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BERNATH LECTURE
TheNewInternational History of the
ColdWar:
Three(Possible) Paradigms*
TheCold War isnot what it oncewas. Not only hastheconict itself been
writtenaboutinthepasttenseformorethanadecade,buthistorianscertainties
about the character of the conict have also begun to blur. The concerns
broughtonbytrendsof thepastdecade suchtriesasglobalization,weapons
proliferation, andethnicwarfare havemade evenold strategy busquestion
thedegreetowhichtheColdWar ought tobeput at thecenter of thehistory
of thelatetwentiethcentury.InthisarticleI will trytoshowhowsomepeople
withinour eldareattemptingto meet suchqueriesbyreconceptualizingthe
ColdWar aspart of contemporaryinternational history. Myemphasiswill be
onissuesconnectingtheColdWar denedasapolitical conictbetweentwo
power blocs andsomeareasof investigationthat inmy opinionholdmuch
promisefor reformulatingour viewsof that conict, blithely summed up as
ideology, technology, andtheThirdWorld.
i
I have called this lecture Three (Possible) Paradigms not just to avoid
makingtoopresumptuousanimpressionontheaudiencebut alsotoindicate
that my use of the termparadigm is slightly dierent fromthe one most
peoplehavetaken over from ThomasKuhnsworkon scientic revolutions. In
thehistory of science, aparadigmhascometomeanacomprehensiveexpla-
nation, akindof scienticlevelthat sustainsexistingtheoryuntil overtaken
by anewand dierent paradigm. In thehistory of humansocieties, I would
venture, thetermparadigmmust takeonaslightlydierent meaning, closer,
in fact, to howthetermwasgenerally used beforeKuhnswork in theearly
i,cos.Forour purpose,I wanttolookatparadigmsaspatternsof interpretation,
which may possibly exist side by side, but which each signify a particular
Dirroa+ic His+or\, Vol. z,, No. , (Fall zooo). zooo TheSocietyfor Historiansof American
ForeignRelations(SHAFR). PublishedbyBlackwell Publishers, ,o MainStreet, Malden, MA,
ozi,, USAandio CowleyRoad, Oxford, OX, iJF, UK.
,,i
*Stuart L. BernathMemorial Lecturedeliveredat St. Louis, i April zooo. A draft versionof
thislecturewaspresentedtoafacultyseminar at theLondonSchool of Economicson, March
zooo. Theauthor wishestothank hisLSE colleagues(especially MacGregor Knox) andDavid
Reynoldsof CambridgeUniversityfor their helpful comments(whileabsolvingthemfromany
responsibilityfor thelectures contents).
i. For moreonhowColdWar studiesisdevelopingasaeldof inquiryseeOddArneWestad,
ed., ReviewingtheCold War:Approaches, Interpretations, Theory(London, zooo).
approach anangleof view, if I may tothecomplexproblemsof ColdWar
history.
z
Thisis, of course, alsotoindicategenuinedoubtastowhether comprehen-
siveandmutually exclusiveinterpretations of theColdWar asa phenomenon
arepossible today. It seems to methat both our general approaches to how
history isstudiedandtheemergenceof massivenewbodiesof evidencelead
in the direction of analytical diversity and away fromtheconcentration on
so-called schools of interpretation. If onelooks at theway theCold War is
taught at my school, one nds a multitude of approaches: as U.S. political
history, ashistoryof theSoviet Union, ashistoryof ThirdWorldrevolutions,
as historyof Europeanintegration, as history of gender relations, ashistory of
economicglobalizationjusttomentionafew.Fewof ourcolleaguestwenty-ve
yearsagowouldhaveforeseenhowtheeldhasopenedupandspreadoutway
beyond diplomatic history. Our task now, it seems to me, is to nd ways to
describe, inlookingat thislongaxisof analysis, pointsthat seemparticularly
promisingforfurtherscholarlyinquiry,basedonacombinationof workalready
undertakenandthe availabilityof sources.
I have chosentodiscussthreesuchpossibleparadigms in thisarticle. They
aretheonesthatseemtomebestsuitedforrapidadvancesinourunderstanding
of theCold War asaperiod or asan international system, and not just asa
bilateral conict or asdiplomatichistory.
irroroc\
Perhapsthemostuseful andcertainlythemostmisused of theparadigms
I will beaddressinghereisthatof ideology,understoodasasetof fundamental
conceptssystematically expressedbyalarge groupof individuals. Integrating
the study of such fundamental concepts into our approach to international
history holds tremendous promiseasamethod within aeld that has often
ignoredideasasthebasisfor humanaction. Usedinwaysthat aresensitiveto
historical evidence and consistent in their application, the introduction of
ideologyasapartof our understandingof motivesandbroadpatternsof action
helpsusovercometwo of themainproblemsthat international historiansof
theColdWaroftenface.Oneisthatweareseentobebetteratexplainingsingle
eventsthanweareat analyzingcausesandconsequencesof larger historical
shifts.Theother isthatweare rightly,I believe oftenseenasusinganarrow
concept of causality, mostly connectedtointerests or statepolicies.

Let meuseanexample. WhenPresident JohnF. Kennedy met withFirst


Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) Nikita
z. Thomas J. Kuhn, TheStructureof ScienticRevolutions(Chicago, i,,c). Richard Evans, In
Defenseof History, rev. ed. (New York, i,,,) has a useful discussion of the role of alternative
paradigmsinhistorical research.
. For adiscussion of operational denitionsof ideologyseeDouglasJ.MacDonald, Formal
IdeologiesintheColdWar:TowardaFrameworkforEmpirical Analysis,inWestad,ed.,Reviewing
theCold War.
,,z : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
KhrushchevinVienna inJunei,ci, both leaders brought withthembriefs and
positionpapersthatunderlinedtheneedtoseekcommongroundonanumber
of issues, including the threat of nuclear war. Still, their public and private
encountersweremarkedbysharpconfrontationandthesummititself probably
contributedtotheincreasedtensionthat followed, culminatingintheCuban
missilecrisisthefollowingyear. Obviously, thepoliciesthat thetwo leaders
pursuedonmost issuesprior totheir meetingwereinconict.Equallyclearly,
thepersonalitiesof KennedyandKhrushchevwere,toputitmildly,disharmo-
nious. But inorder tounderstandtheoutcomeof thesummit, I ndthat each
mansbasic ideological perception hispreconceivedimageof hisown role
andthat of theother leader isaninvaluabletool that canonlybediscarded
at our peril.
