With tensions on the rise between nations, it is tempting to reflect on the immediate aftermath of WWII for clues as to justification for long-standing distrust of governments.  Once the US opted out of the League of Nations, an intense isolationism built until America unleashed its forces against Japan, Germany and Italy.  Despite the eventual success of the "Get Germany First" campaign, a deep division arose about how to finish off Japan, as evidenced by complexities at Potsdam and the ultimate use of the the atomic bomb against a nation that many scholars and historians argue was defeated.  Stanford Professor Barton Bernstein and Robert Messer are two such scholars who remind us that Japan had effectively surrendered with the wish of keeping the Emperor, something even American diplomats thought would help keep the Japanese people more amenable to American re-organization amidst occupation.  However, despite this one condition, two cities were destroyed, yet within days this same single condition was approved.  Ironically, Emperor Hirohito lived another 44 years, dying in 1989.  Truman's own hesitance is documented in several places but meeting minutes show clearly that the expected invasion loss was well below estimates inflated after the war. 

A good question to ask, is, "Was this destruction necessary?" : Can the context of the intense anti-Japanese feelnng be placed in a 2015 perspective to properly address this question?"


The post-war world began after August, 1945.  What is the state if the Cold War in 2015?  Are fears of a nuclear North Korea and Iran igniting fears, similar to the Cold War fears,  that aliances may form which test the U.S. and NATO's resolve as to how to defend huge populations and at what cost?






Perhaps the least recognized, yet important figure of the 20th Century is James Byrnes of South Carolina.  Here is a tantalizingly short clip taken from a newsreel shortly after America, and only America, had access to the Bomb and why Russia shouldn't worry about that.  He occupies a rare place in history because during his career, Byrnes served as a Congresssman from 1911-1925, a Senator from 1931-1941, a Justice of the Supreme Court from 1941-1942, and Secretary of State from 1945-1947. He also served as Governor from 1951-1955 and is the only person in American history to serve in all three branches of government: a Congressman, Senator, Justice, and Secretary of State.  Byrnes thought he would be Roosevelt's choice to be vice president in 1944 and when Truman was chosen, then asked him to serve as the State Department, it was a blow to a proud man, and an irony because he did not really view Truman as a formal superior.  He knew more about the bomb than Truman, having been instrumental in the Targeting Selection Committee work, for example.


President Truman Desegregates the US Army (1948)




In the above scene from the film Manchurian Candidate (1962), watch Frank Sinatra try and assist a member of the cabinet as he appears before a committee talking about lowering defense spending.  Suddenly, out of the crowd, an opportunistic politician makes an assertion related to the fear of Communism present during this period. 



Truman Fires MacArthur


The Cold War On the Home Front: McCarthyism. This is a comprehensive look into events connected to the threat of Communism's influence in American Politics. Primary sources are available as are analyses of motives and actions by the main actors involved in employing the politics of fear.



Watch attorney Joseph Welch of the law firm Hale & Doerr simply skewer Senator Joseph McCarthy with his memorable line putting Senator McCarthy in his proper place among the likes of other well-known political bullies.

Censure of Joseph McCarthy (2 December 1954)


Presidential Election Results


Secret White House Recordings

Issues Unique to the 1960 Election

Here is a remarkably candid clip of a candidate for president speaking about religion openly in 1960.  The candidate, John Kennedy, was finding himself on the defensive for being Catholic, But, being familiar with the Constitution, Article VI, and the influence of Jefferson's Doctrine of Religious Freedom, Kennedy's remarks are a sharp reminder of the importance of recognizing formal Separation of Church and State in the Constitution of the United States and as applied to the lives of everyday Americans.  It makes one wonder whether some candidates for president in 2012 would actually be able to take the oath of office to preserve and defend a Constititution that contains Article VI.

Former President Harry Truman broke with tradition and was highly critical of candidate John Kennedy's handlers, to the point that, in this speech,  he refused to attend the 1960 convention and went further to accuse young Kennedy of inexperience.  Here's Truman speech and Kennedy's response.

Here is a remarkably different view of the Constitution and, potentially, an utterance that may disqualify Rick Santorum from taking the Oath of Office as he publicly declares that he cannot support the Constitution's provisions to keep Church and State separate.  Does this nullify his ability to assume the duties to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution?