The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

The Cold War in Retrospect: The Formative Years

Synopsis

An analysis and critical commentary on the general approach of American foreign policy toward Soviet Russia during the formative years of the Cold War. Whitcomb contends that the United States must bear a major share of the responsibility for the endless litany of conflicts, crises, and military confrontations that came to mark our foreign relations after 1945.

Excerpt

The Soviet-American Cold War confrontation was not inevitable. As we move away from the long struggle that marked the relationship between our two countries during the last half of the twentieth century, historians are continuing to reassess the causes, nature, and conduct of that conflict. a crucial factor in this ongoing reassessment is the opening up of the archives of the former Soviet Union, as well as new materials becoming available in the West. Political scientists and historians on both sides have become more nuanced in their interpretations of the policies pursued by the decision-makers in Moscow and Washington. As a result, we are beginning to develop a more sophisticated view of the conflict.

Among other things, these developments are putting into question the long- standing dominant view in the West that the Soviet Union was primarily responsible for the Cold War and that the United States was simply responding to intransigence, if not conspiratorial thinking, in Moscow. It is in this sense that ProfessorWhitcomb, in The Cold War in Retrospect: the Formative Years, makes a valuable contribution to a clearer understanding of the conduct of both Russia's and America's decision-makers during the Second World War and the years immediately thereafter.

Whitcomb is one of a new group of analysts who have begun to synthesize the wealth of material now available on the Cold War, and to generate broadbased generalizations. His analysis of America's historic cultural tradition as an important conditioning factor in its approach to the outside world is especially useful. in particular, he rightly points out that it was that tradition which heavily influenced the development of his country's so-called containment rationale toward the Soviet Union--an approach which he characterizes as misguided, based on a misreading of both Russian intentions and capabilities.

The central thesis of his book is a valid one, namely, that the impasse was a product of mutual antagonisms, originating in misperceptions, misunderstandings and mistrust of one another's motives, in this sense, America was no . . .

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