All posts by bellacooper

My Research Topic

I plan to research the United Fruit Company’s use of media and lobbyists to convince the United States populace of a fallacious necessity to roll back communism in Latin America and to orchestrate the 1954 Guatemalan Coup. My mind map breaks my essay down into a few preliminary topics that will be utilized to argue my thesis. I plan to organize these topics and potentially break them down into more sub-topics. 

Link to my mind map:

https://mm.tt/791259453?t=KSB1UVRLSe

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The Reasoning behind the 1954 CIA Orchestrated Coup in Guatemala

I am researching the reasoning behind and justification for the 1954 CIA orchestrated Coup in Guatemala. My research topic displays how containment culture resulted in illogical governmental actions, resulting in long term negative impacts on other countries.

Many historians have argued that the Coup was a result of Eisenhower’s goal to shift US policy from containment of communism to actually rolling back communism. The US government feared Soviet influence in Guatemala and Latin America as a whole. Evidence of the rise of communism was centered in the Guatemalan president’s (Jacobo Árbenz) connections to the communist party and creation of new socialist agrarian reforms. Furthermore, the US government believed Árbenz was beginning to create an alliance with the USSR, especially after Guatemala accepted a shipment of weapons from Czechoslovakia, a nation within the Soviet sphere. On the other hand, people insist the true reasoning behind the Coup was the need for the United States to protect business interests within Guatemala. The United Fruit Company, a boston-based enterprise with many connections to the US government, owned a large portion of land in Guatemala on which were highly profitable banana plantations. The new agrarian reforms threatened the success of UFCO in Guatemala and ultimately, negatively impacted a wide range of influential United States politicians and media personnel. A large role within the success of the Coup was the use of media and governmental speeches. Many of these sources were both directly and indirectly influenced by the Public Relations sector of the UFCO. Within my argument, I hope to successfully prove that the US overreacted to Árbenz’s shift to socialist policies and orchestrated the Coup to protect business interests, especially in terms of the UFCO. Although Cold War tensions inclined the United States to view Guatemala as a dangerous communist state, Operation PBSUCCESS was a direct result of the threat Árbenz’s agrarian reforms had on the stability and success of the The United Fruit Company and the company’s use of media and lobbyists in convincing the populace of a fallacious necessity to roll back communism in Latin America.

The Role of Science Fiction in Societal Critiques.

Sarantake argues that the creators of Star Trek utilized the platform to comment on a variety of social and political issues. For example, the episode “Mirror Mirror”, which premiered on 6 October 1967, is viewed as promoting the anti-Communist foreign policy present during the Johnson era. The episode depicts both the Federation peacefully leaving an undeveloped and pacifist planet and, in an alternate universe, exploiting its resources and unjustly killing the people. Overall, Sarantake asserts that the episode portrays “the anti-Enterprise as a dark, poorly lit place, whereas scenes aboard the original starship are much brighter” (Sarantake 83). The difference between evil and good is clearly illustrated, a goal of many US policymakers during the Cold War. The overall objective of the episode was to reveal that a capitalist and democratic country (the United States) is more respectable and more globally beneficial than its counterpart (the USSR). In turn, US foreign policy should reflect the idea that if an evil and destructive ideology is allowed to spread, the US has failed to protect and serve the global community.

Throughout history, science fiction has been utilized to critic certain aspects of society. Science fiction follows non-realistic subjects and creates a divide between the writing and the viewer/reader. In other words, the author is able to criticize sensitive topics without fear of unjustified and biased backlash. Many viewers are consciously unaware of the analysis because the story feels foreign and unfeasible. However, if the creator is successful, he/she will be able to expose certain downsides of society in a non-obvious manner and to convince the viewer of his/her argument. One example of writing that challenges political/cultural ideologies is the book 1984, a social science fiction novel. The book indirectly critics increased governmental control and surveillance on a society, a policy present throughout the world during the Cold War. Furthermore, the book proclaimed that 1984 would happen if man did not become aware of the assaults on his personal freedom and did not defend his most precious right, the right to have his own thoughts. Orwell was able to both reassert the strongly held ideology of freedom, while also critiquing the rise of authoritarian policies within the United States and calling upon the people to revolt against injustices.

The Imagery of Urban Disaster and its Impact on Society

One quote I found significant and informative states, “It was these suburban ‘citadels’ that infiltrated the discourse of Cold War geopolitics: they were the quintessential sites of American life, the spaces where history was being actively rewritten. Suburbs embodied order, safety and a deeply gendered consumerism” (Farish). The atomic bomb represented the immense strength of the United States and its subsequent structure. It displayed the mass innovation within a capitalist, urban country. However, America’s use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted a shift in American culture. Although capitalism and consumerism remained an American ideal, urban life within the United States began to deteriorate. The above quote displays the massive migration of homogenous groups (white, straight, families, etc.) to suburbia in order to feel more secure and in control. Suburbia provided safety from potential attacks on America because the populace believed other nations would attack major cities. Furthermore, the homogenous culture of suburban areas prevented the internal threat to the social body from the rise of new political and economic ideas. This movement of people contradicted the purpose of the atomic bomb and left cities with a lack of revenue and structure. Through this quote, Farish argues the significance of suburbia in the history of the Cold War. The creation of suburbia drastically changed history by creating a new “safe” space, separating the country into “us” (white, straight) and “them” (the other), perpetuating the containment culture, and refuting the traditional status of the United States as displayed through the use of the atomic bomb.

