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The impact of Culture on Cold war

by on April 30, 2012

The impact of  Public and culture diplomacy on the cold war has been documented. Many Scholars and  analysts have given their opinion and diplomats have shared their  experiences of the impact culture had on the cold war.although other geo-political and economic factors played a significant role in ending the cold war, it is worth mentioning a few culture programmes that were fundamental during the West-East Cold war conflict.

The first noted among these cultural programmes was the American world wide library programme and  Wilson in The story of the US Information Agency argues that the cultural activities preluded even formal diplomatic activities and also stresses that libraries were the first official USA presence in Asian and African countries. For example, the library in Nepal opened its doors six years before a U.S. embassy was established in Kathmandu. (Wilson P,2004 p 179).

Onother legend Librarian Zelma Graham who opened the first United States Information Service (USIS) library in down town Rangoon in Burma commented that “its brightly painted, light-filled rooms became much a part of the city life as its temples and canals” (Wilson ,2004.p179)

However the most profound impact was from the statement made by the founder of the  Fulbright programme, senator Fulbright when he commented that the  ideal principle underlying the exchange programme is  “The Ethos, in sum, is the belief that international relations can be improved and the danger of war significantly reduced, by producing generation of leaders ,who through the experience of educational exchange ,will have acquired some feeling and understanding of other peoples’ culture, why they operate as they do, why they think as they do, why they react as they do, and of the differences among these cultures”.(Nancy,2010: 88). It is claimed that  fuelled later with new ease of access provided by the jet plane, the second half of the twenties century witnessed the world wide exchange of scholars, students and artists across boarders than any other time in human history.and it is from these cultural and educational progrmmes that the western culture found its place in societies around the world and took root. This Western consumer culture epitomised in  the world of rock and jeans as McCauley  commented while acessing the impact of Western culture on Soviets citizens in the 1990’s  noted that, American Capitalism optimised in Western materialism became an “irresistible magnet, especially among the youth ,belief had began to gain ground that the west was a paradise”. (McCauley, 2004: 22)

He further noted that this culture started a revolution of rising expectations that swept aside Marxist-Leninist ideology. “Most of the younger generation no longer conceived of the United States as the mortal enemy, waiting to launch a nuclear strike against them”. Furthermore:  “Arguably Coca Cola, jeans, Walkman, CDs and the paraphernalia of the western consumer culture did more to undermine the appeal of socialism and normalise relations than any number of books and  propaganda broadcasts”. (McCauley, 2004: 22)

These factor on their own had a very much impact that influenced the generation in the soviet and changed there perspective and perception on the  propaganda  they were being  fed  on by the communist soviet in its effort to fight the west and all it stood for.

As the 20thcentury came to an end the Western consumer culture and way of life that was promoted through this exchange of ideas and cultures had started ripping fruits  ,this was witnessed in pronounced and more firm culture ideas that cut across state national boundaries and even cut through the Iron curtain by trumping over socialism.

From the above cultural experiences ,it can be concluded as Nancy argued that “It is possible, not very probable, but possible that people can find in themselves, through intercultural education, the ways and means of living together in peace”. (Nancy Snow,2010. p 88 ). Bearing this in mind gives an assumption that since cultural programmes had united diffirent cultures into more understanding of each other’s way of life and opinions,it is worth concluding that culture among other programmes played a vital role to end the cold war.



1-      Baroness Williams,2003.The U.S.-The role of World Leader: “A Decent Respect to the opinions of Mankind” (The British Library board)


2-      Martin McCauley,2004(2nd edition) Russia, America and the Cold war (Pearson Longman)



3-      Nancy Snow,2010(3rd edition) Selling America’s Culture to the world Sseven Stories Press)


4-      Richard T.Arndt,(2005) American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (Potoman Books,inc)



5-      Wilson P. Dizard Jr,(2004) Inventing Public Diplomacy:The Story of the U.S Information Agency(Lynne Rienner Publisher)


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