Crisis: 1958 VP Nixon In South America

Crisis during Nixon's South America tour. Lots of "Yanqui Go Home!" to go around.

Crisis: 1958 VP Nixon In South America
Crisis during Nixon’s South America tour. Lots of “Yanqui Go Home!” to go around.
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Since we’re rapidly (and thankfully) approaching the end of 2020, the somewhat pained looks back at the year start now. But rather than mull over 2020 here (since everyone else will do a better job anyway), today we’re going to start with the goings-on that shaped 1958.

Oddly, a  year that would be prophetic in a lot of ways.

In 1958 our popularity, at least in South America, was sagging badly, even to the point of a rock-and-bottle melee greeting vice-President Nixon‘s visit to Venezuela that year. From what was slowly transpiring in Cuba, we were losing the popularity contest between Washington and Moscow, or at least it seemed that way.

But South America wasn’t our only bone of contention in 1958. We had Berlin to consider. We had the Middle East to consider, particularly with news of the overthrow of the monarchy in Iraq by military coup and a final breaking of ties with Britain, who acted as protectorate since post-World War 1. No doubt, a harbinger of things to come, only not for a few more decades. At the time it was one more area of concern over Communist influence.

That was the big concern for 1958 – the Cold War popularity contest and speculation that, maybe, just maybe, a shooting war in the offing for the coming year.

The panel, assembled by the legendary Edward R. Murrow, discussed all the places of interest and concern for the year 1958, as part of its yearly wrap-up for CBS Radio called Years In Crisis.

What seems an almost constant is our questionable Foreign Policy – one which has been in dire need of change since the end of World War 1 (over 100 years), and one which has stumbled and fallen over itself repeatedly.

The situations haven’t changed all that much from 1958 – now there is no more Cold War threat from Moscow. Soviet Communists have been replaced by Muslim Fundamentalists – and the same almost identical sets of fears are still there. In 1958 we were terrified by the thought of an all-out Nuclear War. In 2020 we are terrified by an all out Terrorist attack. Wages of fear – different currency.

We are a fearful culture and always have been.

Here is that one hour break-down of the memorable, prophetic and baffling events that partially shaped the world in 1958 as presented by Edward R. Murrow and his panel of reporters for Years In Crisis: 1958, as broadcast on December 29, 1958.

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