Western Colonialism at the "Razor Edge of Decision": Anti-Colonial Ideals and Cold War Imperatives in the Presidential Campaign Rhetoric of John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, August -November 1960

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2008-12

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Abstract

In the presidential campaign rhetoric of 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon discovered a shared middle-ground in regard to colonialism, a major issue of the year due to widespread decolonization movements. While both men expressed strongly anti-colonial ideals, neither went so far as to outwardly attack Western European states for their imperial policies. As a way of discussing colonialism without upsetting European allies while at the same time maintaining their idealistic stance, Kennedy and Nixon almost always balanced colonial references with the anti-communist language of the Cold War, thereby diminishing colonialism’s importance independent of that bipolarized struggle. Stemming from this rhetorical strategy, the two candidates used Cold War rationales to entice newly decolonized states into an American alliance that promised development assistance while protecting against the specter of “Red Colonialism” as was allegedly present in Eastern Europe.

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A Thesis Submitted to the History Department for Honors.

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Hager, Joshua (2008). Western Colonialism at the "Razor Edge of Decision": Anti-Colonial Ideals and Cold War Imperatives in the Presidential Campaign Rhetoric of John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, August -November 1960. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/1511.


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