Jason C. Parker. Hearts, Minds, Voices: US Cold War Public Diplomacy and the Formation of the Third World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. Illustrations. 280 pp. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-025184-0.
Reviewed by Samantha A. Taylor (University of Southern Mississippi)
Published on H-War (February, 2018)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey (Air War College)
Continuing in line with the historiographical shift in Cold War studies started by Odd Arne Westad’s The Global Cold War (2005), Jason C. Parker’s Hearts, Minds, Voices: US Cold War Public Diplomacy and the Formation of the Third World reveals how US public diplomacy policies designed to bring the Global South into the Cold War “provoked a reaction that fused preexisting currents to form a community, one built in large part around rejection of the Cold War that Washington and Moscow so insistently tried to introduce” (p. vii). Parker argues that instead of US public diplomacy persuading colonial and former colonial countries to align with the United States during the Cold War, US policies persuaded those countries to reject and transcend the Cold War, and helped to cultivate the concept and identity of the Third World. For Parker, US public diplomacy, especially the growth of radio broadcasts, was a sign of Global South countries’ rise in the international system. Additionally, US and Soviet public diplomacy policies created an environment that helped the Global South develop a postcolonial identity based on their experiences and issues, and espouse their own ideas of the Cold War that focused on nonalignment, anti-colonialism, poverty, and racism. Parker’s work reveals that the Global South refused to only consume US public diplomacy but rather also used the US public diplomacy tools to participate in the discussion on the emerging Third World’s place in the Cold War, even as they attempted to stay out of the US-Soviet conflict.
There are two threads in Parker’s work: US struggles to develop an effective public diplomacy campaign that matched US national security interests and the development of a distinct Third World identity during the early Cold War in response to US and Soviet attempts to persuade various Global South countries to their cause. The first thread dominates the reading because Parker relies on US sources from the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations. He reveals the struggles during the Harry S. Truman presidency to create public diplomacy policy and to integrate it into the national security strategy. Yet the Truman Doctrine and Truman’s Point Four program added the Global South to US Cold War geostrategic concerns, though not entirely intentionally. Dwight D. Eisenhower continued to work on creating public diplomacy that appealed to the Global South and created USIA (United States Information Agency). However, Eisenhower’s New Look only partially remedied the bureaucratic battles over public diplomacy and national security, and he faced greater criticism from the emerging Third World. John F. Kennedy’s Good Neighbor program reinvigorated Latin America’s position in US geostrategic concerns. However, the policy constantly dealt with the divergence of word and deed. The Kennedy administration’s public diplomacy constantly discussed US support for Latin American progress.
The second thread relies on US reports on Global South public diplomacy responses and actions. The United States regarded the Bandung Afro-Asian Peoples Conference in April 1955 and the lingering “Bandung Spirit” of early Third World solidarity as a political and propaganda threat encouraged by the Soviet Union. The Bandung Spirit and the trend toward the Global South recognizing itself as a separate community from the Global North with little interests in the Cold War conflict continued during the early Cold War period. As the Global South embraced the end of colonialism and awareness of their relationship to the international system, their move toward a Third World identity complicated US policy toward the region and fueled fears of Communist penetration in the Global South. Due to Parker’s use of American sources, the two threads are not evenly spread in the book, with much of the book focused on US diplomatic strategy in the first half of the Cold War, while the emerging Third World community and identity occurs in the background. This limits Parker’s ability to provide a deeper exploration of the development of Third World identity.
In addition to Westad’s The Global Cold War, Parker also relies on Penny von Eschen’s Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (2004) and Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). Eschen’s work in US cultural diplomacy that relied on dispatching American jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong to counter images of American racism informs how Parker examines the US state and USIA’s efforts to use radio, movies, and print media to spread information and propaganda to counter Soviet public diplomacy efforts against the United States. Parker focuses on showing how public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy differ as they work toward a similar goal of informing foreign audiences about the positives of the United States and capitalism. Parker also takes Anderson’s theory that print culture allows individuals to develop national identities and applies it to the US public diplomacy campaign to reveal that the use of print culture and radio helped the regions and countries of the Global South to develop an identity separate from the Global North and reject US and Soviet conceptions of the Cold War.
Parker’s Hearts, Minds, and Voices is a well-written easy read that adds to the historiography of US diplomatic policies during the Cold War, and the role of the Cold War in the development of the Third World in the post-World War II international environment. His brief study on US public diplomacy efforts during the early Cold War and the Third World’s responses to US-Soviet efforts to garner their support builds on Westad’s and Eschen’s works and continues to expand the historical understanding of US efforts during the Cold War and international responses to the Cold War.
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Samantha A. Taylor. Review of Parker, Jason C., Hearts, Minds, Voices: US Cold War Public Diplomacy and the Formation of the Third World.
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