Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

Synopsis

Did the West "win" the Cold War? Was it a genuine or a contrived conflict? When did it begin? How was its cause related to its end? Has it ended, or has it merely changed? In this volume, contributors assess the combination of socio-political forces and events they attribute to the ending of the Cold War. In diverse theories they challenge the self-serving orthodoxy that claims Western military prowess, economic strength, and ideological superiority produced "the triumph."

Excerpt

David Lange

The world has not been short of seminal events of late. The end of the Cold War (most often symbolized by the fall of the Berlin Wall) has been followed by a variety of Middle Eastern accords and the advent of democracy in South Africa. It is inevitable that each will be analyzed to death. Each should be. For a Westerner or New Zealander of my years, the Cold War and its aftermath, which bodes fair to be a cold peace, is of immediate personal moment.

There was induced in each of us a mind-set which owed more to programmed Pavlovian visceral response than intelligent assessment. Unhappily the populist view of our immediate past is similarly reflexive. The Cold War ended "when capitalism triumphed over communism." "Godless atheistic communism" felt the warm balm of God's grace. The vigor of the West's economies brought the Soviet economy "to its knees."

This publication is a compendium of papers written by scholars who go beyond the trite and who will, in some cases, perplex. The Middle East and South Africa are seen by us as complex. We allow multifactoral explanations to be advanced as to the genesis of the much praised outcomes. But the Cold War is still seen in black-and-white terms.

These scholars introduce illuminating shades of grey. Of particular satisfaction is the acknowledgment in some of the papers of the role of intellectuals, peace groupies, dissenters, writers, and the media in hastening the emancipation of millions, which, to my mind, is the best and most enduring outcome of the collapse of the old order.

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