,
For Khrushchev, it wasnot primarily Kennedysyouthandrelative inexpe-
riencethatmadeitnecessarytogoontheoensiveoverCubaandBerlinduring
thesummit, or tolectureJFK oncommunism. It was, asthosewhocamewith
KhrushchevtoViennaexplain, becausetheSoviet leader wasconvincedthat
hissociety andpolitical thinkingwereinascendance, andthat Kennedy, asa
classrepresentativeof theU.S. monopolists,couldbebrought torecognize
this historical necessity. For John Kennedy, it was exactly this ideological
challengethatmatteredmost, sinceheperceivedhisownroleasU.S.president
as assuring the survival and success of liberty on aglobal scale. With the
passingof thetorchtoanewgeneration, Kennedymorethananythingmeant
amorevigorousanddeterminedpursuit of U.S. ideological hegemony inthe
world.
,
WhiletheViennaexampleshowshowideologiescanbeusedtounderstand
bothconcretehistorical eventsandlong-termtrends,itisimportant,asDouglas
MacDonaldhasshown,thatouruseof theconceptdoesnotbecomedeterminist
or one-sided. Onedanger isassociatedwiththeoverrelianceonideologiesas
a kind of theoretical catchall such as has happened in the case of some
GramscianMarxists or thereplacement of thehistorical narrativewiththe
study of ideas per se. In other cases, ideology has been reduced to formal
concepts, suchasoften happened in ColdWar eraU.S. studiesof theSoviet
Union,inwhichMarxism-Leninism(meaningtheMarxistcoda)keptoutmore
compositeandcomplex viewsof Soviet ideology. Finally, thereisalwaysthe
,. OnpersonalitiesandissuesattheKennedy-KhrushchevsummitseeMichael R.Beschloss,
TheCrisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, :,vo:,v, (New York, i,,i); Aleksandr Fursenko and
Timothy Naftali, OneHell of Gamble:Khrushchev, Castro, andKennedy, :,y::,v, (NewYork, i,,;);
LawrenceFreedman, KennedysWars:Berlin, Cuba, Laos, andVietnam(NewYork, zooo); andSergei
N.Khrushchev,NikitaKhrushchevandtheCreationof aSuperpower,trans.ShirleyBenson(University
Park, PA, zooo).
,. For KhrushchevseeOlegTroianovskii,Cherezgodyi rasstoianiia:istoriiaodnoi semi [Across
timeandspace: Onefamilyshistory] (Moscow, i,,;); andOlegGrinevskii, Tysiachai odinden
NikitySergeevicha[NikitaSergeevichsthousandandonedays] (Moscow, i,,);for Kennedysee
ThomasC.Reeves, AQuestionof Character:ALifeof J ohnF.Kennedy(London, i,,z); or Freedman,
Kennedys Wars, chaps. i and z. Kennedy quote from inaugural address, zo January i,ci, at
http:/ / www.hpol.org/ jfk/ .
Three (Possible) Paradigms : ,,
danger of makingtheother sideideological andonesownsideonly too
logical or interest driven. I see this asoneof themainpost-ColdWar fallacies
of U.S.international historians whilewehavegraduallybecomecomfortable
withmakingideologyanintegral part of thestudy of Soviet foreignrelations,
many people in the eld nd it much more dicult to deal with U.S. elite
ideologyasameaningful concept.
c
AsMichael Hunt haspointedout, thelatter omissionisparticularlyimpor-
tanttorectifyif ideologyistobeusedasameaningful interpretivetool.I would
claimthatduringmuchof theColdWar,theideologyof theU.S.foreignpolicy
elitewasmorepervasivein termsof decision makingthan wasthat of Soviet
partyleaders.Inthecasesthatreallymattered theMarshall Plan,thesupport
for Europeanintegration, U.S. occupationpolicyinJapan it wasaset of key
U.S.ideascentered onaspecicU.S. responsibilityfor theglobal expansion of
freedomthat made the dierence. Theseideas, whichemphasizedfreedomof
expression, freedomof ownership, and freedomof capitalist exchanges and
negatedfreedomof collectiveorganization, precapitalist values,or revolution-
aryaction,wereessential elementsintheU.S.transformationof theworldafter
i,,,, andinWashingtonsunwillingnesstoengagetheSoviet Unioninthegive
andtake of pre-WorldWar II diplomaticpractice.
;
As will be clear fromthe above, I to some extent go along with Anders
Stephansonscontention that theCold War may protably beseen asaU.S.
ideological project, although I would go much further than Stephanson in
giving autonomy to other actors my point is that it was to agreat extent
AmericanideasandtheirinuencethatmadetheSoviet-Americanconictinto
aColdWar.WhileSoviet foreignpolicywasnolessfueledbyitskeyideasor its
understandingof whatmadetheworldtick,thecrucial dierenceisthatatmost
timesSovietleaderswereacutelyawareof theirlackof international hegemony
and the weakness (relative to the United States and its allies) of Soviet or
Communist power.FromtheYaltasummit totheMaltasummittheytherefore
most oftenthought that they wouldhavetosatisfy themselves short term, as
theysawit withwhat theycouldget fromthestandardGreat Power mixof
negotiations, cajoling, andlimitedmilitary action. OntheU.S. side, although
thegeneral public havebeenquiteregularly visitedby elementsof paranoia
withregard tothe outsideworld, what reallyneedsexplanationistheremark-
ableconsistencywithwhichtheU.S.foreignpolicyelitehasdenedthenations
international purposeover thepastthreetofour generations.Thatpurposehas
beentheglobal dominationof itsideas andalthoughmilitarydominationhas
c. MacDonald, Formal Ideologies.SeealsoWestad, Secrets of theSecondWorld: Russian
ArchivesandtheReinterpretationof ColdWar History,DiplomaticHistoryzi (Springi,,;):z,,;z.
JohnLewisGaddissummarizestheargumentsfor whyMarxism-LeninismmatteredinWeNow
Know:RethinkingCold War History(NewYork, i,,;).
;. Michael H. Hunt, IdeologyandAmericanForeignPolicy(NewHaven, i,;). AsI havepointed
out earlier, thestudyof U.S. foreignpolicyideologyisinitself auseful wayof transcendingthe
orthodox denitionsof historiographical schools. SeeWestad, Introduction, inWestad, ed.,
ReviewingtheCold War.
