Venture Grant: London: Cold War History
Rethinking Cold War History
I would like to spend eighth block in England studying the Cold War and Britain, specifically researching the Turkey incident of 1946. Mark Johnson of the history department has agreed to be my independent research advisor at Colorado College, and Mel Leffler a prominent Cold War historian and the Harmsworth Professor at Queens College, Oxford University has agreed to work with me at Oxford. As part of the independent study, I will write a 20-25 page research paper, which I will present next fall to the faculty and students of the Russian/Eurasian Seminar.
I am a political science major and Russian studies minor. My first year experience spent a block studying the Cold War, and I am excited to continue in this area of study. Moreover, from my experiences last semester studying American Foreign Policy at American University in Washington D.C., I believe gaining a different perspective on such a large issue that continues to affect foreign policy and international relations today is valuable to my academic growth. Oxford offers access to the largest library in the world, as well as easy access to British government documents, which will be my main sources for this project. This independent study will prepare me for the rigorous academic scholarship I hope to pursue in graduate school in the field of American Foreign Policy.
As World War II ended, the United States and the Soviet Union started to fill the power vacuum left by the weakened or destroyed state of the old superpowers. This was done while each side wearily tried to gauge the other side’s intentions and resolve. Turkey is one of the first examples of Cold War stances. For much of 1946, the USSR’s military and propaganda movements signaled a willingness to take by force strategically important Turkey, where British influence was waning. The US responded by working closely with the British on plans for World War III. Then as suddenly as the crisis had started, over a Soviet memo demanding a renegotiation of its treaty with Turkey, the crisis ended due to another Soviet memo postponing their demands upon the Turkish government.
Until recently, this early episode of the Cold War has largely been ignored because of a lack of access to archival records. I propose to study the role of the British in the Turkish scare. First and foremost, using primary sources, I want to find out if the West was overreacting based on the information they were receiving from MI-6, the Home Office, and the British military. This is a question that has yet to receive adequate attention from historians.
Moreover, what are the larger implications of the Turkey incident? In what ways did this affect the Anglo-American relationship? Did America’s willingness to fight for Turkey slow down the demise of the British Empire or illustrate how much influence it had already lost on the world stage? Did this showing of Anglo-American cooperation, which did not fit Marxist-Leninist doctrine, force the Soviet Union to revise its foreign policy? Overall what was the affect of Turkey 1946 on the relations of these three nations for the duration of the Cold War and beyond?
In preparation, I will acquaint myself with the issue and time period through a variety of sources including:
Louis, William Roger. The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951: Arab Nationalism, the United States, and Postwar Imperialism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Mark, Eduard. "The War Scare of 1946 and Its Consequences." Diplomatic History 21, no. 3 (Summer 1997): 383-415.
I will also use Tutt Library’s government document collection to familiarize myself with researching government documents.
Room and Board: Staying with family.
For this project, I respectively request $830 for round trip airfare from Denver to London.
Thank you for considering this grant request. I believe this independent study is a unique chance for me in my academic career, and will enhance the dialogue at Colorado College.