The Cold War: The Stories of Two Citizens

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Both sides, furthermore, soon began to learn to live, after a fashion, with the nuclear weapon, at least in the sense that they came to recognize that this was a suicidal weapon that must never be used - that any attempt to use it would lead only to a disaster in which all concepts of victory or defeat would become meaningless. And as for the relationship of conventional military forces in Europe: not only did the development of the NATO alliance restore an approximate military balance in the heart of the European continent, but - more important still - it became increasingly clear with the passage of the years that neither side had either the incentive or the desire to unleash even a conventional war, much less a nuclear one, in that region.

One might have thought that in the light of these changes, the highly militarized view of East-West relations that the term ''cold war'' signified might have faded. But military preparations and weapons races are stubborn things. They engender their own patterns of habit and suspicion. These ride along on their own intrinsic vitality even when the original reasons for them have largely faded. So in this sense the cold war lived on in the minds of many people through the 's, and 70's, even after most of the justification for it had faded.

And it was only in the middle of the 's, with the emergence of a Russian leader intelligent enough to recognize that the rationale of the cold war was largely unreal, and bold enough to declare this publicly and to act accordingly, that the world was brought to realize that one epoch -the epoch of recovery from the enormous dislocation of World War II - had passed; and that a new one was beginning - an age that would, to be sure, create new problems, as all great changes in international life are bound to do, but would at the same time also present new possibilities.

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The initial sources of contention between the two governments - the prewar ones, that is -no longer have serious significance. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, has shown every evidence of an intention to see them substantially eliminated. Where do we go from here? The Russia we confront today is in many respects like nothing we have known before. The last vestiges of the unique and nightmarish system of rule known as Stalinism are now disappearing.

What we have before us is in many respects the freest period Russia has ever known, except perhaps for the few years of feverish change that just preceded the outbreak of World War I in But we must be careful when we use this term ''freedom. This it is not doing, could not do, and should not be expected to do. Forms of government and the habits of governments tend over the long run to reflect the understandings and expectations of their peoples. The Russian people, like a number of other peoples of the Soviet Union, have never known democracy as we understand it.

They have experienced next to nothing of the centuries-long development of the discipline of self-government out of which our own political culture has evolved. If you presented them tomorrow with our political system, most of them would not know what to do with it; and what they did do might be far from our expectations. It is clear, then, that whatever happens, and whatever may be the fate of Gorbachev's efforts at the restructuring of Soviet society, Russia is, and is going to remain, a country very different from our own.

The Cold War: Containment

We should not look for this difference to be overcome in any short space of time. Beyond which, Russia, as a great modern country in a unique geographic position, and the heir to extensive involvements flowing from that position, is bound to have political interests quite different from our own. These are, fortunately, for the most part, not ones that conflict seriously with ours.

Such differences as remain are not ones that should preclude a normal relationship, particularly when leadership on the Russian side is in the hands of a man such as Gorbachev. But this disparity does mean that one should not look, over the long term, for quite the same sort of political intimacy with Russian regimes that we might expect from a country that had inherited more of our own legacy of political outlooks and institutions.

All that being said, we are faced with the fact that Gorbachev has given every evidence, for his part, of an intention to remove as many as possible of the factors that have hampered Soviet-American relations in the past; and a number of bold steps he has taken in that direction do testimony to the sincerity of his effort. To the extent he is able to carry these efforts to conclusion and that depends to some extent on the response from our side , they present the most favorable opportunity the United States has had in the last 70 years to develop a normal, constructive and hopeful relationship with the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev's position is obviously an extremely difficult one. The burdens he has assumed are almost superhuman. His efforts at internal economic reform have served, thus far, mainly to reveal that the damages done to Soviet society, economically, socially and spiritually, by 50 years of Stalinist terror and Brezhnevist corruption and stagnation are greater than any of us had supposed.

It is going to take longer than anyone had realized to repair those damages and build a healthy society. Whether Gorbachev will be given the time to do this, no one can say. His difficulties are heightened by the fact that his reforms have had the unintended and unexpected effect of inflaming nationalistic feelings in several of the non-Russian ethnic communities of the Soviet Union, thus rendering acute a political problem - namely the relations of the non-Russian periphery to the Russian center - which many of us had thought was only a problem of the more distant future.