,,, : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
not always been recognized as a necessary companion to this ideological
hegemony, it has still been an aimthat U.S. leaders have been willing to
interveneto accomplishfromWorldWar I to theKosovo conict.

For most of theCold War themajority of Americans did not sharetheir


leaders willingnesstospendtheir resourcesonextendingU.S. ideasabroad.
Without help fromStalin andthe generationof Soviet leaders he created, it is
uncertain whether theTruman and Eisenhower administrationswould have
beenabletokeepastrongU.S. involvement inEurope, theMiddleEast, and
East Asia. Stalinbelievedthat byisolatingtheSoviet Unionandthecountries
it hadoccupiedafter thewar, hecouldpreservetheCommunist dictatorship
andbuildalong-termchallengetoU.S.domination.Haditnotbeenfor Stalins
inexibility andhisinsistencethat hiszone wasextraneoustoany formof
U.S.inuence,itwouldhavebeenmuchmoredicultfortheU.S.foreignpolicy
elitestogetatleastlimitedacceptanceamongthegeneral publicfor substantial
andlong-termforeigninvolvements.
,
What then about thecountriesthat joinedwiththeUnitedStatesinwaging
ColdWar against communism rst andforemost WesternEuropeandJapan?
The West European elites that issued the invitations to empire that Geir
Lundestadhasemphasizedseemto havedonesobothout of fear of Stalins
intentions and becauseof theattractiveness of U.S. assistancein sortingout
their own domestic problems. What ismuchmoreimportant tounderstand,
though, ishowtheU.S. responsetotheinvitationscametobeshaped not
asarescueoperationfor besieged(andtoagreat extent discredited) political
leadershipsbut as conscious andcomprehensiveattemptsat changingEurope
(andJapan) inthe directionof U.S. ideas andmodels.
io
Tome,itistheexibilityof U.S.policiesandthenegotiabilityof theideology
theywerebasedonthat explainboththeuniquelysuccessful alliancesystems
thattheUnitedStatesestablishedwithWesternEuropeandJapanandtherapid
political, social, and economic transformation that these countries went
through.This,perhaps,wasthereal revolutionof theColdWar:thattheUnited
Statesover aperiodof fty yearstransformeditsmaincapitalist competitors
accordingtoitsownimage. Thisdidnot, of course, happenwithout conict.
But mostly and in great part because of the Cold War perceptions of an
external threat it wasapeaceful transformation. Itspeacefulness, however,
. AndersStephanson,FourteenNotesontheVeryConceptof theColdWar,http:/ / mail.h-
net.msu.edu/ ~diplo/ stephanson.html. This is of coursenot denyingthat ideologywas crucial to
Soviet foreignpolicy mypoint here isabout capabilities,not intentions.For an attempt at dening
thekeyideological themesinU.S.foreignpolicyhistoryseeDavidRyan, USForeignPolicyinWorld
History(London, zooo).
,. For StalinsintentionsseeVojtechMastny,TheColdWar andSovietInsecurity:TheStalinYears
(NewYork, i,,c); andVladislavZubok andConstantinePleshakov, InsidetheKremlinsColdWar:
FromStalintoKhrushchev (Cambridge, MA, i,,c). For U.S. perceptions seeMelvyn P. Leer, A
Preponderanceof Power:National Security,theTrumanAdministration, andtheColdWar (Stanford, i,,z).
io. Geir Lundestad, Empire by Invitation? The United States and Western Europe,
i,,,i,,z,J ournal of PeaceResearchz, no. (i,c):zc;;;JohnL.Harper,AmericanVisionsof Europe:
Franklin D.Roosevelt,GeorgeF.Kennan, andDean G. Acheson(Cambridge, England, i,,,).
Three (Possible) Paradigms : ,,,
and the fact that it happened as much as a result of trade, education, and
consumer cultureaspolitical pressure shouldnot obscureitsintrinsicality.
ii
Inthenovel for whichhereceivedtheNobel Prizefor literaturelast year,
theGerman author Gnter Grassdescribeshowhiscountryhaschangedover
thepast century, withthemost basictransformationshappeningafter i,,,. It
wasnot just theeectsof WorldWar II that changedGermany, Grassseemsto
argue, it wasthepostwar presenceof theAmericans. Thesame althoughto
diering degrees could be said of all of the United Statess key alliance
partners. Thechangesinpolicies, social stratication, andeconomicfounda-
tionsthattheU.S.presenceinspiredgraduallycreatedsystemsof alliancesthat
werebasedonsimilar worldviewsandthat couldsurviveconictsof interest
(unlikethoseof theEast).Tome,atleast,itisthesecondgenerationof postwar
leaderswho holdthekeytothismoreprofoundtransformation: Helmut Kohl,
FranoisMitterrand, Margaret Thatcher, YasuhiroNakasone, all born inthe
interwar years, cametoaccept U.S. modelsmuchmorereadily thanprevious
or (perhaps) cominggenerations, andindoingsotheynot onlychangedtheir
countries(andsettledthe ColdWar) but alsolaidthefoundations for thenew
systemof globalizedmarketsthat ineect replacedtheEast-West conict.
iz
+rcnxoroc\
Intermsof ideologies,onemaysaythattheColdWarwasaconictbetween
twodierent versionsof what anthropologist JamesC. Scott referstoashigh
modernism ontheonehand, onethat underlinedsocial justiceandtherole
of theindustrial proletariat, and, ontheother, onethat emphasizedindividu-
alityandtheroleof thestake-holdingmiddleclass.For theworldatlarge,both
ideologieswereintheir waysrevolutionary, intent ontransformingtheworld
intheir image. Aswithmany modernist projects, AmericanandSoviet Cold
War ideologiesbasedanimportant part of their legitimaciesonthecontrol of
nature, be it human nature or our physical surroundings. They were both
attemptsat simplifyingacomplexworldthroughsocial engineering, massive
exploitation of resources, regulation, and technology. Technology was the
epitomeof bothideologiesandof thesystemstheyrepresented itsymbolized
the conquest of nature itself for socialismor for freedomand the use the
ii. Twoexcellent overviewschartingthesedevelopments, inpoliticsandeconomics, respec-
tively,areJohnKillick,TheUnitedStatesandEuropeanReconstruction,:,,y:,vo (Edinburgh,i,,;);and
Marie-LouiseDjelic, ExportingtheAmericanModel:ThePostwar Transformationof European Business
(Oxford, i,,). SeealsoMargaret Blomchard, ExportingtheFirstAmendment:ThePress-Government
Crusadeof :,,y:,y. (New York, i,c). For Germany see Ralph Willett, TheAmericanization of
Germany,:,,y:,,, (London, i,,); for FranceseeRichardKuisel, SeducingtheFrench:TheDilemma
of Americanization(Berkeley, i,,).
