Review: Volume 55 - The Cold War

Review: Volume 55 - The Cold War

It is commonly thought that the U.S. Army in Vietnam, thrust into a war in which territory occupied was meaningless, depended on body counts as its sole measure of military progress. In No Sure Victory, Army officer and historian Gregory A. Daddis uncovers the truth behind this gross simplification of the historical record. Daddis shows that, confronted by an unfamiliar enemy and an even more unfamiliar form of warfare, the U.S. Army adopted a massive, and eventually unmanageable, system of measurements and formulas to track the progress of military operations that ranged from pacification efforts to search-and-destroy missions. Concentrating more on data collection and less on data analysis, these indiscriminate attempts to gauge success may actually have hindered the army's ability to evaluate the true outcome of the fight at hand--a roadblock that Daddis believes significantly contributed to the multitude of failures that American forces in Vietnam faced. Filled with incisive analysis and rich historical detail, No Sure Victory is a valuable case study in unconventional warfare, a cautionary tale that offers important perspectives on how to measure performance in current and future armed conflict.

How did the New Left uprising of the 1960s happen? What caused millions of young people--many of them affluent and college educated--to suddenly decide that American society needed to be completely overhauled? In Smoking Typewriters, historian John McMillian shows that one answer to these questions can be found in the emergence of a dynamic underground press in the 1960s. Following the lead of papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, and the Berkeley Barb, young people across the country launched hundreds of mimeographed pamphlets and flyers, small press magazines, and underground newspapers. New and cheap printing technologies had democratized the publishing process, and by the decade's end the combined circulation of underground papers stretched into the millions. Though not technically illegal, these papers were often genuinely subversive, and many who produced and sold them--on street-corners, at poetry readings, gallery openings, and coffeehouses--became targets of harassment from local and federal authorities. With writers who actively participated in the events they described, underground newspapers captured the zeitgeist of the '60s, speaking directly to their readers, and reflecting and magnifying the spirit of cultural and political protest. McMillian gives special attention to the ways underground newspapers fostered a sense of community and played a vital role in shaping the New Left's "movement culture." By putting the underground press at the forefront, McMillian underscores the degree to which the political energy of the 1960s emerged from the grassroots, rather than the national office of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which historians of the era typically highlight. Deeply researched and eloquently written, Smoking Typewriters captures all the youthful idealism and vibrant tumult of the 1960s as it delivers a brilliant reappraisal of the origins and development of the New Left rebellion.

This book fills the gap between the longer, more detailed texts on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the popular histories, most notably Robert F. Kennedy's Thirteen Days (and the 2000 TV movie of the same title). Munton and Welch have written a short, readable text that stresses the big picture, answers the important questions and corrects the historical inaccuracies of Thirteen Days. The authors make use of newly available sources from US and Russian archives to present Soviet and Cuban perspectives in the crisis, which have in the past been unavailable or downplayed.

In his farewell address, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation of the perils of the military-industrial complex, but Eisenhower had spent his presidency contributing to another, lesser known, Cold War collaboration: the spiritual-industrial complex. This fascinating volume argues that American leaders in the early Cold War considered the conflict to be profoundly religious, that they saw Communism not as godless but as a religion fighting faith with faith. As a result, they deliberately used religious beliefs and institutions as part of the plan to defeat the Soviet enemy. Jonathan Herzog offers an illuminating account of the spiritual-industrial complex, chronicling the rhetoric, programs, and policies that became its hallmarks. Herzog shows how these efforts played out in areas of American life both predictable and unexpected--from pulpits and presidential appeals to national faith drives, military training barracks, public school classrooms, and Hollywood epics. Finally, he reveals that if the spiritual-industrial complex faded in the 1960s, its echoes could still be heard in Ronald Reagan's 1980s.


Scientific Autonomy, Public Accountability, and the Rise of “Peer Review” in the Cold War United States

This essay traces the history of refereeing at specialist scientific journals and at funding bodies and shows that it was only in the late twentieth century that peer review came to be seen as a process central to scientific practice. Throughout the nineteenth century and into much of the twentieth, external referee reports were considered an optional part of journal editing or grant making. The idea that refereeing is a requirement for scientific legitimacy seems to have arisen first in the Cold War United States. In the 1970s, in the wake of a series of attacks on scientific funding, American scientists faced a dilemma: there was increasing pressure for science to be accountable to those who funded it, but scientists wanted to ensure their continuing influence over funding decisions. Scientists and their supporters cast expert refereeing—or “peer review,” as it was increasingly called—as the crucial process that ensured the credibility of science as a whole. Taking funding decisions out of expert hands, they argued, would be a corruption of science itself. This public elevation of peer review both reinforced and spread the belief that only peer-reviewed science was scientifically legitimate.


