85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History
Landscapes of War and Peace
April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky
Title: Young Scholars Panel - Economics, the Press, and Civil Rights: Shaping the Global Cold War
Mark Grotelueschen, US Air Force Academy
Titus Firmin, University of New Orleans
Participant's Paper Title: 'Geaux Guard': An Economic Analysis of the Louisiana Army National Guard, 1973-1991
Participant's Paper Abstract: In 1971, the U.S. Army prepared to switch to an all-volunteer force which pitted the active components of the military against the National Guard in competition for recruits. Without the draft to encourage young people to "volunteer" for service and with the sullied reputation of the Armed Forces after the Vietnam War, it appeared a rough road laid ahead for the Army National Guard. After the energy crises of the 1970s, worsening economic conditions incentivized men and women to volunteer even without the onus of the draft. Local economic crises coupled with increased defense spending of the 1980s assisted the Guard in filling their ranks and meeting strength goals. States such as Louisiana grew their Guard forces through generous inducements such as raised pay, increased educational benefits, and community outreach. Only recently have historians begun to examine the role of the military as a driver of economic activity. Though scholars have examined related topics, none have examined the economic impact of the Army National Guard following the transition to the all-volunteer force. Through the use of census data, military records, economic reports, state executive budgets, court documents, adjutant general reports, memorandums and newspapers this paper will examine the economic activity generated by the Louisiana Army National Guard. Specifically, this essay will examine the economic impact of the Army Guard and its armories in rural communities in Louisiana.
Jessica Dirkson, Georgia Southern University
Participant's Paper Title: Savannah and the Vietnam War
Participant's Paper Abstract: The 1960s and 1970s signify a period of tumult for the United States. The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement dominated political and public thought, and put strains on domestic and international relations. Past scholarship has tended to focus on the entire nation, a large regional area, or liberal cities to discuss the events during the aforementioned decades. This paper will discuss the impact that the Vietnam War had on a single, conservative, Georgian town. A brief description of Savannah's racial, political, and socioeconomic breakdown during the 60s and 70s will be given to argue the significance of the Vietnam War on the town, and of the study of Savannah itself. Main points that will be discussed will be: variation of war sentiment in Savannahians throughout the war; descriptions and details of soldiers' experiences during their deployment; the impact these experiences had on their relationship with one another and civilian society; the reception of those who returned from Indochina. Interviews conducted of Vietnam veterans and Savannahian civilians will provide unique insight into this study, and will be frequently mentioned throughout the paper. Along with interviews, newspaper articles and other media sources will be used to bolster the argument that will be presented. Due to Savannah's geographical location, it would be imprudent to disassociate the Vietnam War and its impact on Savannahian society without taking into consideration the Civil Rights Movement. African American soldiers who served in the military during this time had to grapple with their service to their country and the rights of their race. The Vietnam War and its impact will remain the focus of this paper, but in order to present the most accurate account of Savannah during this time, the Civil Rights movement will be occasionally mentioned.
Gabriela Maduro, Florida State University
Participant's Paper Title: The Press and the "Hot Czechoslovakian Summer of 1968": Battles for Legitimacy in the Cold War
Participant's Paper Abstract: On August 20, 1968, Warsaw Pact forces led by the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, ending the liberal reforms of the Prague Spring and reinforcing Soviet domination in the region. Although the 5,000 Soviet tanks and 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops encountered minimal military resistance, Czechoslovaks mobilized in other ways, employing tactics of nonviolent resistance. Citizens waved depictions of the Czechoslovak flag covered in blood as Soviet tanks rolled through the country, while students flooded the streets with pamphlets that warned, "Beware the betrayal." Yet, the most prominent protest against the invasion occurred within the sphere of the press. Czechoslovak publications such as Rudé Právo and Literární Listy advocated for Alexander Dubček's concept of "socialism with a human face," in which socialist governments derived their legitimacy from popular support and guaranteed basic rights such as freedom of speech and religion. Conversely, Soviet forces attempted to delegitimize the concept in Pravda with articles that condemned it as a return to the bourgeois system. In denouncing the developments in Czechoslovakia and attempting to justify the invasion, Soviet forces ultimately articulated concepts that would prove to be essential to the Soviet Union's identity throughout the Cold War, including the idea of "peaceful counterrevolution" and the elucidation of the Brezhnev Doctrine. Through the examination of press publications that not only preceded and followed the invasion but also accompanied it, this paper will call to question traditional conceptions of spaces of warfare. It will use a variety of newspaper articles and radio broadcasts to investigate the press as a battleground for asserting agency by satellite states throughout the Cold War. Ultimately, it will explore the invasion of Czechoslovakia as the physical manifestation of an extended war of legitimacy, in which both the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia attempted to legitimize their varying conceptions of sovereignty, statehood and socialism.
Seanegan Sculley, US Military Academy