . resembled a torrent overrunning everything.” Although the United States had no direct interests on the continent, Eisenhower did not want to “see chaos run wild among hopeful, expectant peoples,” because “the communists would be only too delighted to take an advantage.” The metaphor of a mighty river was part of a burgeoning modernization discourse and reminiscent of longstanding imagery of primitive uncontrollable hordes. Yet, Eisenhower was confident he could “make constructive use of it” and relied on cultural assistance

3. Kennedy

Kennedy was celebrated in the Third World as a figure who could change the world.

4. Lyndon B. Johnson

The general historiography of United States–African relations in

the 1960s holds that the policies of Lyndon Johnson towards this

continent were a failure. Johnson, most historians suggest, generally

ignored Africa and, in doing so, squandered the good feelings

that many Africans had developed towards his more charming

and polished predecessor. However, such views do a disservice to

the Johnson Administration, which in fact embarked on a quiet

African programme rooted in American cultural and economic

power, and which proved to be more successful than is generally

believed. Two factors lay at the heart of Johnson’s decision to rely

on a soft power policy in Africa: the domestic political constraints

of the civil rights movement at home; and the belief in modernisation

theory that had emerged as a guiding principle for many of his

advisors. Johnson, to put it simply, may have lacked his predecessor’s

style but he compensated with a substantive and imaginative

policy that quietly produced a superior method of advancing both

American and African interests.

5. Conclusion

Presidents develop different strategies towards Africa.  What we need to understand is the differences and the similarities.