Norman Stone’s masterly new account of the cold war makes its points by resort both to empirical fac

He lay in state in the presidential palace for rather too long, given the heat and the power cut, and was then escorted to a vast mausoleum. There were some alarms in the crowd as it shuffled through the dust and the ruts . . . the wooden balconies, overloaded with spectators, sometimes let out pistol-like cracks and a little gust of wind, a miniature tornado, suddenly swept the street rubbish into a column.

This lyrically surreal description of the funeral of the Haitian president "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1971 sets the tone for much of Norman Stone's highly personal history of the cold war. Often relying on first-hand observation, he captures, in the manner of a novelist, the fleeting epiphanies that accompany public events. His picture of the curious normality that for a time followed Duvalier's departure - the shopping expeditions Baby Doc's wife arranged for herself and her friends, the schemes to promote light industry in a poverty-stricken land by encouraging the sewing of baseballs - concentrates into a few lines the decadent and precarious way of life that Graham Greene described at length in The Comedians.

Stone's eye for the telling detail gives his account of the cold war years an edge of authenticity lacking from more conventional histories. The Eric Ambler-like story that he tells is closer to the shifts and turns of history than the poker-faced negotiations and wooden stand-offs that feature in academic studies and diplomatic memoirs. Stone himself became a character in the story when, in a tangled episode, he ended up in jail in Czechoslovakia for three months in 1964 after trying to smuggle a seeming victim of persecution out of the country in the back seat of a car. In a ten-page "Note", Stone describes his experience as being "in Prisoner of Zenda mode". However it may have felt at the time - he characterises his callow younger self as "An idiot. But useful" - it must have been an enlightening introduction to the farcical side of the struggle that would divide the world for another quarter of a century.

A beguiling mix of grand narrative and autobiographical vignettes, The Atlantic and its Enemies is the one book that anyone who wants to understand the cold war as it developed must read. Using his vast but lightly worn learning, Stone conjures up the winter of 1946-47 ("a catastrophe of ice and snow"), the Marshall Plan, the death of Stalin, Khrushchev and Berlin-Cuba-Vietnam, the Sixties, Nixon in China, "the British disease", Reagan and Thatcher, the collapse of communism and the non-ending of history that ensued. Pretty much everything of importance that transpired during these years is covered, with extensive sections also devoted to Turkey (where the author now lives).

There can be no doubt that the version of events Stone presents will often infuriate progressive-minded readers on left and right. Belligerent neocons, as much as mild liberal meliorists, see history as an essentially redemptive process, in which humanity struggles to emancipate itself from backwardness and oppression. A fervent admirer of his fellow Scot David Hume, Stone sees things more realistically. A succession of contingencies, history is frequently tragic, but more often surreally absurd.

Stone applies this demys­tifying empiricism to the most memorable struggles of the past half-century. He presents a sympathetic account of American intentions in the Vietnam war - rather too sympathetic, to my mind, given the ongoing rerun of that disastrously misconceived adventure in Afghanistan. He may be on slightly firmer ground in suggesting that the toppling of Salvador Allende was not the simple struggle of light with the forces of darkness that has entered left-wing folklore (the US ambassador in Chile at the time of the coup was not personally in favour of American intervention). Equally, the fall of communism was hardly the spontaneous upheaval celebrated by the western right - as Stone reports, many of the demonstrations that preceded the collapse were orchestrated, not least in Romania, by elements within the communist regimes. If there is a moral to Stone's tale, it is that revolutions are rarely entirely unscripted but history blunders on just the same. This may be a rather discomfiting view, and yet it has the merit of being true.

Stone does not pretend to be anything other than partisan, and there are occasions when he reneges on the admirably sceptical empiricism that shapes his view of historical events. "I am still not sure about the Whig Interpretation of English history," he tells us. Yet there is at times a distinctly Whiggish feel to his account of the "three-cornered battle" that was waged during the cold war years "between fascism, communism and what, for want of a more accurate word, we have to call liberalism, ie, the free-market-democracy of which the USA became the pre-eminent representative".

This is not because Stone falls into the trap of assuming historical inevitability. In the case of China, for example, he sees clearly that there was nothing in any way preordained about Mao's victory - the Nationalists made needless mistakes, while the Communists "were in effect saved by the Americans" when their puritanical and buffoonish envoys took against Chiang Kai-shek. Taiwan, "the alternative China", shows what the mainland might have been, had circumstances been different. Here, Stone is unfashionably right. The 16th-largest trading nation in the world, the small island of Taiwan has achieved a version of modernisation that is probably more stable than the post-Maoist regime by which it seems destined to be absorbed. But he goes astray when he writes: "The warts are horrible . . . but the Atlantic won, and is now spreading to, of all places, China."

