American Cold War Mentality - Alive and Well?

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Christina Jensen
This thesis investigates the concept of Cold War mentality with particular focus on the United States of America (US). It is a comparative study, where communication by the American government from 1981 to 1986 of the Cold War (the Reagan-administration), is compared to communication by the current American government (the Obama-administration). The communication by the current American government regards US-Russian conflicts of interests such as the Syrian conflict and the growing threat Russia pose to European security. Since there is no existing broadly accepted academic definition of the concept, but merely a general public understanding of Cold War mentality, this thesis seek to find an understanding of the concept from the existing literature and articles, which address it.
The analysis is based in pieces of communication from each government. From the Reagan-administration is four pieces of communication: two speeches by President Reagan, one speech from Secretary of Defense, Weinberger, and one speech from Secretary of State, Shultz. From the Obama-administration is six pieces of communication – two from each representative. The representatives of the Obama-administration are President Obama, Secretary of Defense, Carter, and Secretary of State, Kerry. Critical Discourse Analysis is the theoretical framework used for analyzing the pieces of communication.
The thesis found that there were some similarities is how Russia and the Soviet Union was portrayed, but the Obama-administration was portraying Russia in a less aggressive manner compared to how the Reagan-administration portrayed the Soviet Union through its communication. Furthermore, the Obama-administration is more covert in its negative portrayal of Russia compared to the Reagan-administration.
The Reagan-administration is definitely expressing Cold War mentality and it is evident through its communication. It can certainly be argued that the Obama-administration also to some extent expresses Cold War mentality in its communication regarding the Syrian conflict and the growing threat Russia pose to European security, though it is not evident such as the case was with the Reagan-administration. There are however some indicators of Cold War mentality present, such as the negative portrayal of Russia. On the other hand, it can also be questioned, whether the negative portrayal of Russia is an expression of Cold War mentality, because other indicators of Cold War mentality such as the bipolar thinking is not evident in the Obama-administration’s communication.
Publication date31 May 2016
Number of pages50
ID: 234500456