Introduction by Marilyn Young, New York University

particularly as it relates to the issue of development in Asia, Africa

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particularly as it relates to the issue of development in Asia, Africa,
and Latin America.

In terms of the political aspects of the latter part of the Cold War in

the Third World, this book does a very good job of providing some
interesting perspectives on the ways in which the post-Cold War world was,
or was not, affected by the end of the Cold War. Sergey Radchenko's piece
shows how India, despite being an early and vocal opponent of the division
of the world into two opposing camps, turned out to be one of the biggest
losers in terms of geopolitical influence once that bipolar structure
began to break down. Matias Spektor's chapter on Brazil, on the other
hand, details the case of a country where the end of the Cold War was met
with a significant amount of anxiety regarding the advent of a world of
unipolar American dominance. Brazil, unlike India, managed to turn this
situation to its advantage and the debates surrounding the future course
of Brasilia's foreign policy starting in the late 1980s ultimately allowed
it to strengthen its geopolitical position by consolidating a South
American regional identity. These chapters, along with Dima Adamsky's on
Israel and Balazs Szalontai's on Indochina, pose the deeper question of
the significance of the Cold War for the trajectory of the Third World,
and geopolitics in general in the post-Cold War world. Did the fall of a
bipolar world create the space for an emerging multipolar world order or
was that multipolar order not only inevitable, but, in fact, already
emerging in the latter stages of the Cold War? Is the contemporary
diminishing of American geopolitical influence a result of the failure of
the United States to pursue an optimal policy in the era of unipolarity or
was it rather, as Spektor implies, a logical outcome of the very specter
of unipolarity? Perhaps the question can be put as follows: did the end
of the Cold War create room for the political ambitions of the Third
World, or was the Third World already outgrowing the Cold War?

This question relates to another, which the book's collection of chapters

combines to illuminate in a fascinating, multi-faceted way: How does an
empire, in this case, the Soviet Union, retreat from the world in such a
short time? Artemy Kalinovsky's piece on Afghanistan, Vladimir Shubin's
on Southern Africa, and Szalontai's as well portray an empire facing the
dilemma of the Nixon administration on Vietnam - how to achieve "peace
with honor" - on a global scale. The KGB remained loyal to its erstwhile
clients in Afghanistan and many in the International Department maintained
its commitment to the ANC, SWAPO, and others whom they had supported in
the decades-long struggle against racism and imperialism in Southern
Africa. The interests at the top, as Svetlana Savranskaya and Mark Kramer
point out, though they disagree with each other to some degree, were
focused on the economic needs of the USSR itself and rapprochement with
the West. In some cases, such as in the Soviet disengagement from
Indochina, a solution was found which ultimately redounded to all parties'
benefit, but in Southern Africa the Soviets essentially renounced the
victory they had achieved while, in Afghanistan, the ambivalence
surrounding Soviet policy after the withdrawal may have prevented the
implementation of a more stable long-term solution. In the Middle East,
the withdrawal of the USSR may even have ultimately made the region more
unstable and undermined Israeli security because certain Arab countries
were forced to abandon the aspiration for conventional military parity in
favor of asymmetrical tactics. In comparison, perhaps, with the retreat
of the British and the French from their overseas empires in the 1950s and
1960s, the Soviet withdrawal seems relatively successful from the
perspective of the total amount of conflict and bloodshed that resulted,
but the absence of continued Russian influence in many of these places in
the immediate post-Cold War world contrasts sharply with the continuing
importance of ties with London and Paris for many in the Third World.
Consequently, if the United States is obliged to undertake a similar
process of retrenchment in the near future, albeit likely not as rapid or
complete, the lessons of the Soviet case should loom large.

Should that come to pass, however, the world from which the United States

will be retreating will be a much different one from the one covered in
this volume. It is not clear anymore that the "Third World" is even a
useful or meaningful term in the post-Cold War world and this raises the
question which the editors treat briefly and somewhat obliquely in the
introduction: was the "Third World" merely a product of the Cold War, and
if so, of what did it consist? Was it simply the absence of wealth,
power, and influence or was it a positive ideological or geopolitical
construct? Given the seeming failure of the various attempts to create
different forms of "Third World" solidarity in the Non-Aligned Movement,
the Afro-Asian Solidarity Movement, the Group of 77, and others, did the
"Third World" even emerge from the Cold War at all or was it another
casualty of the collapse of the USSR? Maybe the title could imply the
simultaneous ends of both the Cold War and Third World. The lack of any
discussion of what became of the "Third World" project in the latter days
of the Cold War is an interesting and revealing lacuna in the book. Is
this because it was dead long before the days of perestroika or because
the authors see its connection to the Cold War as too tenuous? And, more
importantly, what does this ultimately say for the place of the regions
once known as the "Third World" in a post-Cold War context? This book
provides a good overview of the current state of field on the
chronological frontier of Cold War scholarship, and excellent starting
point for those who will push beyond it.


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