Whatever the upshot of the extraordinary Chinese experiment, one thing is certain: China is no longer emulating any western model. Maoism was a westernising ideology and although, for reasons of regime continuity, Marxism and, indeed, Mao are still officially revered, the west was dethroned in China when Maoism was rejected.

The cold war, besides being an old-fashioned geopolitical struggle, was a family quarrel among western ideologies. As is often the case, the end of the conflict did not leave the winner any stronger. Instead, it has left the west unsure of its identity, and outpaced by new versions of modernisation that have not bought in to the faddish cult of the free market. The defeat of communism during what Stone describes as "the high Eighties" was no small achievement. But the Eighties were also a time of illusion, an end point rather than - as fantasists such as Francis Fukuyama imagined - the prelude to a 1,000-year new world order. Beneath the loud, triumphal music, a sharp ear could not fail to detect the mocking laughter of the gods. It is a sound that echoes through Stone's rich, exuberant and melancholy book.

The Atlantic and Its Enemies: a Personal History of the Cold War
Norman Stone
Allen Lane, 668pp, £30

John Gray is the New Statesman's lead reviewer. His latest book, "Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings", is published in paperback by Penguin (£10.99)


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The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War

The Oxford Handbook of the Cold War offers a broad reassessment of the period war based on new conceptual frameworks developed in the field of international history. Nearing the 25th anniversary of its end, the cold war now emerges as a distinct period in twentieth-century history, yet one which should be evaluated within the broader context of global political, economic, social, and cultural developments.

The editors have brought together leading scholars in cold war history to offer a new assessment of the state of the field and identify fundamental questions for future research. The individual chapters in this volume evaluate both the extent and the limits of the cold war's reach in world history. They call into question orthodox ways of ordering the chronology of the cold war and also present new insights into the global dimension of the conflict.

Even though each essay offers a unique perspective, together they show the interconnectedness between cold war and national and transnational developments, including long-standing conflicts that preceded the cold war and persisted after its end, or global transformations in areas such as human rights or economic and cultural globalization. Because of its broad mandate, the volume is structured not along conventional chronological lines, but thematically, offering essays on conceptual frameworks, regional perspectives, cold war instruments and cold war challenges. The result is a rich and diverse accounting of the ways in which the cold war should be positioned within the broader context of world history.


Review: Volume 55 - The Cold War - History

This talk by Douglas P. Horne is part of the online conference The National-Security State and the Kennedy Administration https://www.fff.org/national-security… .

Who were JFK’s major opponents and adversaries within his own government, with regard to the making of foreign policy at the height of the Cold War with the Soviet Union? How did his overall approach to the Cold War change during his Presidency, and why? Since the cover-story of a “lone nut” assassin firing from behind JFK’s limousine is not supported by the medical evidence, an examination of the serious internal conflicts within his own administration over the “making of the sausage” of foreign policy is extraordinarily relevant to what truly happened in Dealey Plaza in November 1963.

Serious scholars should examine in depth, the entire five volume series of Douglas P. Horne’s Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK. It is a phenomenal work of brilliance and the highest integrity.

Horne is the former Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), established by the JFK Records Act of 1992, which was tasked with defining, locating, and ensuring the declassification (to the maximum extent possible under the JFK Act) of all Federal Records considered “reasonably related” to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Horne details the numerous anomalies and interrupted chain of custody and destruction of key evidence regarding the president’s body, in the autopsy report(s), the autopsy photo collection (particularly the JFK brain photographs), the deliberate alteration and forgery of the extant Zapruder film, and the supposed “magic bullet” found at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Watch Douglas P. Horne’s definitive five part video documentary series which summarizes his exceptional research, Altered History: Exposing Deceit and Deception in the JFK, Assassination Medical Evidence. Horne has also written the concise authoritative summary volume ,JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated.

    – Douglas P. Horne Documentary – Douglas P. Horne Documentary – Douglas P. Horne Documentary – Douglas P. Horne Documentary – Douglas P. Horne Documentary — Douglas P. Horne article — Douglas P. Horne article — Documentary

While serving as chief analyst of military records at the Assassination Records Review Board in 1997, Douglas P. Horne discovered that the Zapruder Film was examined by the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center two days after the assassination of President Kennedy. In this film, Horne interviews legendary NPIC photo interpreter Dino Brugioni, who speaks for the first time about another NPIC examination of the film the day after the assassination. Brugioni didn’t know about the second examination and believes the Zapruder Film in the archives today is not the film he saw the day after the assassination. Drawing on Volume 4 of his book “Inside the ARRB”, Horne introduces the subject and presents his conclusions.


