Introduction by Marilyn Young, New York University

Response by Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam, and Sergey Radchenko, University of Nottingham Ningbo China

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Response by Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam, and Sergey
Radchenko, University of Nottingham Ningbo China

Organizing an edited volume is a challenging task; writing a review of one

is too. We are very grateful to the H-Diplo editors and to the roundtable
participants for their engaged and encouraging reviews of the volume. In
what follows, we will take up some of the important issues raised in the

Several participants raise the issue of the "Third World" project's death.

If by Third World project we mean, as Vijay Prashad does, the achievement
of a kind of unity among post-colonial nations that would free them from
dependence on the European powers without binding them to the Cold War
superpowers, then it is indeed clear that the project was dying the 1970s.
By that point the various "isms" (such as Arab nationalism) and
antagonisms (India-Pakistan, Somalia and Ethiopia, and so on) had already
eroded whatever superficial unity still survived since Bandung. Soviet and
American development aid was making it harder for so-called Third World
countries to maintain neutrality. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
(which India, despite its alleged non-alignment, tacitly supported) was
probably one of the final blows.

Although not exactly in the form Prashad suggests, the question of the

"death" of the Third World is indeed broached in several chapters of the
volume, including in Chen Jian's insightful analysis, and studies by
Duccio Basosi and Matias Spektor. In a sense, Chen Jian's chapter
challenges the chronological consistency of the volume by putting emphasis
on the 1970s, when China's reorientation from the revolutionary to the
developmental discourse heralded - for Chen Jian at least - the beginning
of end of the Cold War, and, indeed, the end of the Third World as a
meaningful concept. Likewise, Basosi and Spektor highlight themes of
resurgence of the West - in ideological terms - by the 1980s; their
chapters thus giving additional support to Prashad's point of view. Other
chapters in this volume disagree with such a premature burial of the Cold
War - and of the Third World - and we, as editors, were delighted to see
that there indeed was no consensus on the subject. We are quite happy with
the "lacuna" Friedman notes, because we feel that the answers to Jeremy
Friedman's tantalizing questions can all be found in the different
interpretations offered in the book. It does sometimes require pushing
beyond the conclusions the authors themselves were willing to make. This
is something that each reader can do for her or himself, and it is for
this reason that, as Jamie Miller points out, the volume lacks a
conclusion. This was certainly an omission by design, we should add, for
we were more interested in raising questions than in providing answers.

On the other hand, looking at the question from the point of view of the

superpowers, the Third World project had not disappeared even in the
1980s. What we mean by this is that both superpowers continued to view
themselves as the teachers of the Third World, a position which came with
responsibility (or justification, depending on your point of view) to
engage in the economic development, domestic politics, and foreign
relations of their respective clients. The idea that less developed
nations had to be helped and saved from the other side's expansionist
designs did not go away. What was changing by the 1980s was the consensus
on how aid should be delivered and what the best models for the Third
World were. In the U.S., the New Deal development model had already been
falling apart from the mid-1960s, as disillusionment with projects
undertaken in Latin America, Africa, and Asia had begun to set in.

In the USSR this process took longer, and Soviet aid in the 1980s still

looked very similar to that of previous decades, although behind the
scenes there was plenty of skepticism both about the kind of aid being
offered and whom it was being offered to - clients like Ethiopia's Haile
Miriam Mengistu being particularly frustrating. Crucial, too, is that the
infrastructure that had developed to study and engage with the Third World
from the 1950s was still there in the 1980s, and still playing an
influential role in policymaking. The scholars, party activists,
translators, intelligence workers, and specialists who had made their
careers working on the Third World still believed in their overall mission
at the end of the 1980s, even if a certain amount of skepticism and even
cynicism had crept in. Even as Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the
USSR, for Moscow, the Cold War was as much as ever a battle for the Third
World - on that much at least our authors agree. The future of the Soviet
Cold War project looked bright and red from the Kremlin. Ronald Reagan,
too, had a vision for the Third World, and these competing visions still
influenced and even defined the choices and priorities of Third World
clients as they pondered whether to embrace Marx, God or Mammon, or all
three. Indeed, we only learned of the death of the Third World in
retrospect. It is only now that we can say, looking back, that the Third
World, alas, was long dead, and we (you, they) were battling windmills. Or
were we?

Michael Latham asks an important question: to what extent did the Third

World conflicts contribute to the end of the Cold War itself? The answer
seems to be that the effect was real but indirect. In the late 1970s,
confrontations in the Third World had helped bring détente to an end and
led to one of the most tense periods in the Cold War. At the time of the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, U.S. displeasure was considered a price
worth paying to keep the country free of U.S. influence. By the mid-1980s,
frustration with that conflict (as well as conflicts in the Horn of Africa
and beyond), arguably helped convince Soviet leaders to prioritize the
thawing relationship with the U.S. over Moscow's clients in the Third
World. But as Svetlana Savranskaya has shown, this transformation took
time, and even when it did happen, the hope was that the two superpowers
could now collaborate to resolve Third World issues - primarily conflicts,
but developmental ones as well. That this cooperation did not ultimately
develop was primarily a result of U.S. attitudes and, most importantly,
Soviet disintegration.

Reviewers highlight that one clear message of the volume is that the Cold

War ended differently in different parts of the Third World. This, we
agree with Heonik Kwon, underscores what he calls the "deep plurality of
Cold War historical experience." Kwon suggests that even as we
deconstruct these various overlapping Cold War narratives, we must be
mindful of the "basic unity" of the Cold War. We hope, as editors, that
the diverse and geographically disparate contributions to this volume, The
End of the Cold War and the Third World, do contribute to this "basic
unity." We thank the reviewers for commending our effort to include these
excellent, well-researched and theoretically sophisticated chapters under
one roof.

Copyright (c) 2012 H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. H-Net
permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit,
educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author,
web location, date of publication, H-Diplo, and H-Net: Humanities & Social
Sciences Online. For any other proposed use, contact the H-Diplo Editors
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