Are we witnessing the revival of McCarthyism?

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In particular, the accusations made by Trump allies against the top Ukraine expert on the NSC, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, that he was disloyal to the United States, had me pull my copy of David McCullough’s prizewinning book Truman off the shelf. Because, it is not the first time in American history that knowledge on a topic was exploited as a justification for greater scrutiny, character assassination and ultimately the firing of U.S. officials. In the 1950s, the House on Un-American Activities Committee accused officials at the State Department of being disloyal because they were specialists—in other words, they knew the history, culture or language of the country they monitored.

Unfortunately, the long-term costs to America’s foreign policy were significant, with the purges of the 1950s being directly related to foreign policy mistakes made in the 1960s. What can we learn from this ill-fated time and how can we ensure that we do not see the revival of the tactic of defaming competence?
Original languageEnglish
JournalElsevier Weekblad
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

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