Rethinking the Past

Scholarship is not only about discovery of the new. It is also about challenging the old, or rather, what we think we already know. This can be difficult, even controversial, and never more so than when the subject being reexamined and revised is our own history. It is easy to forget that history is not simply a recounting of what has happened, but also the way we decide to remember, recount, and make sense of the past.

We often hold stylized narratives of the past in our heads that we believe to be unassailable. Ask an intelligent observer to outline the story of America’s engagement with the world after 1945, and he or she might offer a clear, bifurcated story: There was the Cold War and the post-Cold War era. The Cold War would likely be identified as an uninterrupted geopolitical and ideological conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States that began soon after World War II was over and ended with the revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989. The analyst might suggest that the United States prevailed by relentlessly pursuing the decades-long strategy of containment, articulated by George Kennan in his 1946 “Long Telegram.” With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and eventually the Soviet Union itself, the United States rapidly switched, like the film The Wizard of Oz, from black and white to color and to something completely different: America’s hegemonic, unipolar moment and the rise of liberal internationalism.

Upon closer examination, this seamless portrayal obscures as much as it reveals. Kennan’s version of political and economic containment was abandoned as a failure in the early 1950s, replaced by a more muscular military posture that he spent the rest of his career disparaging. Two especially intense periods of confrontation when global war was a distinct possibility — 1949 to 1953 and 1958 to 1962 — were interposed between longer periods of simmering competition and occasional détente and even cooperation. Even as ensuing administrations worked to craft comprehensive and effective national security strategies, as Paul Lettow’s article in this issue ably chronicles, America’s policies shifted while defense budgets rose and fell and rose again, in a rhythm driven as much by the vicissitudes of domestic politics as by any coherent long-term plan. As late as 1979, few would have assessed that the United States was ahead in the competition with the Soviet Union, to say nothing of being poised to ultimately prevail, and as late as 1986, fewer still would have predicted the great rivalry would soon be over forever. The United States did not appear to be especially hegemonic in the early years of the post-Cold War era: U.S. economic prospects seemed uncertain and American grand strategy stumbled, appearing ineffectual against such noted great-power political foes as the Somali rebels, Rwandan Hutus, Haiti, and Serbia.

Historical revisionism — the kind that dares us to challenge and interrogate strongly held assumptions about the past — helps push against our natural, if somewhat unhelpful, tendency toward retrospective or outcome bias: Since we know how a story like the Cold War ended, we can’t help but construct a neat narrative of inevitability. Revisionism also allows us to complicate our understanding of chronology and periodization. The conventional narrative of postwar international relations and U.S. grand strategy focuses on Europe and the U.S.-Soviet competition. The reality of world politics after 1945 was far messier, and a variety of forces —such as decolonization and the emergence of new nations regional rivalries and conflict European integration and eventual union the rise of political Islam and globalization and the financial, telecommunications, and rights revolutions — shaped global affairs as much, if not at times more, than the Cold War superpower rivalry.

The problem with a simplistic Cold War/post-Cold War narrative is exposed in Samuel Helfont’s fascinating reexamination of the 1991 Gulf War. The conventional wisdom sees the war as a military triumph for the United States that exorcised the demons of the Vietnam War and helped establish the practice of collective security while reinvigorating global institutions for an American-led liberal international order. This picture, however, was clouded by a post-conflict sanctions regime that impoverished the Iraqi people without unseating Saddam Hussein’s brutal Baathist regime, harming America’s global image while splintering the wartime coalition. The Gulf War was only the start of greater difficulties in a region that has been the cause of much grief for the United States ever since.

Re-thinking the Gulf War also complicates the issue of periodization, or how we mark and define historical eras. For many, the Gulf War was the first major event of the post-Cold War world. Another way to look at the conflict, however, was as an outgrowth and culmination of political dynamics that had been brewing in the region for years. The two key dates here are 1967 and 1979. Up through the mid-1960s, the Middle East was not a grand strategic priority for the United States, trailing well behind Europe, East Asia, and even Latin America in importance. Great Britain was the major Western presence in the region. The 1967 Six-Day War changed all of that. The Soviet Union appeared to seek greater influence in the Middle East, providing weapons and egging on client states Egypt and Syria, while financial and monetary burdens forced Great Britain to drastically reduce its footprint. Stuck in an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia, the United States could do little on its own to counter the Soviet gambit. While Israel easily prevailed in the conflict, America’s concern for Soviet regional influence drove it to establish deeper strategic ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Within a decade, America’s efforts to reverse Soviet influence in the region had been largely successful but at a steep cost: The Middle East had been elevated as a grand strategic priority while the United States had tied itself closer to arguably problematic regimes and even more problematic, complex regional dynamics. This left America exposed during the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that not only transformed Iran but also the larger politics in the region. In this viewing, the Gulf War was not the clean, resounding start of a new era, but the messy interlude of a complex American commitment whose relation to the Cold War was uncertain.