iz. Gnter Grass, Mein J ahrhundert [My century] (Gttingen, i,,,). Insights on how the
Americanallianceshaveinuencedthefour leadersareinHugoYoung, Oneof Us:ABiograpyof
MargaretThatcher (London, i,,);Karl HugoPruys, HelmutKohl:DieBiographie[Helmut Kohl:The
biography] (Berlin,i,,,);JeanLacouture,Mitterrand:unehistoiredeFranais[Mitterrand:Ahistory
of theFrench] (Paris,i,,);andYasuhiroNakasone,TheMakingof theNewJ apan(Richmond,i,,,).
,,c : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
physical worldcouldbeputtoinconstructingasocial systemor inconfronting
itsenemies.
i
At thebeginningof theColdWar, nuclear technology stoodat thecoreof
theconict. U.S. possessionof thesecretsof atomicenergycreatedapushfor
wider global responsibilitiesamong U.S. political leaders andfueled deep-felt
suspicionswithintheCommunist movement about U.S. plansfor controlling
their countries.TheSoviet quest todevelopanuclear capabilityof itsownwas
asDavidHolloway hasexplained a keyfeatureinMoscowsestablishment
of aCold War world view. Thefutureof socialismdepended on theSoviet
Union matching the technological achievements of the imperialist states.
WithoutaSovietbomb,thesocialistworldwouldbeinherentlyweakandunder
constant pressure.
i,
But nuclear technology wasnot only important for themilitary aspectsof
theconict. In thelatei,,os and early i,,os thebattlefor access to energy
resourcesformedpart of thecoreColdWar competition, andatomicenergy
wasof courseavital part of that battle. BothontheSoviet andtheAmerican
sidedegreesof modernityweremeasuredinenergyoutput itwasasif Lenins
adagethat Communismisworkers power pluselectricityheldtrueinboth
Moscow and Washington. As the Soviet Union dramatically increased its
energy output in the i,,os the rst Soviet nuclear power plant became
operational in i,,, therewas awidespread sensethat Moscowsmodel of
development couldeventually overtake that of the UnitedStates.
i,
Oneof thebiggest surprisesthat early ColdWarriorswouldhavebeenin
for, hadthey still been withusinthei,osandi,,os, wasthat it wasneither
nuclear bombs nor nuclear power that came to decide the Cold War. After
Nagasaki,thebombswerenever used.After ThreeMileIslandandChernobyl,
nuclear power lostmuchof itsluster,andsomeadvancedindustrial states,such
as Sweden, arenowclosing down their nuclear plants.Whilenuclear technol-
ogythereforedefendsitsplaceinColdWar history,moreattentionneedstobe
paidtootherconnectionsandimplicationsof therelationshipbetweentheCold
War conict andthe development of scienceandtechnology.
i. JamesC. Scott, SeeingLikeaState:HowCertainSchemestoImprovetheHumanConditionHave
Failed(NewHaven,i,,).For further discussionof technologyaskeytothemodernityprojectsee
Michael Adas, MachinesastheMeasureof Men:Science,Technology,andIdeologiesof WesternDominance
(Ithaca,i,,);andMarshall Berman,All ThatisSolidMeltsintoAir:TheExperienceof Modernity(New
York, i,).See also, of course,Michel Foucault, DisciplineandPunish:TheBirthof thePrison,trans.
Alan Sheridan (New York, i,;;). For overviews of the Soviet approach see Kendall Bailes,
Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin (Princeton, i,;); and especially Richard Stites,
RevolutionaryDreams:UtopianVisionandExperimental LifeintheRussianRevolution(NewYork, i,,).
StephenKotkinhasanexcellent discussionof Soviet modernity anditsdiscontentsinMagnetic
Mountain: StalinismasaCivilization(Berkeley, i,,,). Theclassic statement of technologyaspower
inthepostwar world is Vannevar Bush, Science: TheEndlessFrontier (Washington, i,,,).
i,. DavidHolloway,StalinandtheBomb:TheSovietUnionandAtomicEnergy,:,,,yv (NewHaven,
i,,,)
i,. William ONeill, A Better World: Stalinismand theAmerican Intellectuals (London, i,,o);
MarcelloFlores, LimmaginedellURSS:lOccidenteelaRussiadi Stalin(:,.:,yv) [Theimageof the
USSR:TheWest andStalins Russia (i,z;i,,c)] (Milan, i,,o).
Three(Possible) Paradigms : ,,;
AsDavidReynoldsexplainsinhiscompellingsurveyof international trends
since World War II, these connections are not dicult to nd. Already in
October i,,, Secretaryof War Robert Pattersonnotedthatthelaboratoriesof
Americahavenowbecomeour rstlineof defense.Tenyearslater morethan
half of all spending, public or private, on industrial researchanddevelopment
intheUnitedStateswent todefenseprojects.Crucial areasof technologythat
were openedupthroughdefense-relatedfundingincludenavigationsystems,
spaceexploration, and even genetics(includingtheHumanGenomeProject).
