"Today detachment and objectivity seem to me less important than to tell a tale of large conceptions, great achievements, and some failures, the product of enormous will and effort." So wrote Dean Acheson in the preface to his spellbinding memoir of the early Cold War, Present at the Creation.1 With odd power, Acheson's phrases capture something of the drama and the grandeur, the importance and the scope, of the era that we have just lived through. The Cold War is over. The twentieth century is really at an end, ten years before its time.2 And already the ideas, the passions, the fears, the hopes that were so much a part of that century and that engulfed all of us who lived through it are fading from memory.
Today we are embarking on an age seemingly very different from the age we have just left behind. While nuclear dangers certainly remain, the threat of global Armageddon no longer appears to hang so heavily over humanity. The great ideological struggle--the struggle for hearts and minds, for humanity's future--has been played out. The long war between the dictators and the democracies has been waged and largely won, and the dictators seem to be in rout.
The Cold War is over. Why, then, a history of the Cold War now? Not merely to commemorate the past, though it deserves commemoration. Not merely to celebrate a victory, though a celebration may be in order. But to learn what the past has to teach us, and to carry that lesson with us into the uncertain future. That is the purpose of this book.
From the perspective of the liberal democracies, the Cold War in