Lindsey Ford and Zach Cooper similarly force us to re-think periodization and stylized histories in their excellent analysis of what 1969 can teach us today. The Nixon administration, which was reeling from the Vietnam War, facing powerful domestic calls for retrenchment, and hoping to reset American grand strategy in a more sustainable fashion, declared that its allies in East Asia had to do more to provide for their own security. Ford and Cooper reveal the varying paths different countries in the region took in response to this mandate, ranging from moving closer to the United States to accommodating threatening powers in the region.

Nixon’s Guam doctrine reflected Cold War and regional dynamics in East Asia that were much different than those in Europe. Korea was divided, Vietnam a disaster, integrative alliances like NATO and the European Union elusive, and China, after 1972, an ally of convenience. As Adam Tooze reminds us, “The simple fact is that the US did not prevail in the Cold War in Asia.” As the Communist Party’s ruthless massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square revealed, Beijing did not share America’s view of history and world order. The Communist Party leadership was obsessed, then and now, with avoiding what it saw as the Soviet Union’s grave mistakes in the Cold War competition with the United States. Looking at today’s rivalry with China, Tooze suggests,

The mistake in thinking that we are in a ‘new Cold War’ is in thinking of it as new. In putting a full stop after 1989 we prematurely declare a Western victory. From Beijing’s point of view, there was no end of history, but a continuity — not unbroken, needless to say, and requiring constant reinterpretation, as any live political tradition does, but a continuity nevertheless.

In other words, not only did the Cold War play out differently in East Asia than it Europe, the history, meaning, and lessons from the conflict are understood much differently in Beijing than they are in Washington D.C. China, no doubt, has the lessons from the history of the Soviet-U.S. Cold War rivalry in mind as it reflects upon the utility of proxy wars as a tool of great-power political competition. Dominic Tierney’s analysis of the future of Sino-U.S. proxy war provides an excellent way to assess such conflicts, should they emerge as he expects.

Historical revisionism can be applied not only to events, but to institutions and practices. Since 9/11, as Susan Bryant, Brett Swaney, and Heidi Urben remind us, the military has been held in especially high esteem within American society. But as their fascinating survey reveals, such exceptionalism can come at a cost: The long-held and cherished notion of the non-ideological citizen-soldier gives way to a more politicized and perhaps isolated servicemember. Jim Golby and Hugh Liebert suggest that lessons from ancient history — particularly the classic works of Plato, Aristotle, and Polybius — may provide a better understanding and guide to the important norms of civilian control of the military.

My guess is that, like me, you will come away from this issue with a mix of reactions, from nodding acknowledgement to seeing an old problem in a different way to a fierce desire to contact the authors and argue with them. That is the desired outcome for any good journal. Challenging and revising history — and the assumptions and myths behind that history — is rarely comfortable, especially as the past provokes strong feelings for many people. I have long thought that an underappreciated but important measure of a nation’s underlying social and civic health is its ability to tolerate, and even encourage, historical revisionism. It is easy to forget how hard — and how rare — it is to create an intellectual, political, and socio-cultural environment that encourages a willingness to challenge any conviction, no matter how widely shared or deeply held. The results are often messy and contentious and unpopular. It is well worth the price, however. Historical revisionism —to ruthlessly examine and wrestle with our most treasured beliefs and assumptions — is a critical path to humility, understanding, and wisdom.

Francis J. Gavin is the chair of the editorial board of the Texas National Security Review. He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012) and Covid-19 and World Order (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020) co-edited with Hal Brands. His latest book is Nuclear Weapons and American Grand Strategy (Brookings Institution Press, 2020).


Ex-Ranger's tragic journey: From 1980 Olympic hero to a mental facility 40 years later

“Do you believe in miracles?” Al Michaels famously asked the nation after the USA Olympic hockey men’s team’s improbable 4-3 victory against the Soviet Union on February 22, 1980, at Lake Placid. It likely remains the most famous call in sports history.

Michaels answered his own question with an emphatic “Yes!” And as a 10-year old Long Island kid, I definitely concurred. The victory over the Soviet team left an indelible mark on me, not merely because it was a legitimately exhilarating sporting event, but because I witnessed a spontaneous outpouring of patriotism that wouldn’t be repeated until 9/11 — and then, only in the face of tragedy.