But rst andforemost, intermsof itsshort-termimplications, theColdWar
provided publicfundingfor research inelectronicsandcommunications the
twoareasof technology, it might besaid, that most contributedtotheglobal
changesthattookplaceduringtheColdWar,andtothewaytheconictended.
ic
Withregardtothedevelopment of global, interconnectedcommunication
systems, it has been argued that theSoviet Union collapsed because, in the
wordsof oneauthor, it didnot get themessage.Ini,,, theSovietUnionhad
aroundone-sixthasmanytelephoneconnectionsastheUnitedStates, and as
everyonewhovisitedwiththeSovietscantestifyto thosethatdidexistoftendid
not work very well. By themid-i,;os, however, theSovietshadcommunications
satellitesinorbit,asaresultof theirenormousinvestmentsinspacetechnology,that
couldhavebeenusedtoconnecttheSovietUniontotheemergingcommunication
networksandtospreadtheSovietmessagetotheworld.Whydidntthathappen?
i;
Therearetwomeaningful waysof answeringthat question.Therst isthat
thefailureto link up wastheresult of decadesof Soviet isolation in part
self-imposed,inpartenforced.Ontheonehand,therewasMoscowsfear that,
asoneformer CPSUleader putit,withtheirtechnologycomestheirpolitical
systemandtheir culture.Ontheother hand, therewastheWesternurgeto
isolate the Soviets, inpart so that their political system would suer fromnot
havingaccesstothenewesttechnology.Buttherearealsomoreinherentreasons
fortheSovietcommunicationsfailure.Notonlydidthepeoplesof EasternEurope
showbythedirectionof their antennasthattheypreferredDallastoDresdenbut
alsotheSovietleadershipsimplydidnotwanttoinvestinmoreelaboratewarsof
propaganda,sincetheyknewthatsocialismwaswinninginthelongrun.Contrary
to the general perception at the time, it was the United States that was the
propagandamaster of theColdWar,intermsof botheortandresourcesspent.
i
ic. ThefollowingparagraphsarebasedonDavidReynolds,OneWorldDivisible:AGlobal History
since:,,y (New York, zooo), ,,,,; Pattersonquoteon,,c.
i;. John Barber and Mark Harrison, eds., TheSoviet Defense-IndustryComplex fromStalin to
Khrushchev(New York, i,,,); JereyL. Roberg, Soviet Scienceunder Control: TheStrugglefor Inuence
(London, i,,).
i. Former Vice-ForeignMinister Georgi Kornienko, interview withauthor, ; Februaryi,,,.
OnU.S. propagandaseeWalter Hixson, PartingtheCurtain:Propaganda, Culture, andtheColdWar,
:,,y:,v: (Basingstoke, i,,); and Frances Stonor Saunders, WhoPaidthePiper?TheCIAandthe
Cultural ColdWar(London,i,,,).Foraveryinstructiveoverviewof thepurposesbehindthephysical
presentation of the United States abroad see Robert H. Haddow, Pavilionsof Plenty: Exhibiting
American CultureAbroadin the:,yos(Washington, i,,;).
,, : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
Theother maintechnologywithanimmediate ColdWar relevance was, of
course, thedevelopment of computers. Likeadvanced communications, the
rst computerswereall for militaryuseintheUnitedStatesandBritain, and,
asatechnology, cameout of theneedsof WorldWar II. IntheUnitedStates,
thehistory of thedevelopment of computersisvery muchconnectedtothe
history of onecompany, IBM, andonebusinessleader, ThomasJ. Watson. In
thei,,osover half of IBMsrevenuescamefromtheanalogguidancecomputer
for theB-,z Bomber andfromtheSAGEairdefensesystem.AsWatsonhimself
put it: It was the Cold War that helped IBM make itself the king of the
computer business.
i,
The Soviet Union, it could be argued, was not far behind the West in
computer developmentintheearlyi,cos.But thensomethinghappened.Even
thoughtheU.S.militarytook,o percentof theoverall productionof computer
chipsaslateasi,c;, byi,c, thePentagonprocurershadbeguntolookoutside
thebigcompaniesfor someof their needs. It wasthisincreasingexibility in
theU.S. military-industrial-academiccomplexinthemid-i,cos or, toput it
morebluntly, themarriagebetweeneasydefensemoneyandBayAreaower-
power that created the crucial breakthrough, the commercially available
personal computer. ThiswassomethingtheSoviet Unionwouldnot want to
match its researchwent into bigcomputers for bigpurposes.
zo
It was out of the needto linksmall (but available) computers at dierent U.S.
militaryresearchcentersthattherstlongdistancecomputer network,ARPAnet,
developedinthei,cos.Thisunionof computerchipsandcommunications laterto
beknownastheInternet wasperhapsthesinglemost important technological
innovationof theColdWar.Bythelatei,ositcametodene,inaverynarrow
sense, who wason theinsideand who wason theoutside. Linkingthemain
capitalist centersmorecloselytogether intermsof business, trade, andeduca-
tion, theInternet cametounderlineexchangeof all sorts, andwasgradually
spreading out of its original centers in North America, Japan, and Western
Europe. Communications technology had become an important part of the
message of global capitalism. Indeed, it could be argued that the market
revolutionof thelatetwentiethcentury or globalizationif onepreferstouse
that term wouldnot havebeenpossiblewithout theadvancesincommuni-
cationsthat the ColdWar competitionbrought on.
zi
TheSoviet UnionandEasternEuropewerecut o fromthisdevelopment
bychoiceaswell asbydesign.Thenewcommunicationstechnologymadethe
East Blocelitesfeel isolatedinadierent sensethanbefore. Bythelatei,os
i,. Watsonquotedin Reynolds, OneWorld Divisible,,o,.
zo. SeeStuart W. Leslie, TheColdWar andAmericanScience:TheMilitary-Industrial Complexat
MIT andStanford(NewYork,i,,);MartinCampbell-KellyandWilliamAspray,Computer:AHistory
of theInformation Machine(NewYork, i,,c); for the Soviet Union see Daniel L. Burghart, Red
Microchip:TechnologyTransfer,ExportControl,andEconomicRestructuringintheSovietUnion(Aldershot,
i,,z).
zi. RichardOBrien, Global Financial Integration: TheEnd of Geography(London, i,,z).
Three(Possible) Paradigms : ,,,
itseemedasif notjusttheSovietUnionsWesternenemiesbutsubstantial parts
of the rest of theworld East andSoutheast Asia, LatinAmerica, and partsof
theMiddleEast weremovingawayfrominteraction with it and toward a
higher degreeof interactionwitheachother. TherulingCommunist parties,
withintheir owncountries, also hadtocompete with theimage of the West as
being more advanced, an image that was, in the case of Eastern Europe,
projecteddailyintomanypeopleshomesthroughterrestrial or satelliteanten-
nas. In theend, Mikhail Gorbachevs perestroikaproject was about beingin-
cludedintotheworldthat thesatellitechannelsrepresentedwhileupholding
adegreeof ideological challengetothesystem that hadcreatedthem.Hiswas
nosurprisingfailure,althoughtheconsequencesof thatfailurerightlystunned
theworld.
zz
In the little that has been written so far by historians about the role of
technologyintheColdWar, their overall relationshiphasoftenbeenreduced
tothesimplequestionof whichpolitical andsocial systemdeliveredandwhich
didnot. Lookingat ColdWar technology inthewayI havetriedtopresent it
here, thisisperhapsthewrongquestiontoask. It isbetter, I think, toexplore
thepurposesfor whichtechnology wasdevelopedinitsdierent settingsand
todiscussthewaythemilitary-technological policiesonbothsidescontributed
tothedirection of scienceand tothemanyweaponswithwhichtheCold War
was fought fromstrategic missiles to satellitetransmissions and computer
networks.
