Introduction by Marilyn Young, New York University


Review by Vijay Prashad, Trinity College, Hartford, CT



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Review by Vijay Prashad, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

When I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago in the late


1980s, diplomatic history was, in intellectual terms, a sleepy,
conservative backwater. The historians themselves still seemed to command
attention in the intellectual journals of the Atlantic world, and their
wisdom still seemed to attract the ears of Washington. Congressional
hearings were not complete without one or another of these historians,
whose statements were in harmony with their audiences. The emblematic
figures were the old friends John Lewis Gaddis and Paul Kennedy, whose
presence at Yale assured that the train running from Boston to Washington
would always pause to pick them up from New Haven.

Things are quite different in this field now. Kennedy and Gaddis were


Atlanticists, whose framework to understand the world took them to the
archives of the North Atlantic, but no further. Their students and those
who are now emergent in the field have other ambitions. Having learned
languages such as Arabic and Chinese, they now scour the archives of
Beijing and Cairo to elaborate upon the multivalent interests of the
peoples of the planet. For them, there is no requirement to assume that
the main players in the world system live in one of five cities, and nor
is there the moral blindness to seek out the views of others who might not
be powerful but who are nonetheless important. Over the course of the past
five years, I have visited a number of conferences organized by this
emergent generation and remain very impressed by their high quality of
archival work, their facility with languages, and their dedication to
tracing the complexity of diplomatic deliberations.

I read the essays in the volume edited by Artemy Kalinovsky and Sergey


Radchenko with my mind on this new generation of diplomatic historians
largely trained in the United States. Of course, Kalinovsky and
Radchenko's book is not peopled with those historians, and nor by
historians or scholars trained in the confines of the Kennedy-Gaddis
continent. Nor are the contributors all recent scholars (some are retired,
and some have already established careers). The essays have more of the
feel of the Journal of Cold War Studies, edited by Mark Kramer who runs
MIT's Cold War Studies Program (and has an essay in the book).
Nonetheless, what reminds me of the new generation of scholars is that
this book would be welcome on their reading lists, since it is very much
along the grain of becoming the mainstream in diplomatic history: to take
seriously the views of every participant in an interchange, and to develop
an argument that allows the reader to see these multivalent views as
serious in themselves.

The End of the Cold War teaches us a great deal, particularly about how


the proxy wars functioned in the 1980s and how these slowly came to a
close (the best book on this process is Artemy Kalinovsky's own A Long
Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan). Some essays are richer
than others, as one would expect, and with some parts of the world covered
with a great deal of care while others receive slipshod coverage. One
would have liked an essay that dealt with Cuba in this period.

The book is framed around a simple question: what was the effect on the


Third World of the end of the Cold War? The actual question should have
been: what was the effect on the Third World of the collapse of the Soviet
Union? Certainly, the Cold War ended when the USSR fell apart but these
two events are not exactly the same thing. The simpler process is of
course the demise of the USSR. That is a process that began as early as
the 1980s and then finally ended with the formal dissolution of the Soviet
Union and the spin off of its satellites. Most of the book's essays
recount the difficulty for regimes in the Third World that had come to
rely upon the USSR and the Eastern European states for military hardware,
diplomatic cover, and economic aid. Conflicts in the Horn of Africa and in
South-East Asia were decisively marked by the terminal withdrawal of the
USSR, indeed so too has been the recent history of Afghanistan. The way
the USSR collapsed set the stage for the histories of these regions in the
decades that followed.

.
The book's essays certainly pay attention to the fall of the USSR,


although not fully in the way that I have articulated above, but apart
from the essay by Duccio Basosi, there is little attention to the demise
of the Third World Project. By 1973, the Non-Aligned Movement, which
carried the Project, seemed to be at its zenith. The UN General Assembly
passed the New International Economic Order (NIEO) resolution. With the
oil revolt, the NIEO set the stage for a major challenge from the Global
South. But this would not come, largely because of the debt crisis and the
full-scale political assault from the West (later North). By 1983, the NAM
had been neutered, and the Third World Project fell to the wayside.

Since the book pays no concomitant attention to the collapse of the NAM,


it addresses the Cold War through the U.S.-USSR optic, with the rest of
the world as battleground. This is the conventional reading of the Cold
War, even as this book takes seriously the views of the people in Brazil
or Nicaragua, Angola or Cambodia. What it lacks, to my mind, is an
epistemology that sees the Third World as being a considerable actor in
the Cold War and not simply the canvas on which others could play out
their illusions.

The gaze of this book is on the USSR's collapse, and Washington comes in


only when it is important to see how the West adjusts itself to this
monumental event. In a sense, this book is about how the world came to
terms with the collapse of the old order. What we don't see is that the
demise of the old order was actually premised on the emergence of a new
one, and that this new one was a lever for the destruction of the older.
By this I mean that after the 1973 thrust from the NAM and the oil states,
the North re-organized itself ideologically (through the category of
neoliberalism), institutionally (through the creation in 1974 of the G7),
and militarily (through the eventual emergence of NATO as a more
aggressive world actor, spanning the period from the threat of battlefield
nuclear weapons in Europe and to the threat of missile defense systems, to
the Kosovo War to Libya and so on). This new architecture emerges in the
1970s, and is given buoyancy with the Volcker Shock - the Dollar-Wall
Street complex was empowered by the rise in U. S. interest rates, the
skyrocketing LIBOR rates, the indebtedness of the South and the economic
pressure put on the USSR through the turbulence of the 1980s. None of this
is in the book directly, although of course several essays pay close
attention to the Soviet economic crisis which led the regime, as Mark
Kramer points out, to push military exports to earn foreign exchange.

Kalinovsky and Radchenko have edited a very useful book - with essays


chock full of important material; for example, Svetlana Savrankaya's essay
has new insights on Gorbachev that has not been available in English and
Victor Figueroa Clark provides a remarkable story of militant
internationalism that links Chile and Nicaragua around the Cuban orbit.
These are essays to read and reread, to teach and discuss. My criticism is
simply meant to broaden the context of the processes and events of the
essays in the book.

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