On Moral Equivalency and Cold War History [Abstract]

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Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 10 (1996)

December 4, 1996

Enola Gay in storage at the Smithsonian via Wikipedia

What is the relationship of morality to the writing of Cold War history—or any history?

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The controversies over the "National History Standards" and the Smithsonian's abortive effort to mount a fiftieth anniversary exhibit on the decision to drop the atomic bomb, along with insights drawn from the opening of former Soviet and Eastern European archives, highlight the "moral equivalency" debate being waged over the writing and teaching of Cold War history. Gaddis suggests the need for historians to rethink some of their academic approaches to this subject, using a moral as opposed to a materialist framework.

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