The images of Hiroshima depicted the mass destruction of a new weapon of mass destruction – the atomic bomb. The United States populace was able to picture potential disaster within their own major cities at the hands of these bombs. As a result, American people became extremely fearful and anxiety-driven, which lead to mass migration to suburban areas in order to avoid what felt like inevitable urban disaster. The impact of the images of Hiroshima on the culture of America draw similarities to the imagery of the Twin Towers falling. Due to mass media presence around the Twin Towers and access to cell phone cameras, the destruction of the two towers was greatly publicized. Images ranges from the second plane crashing into the tower to the reactions of people on the streets flooded news outlets and broadcasts. Similar to after Hiroshima, the American people became fearful over the destruction of urban areas at the hands of an enemy. These images of disaster supported a new form of containment culture. The American populace divided, homogenous groups re-emerged, and outsiders, especially people of Middle Eastern descent and Muslims, were marginalized and profiled. Urban areas became a place of danger, while the home and suburbia represented safety from the new danger of the world – terrorism. Overall, the images of urban destruction, as shown in Hiroshima and 9/11, result in a divided culture that contradicts the publicized American strengths of urbanism and unity.

Lugo’s Paradox

In the first chapter of his book, Lugo exposes an interesting paradox surrounding the United States’ Cold War policies. Lugo states that while the “United States capital(ism) became an all-encompassing global presence, United States un-containability itself became premised on efforts at containment (of ‘other’ people, countries, economies)” (Lugo Pg. 8). In other words, at the same times as the United States were arguing that other ideologies needed to be contained, our nation was spreading our own values and morals around the globe. For example, the US conducted myriad covert operations throughout developing nations in which CIA operatives overthrew governments and reinstated a US-backed leader, usually a dictator. Many of these operations were completed in order to prevent the rise of socialist policies that threatened US businesses, trade, and the economy. By exposing this paradox, Lugo reveals both the issues present within United States policy and the blind-following of our citizens. Many of our actions during the Cold War resulted in unrest and destruction that continues to this day. However, by repeatedly telling the people that these actions would create a peaceful global society, no one questioned the paradox.

Bridge of Spies: The Modern Day Regulation of the Film Industry

In modern society, it is common for film studios to release movies depicting true stories of the Cold War. Unlike the Cold War era, in which screenwriters feared being blacklisted due to hidden anti-American propaganda in their films, modern day screenwriters are able to criticize  America’s role within the Cold War. An example of this is in the film Bridge of Spies.

The movie follows New York lawyer James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, who defends accused Soviet Spy, Rudolf Abel. The relationship between Donovan (white, straight, male, Christian, family-man) and his client (Russian communist) not only depicts the divide between the USSR and the USA, but also how two differing ideologies are able to work together for a common goal. Following the end of the case, Donovan is recruited by the CIA and is involved in an intense negotiation mission to release CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot Francis G. Powers. Powers, after having his plane shot down and miraculously surviving, is arrested and held by the USSR. The negotiation involves exchanging Powers for Abel, the spy Donovan previously defended. Soviet and American culture shape Donovan’s actions, affecting the public’s reactions to the event and the viewpoint of the movie as a whole.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxUk1RsajcI

The film includes some elements that do not reflect the American viewpoint of the Cold War era, for instance moments that reveal the strong morals of Abel and his unjustified conviction. However, the film fails to be revolutionary and contains large amounts of Cold War and containment rhetoric. Overall, the movie is extremely pro-American and paints the Soviets as the enemy. While the Soviet’s actions are condemned, those of the Americans are seen as logical and heroic. Although both the USA and USSR committed equivalent atrocities, the choice to portray the USSR solely in a negative light displays the strong containment culture that was not only present during the Cold War, but also in modern culture.

Furthermore, the film exaggerates many aspects of the story, especially in scenes of violence. As an effect, the US fails to admit their mistakes during the Cold War and rather proceeds to justify the containment policies and culture of the time period. In our society, communism and socialism are still considered “outsider” beliefs. Bridge of Spies cements this idea and indirectly exposes issues within modern cinema. Many years after the cold war, it appears that communism and containment culture impact modern American pop culture, especially in current cinema practice. The Cold War was a tumultuous time for the film industry. Using the film Bridge of Spies as an example, it appears that there are specific rhetorical limitations placed upon the film industry which remain present today.