Against thispropositionof makingthehistoryof technologyakeyaspectof
thenewColdWar history,itissometimessaidthatweareconfusingcategories,
that technology is in itsessencepolitically and ideologically neutral. In the
strictest sensethisisof coursetrue. For individual scientistsit isthethrill of
discovery that matters, not thespecicpurposesfor whichtheinventionwill
later beused. But if wewant tounderstandtheColdWar intermsnot just of
diplomacy andwarfarebut alsointermsof social andpolitical development,
weneedtolookmorecloselyathowtechnologywascreated,forwhatpurposes
it was used, and how someaspectsof it cametodene, in veryconcreteterms,
thenal stagesof theColdWar conict.Weneedtoexplorethelinksbetween
military priorities and technological development and to be open to the
suggestionthat innovationin some keyareasduringthe past ftyyearsmoved
indirections it wouldnot have takenhadit not beenfor the ColdWar.
Approachedalongtheselines, I believethat theinterplaybetweentechnol-
ogy, politics, and social development forms one of the most useful prisms
throughwhichtoviewtheEast-Westconict.Suchresearchwouldnotjustdeal
with technological imperatives (if there ever was such athing), but more
profoundly, begin to seetheCold War as aconict of thecoreconcepts of
zz. See, for instance, Peter Dicken, Global Shift: TheInternationalization of Economic Activity
(London, i,,z) or, for amorecritical view, ThomasC. Patterson, ChangeandDevelopment inthe
TwentiethCentury(Oxford, i,,,), esp.i,i,.
,co : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
modernity,anessential partof whichwaswhatdirectiontechnological innova-
tionshouldtakeandfor whatmeansitsproductsshouldbeused.
z
Thisconict
took onaparticular signicancefor areasoutsideEuropeandNorthAmerica,
sincetheir meetingwithmodernity, and, eventually, withcapitalism, toagreat
extenthappenedduringtheColdWar era.AsI will exploreinthenextsection,
thereislittledoubt that theseencounterswouldhavebeenlessunhappyand
lessdestructivehadit not beenfor theglobalizationof theColdWar conict
andthesuperpower interventions that this produced.
+nr +nirr vorrr
The concept of three worlds is often seen as a product of Cold War
perceptions: A rst (in every sense) world consisting of the main capitalist
states; asecond(alternative) worldmade upof the Soviet Union and its allies;
anda third(-class) world constitutingtherest. Interestingly, thisetymology is
almostcertainlywrong;thetermTiersmondewasrst developedbytheFrench
economist anddemographer AlfredSauvyini,,z todenoteapolitical parallel
totheThirdEstate(Tierstat) of theFrenchRevolution Sauvyspoint wasto
underlinetherevolutionary potential that thenewcountriesinAfrica, Asia,
and Latin America would possess in relation to the existing bipolar world
system. Sauvyandmanyof thosetheoristswhoadoptedthetermenvisageda
ThirdWorldthat, likeitsillustriouspredecessor inFrance, wouldriseagainst
andoverturnthe establishedorder(s).
z,
Intermsof theThirdWorldsactual fateduringtheColdWar, Sauvycould
not havebeenfurther fromthetruth. Insteadof overturningtheinternational
system, many Third World countries became its main victims through the
extensionof ColdWar tensionstotheir territories. Central America, Angola,
Afghanistan, Indonesia, Indochina, Korea thelist of countriesthat havehad
their futures wrecked by superpower involvement is very long indeed, and
many of these countries are still not beginning to come to terms with the
consequencesof their predicament.
But equallydamagingtothenewstatesthat werecreatedintheaftermath
of WorldWar II wasthewillingnessof ThirdWordelites themselves to adopt
ColdWar ideologies for purposes of domesticdevelopment andmobilization.
This wholesale takeover of aerial and divisive ideas by feeble states caused
untolddamagenot onlythroughwarfarebut alsothroughsocial experiments
inspiredbybothsocialistandcapitalistversionsof highmodernism.Fromrural
resettlement programs in Indonesia and Thailand and strategic villages in
z. For invigoratingattemptsat makingsuchconnectionsseeWolfgangEmmerichandCarl
Wege,eds.,DerTechnikdiskursinderHitler-Stalinra[ThetechnologydiscourseintheHitler-Stalin
era] (Stuttgart, i,,,); andDavidC. Engerman, ModernizationfromtheOther Shore:American
ObserversandtheCostsof Soviet EconomicDevelopment,AmericanHistorical Reviewio, (April
zooo):,ic.
z,. Alfred Sauvy, Trois mondes, uneplante [Threeworlds, oneplanet], lObservateur, i,
August i,,z.
Three (Possible) Paradigms : ,ci
SouthVietnam, tocollectivizationinEthiopiaandve-year plansinMozam-
biqueandAngola, thesocial andhumancost of theattemptsbyThirdWorld
elitestoforcechangeonunwillingsocietieshasbeenfrightful. Insomecases,
suchasinSouthVietnamorinEthiopia,itmakessensetospeakof acontinuous
war against apeasantrythat had tobetransformed andfast if theversion
of modernity that theregimehadbought intoshouldbeabletoovercomeits
rivals.
z,
Themainsignicanceof theColdWarfortheThirdWorld(andof theThird
World for theCold War) seemstometobethis:That theideological rivalryof
thetwosuperpowerscametodominateThirdWorldpoliticstosuchanextent
that in some countries it delegitimized the development of the domestic
political discoursethat any stateneeds for its survival.As a result, theelitesin
thesecountriesincreasinglyisolatedthemselvesfromthepeasant population
and, intheend, sought asuperpower ally inorder towagewar ontheir own
people. Guatemalaafter i,,, andEthiopia after i,;, aregoodcases inpoint.
zc
SeenfromaU.S. perspectiveduringtheColdWar, thiswas, of course, not
quitethewaythingslooked.TheUnitedStatessThirdWorldalliesweremost
often seen, by both supportersandcriticsof U.S. ColdWar policies, aslocal
powerholderswho joinedwith the United Statesin order toght communism
andpreservetheir ownprivileges. Theyweretraditionalists atermthat in
theearlyi,cosquicklymadethe leap from modernization theorytextbooksto
State Department dispatches.
z;
Fewgeneral descriptionscould, inmy opinion, befurther fromthetruth.
