Tag Archives for McCarthyism

Below are all Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History tagged with, "McCarthyism".

Sputnik, The Ugly American, and the Push to Improve FSI Language Training






In the depths of the Cold War, the USSR in 1957 launched Sputnik,  the first satellite to orbit the earth. This had a profound effects on American society, as it both frightened Americans and undermined the notion of American exceptionalsim. The very next year saw the publication of The Ugly American, the bestselling novel which […]




The Chile Burn Victims Case: Containment vs. Human Rights under Pinochet






During a 1986 protest in Santiago, Chile against the human rights abuses of Augusto Pinochet’s regime, teenagers setting up barricades were arrested by a military patrol. What happened next to Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri (seen right) and Carmen Quintana is a matter of dispute, but in the end, Rojas was dead and Quintana severely burned. An […]




Cleaning up America’s Backyard: The Overthrow of Guatemala’s Arbenz






The Central Intelligence Agency launched a covert operation on June 18, 1954 to overthrow the left-leaning government in Guatemala. The coup, code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz Guzman, ended the Guatemalan Revolution and installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas. Armas would be the first in a series of U.S.-backed strongmen to […]




A Russo-American Diplomat: Back in the USSR






Vladimir Toumanoff, a Foreign Service officer for 25 years, had the extraordinary experience of returning as an American diplomat to the country which his parents had fled. The Toumanoffs were members of the Russian nobility who fought in the White army against the Bolsheviks. They left Russia in 1919 and eventually emigrated to the U.S. […]




The “Lavender Scare”: Homosexuals at the State Department






In the 1950s and 60s, security within the U.S. government, including the State Department, was on high alert for internal risks, particularly Communists and what were considered to be sexual deviants—homosexuals and promiscuous individuals. Investigating homosexuality became a core function of the Department’s Office of Security, which ferreted out more people for homosexuality than for […]




Normalizing Ties with Franco: “I don’t have to like the son of a bitch, do I?”






For many people, Spain in the 1930s and 40s was a country of despair, where the dreams of democracy and freedom were brutally crushed during the Spanish Civil War. Its leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, had proclaimed Spain’s neutrality during World War II, yet still provided war materiel and assistance to the Axis Powers. Franco then […]




“The State Department has always been a whipping boy”






Charles “Chip” Bohlen (August 30, 1904 – January 1, 1974) served in the Foreign Service from 1929 to 1969 and succeeded George Kennan as Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1953–1957). He later served as Ambassador to the Philippines (1957–1959), and to France (1962–1968) and was one of the nonpartisan foreign policy advisors known as “The […]




John S. Service – The Man Who “Lost China,” Part I






During the 1950’s hundreds of government employees, entertainers, educators, and union activists were accused of being communists by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Careers were ruined, reputations smeared as people found themselves on black lists and the victims of unjust persecution. In 1950, Senator Millard Tydings (D-MD) headed the Tydings Committee to investigate McCarthy’s claims of Communist penetration of the federal […]




John S. Service – The Man Who “Lost China,” Part II






John Service, the son of missionaries who grew up in China, was one of the Department’s “China hands,” an expert on the region who also served as a key member of the “Dixie Mission,” which met with Mao and other Communist Chinese in Yenan in 1944. He and a few others correctly predicted that Chiang Kai-Shek, […]




The Civil War in China, Part I – The Bureaucratic Fight in Washington






Oftentimes the greatest foreign policy struggles are not with the host government but rather with the government bureaucracy back home. Such was the case with China in the 1940’s in a fight that would define geopolitics for a generation and would ultimately ruin the careers of those diplomats who were on the losing side. After […]




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