What is the irony beind the title "Actors" of Chapter 6 of The Cold War: A New History by John Gaddis?

krcavnar | Student

Gaddis uses the term "Actors" to describe the personalities involved in the Cold War and its inevitable end.  Only personalities with the ability to dramatize the situation would be powerful enough to end the stalemate.  Gaddis writes:

"..real power rested, during the final decade fo the Cold War, with leaders like John Paul II, whose mastery of...courage, eloquence, imagination, determination and faith - allowed them to expose disparities between what people believed and the system under which the Cold War had obliged them to live....Accomplishing this required actors. Only their dramatizations could remove the mental blinders, ...that had led so many people to conclude that the Cold War would last indefinitely."

Gaddis also indicates these personalities, Reagan, Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and Gorbachev were successful due to their "abilities to inspire audiences."

The irony is that both the Pope and President Reagan had actually been actors.  Pope John Paul II studied theater and poetry at Jagiellonian University in 1938 until it was closed by the Nazis in 1938. Ronald Reagan had been an actor prior to becoming governor of California, then President of the United States in 1980.  Reagan made over 53 movies prior to his career in politics. Gaddis claims that it was this dramatic ability of the personalities that helped people see the reality of the communist system and its failings.