The Cold War and After

The Cold War and After: History, Theory, and the Logic of International Politics

Marc Trachtenberg
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 332
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  • Book Info
    The Cold War and After
    Book Description:

    What makes for war or for a stable international system? Are there general principles that should govern foreign policy? InThe Cold War and After, Marc Trachtenberg, a leading historian of international relations, explores how historical work can throw light on these questions. The essays in this book deal with specific problems--with such matters as nuclear strategy and U.S.-European relations. But Trachtenberg's main goal is to show how in practice a certain type of scholarly work can be done. He demonstrates how, in studying international politics, the conceptual and empirical sides of the analysis can be made to connect with each other, and �how historical, theoretical, and even policy issues can be tied together in an intellectually respectable way.

    These essays address a wide variety of topics, from theoretical and policy issues, such as the question of preventive war and the problem of international order, to more historical subjects--for example, American policy on Eastern Europe in 1945 and Franco-American relations during the Nixon-Pompidou period. But in each case the aim is to show how a theoretical perspective can be brought to bear on the analysis of historical issues, and how historical analysis can shed light on basic conceptual problems.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4249-0
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Part I: Theory
    • CHAPTER ONE The Question of Realism: An Historianʹs View
      (pp. 3-43)

      Different countries want different things; sometimes those desires conflict; how then do those conflicts get worked out? The basic insight that lies at the heart of the realist approach to international politics is that the way those conflicts run their course is heavily conditioned by power realities. In a world where war cannot be ruled out if conflicts are not settled peacefully, rational states are bound to be concerned with the structure of power in the sense not just of the distribution of military capabilities both actual and potential, but also of the whole web of relationships that would affect...

    • CHAPTER TWO The Problem of International Order and How to Think about It
      (pp. 44-66)

      What do we mean when we talk about order in international politics? The term might refer to the idea that international political life is not totally chaotic and that there is instead a certain logic to how things work in this area. From that point of view, to grapple with the problem of order is to study how politics works in a world of sovereign states—that is, in what is by convention called an ʺanarchicʺ world, a world characterized by the absence of overarching authority. In the international relations literature, the termorderis in fact sometimes used in...

  5. Part II: History
    • CHAPTER THREE The United States and Eastern Europe in 1945: A Reassessment
      (pp. 69-109)

      There was a time when it all seemed so simple. The Soviet Union, it was said, sought to communize eastern Europe at the end of World War II; the western powers, and especially the United States, were deeply opposed to that policy; and the clash that developed played the key role in triggering the Cold War. But historians in recent years have been moving away from that sort of interpretation. It is not that there has been a fundamental shift in our understanding of Soviet policy. Some scholars, to be sure, claim that the USSR, even in the latter part...

    • CHAPTER FOUR America, Europe, and German Rearmament, August–September 1950: A Critique of a Myth
      (pp. 110-141)

      In September 1950 U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson met in New York with the British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, and the French foreign minister, Robert Schuman. Acheson had an important announcement to make. The United States, he declared, was prepared to ʺtake a step never before taken in history.ʺ The American government was willing to send ʺsubstantial forcesʺ to Europe. The American combat force would be part of a collective force with a unified command structure, a force that would ultimately be capable of defending western Europe on the ground. But the Americans were willing to take that step...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Making of the Western Defense System: France, the United States, and MC 48
      (pp. 142-153)

      In December 1954 the NATO Council formally adopted a document called MC 48, a report by the Allianceʹs Military Committee on ʺThe Most Effective Pattern of NATO Military Strength for the Next Few Years.ʺ In approving this document, the Council authorized the military authorities of the Alliance to ʺplan and make preparations on the assumption that atomic and thermonuclear weapons will be used in defense from the outset.ʺ¹

      This was an event of absolutely fundamental importance in the history of the Atlantic Alliance. NATO was adopting a strategy which, as the French Chiefs of Staff noted, ʺfor the first time...

    • CHAPTER SIX The Structure of Great Power Politics, 1963–75
      (pp. 154-182)

      John F. Kennedyʹs most fundamental goal as president of the United States was to reach a political understanding with the Soviet Union. That understanding would be based on a simple principle: America and Russia were both very great powers and therefore needed to respect each otherʹs most fundamental interests. The United States was thus prepared, for its part, to recognize the USSRʹs special position in eastern Europe. America would also see to it that West Germany would not become a nuclear power.¹ In exchange, the Soviets would also have to accept the status quo in central Europe, especially in Berlin....

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The French Factor in U.S. Foreign Policy during the Nixon-Pompidou Period
      (pp. 183-244)

      When Richard Nixon took office as president of the United States in early 1969, he and his national security advisor Henry Kissinger wanted to put Americaʹs relationship with France on an entirely new footing. Relations between the two countries in the 1960s, and especially from early 1963 on, had been far from ideal, and U.S. governments at the time blamed French President Charles de Gaulle for the fact that the United States was on such poor terms with its old ally. But Nixon and Kissinger took a rather different view. They admired de Gaulle and indeed thought of themselves as...

  6. Part III: Policy
    • CHAPTER EIGHT Preventive War and U.S. Foreign Policy
      (pp. 247-280)

      On September 11, 2001, the United States suddenly found itself in what seemed to be a new world, a perplexing world, a world where the old guideposts no longer seemed adequate. How was the nation to deal with the enormous problems it now faced? Above all, what could it do to make sure that ʺweapons of mass destruction,ʺ and above all nuclear and biological weapons weapons, would not be used against it?

      President George W. Bush and his top advisors soon came up with some basic answers to those very fundamental questions. A new national security policy was worked out,...

    • CHAPTER NINE The Iraq Crisis and the Future of the Western Alliance
      (pp. 281-312)

      In January 1963, Konrad Adenauer, the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, came to Paris to sign a treaty of friendship with France. This was an event of considerable political importance. The German government, it seemed, had decided to form a kind of bloc with the France of President Charles de Gaulle, a country that for some time had been pursuing a policy with a distinct anti-American edge. Indeed, just one week before Adenauerʹs visit, de Gaulle had risen up against America. He had announced that France was going to veto Britainʹs entry into the European Common Market. If...

  7. Index
    (pp. 313-317)