Thursday, September 07, 2006

Review of Gaddis

Patrick Garrity reviewed all of John Lewis Gaddis' books in the latest Claremont Review of Books. About Gaddis' latest book, Garrity writes, in part:

Gaddis does not abandon his structuralist argument or withdraw the conclusion that the United States overreacted in 1949-1950. He also celebrates the fact that the Cold War did not turn hot. But as he now sees it, the stable Long Peace—especially as manifested in d├ętente—actually proved to be unstable. The structural determinants of international relations, it turns out, include not only the pursuit of power and security but a sense of justice. National and popular frustrations grew because unfair arrangements once deemed temporary (such as a divided Europe) had become permanent. Public fear of nuclear war challenged the elites' reliance on nuclear deterrence as a tool of Cold War management. Those living in command economies resented the manifest failure to improve living standards. There was a slow shift of influence from the supposedly powerful to the seemingly powerless, through the nonaligned movement, human rights organizations, and the like. The populations of captive nations were unexpectedly emboldened by new international standards for making moral judgments, such as the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords (1975).
Fantastic stuff. This is a must-read, especially for students of U.S. foreign relations.

1 comment:

dcat said...

While I do not agree with all of the conclusions, you are right -- this is a pretty significant essay.