Conflict and Compromise: International Law and World Order in a Revolutionary Age

By Edward McWhinney | Go to book overview

Foreword

From Cold War, to Détente, to Dissonance and
Pluralism

The roots of the present study go back to a group of seven public lectures given over the nation-wide radio network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1966-67, and published in monograph form under the title International Law and World Revolution. The immediate political context of those lectures was the imminent end of the cold war era with the successful inauguration of the de-Stalinization programme within the Soviet Union and the opening up of direct, bilateral negotiation and exchange between the two great political-military blocs — Soviet and Western — that had dominated international relations since the conclusion of military operations in Europe in May 1945. Détente (although the term was, at that time, being used only by the ever-prescient President de Gaulle of France) was being achieved in a series of concrete measures between the two bloc leaders, the Soviet Union and the United States, using essentially pragmatic, empirical, step-by-step methods that were related, at all times, to mutuality of interests or reciprocal give-and-take between the two sides. The progressive unfolding of détente was obscured, for some commentators and political leaders, by the noisy, frequently polemical debate between the Soviet Union and the United States over what Soviet jurists called the international law of peaceful coexistence, and what some Western jurists viewed as a Trojan horse designed to lull the West into a false sense of security while Soviet leaders proceeded, quietly, to plan world domination.

Looking back on that earlier era of transition from cold war to détente, with all the advantages of retrospective wisdom, it is difficult not to be amused by the remnants of cold war rhetoric that one finds in some of the scientific-legal analysis and crit

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