The forgotten debate: American political opinion journals and the Korean War, 1950-1953
Cash, Dane J.
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This dissertation is an examination of the foreign policy debates during and about the Korean War that played out in America's leading political opinion journals from 1950-1953. From left to right along the ideological spectrum, these journals include The Nation, The New Republic, Commonweal, The New Leader, The American Mercury, and The Freeman. Such an analysis uncovers some of most important ideological currents that ran through American political and intellectual life during the mid-20th century and challenges some long-standing historiographical assumptions about this period in American political and intellectual history. First, the foreign policy debates inspired by the Korean War were much more robust than is typically appreciated. Second, there was consistent and substantive disagreement between different camps of liberals, namely, between left liberals and hawkish liberals, to the point that hawkish liberals often favored positions more aligned with those of conservatives than with those of their fellow liberals. This tension between different strands of liberalism suggests that the notion that a "liberal consensus" reigned supreme in American political and intellectual life during the early years of the Cold War may be in need of qualification or revision. Third, the conservative arguments made in the pages of publications like The Freeman and The American Mercury reveal that the conservative movement was much more coherent and mature in the early 1950s, years before the emergence of William F. Buckley, Jr.'s National Review, than is generally thought. In sum, an examination of the "forgotten debate" about this forgotten war has much to teach us about the political and intellectual history of the United States in the mid-20111 century and beyond.
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