Particularly in the case of the three Baltic countries this has led to a situation of great potential instability; for what goes on in those parts of the Soviet Union interacts with what goes on in the so-called ''satellite'' countries of Eastern and Central Europe, farther afield; and if things get farther out of hand in this entire region, situations could be produced that would appear to threaten not just the political but also the strictly defensive military interests of the Soviet Union, which could have serious consequences.

How long Gorbachev will be able, or permitted by his colleagues, to bear these burdens, no one can say. His position has important elements of strength: his great reputation as a statesman, plus the fact that whoever might succeed to his powers would also have to succeed to his problems, something of which all his opponents must be painfully aware. The pressures, on the other hand, are cruel.

It is equally impossible to make predictions about what, were Gorbachev to be removed, would follow. That conditions could not revert to what they were before he took power is one of the few things on which almost everyone agrees. The intellectuals have been given their head; and it is unthinkable that this generation of them should ever again be bottled up as they were before.

Not only that, but the Gorbachev economic reforms, unproductive as they may have been to date, have been formally accepted by the highest bodies of party and government; and this stamp of approval is not apt to be withdrawn until and unless someone can come up with a better alternative, which no one, as yet, has shown any sign of doing. One must suppose, therefore, that whoever might replace Gorbachev would have to follow extensively in his footsteps, though possibly at a slower speed and without his boldness of leadership. View all New York Times newsletters.

Particularly is this true in the field of foreign policy, which should be of greatest interest to us. Within Russia, this has been the least controversial of Gorbachev's fields of activity. Hard-liners, military and civilian, might like to retract, if they could, some of the more conciliatory steps he has taken in the area of arms control; but they would soon find that they faced the same financial stringencies he has been attempting to master, and they would presumably have little room, here too, to maneuver.

One must suppose, therefore, that a good portion of what Gorbachev represents would survive him, even if he were to be removed at an early date. Meanwhile, to our good fortune, he hangs on, suspended precariously in midair, to be sure, supported mainly by his incomparable qualities of insight, imagination and courage, and by the relative mediocrity and intellectual poverty of most of his opponents. TO THE POLICY makers of a new administration, the Russian scene of this particular moment presents, then, a series of tremendous uncertainties - uncertainties greater than Russia has ever known since the fateful year of If one were to be asked, What is it that is most likely to happen in the coming period, one could say only -the unexpected.


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These uncertainties are unquestionably reasons for great alertness, caution and prudence in American policy toward that country. They are not, however, reasons for neglecting the opportunities offered by Gorbachev's policies for the easing of military tensions and for improving the atmosphere of East-West relations generally. If realistic and solid agreements are made now, while the iron is hot; if these agreements, as is to be expected, are seen in Moscow as being in Soviet interest; if they are, as they should be, inherently self-enforcing; if, as is to be expected, they are sealed in formal undertakings - then they are not apt to be undone simply by changes in the Soviet leadership.

What could we, from our side, do to promote the normalization of this relationship and to shape its future in a manner commensurate with its positive possibilities? It would seem obvious, to this writer at least, that our first concern should be to remove, insofar as it lies within our power to do so, those features of American policy and practice that have their origins and their continuing rationale in outdated cold war assumptions and lack serious current justification.

To some extent, this has already been done. Cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts are proceeding briskly, no longer seriously impeded from either side. The same may be said of scholarly exchanges. In all these areas, the initiative has normally and properly to come from private parties. While focusing on official decisions about architecture, Cold War on the Home Front skillfully juxtaposes the two sides of the international conflict over Berlin, bringing the conflict alive and capturing the fullness of its meaning.

Vice President Richard Nixon squared off on the merits of their respective economic systems. One of the signature events of the cold war, the impromptu Kitchen Debate has been widely viewed as the opening skirmish in a propaganda war over which superpower could provide a better standard of living for its citizens. However, as Greg Castillo shows in Cold War on the Home Front , this debate and the American National Exhibition itself were, in fact, the culmination of a decade-long ideological battle fought with refrigerators, televisions, living room suites, and prefab homes.