When welook at their actions and their beliefs, leaders such as Indonesias
Suharto and thelast Pahlavi shahinIranwere, in their way, revolutionaries,
who attempted to createcompletely newstates based on authoritarian high
modernist visions of social transformation. Likeleaders in Western Europe,
their main sourceof inspirationwastheUnitedStates, but their societieswere
z,. GaryE.Hansen,ed.,Agricultural andRural DevelopmentinIndonesia(Boulder,i,i);WaldenF.
Belloetal.,ASiameseTragedy:DevelopmentandDisintegrationinModernThailand(Oakland,CA,i,,);
Arthur Combs, Rural Economic Development asaNation-BuildingStrategyinSouthVietnam,
i,ci,;z (Ph.D. thesis, London School of Economics, i,,); TesfayeTafesse, TheAgricultural,
Environmental, andSocial Impactsof theVillagizationProgrammeinNorthernShewa, Ethiopia(Addis
Ababa, i,,,); MarkF. Chingono, TheState,Violence,andDevelopment:ThePolitical Economyof War in
Mozambique, :,y:,,. (Aldershot, i,,c); PierreBeaudet, ed., Angola: bilandunsocialismedeguerre
[Angola:Accounts of a socialismof war] (Paris, i,,z).
zc. Jennifer G.Schirmer,TheGuatemalanMilitaryProject:AViolenceCalledDemocracy(Philadel-
phia, i,,); TefarraHaile-Selassie, TheEthiopian Revolution,:,,:,,: (London, i,,;).
z;. On thecuriousdevelopment of conceptsfor viewingThird World elitesseeFrederick
Cooper andRandall Packer,eds.,International DevelopmentandtheSocial Sciences:EssaysontheHistory
andPoliticsof Knowledge(Berkeley,i,,;);andMichael EdwardLatham,ModernizationasIdeology:
Social ScienceTheory, National Identity, andAmericanForeignPolicy(Ph.D. diss., University
of California, Los Angeles, i,,c). The major analytical statements of modernization as an
American project are Walt Whitman Rostow, TheStages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist
Manifesto(Cambridge,England,i,co);andSamuel P.Huntington,Political OrderinChangingSocieties
(NewHaven, i,c). For ahistorical critiqueseeEric HobsbawmandTerenceRanger, eds., The
Inventionof Tradition(Cambridge, England, i,); and, for a vigorouscounterattackbyan anthro-
pologist, Arturo Escobar, EncounteringDevelopment:TheMakingof theThirdWorld(Princeton, i,,,).
,cz : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
much further removedfromthat ideal insocial, ideological, and technological
terms. Just asMaoZedonginthelatei,,osspokeabout catapulting China
into socialism, Suharto and theshah wanted to catapult their countries into
advancedcapitalism.Notsurprisingly,sincehumansocietiescannotbeformed
intoprojectilesaimedat ideological images, noneof themhadmuchsuccess.
z
Thecivil wars inthe ThirdWorldduring the ColdWar era thereforeoften
beganasclashesbetweenacenter that hadadoptedoneformor theother of
highmodernistideologyandmovementsontheperipherythatsawthemselves
asdefendingtheir valuesandcustoms. Likeall wars, however, theseconicts
transformedbecauseof thelevelsof violence, uprooting, anddestructionthat
they created. Thistransformation was oftenas much ideological asmilitaryor
strategic. In manycases, thesecalamitouswarsprovidedunique opportunities
for revolutionarymovements torecruit adherents to their beliefs, andthereby
transformpeasant communitiesintoarmiesof rebellion. TheChineseCom-
munist Partyisa good casein point: In therst phase of theColdWar, radical
socialist movementsintheThirdWorldoftenbegantheir marchtopower by
defendinglocal areas against imperialist armies, or modernizing states, or
simply against encroachments by capitalist practices that, for the peasants,
couldbeas destructive aswarfare or forcedlabor.
z,
The second phaseof theCold War, beginningin theearly i,cos, sawan
extensionof thispattern. Withdecolonization, withintwodecadesmorethan
onehundrednewstatesemerged,eachwithelitesthathadtheirownideological
agendas, often connected up to the ideals constituted by the superpowers.
Instead of reducing tensions in society, decolonization for the formerly
colonized often increased them, andgaverisetostateadministrationsthat
were, for thepeasants, moreintrusiveand moreexploitativethan thecolonial
authoritieshad been. Asaresult, most of thenewstatesbecamechronically
unstableinbothpolitical andsocial terms.
Haditnotbeenfor theexistenceof thesenewstates,itislikelythattheCold
War conict, initsi,,osandi,,osform, wouldhavepeteredout sometimein
thei,cos,withthestabilizationof EuropeanbordersandtheSovietpost-Stalin
normalization. What prolonged theconict wasitsextension into areas in
whichtheColdWar ideological duality hadnorelevancefor themajority of
thepeople, but whereU.S. andSoviet leadersconvincedthemselvesthat the
postcolonial statesweretheirstowinor lose. Local ThirdWorldeliteswere
thereforeabletoattainGreat Power alliesintheir warsagainst their peoples,
andtheorganizationsopposingthemcouldoftenforgetheir ownforeignlinks,
z. MarvinZonis, MajesticFailure:TheFall of theShah(Chicago, i,,i); Michael R. J. Vatikiotis,
IndonesianPolitics under Suharto,d ed. (London, i,,,).
z,. ThedaSkocpol, Social Revolutions and Mass Military Mobilization, WorldPolitics,o
(Januaryi,):i,;c; Je GoodwinandSkocpol, ExplainingRevolutionsintheContemporary
ThirdWorld,PoliticsandSocietyi; (i,,):,,,o,; Quee-YoungKim, ed., RevolutionsintheThird
World(NewYork,i,,i);andBarryM.SchutzandRobert O.Slater,RevolutionandPolitical Changein
theThird World(Boulder, i,,o).
