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The Book of the Week is “The Price of Empire” by J. William Fulbright, with Seth P. Tillman, published in 1989. In this volume, given his time and place as a Democratic senator (and boastful alpha male, at that) from Arkansas from 1945 to 1974, Fulbright expressed his views on the Cold War in terms of major historical events and hot wars.
Fulbright’s narratives deserve special scrutiny because they were written before the fall of the Berlin Wall– before historical revisionism and 20/20 hindsight. He also expounded some, on the main reason he appeared to be racist: In the Postwar Era, government leaders from Southern States wouldn’t have a long political career if they favored civil rights for African-Americans (case in point– Carl Elliott, Representative from Alabama).
The author presciently asserted that in waging its anti-Communist campaigns, the United States had as its goal, because it knew it had superior technology: to bankrupt the Soviets via attrition in an arms race. But in so doing, the U.S. has damn near bankrupted itself!
Fulbright wrote, “The winners, present and prospective are the bystanders, in Europe and Asia, whose resources are committed to making their societies work.” He contended that the detente school of thought (in which the U.S. and Russia agreed to coexisting peacefully rather than fomenting hatred against the other; crowded out by greedy politicians) turned out to be superior economically, not to mention societally.
The United States is now paying the price for that. As is well known, politics cannot be divorced from economics. That is why top government leaders desirous of getting reelected have always harped on job growth— bragging about their own, and smearing their opponents’ lack thereof.
In 20/20 hindsight, workers who were making expensive war toys (many of which were wasted one way or another) for the military-industrial complex in the Postwar Era, could have been engaging in more constructive, productive, progressive endeavors in the areas of education and environmentally-friendly vehicles and infrastructure. Oh, well.
Be that as it may, (according to the book, which appeared to be credible although it lacked a detailed list of Notes, Sources, References and Bibliography), in 1946, in connection with trying to counter the adverse effects of the nation’s war-making, Fulbright made lemons from lemonade. He established a scholarship program for Americans to study abroad in barter transactions. War-impoverished countries would supply education because they could not pay (in the form of currency, due to crushing war debt) for the American military supplies such as blankets, food, drugs and trucks they used on their respective battlefields during WWII.
Read the book to learn a boatload of additional history which the author made, witnessed, and by which he was shaped.