Making democracy safe for the world: Race, propaganda, and the transformation of U.S. foreign policy during World War II

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Abstract

Recent literature has argued that, beginning in the late 1940s, the increasing ideological competition between the Soviet Union and the United States-or, more broadly, between communism and capitalism-transformed America's record of racial discrimination and violence into an international issue with consequences for U.S. foreign policy. This article challenges that historiography by raising questions about both the timing and the cause of the increasing importance of civil rights to the U.S. foreign policy process. It focuses roughly equally upon the damage that discrimination against Latinos in the Southwest did to the Good Neighbor Policy and the difficulties of the World War II propaganda organization, the Office of War Information, in portraying Amcerica's racial practices to the world. To account for these examples requires us to recognize the World War II years-not the Cold War-as the decisive turning point when the history of domestic race relations could no longer be sanguinely ignored by U.S. policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-84
Number of pages36
JournalPacific Historical Review
Volume73
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2004

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