Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War

Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War

Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War

Winning the World: Lessons for America's Future from the Cold War

Synopsis

At the dawn of the 21st century, it should be evident that the Cold War of 1945-1991 was but the first of its kind. Nichols urges the reader to consider previous resolutions before another such conflict arises. He asserts that the Cold War was essentially a clash of ideologies tempered by the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Victory for the West came quietly, without the final and utterly destructive war often envisioned.

Excerpt

International relations is a thoroughly humanistic subject. All its actors are human beings, or they are institutions and organizations built and controlled by human intention and maintained by daily decision-making. Individual states, which emerged as the most powerful and decisive actors on the world stage over the past 350 years, are not reified constructs with an independent will or social reality beyond human ken or volition. Properly regarded, they are wholly human constructs. All states are designed for and are bent to the realization of goals and aspirations of human communities. That is true whether those ambitions are good or evil, spiritual or material, personal or dynastic, or represent ethnic, national, or emerging cosmopolitan identities. So, too, is the international society of states a human construct, replete with its tangled labyrinth of international organizations, an expansive system of international law which creates binding obligations across frontiers, ancient norms of diplomacy and ritualized protocol, webs of economic, social, and cultural interaction, and a venerable penchant for disorder, discord, and war.

Immanuel Kant observed with acute accuracy: “Out of the crooked timber of Humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” The endless drama of human affairs thus gives rise to motley events, decisions, and complex causal chains. At the international level, too, we encounter the foibles of human beings as individuals and in the aggregate and come upon a mix of the rational and irrational in human motivation. All that makes formal “modeling” of international politics a virtual impossibil-

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