By 1980, Americans had somehow become the underdogs — or, at least, they began to think of themselves as ones. It’s no exaggeration to say that the 1970s had been a decade of frustration, of cultural lethargy, of rising criminality, of institutional failures, of perceived decline, and of sometimes crippling self-doubt. In the midst of a Cold War, in the midst of economic malaise, Americans hadn’t had a ton to celebrate.

In 1980, America and the Soviet Union — led by Leonid Brezhnev, here with then-President Jimmy Carter — were locked in the Cold War. Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

The game at Lake Placid may not have sparked the American revival but, in many ways, it would become the demarcation line between the sad-sack ’70s and economic renewal of the 1980s. The mystique of the moment would endure for a generation that grew up to see Soviet Union’s ignoble end.

I remember being swept up in the snowballing excitement of the tournament as the US first tied Sweden, then upset the favorite Czechoslovakians, before winning the “Miracle on Ice” game against Russia, and finally taking the gold by beating Finland.

Or at least, I retroactively remember myself in front of the TV cheering on Jim Craig and Mark Johnson and Rob McClanahan every step of the way. It’s highly possible, of course, that I was merely watching highlights and tape-delay moments offered by ABC in those largely pre-cable and pre-Internet days.

Team USA celebrates their incredible 4-3 victory over the Soviet Union, which was dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” Getty Images

It doesn’t really matter. Legend should be impervious to details. To me, a kid whose parents had defected from Hungary to flee communism, the Soviets were malevolent creatures — grizzled cogs in a state-controlled team of super athletes, who dominated the world with their uncanny speed, size and precision. (Years later I would be lucky enough to have a conversation about the game with one of the Soviet players and let’s just say, the Russians did love their children, too.)

The Americans were kids, college students born in Massachusetts or Minnesota, brought together for only six months. Leading them was the stoic Herb Brooks, the future coach of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. These were strangers, and yet I felt a weird kinship toward them.

It’s worth remembering, as well, that in 1980, the sport of hockey, which had never really come close to competing with the big three for fans, was even less recognizable to the average American than it is today. In the pre-Wayne Gretzky years, the sport was often portrayed, not without reason, as an orgy of brawling toothless goons rather than one of speed, skill and beauty. The only reason Michaels had even gotten the job of calling the hockey games at Lake Placid was that no other ABC announcer had really understood the game.

Rob McClanahan, Mark Johnson and goalie Jim Craig (from left) became instant heroes for a young Harsanyi watching as a 10-year-old in his Long Island living room.

That would all change soon. Everything seemed to change.

That was 40 years ago now. Considering the partisan rancor that has infected much of American life these days, the prospects of a collective and unbridled patriotism seem farther away than ever. In a free nation, there’s nothing abnormal about disagreement or vigorous debate. There are some things, however, that should bind us. Sports can do that. It did back then. Or at least, that’s how I remember it.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer at National Review. Twitter: @DavidHarsanyi


The Soviet-American Arms Race

John Swift examines a vital element of the Cold War and assesses the motives of the Superpowers.

The destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by American atomic weapons in August 1945 began an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. This lasted until the signing of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty of November 1990. An entire generation grew up under the shadow of imminent catastrophe. There were widespread fears that humanity could not survive. A single reckless leader, or even a mistake or misunderstanding, could initiate the extinction of mankind. Stockpiles of fearsome weapons were built up to levels far beyond any conceivable purpose, and only seemed to add to the uncertainty and instability of the age. Did Cold War leaders act irrationally through fear and distrust? Or was there a degree of rationality and reason behind the colossal arms build-up?

A New Superweapon?

The rapid surrender of Japan in 1945 certainly suggested that the United States possessed the most decisive of weapons. Indeed there is reason to suspect that the real purpose in using them was less to force a Japanese defeat than to warn the Soviet Union to be amenable to American wishes in the construction of the postwar world. As an aid to American diplomacy, however, the possession of atomic weapons proved of little value. The Soviet leadership quickly realised their limitations. The Americans, it was clear, would use them in defence of Western Europe in the face of a Soviet invasion – a step Joseph Stalin never seems to have seriously contemplated – but no American government could justify their use in order to force political reforms on Eastern Europe. Arguably Right: The test explosion of an American nuclear bomb in the Marshall Islands. John Swift examines a vital element of the Cold War and assesses the motives of the Superpowers. Soviet leaders became even more intransigent in negotiations, determined to show they would not be intimidated. Also, it was certain that the Soviet Union would develop atomic weapons of their own, and as rapidly as possible. This, the Americans assumed, would take between eight and 15 years, given the wartime devastation the Soviet Union had suffered.

