Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation

Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation

Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation

Re-Viewing the Cold War: Domestic Factors and Foreign Policy in the East-West Confrontation

Synopsis

A cooperative effort by a number of historians and political scientists, this essay collection focuses on the important connection between domestic affairs and foreign relations during the Cold War. The case studies treat phases of both the Soviet and American experiences and involve contributions by two Russian scholars, three Americans, a German, a Swede, and an Israeli.

Excerpt

Georgi Arbatov

The necessary research, writing, and editing have finally been completed, and we have before us an impressive volume, which I, before writing this foreword, have read carefully. And, in truth, I have read it with great interest. I hope this interest is shared by a broad audience of readers after the publication of the book.

Still, my task, as I understand it, is not to evaluate the quality of the work done by this group of distinguished American, Russian, West European, and Israeli scholars, nor to introduce the readers to the process and results of their investigations. My challenge, I think, is rather to discuss the "grand design" of the study and the importance of its topic, as well as to highlight its main dimensions. In addition, I should offer a point of view on how the major events described in the book can be evaluated today, given our present knowledge and experience. I am not sure I can accomplish all of this, but I shall do my best. To begin with, I would like to say a little about the phenomenon of the Cold War itself and, in particular, to address the question of whether we should consider it to have been a more or less usual state of international relations or an aberration, a deviation from whatever can be defined as normal in our far-from-perfect world.

Violence and war are ancient institutions, actually inherited from the period prior to recorded history. The famous British philosopher Thomas Hobbes described the most primitive stage of human society as a war of all against all. Of course, he had in mind primarily the internal state of affairs in each society, not interrelationships among them. He was suggesting that domestic chaos played a large role in the birth of law and legal institutions, of the governments and codes of behavior that made possible the preservation of societies. Very rarely was the result . . .

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