Drawing on recently declassified documents and extensive interviews with Soviet and American policy-makers, among them several important figures speaking for public record for the first time, Ned Lebow and Janice Stein cast new light on the effect of nuclear threats in two of the tensest moments of the Cold War: the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the confrontations arising out of the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. They conclude that the strategy of deterrence prolonged rather than ended the conflict between the superpowers.
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(229mm x 152mm x 30mm)
Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
In a well-articulated, arresting argument, Lebow (Political Science/Pittsburgh) and Stein (Political Science/Toronto) assert that the conventional wisdom that the West won the cold war is mistaken, and that military spending and geopolitical rivalry have exhausted the US and the countries of the former USSR, with implications that continue to haunt us today. Lebow and Stein make their case by examining two crises of the cold war: the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and 1973 the Arab-Israeli War. In both cases, the authors persuasively argue, the crisis was caused by politicians playing the game of "deterrence." In Cuba, the American threat to use nuclear weapons was an escalation of the crisis; once the superpowers confronted each other, they needed to compromise in order to resolve the impasse (the problem was resolved when both governments agreed to remove missiles). In 1973, the US tried to prevent the Soviet Union from intervening in the Arab-Israeli War by alerting its strategic and conventional forces worldwide. Here, the crisis was resolved when the Soviet Union declined to respond to the alert. The authors argue, based on newly available evidence, that far from deterring the Soviet Union, the US worldwide alert actually might have escalated the crisis; the Soviet Union never had any intention of actually intervening, and a large group in the Kremlin argued that the it should respond by alerting its own forces. After examining how compromise and moderation resolved crises caused by deterrence theorists, Lebow and Stein contend that the nuclear arms race, far from preventing WW III, actually exacerbated superpower tensions and review evidence that Reagan's expansion of defense spending after 1981 delayed rather than accelerated the process of reform in the Soviet Union, which occurred for reasons largely unrelated to the superpower rivalry, and wasted resources urgently needed for domestic purposes. The authors conclude that deterrence prolonged rather than ended the cold war. An intelligent and provocative examination of the legacy of the cold war. (Kirkus Reviews)
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