This left the Americans to ponder the problems of security in an atomicallyarmed world. A single weapon could destroy a city. Also wartime experience had shown that there had been no defence against German V2 rockets. If, therefore, a warhead could be mounted on such a rocket, it would surely provide instant victory. Additionally, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had taught that the surprise attack was the tool of aggressors. Peace-loving democracies would be terribly vulnerable. In consequence, some thought was given to international controls, under the auspices of the United Nations, to prevent any nation possessing these weapons. This was the basis of the Baruch Plan.

In 1946 American financier, and presidential adviser, Bernard Baruch proposed the dismantling of American weapons, international prohibition on the production of any more, and international co-operation in developing atomic energy for peaceful use under the strict supervision of an international body. But the Soviet Union would have to submit to that inspection regime, and the United States would not share its weapons technology. It is unclear how seriously president Harry S. Truman and his administration took these proposals. They sounded pious, and when the Soviet Union rejected them, which they did, the Americans scored considerable propaganda points – which may have been the whole point of the exercise.

Without international controls, the only defence seemed to be to threaten retaliation in kind if an atomic attack was ever made on the United States or its allies. As it proved extremely difficult to develop long-range missiles that were sufficiently reliable and accurate, initially that deterrence was provided by B36 bombers stationed in Britain and the Far East. But the Soviet Union tested its first atomic weapon in 1949, far earlier than had been expected. The shock of this made American stockpiles of nuclear bombs seem unconvincing. Truman, therefore, authorised the development of thermonuclear weapons, or hydrogen bombs. These yielded explosions of ten megatons (equivalent to 10,000,000 tons of TNT, whereas the bomb used on Hiroshima yielded the equivalent of 12,500 tons). But by 1953, the Soviet Union had caught up again. Meanwhile the United States began building its first effective long-range missile force. These included the Atlas and Titan ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), the Jupiter and Thor IRBMs (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles) and the Polaris SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). The Americans maintained a technological lead over the Soviet Union, but this did not always appear to be the case. In October 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite. This shocked the American public, who were unused to the thought of being within range of Soviet weapons, which they now seemed to be.

The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, made much of his nation’s technological prowess. In fact the technological lead and the strategic balance remained very much in America’s favour – but that did not prevent the American public believing in the existence of a ‘missile gap’ in favour of the Soviet Union. This in turn led John F. Kennedy, when he became president in 1961, to expand American missile forces much further. Kennedy’s presidency also saw the world stand on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuba Missile Crisis of October 1962. In its wake his Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara, moved to the strategy of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). This was intended to provide a degree of stability by accepting the complete destruction of both sides in an atomic exchange. Nothing could be done to prevent a devastating nuclear attack but the retaliation would still be launched, and both sides would suffer equally. This idea of mutual deterrence did have some advantages. If ICBMs were dispersed to hardened silos, and the SLBM fleet sufficiently undetectable, then enough would survive to retaliate. A surprise attack would benefit nobody. Also it would render it unnecessary to keep building ever more missiles, just to retain a degree of parity. It would thus surely make some form of negotiated limits on missile numbers possible.

Criticism of Mutual Deterrence

There were aspects of MAD that many found objectionable. Future president Ronald Reagan felt it was defeatist, and held that the United States should be defended, whereas proponents of MAD insisted it could only work if deterrence was mutual and both sides remained equally vulnerable. Peace campaigners had other concerns. MAD seemed to offer only a perpetual threat of war. They feared that in such circumstances, war could not be avoided permanently. Despite the best intentions of political leaders, a mistake or an accident must at some point push the world over the edge. Also there were arguments that deterrence did not keep the peace, but caused war. Deterrence required not only ability (the possession of the weapons), it also needed the perception of resolve (the other side must believe in the willingness to actually launch the missiles if necessary). This in turn required both sides to show resolve. The best way to show willingness to launch death and destruction on a world scale, was to launch it on a smaller scale. Thus many of the wars of the Cold War, it was argued, such as Vietnam and Afghanistan, were caused, at least in part, by the deterrence strategy.

Peace campaigners were also among those who addressed the question of how much deterrence was needed. During the Cuba Missile Crisis, Kennedy had the option of launching air-strikes to destroy the missiles in Cuba. But when he learned that a handful of them were likely to survive, he rejected that option for fear they might be launched. A little deterrence obviously can go a long way. Yet by the mid 1970s peace research groups, such as the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, were variously reporting that enough atomic weaponry had been stockpiled to exterminate humanity 690 times. At the same time, work on chemical and biological warfare (CBW) was making rapid progress. Diseases such as anthrax and glanders, which could kill virtually everyone who contracted them, could easily be spread. Other biological agents could target livestock or crops to cause famine. The risks of an epidemic destroying its originators merely added to the inherent horrors of such weapons.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT)

That some form of agreement over missile numbers would have to be found was obvious. The greater the stockpiles of weapons, the more horrifying the potential consequences of escalating confrontations became. Even the development of small-yield, tactical, or battlefield nuclear weapons did little to suggest that even a limited nuclear engagement would be less than catastrophic. In the 1950s the United States Army undertook military exercises, such as operations Sage Brush and Carte Blanche, to see if such weapons could be used to defend West Germany from Soviet invasion. The conclusion reached was that they might – but only after West Germany had virtually ceased to exist. As early as the mid 1950s it was generally accepted that in a nuclear war the concept of a victory was ludicrous. There developed a widespread pessimism that in a post-nuclear war world, suffering destruction, chaos, nuclear fallout, famine and disease, the survivors would envy the dead.

