Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore's antipathy toward Cold War sentiments

During the 1940s and 1950s, the international political climate changed dramatically as the World War II Allied Coalition disintegrated. Gore reflects on his changing opinion of the developing Cold War as he first evolved from skepticism to support and then began doubting its necessity again.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I can't resist, Senator, before we leave the House and your service in the House, asking you (particularly because of your later identification with a position critical of American foreign policy in the 1960s) about your position in the late forties and the early fifties on the cold war and the way the United States was conducting the cold war generally. We talked about your support of intervention in Korea. In reflecting back to these early years, and especially, as I say, in view of your later involvement in crucial debate involving Viet nam and American foreign policy, could you say anything about your attitudes and thinking on the conduct of the cold war in this early period?
I think I experienced some contradictions. I certainly experienced some trauma of decision. If I had the history very fresh in mind I'm sure I could elucidate more meaningfully. But maybe I can cite one or two instances. In the first place, I think the question inevitably leads to what appeared to some to be a contradiction in my support of the intervention of the war in South Korea and in South Vietnam. But before I come to that, let me say that I doubted that the cold war was necessary at the time it began. You remember it was the great Winston Churchill who came to some college in Missouri and made a speech that was literally heard around the world which initiated the cold war. It declared an end to the Allied cooperation, that is the cooperation between Russia on the one hand and the Western powers on the other. I did not find myself at the time agreeable to the breakup of the Allied coalition. I later came to believe that I was in gross error in that attitude. If you look back at it now you still wonder which was right, and a hundred years from now there may be still a different view. Whatever the causes (there were many, including the onrush of the cold war, the action of the Soviets in subjugating and fixing their hegemony over Eastern Europe, the threat to democratic regimes in France and Italy and Greece and Turkey and Belgium), I became convinced by these subsequent events that we had to take a firm and effective position in the cold war. Now to what extent these things could have been avoided or mitigated without the Fulton, Missouri-wasn't it Fulton, Missouri?
Fulton, Missouri: Westminster College.
. . . without this speech and all of the political movements that followed I don't know. That's just something that historians must later try to determine. But whether it was by original design or whether in response to the Fulton speech by Churchill and the United States' actions following that I do not know. But whatever it was, the action of the Soviets, some of which I've outlined, led me to be a strong partisan of the cold war. And I supported the Marshall Plan; I supported aid to Greece and Turkey; I supported U.S. rearmament. I was a strong advocate of the cold war actions. I don't recall now one instance in which I faltered until, at the time John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State, I began to doubt very much and I began to question even more the probity and the wisdom of the network of alliance that he began to make all around the world, particularly in Southeast Asia and in the Mediterranean area. I began to wonder about this, and I began publicly to question it. I cannot give you the details. I remember referring at one time to one of the Asiatic pacts as being about as strong as a label on a piece of canned goods. Maybe that wasn't exactly how I said it, but I doubted the strength and the dependability of the alliances that the United States was making with small countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand and Indonesia and Cambodia.