This issue begins with an article by Pierre Asselin discussing the seizure of power in Vietnam by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) in August–September 1945, as the Second World War was drawing to a close. The ICP's bid to gain control under Ho Chi Minh in the so-called August Revolution proved to be far more precarious than many scholars have suggested up to now. The ICP, a product of the Soviet-dominated Communist International, sought to consolidate its ruling position through the use of extreme violence and repression. The harsh methods adopted by the ICP antagonized many in Vietnam, sparking widespread resistance and opposition that escalated into civil war and territorial divides. The ICP also had many external challenges to cope with, notably the occupation by forces from Nationalist China and the continued pressure from France. Ho's declaration of independence on 2 September 1945 therefore turned out to be mostly aspirational. Thirty years of murderous political infighting, domestic repression, civil war, and interstate war were required for the August Revolution leaders’ declaration of independence to become a reality.
The next article, by Sławomir Łukasiewicz, examines the impact of the Cold War on exiled political parties set up by Polish émigrés. These parties were united in their opposition to the Communist regime in their homeland and to Soviet domination of Poland, but they differed in almost all other respects, including the programs they advocated, their strategies for seeking influence with the Polish diaspora, their relations with government officials in their host countries, and the extent to which they wanted to play a role in Cold War politics. Łukasiewicz draws on political science literature to devise a framework for understanding the informal party system that took shape around the exiled political parties. He finds that although the émigré parties performed many of the functions of genuine political parties in a democratic system, their activities did not necessarily allow them to adapt to Poland's newly democratic polity after 1989. As a result, they did not outlive the Cold War and were instead either disbanded or absorbed by new political parties that took root in the 1990s.
The next article, by Jennifer Frost, analyzes U.S. foreign policy and international film festivals during the Cold War. With the proliferation of international film festivals after World War II and the competitive nature of many of them, they often became forums for Cold War rivalries and cultural diplomacy. Frost looks in particular at the U.S. approach to the festivals held in Moscow and in the Czechoslovak spa resort Karlovy Vary in the 1950s and 1960s. She examines how the U.S. government and the U.S. film industry in Hollywood approached the film festivals in these two Communist countries, knowing all the pitfalls of operating behind the Iron Curtain. Frost takes account of the impact of exogenous events and issues (the U.S. civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis, leadership changes in the Soviet bloc, etc.) and shows how the activities of U.S. government officials and U.S. film personnel were at times interchangeable. U.S. diplomats would publicize and promote U.S. entries in the film festivals, and U.S. film producers and actors and actresses (especially stars) would improve the image of the United States abroad.
The next article, by Brad Williams, an expert on foreign intelligence agencies in East Asia and the Pacific, explores the origins and history of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence consortium, which encompassed intelligence services from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand from the mid-1950s through the end of the Cold War (and beyond). Williams draws on realist and constructivist theories in the field of International Relations to explain why the organization came to include these five countries and only these five countries. Realist explanations focusing on power and threat are useful in understanding why a grouping of intelligence and security agencies came into being amid Cold War pressures, but the specific makeup of the Five Eyes (with five countries of Anglo-Saxon culture) requires the use of constructivist notions of identity. Identity alone, however, is insufficient; it needs to be supplemented by the extent of each member's opposition to Communism and the Soviet threat. Only when the U.S. government felt confident about a country's ability to contribute significantly to the ability of Five Eyes to overcome threats posed by the Soviet Union, the PRC, and other Communist states did that country become (or remain) a member in good standing.
The next article, by Jonathan Marshall, draws on important declassified archival materials and memoirs from the United States and Italy to examine a perilous moment in the post-1945 history of Italy, a close U.S. ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In December 1970, far-right activists from the Italian military and security forces prepared to launch a military coup to counter leftwing parties in Italy and keep the Italian Socialist Party from forming a coalition government with the Italian Communist Party. Although many in Italy at the time believed that the U.S. government was behind the coup preparations, Marshall finds that this was not the case. However, as he shows, two private individuals who worked in senior capacities for the U.S. Republican Party did have ties to the coup plotters, much to the dismay of U.S. diplomats when they learned about the maneuvering behind their backs. This episode underscores the dangers that can arise when private individuals get involved in supporting extremists—whether of the far right or the far left—in allied countries and giving them the erroneous impression that the U.S. government will help them.
The final article, by Felipe Loureiro, reassesses the U.S.-sponsored Alliance for Progress (AfP), which was set up in the early 1960s to promote economic development and social welfare in Latin America in order to curb the appeal of far-left insurgents supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Not surprisingly, the Cold War context shaped how U.S. foreign policymakers implemented the AfP. After a far-left president, João Goulart, came to power in the largest and most important Latin American country, Brazil, in September 1961, U.S. officials tailored AfP lending to Brazil to give preference to Brazilian states headed by Goulart's opponents. Loureiro presents data gleaned from archival materials and public records to underscore how clear the U.S. preference was. Although there was nothing sinister about U.S. motives, there is little doubt that the lending policies helped to destabilize Goulart's government. The Brazilian president also made many egregious mistakes on his own, culminating in his overthrow in a military coup in April 1964. The pattern of U.S. lending to Brazil helps to explain why the initial high expectations for the AfP were never fulfilled.
The issue ends with twelve book reviews.