Using recently released documents of the Departments of State and War, Professor Davis explains how the views of U.S. officials on postwar peace precluded approval of Soviet efforts to establish a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe through the imposition of Communist regimes. She describes how American officials interpreted Soviet actions as intent to expand into Western Europe and how the subsequent undermining of Allied cooperation around the world led to the Cold War.
Originally published in 1974.
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The study offers a comprehensive chronicle of U.S.-Soviet relations, broadly conceived, from World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It places the origins of the Cold War as related to the contentious issues of World War II and stresses the failure of Washington to understand or seriously seek settlement of those issues. It points out how nuclear weaponry gradually assumed political stature and came to dominate high-level, Soviet-American diplomatic activity, at the same time discounting the notion that the Cold War was a global ideological confrontation for the future of civilization. A concluding chapter draws lessons from the Cold War decades, showing how they apply to dealing with nation-states and terrorist groups today.
So began an exchange of letters that would continue for more than fifty years. Lukacs would go on to become one of America's most distinguished and prolific diplomatic historians, while Kennan, who would retire from public life to begin a new career as Pulitzer Prize-winning author, would become revered as the man whose strategy of containment led to a peaceful end to the Cold War. Their letters, collected here for the first time, capture the writing and thinking of two of the country's most important voices on America's role and place in world affairs. From the division of Europe into East and West after World War II to its unification as the Soviet Union disintegrated, and from the war in Vietnam to the threat of nuclear annihilation and the fate of democracy in America and the world, this book provides an insider's tour of the issues and pivotal events that defined the Cold War.
The correspondence also charts the growth and development of an intellectual and personal friendship that was intense, devoted, and honest. As Kennan later wrote Lukacs in letter, "perceptive, understanding, and constructive criticism is . . . as I see it, in itself a form of creative philosophical thought." It is a belief to which both men subscribed and that they both practiced.
Presented with an introduction by Lukacs, the letters in Through the History of the Cold War reveal new dimensions to Kennan's thinking about America and its future, and illuminate the political—and spiritual—philosophies that the two authors shared as they wrote about a world transformed by war and by the clash of ideologies that defined the twentieth century.
This work demonstrates that while the subsequent unraveling of the Soviet empire was an unintended side effect of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, termination of the Cold War was not. Ronald Reagan deserves full credit for recognizing Gorbachev's sincerity and his determination to change the direction of Soviet policies. For this, Reagan felt the full wrath of anticommunist hawks for doing business with a communist leader. But it was Gorbachev who concluded the superpowers had become mesmerized by ideological myths which ruled out any meaningful discussions of a possible accommodation of political issues for more than four decades. The evidence is compelling that Gorbachev himself broke the Cold War's ideological straight jacket that had paralyzed Moscow and Washington's ability to resolve their differences. Though politically weakened, Gorbachev conceded nothing to U.S. military superiority. Never did he negotiate from a position of weakness. In doing so, the last Soviet leader faced even greater political and physical risk. Without Gorbachev the end of the Cold War could have played out very differently and perhaps with great danger.