Three(Possible) Paradigms : ,c
insomecasesbasedonthemost incongruousof ideological alliances, suchas
U.S.support for radical IslamistpartiesinAfghanistan.Whatchangedfromthe
earlyColdWar, however, wasthepatternof superpower involvement:During
thei,os, it wasasoftentheSoviet UnionastheUnitedStatesthat founditself
onthesideof thegovernment against therebels.
In this latter point I think thereis an important clueto howwemay be
changingour understandingof therelationship between theCold War and
developmentsinAfrica, Asia, andLatinAmerica. Asseenfromwithinmany
ThirdWorldsocieties, theUnitedStateswasas muchof a revolutionaryforce
aswastheSoviet Union thetwo, andthosewhoadoptedelementsof their
ideologies, emphasizedstandardization, engineering, andplanning;theorders
that theywanted toestablish weredistinctlyWestern, withrootsgoingbackto
theEnlightenment and theeighteenth century. I wasstruck by thisrecently
whenI attended a seriesof oral historyconferencesontheVietnamwarswith
former Secretary of DefenseRobert MacNamaraasoneof themainpartici-
pants. As far as I could see, MacNamaraand his former North Vietnamese
enemiesstill livedincompletelydierent worldsastotheir understandingof
thewar except whentalkingabout thesocial changesthat they hadattempted
tofoist onVietnamesesociety MacNamarasvillagizationwasonly afew
steps away fromtheNorthscollectivization in termsof itseects(unfortu-
natelybothintended and real).LikeMaoZedong perhapsthemost destruc-
tiveutopianof thepastcentury bothsidesviewedthepeasantsasblankslates,
onwhichthe most wonderful texts may bewritten.
coxcrtsiox
Some of my colleagues will undoubtedly think that working within the
alternativeparadigmsI claimtoobservewill broadenthestudyof theColdWar
toapointwhereitbecomesindistinguishablefromaglobal historyapproach.
If the Cold War was all these things, this thinking goes, then what in late-
twentieth-century history isleft outsidetherealmof ColdWar history?AmI
not reducingvery complex andinpart unrelatedphenomenatothat narrow
areaof historyinwhichmyownresearchinterests began?
Inthisarticle, I havetriedtoshowhowthesenewparadigmsmaystayclear
of reductionist fallacies by constantly emphasizingtheinteractionsbetween
developmentsintheEast-West political conict andother changesinhuman
societies duringtheColdWar era. Theseinteractionsare what may helpusto
awider understandingof theconict whichisnot thesameassayingthat all
eventsfromYaltatoMaltacanbeexplainedbysimplepolitical references.Like
thejournalistThomasFriedman,whohaswrittenoneof thebestbooksavailable
about thepost-i,, international system, I believethat theColdWar system
didnt shapeeverything, but it shapedmanythings.Thepoint isthat without
attemptingtounderstandthesewider connections, werun therisk of disre-
garding those aspects of the Cold War and of theprocesses of change that
,c, : r i r r o a + i c n i s + o r \
accompaniedit that wearemost likelytoencounter asquestionsfromfuture
students or fromthegeneral public.
o
If one, likeme, hopesthat insomewaywhat I amdoingasahistorianmay
helppeoplemakemoresense of the worldtheyliveintoday, thenit shouldbe
thesewider connectionsthat inspireour work. What isreally reductionist, I
think, aretheattemptsat makingCold War history into games centered on
narrow concepts of interest be it the realists strategic interests or the
Marxists economic interests. Last yearsBernathLecture andmuchof the
debate that followed may serve as a depressing example of the relative
limitations of these approaches, and as prescriptions for how international
historymayremainperipheral withinthewiderprofession.
i
Global eventsafter
theendof theColdWar havealreadyexposedthedisregardingof cultural and
ideological backgroundtoconict asdangerousfolly. I believethat excluding
theother keyissuesof changethat I havepointedtoabovemayturnout inthe
long runtobe equallydangerous.
Attemptingtopoint out what wecarry over fromtheColdWar andwhat
turned out to bespecic for thelatetwentieth century isoneuseful way of
approachingcontemporary international history.
z
I havetriedtodistinguish
dimensions that are important enough to contain both durableand specic
elementsand that thereforeseem to become important avenuestoour under-
standingof theColdWar system. Likeanyonetalkingabout thepast andthe
future, I may, of course, turnout tobemostlywrong theremaybeother new
paradigmsbesidethoseI havedescribedherethatwill dominatetheeldinten
years time. What I amcertainof, however, isthat theremarkableability that
international historianshaveshownuptonowtousenewevidencetofeedinto
oldinterpretationswill notcontinuetodominate,andthatinthefuturewewill
belookingatamuchmorediverseeldof approachesandinterpretationsthan
anyof usthought possible beforetheColdWar ended.
o. Friedman, TheLexusandtheOliveTree(NewYork, i,,,), ;; for morecritical viewsof the
systemthat replaced theCold War seeAnthony Giddens, Thei,,, BBC Reith Lectures at
http:/ / www.lse.ac.uk/ Giddens/ ; andAmartya Sen, DevelopmentasFreedom(Oxford, i,,,).
i. Robert Buzzanco, What Happened to the New Left? Toward a Radical Reading of
American Foreign Relations, DiplomaticHistoryz (Fall i,,,): ,;,co;, and thedebatebetween
BuzzancoandhiscriticsonH-DIPLOdiscussionlogsstartinginOctober i,,, (http:/ / wwwz.h-
net.msu.edu/ ~diplo/ ). Interestingly, Buzzanco, in his footnotes, lists the works of only four
non-Americanscholars Marx, Lenin, Bukharin, andGeir Lundestad.
z. Another useful approach is the comparison with other periods and systems. See, for
instance, Paul Kennedy, TheRiseandFall of theGreat Powers:EconomicChangeandMilitaryConict
from:yoo to.ooo (London, i,,); andthecritiqueinTorbjrnKnutsen, TheRiseandFall of World
Orders(Manchester, i,,,). SeealsoB. Teschke, Geopolitical RelationsintheEuropeanMiddle
Ages:Historyand Theory,International Organization,z, no.z (i,,):z,,.
Three (Possible) Paradigms : ,c,