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  • Author: Amnon Aran
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Containment is the term generally used to characterize American policy towards the USSR after the Second World War, when it consisted of a series of attempts to deal with the power and position won by the USSR in order to reshape postwar international order. Containment, as originally articulated by its chief architect, George F. Kennan, was always contested, for example because it did not clarify whether Soviet behaviour had strictly national or ideological roots, and would result in the USSR's having the initiative about where and when to act. Nonetheless, throughout the Cold War it remained US policy, partly because of the failure in 1953-4 of the alternative, 'liberation' and 'rollback'. Although containment changed and sometimes seemed to have broken down, for example in the Vietnam War, the imprint of Kennan's ideas—perhaps more than anyone else's—endured. After 1989 it seemed that containment had no place in the peaceful multilateral environment which seemed to be emerging; however, it proved adaptable to a range of post-Cold War situations, including some which appear to have little in common with the context and goals of containment's original formulation: among these are the challenges posed to US national security by the so-called rogue states.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Soviet Union
  • Author: Geoffrey Warner
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The Cambridge history of the Cold War is a three-volume work by 75 contributors, mostly from the United States and the United Kingdom, and is intended as 'a substantial work of reference' on the subject. The bulk of the text deals, in frequently overlapping chapters, with the main protagonists of the conflict—viz. the United States, the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China—and the areas in which they clashed. At the same time, it aims to go 'far beyond the narrow boundaries of diplomatic affairs', although it is not always successful in doing so. In analysing the origins of the Cold War, the contributors pay perhaps too much attention to ideology as opposed to geopolitics, a flaw which is made easier by the absence of sufficient historical background. On the other hand, the duration of the conflict and the failure of various attempts at détente is more successfully explained in terms of the zero-sum game nature of the conflict and its progressive extension from Europe across the rest of the world. When it comes to the end of the Cold War, the overall conclusion is that this came about through both a shift in the international balance of power following the Sino-Soviet split and the political and economic problems of the Soviet bloc. It is generally agreed that Mikhail Gorbachev's willingness to abandon old shibboleths both at home and abroad was a major factor in bringing about the end of the conflict. The three volumes, while not always an easy read, are the outcome of considerable research and expertise in both primary and secondary sources and will repay careful study.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, China, United Kingdom, Europe, Soviet Union