Beginning in , the U. State Department sponsored home expositions in West Berlin that were specifically designed to attract residents of East Berlin, featuring dream homes with modernist furnishings that presented an idealized vision of the lifestyle enjoyed by the consumer-citizen in the West. In response, Party authorities in East Germany staged socialist home expositions intended to evoke the domestic ideal of a cultured proletariat. Using a mosaic of sources ranging from recently declassified government documents to homemaking journals and popular fiction, Cold War on the Home Front contributes an engaging new perspective on midcentury modernist style and its political uses at the dawn of the cold war.

Cold War on the Home Front makes a significant contribution, both in terms of archival evidence and of the sophistication of his argument, to an evolving literature on culture, consumerism, and the Cold War. This book is richly informative. Foreign Policy. The book is extensively researched, including an incredibly thorough and thoughtful review of existing literature—both scholarly and popular. So here they are, some of the best Russian books I suggest you read first. Mark Von Hagen still considers it the best book in any. Turkey: A Modern History by Zurcher.

And sometimes, one of the best ways to understand history books is to read through reviews. Whether youre new to the subject or are looking for more detail on an era or topic, here are nine books to get your Japanese history on. Click on the image to the right to launch our guide. Read more here. This handbook is currently in development, with individual articles publishing online in advance of print publication.

So, I thought Id come up with a list of the best 10 history books over the last 10 years. Jul 10, This is a list of the greatest Russian history books.

Cold War History

Translation and the Making of Modern Russian Literature of micro-narratives, Brian Baer exposes the flash points of modern Russian literary history. Massie, Catherine the Great: The Romanovs: Autocrats of All the Russias Paperback Jun 8, You could fill a lifetime reading incredible books by Russian authors, will give you a good foundation to learning about Russia and its history.

Dec 4, Here are some of the best books from Russia. Whether history is a passionate interest, or your field of study, our low prices will open up any field to you whether youre interested in the last decade of the last millennium. Russian literature isnt just about the classics, theres lots of wonderful modern books too!

Top 10 books on Vladimir Putins Russia I used fiction to depict the catastrophe that the president has inflicted on Russia, but these terrifying stories about him include much nonfiction. Jul 17, Mr. It manages its events in a clear way, and connects the important events to the overall history of the middle east.

Whether or not you consider yourself a fan of historical fiction, youve heard the names Hilary Mantel, Eleanor Catton, Anthony Doerr and Kristin Hannah repeatedly over recent years. Boris Akunin, is one of Russias most widely read contemporary authors—might think The books are delightful romps through a stylized late nineteenth.

Cold War: Summary, Combatants & Timeline - HISTORY

Stalin, Gorbachev, and Communism, among others. Yeltsin championed the cause for national reconstruction and the adoption of a Union Treaty with the other republics to create a free-market economic association. For general history books, check out a previous post here. Modern Historians on British History A Critical Bibliography , annotated guide to history books on every major topic, plus book reviews and major scholarly articles. The Last of the Tsars by Zakhar Prilepin is commonly seen as one of the most important authors in modern day Russia.

Dec 14, Russian culture has a long and rich history, steeped in literature, ballet, painting and classical music. He nevertheless took advantage of the Russian Revolution and won admission to Instead, as the journalist Jasper Becker has described in the book Hungry practice of studying fruit flies, the workhorse of modern genetics. Sputnik covers. The most important books in shaping my thinking. Join to access our best book recommendations. Elton, G. Part of The Short Oxford History of the Modern World, Bonneys fresh and eloquent text contains narrative and thematic sections which include political, economic, religious and social discussion.

Thompson, nearly all the greats are covered and theres definitely something here for everyone. On the 50th anniversary, it was seen as the event that created the modern world;. The young man and his friends are from a generation stuck between two eras, the Communist past and present society. The Arabs: A History is long on modern present political history and short on cultural intimacies or philosophical insights.

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