Some steps to ease tensions had been taken. Badly shaken by their nearness to disaster during the Cuba Missile Crisis, Kennedy and Khrushchev had installed a hotline (in reality a teletype line connecting the Whitehouse and the Kremlin, so that both leaders could act quickly to diffuse crises). They also agreed on a Partial Test Ban Treaty, moving test detonations of nuclear weapons underground, which did something to reduce atmospheric radioactive contamination from such tests. Furthermore they agreed not to station nuclear missiles in space or on the seabed, which neither had the technology to do anyway. Also, to prevent those countries that did not already possess nuclear weapons gaining them, in 1968 the Non Proliferation Treaty was signed. By this, nations who either lacked the technology or the desire to own them, agreed not to build nuclear weapons and to allow international inspection of their nuclear facilities – providing, that is, that the nuclear powers undertook to completely disarm at the earliest opportunity. Other nations who had (or hoped to gain) the technology, and had the will, such as North Korea, Israel, Pakistan and India, either refused to sign or subsequently withdrew from it. All soon gained nuclear weapons that threatened to begin regional arms races.

But a solid agreement between the two main Cold War protagonists limiting the stockpiles of nuclear weapons proved very difficult to find. President Eisenhower, in 1955, had urged an agreement on ‘open skies’. By this, both sides would be free to over-fly each other’s military bases. This would allow the verification that both were adhering to a future arms control agreement. The Soviets promptly rejected the idea. They did not possess the aircraft to over-fly US bases, and saw it as an American attempt to legitimise spying. To the Americans, strict verification of Soviet compliance remained fundamental to any agreement. Herein lay a basic problem. Both sides were convinced of their own moral superiority. It was the other side who could not be trusted, and they reacted with astonished outrage when their own good intentions were questioned.

But simply building ever more weapons was futile, costly and dangerous. By 2000 it is thought that there had been over 30 ‘broken arrows’, or accidents involving nuclear weapons, and perhaps six warheads had been lost at sea and never recovered. Also during the 1960s a new technological development arose that threatened whatever stability MAD offered. This came from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system. This defensive system was designed to intercept and destroy ICBMs in flight. Despite being in its infancy and having very limited reliability, it might tempt a reckless leader to gamble on surviving retaliation and launch a surprise attack. Deterrence would only work if it was mutual, and if both sides were sure the other could not survive a nuclear exchange. Yet ABM would require sophisticated radar systems and its missiles would have to be deployed in huge numbers to defend a nation, and it promised to be impossibly expensive. It would also result in a new surge in constructing missiles in order to have the ability to swamp the enemy ABM system. By 1967 therefore US president Lyndon Johnson and Soviet premier Alexey Kosygin were ready to open negotiations.

The American position was that both sides should agree to abandon ABM systems, so that both would remain defenceless and deterrence would continue to be mutual. This was not easy for the Soviet negotiators to accept. They felt they had a duty to defend their citizens, and that defensive weapons were moral, while offensive weapons were immoral. It took five years to negotiate the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I). The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to limit themselves to two ABM sites each, when there was only one, around Moscow, in existence. This was subsequently reduced to one each, and the Soviets chose to defend Moscow, while the Americans defended an ICBM site. It was further agreed there would be no new land-based ICBMs beyond agreed numbers and no new missile submarines beyond those under construction.

Superficially this might have seemed a considerable step forward, but the agreement was reached as newer technology was being deployed. With the introduction of Multiple Independentlytargeted Re-entry Vehicles (MIRV), a single missile could carry several warheads and attack several separate targets – up to 12 in the case of some American missiles. There was no limit on modernising or replacing existing missiles to carry MIRV (and later MARV, or Manoeuvrable Re-entry Vehicle, which could change target in flight.) In fact SALT I allowed for a major expansion of nuclear weapons, and the signing of SALT II in 1979, which was ultimately to lead to a limit of 2,250 delivery systems (missiles, aircraft and submarines), did little to alter this. Even then the US Congress refused to ratify the latter Treaty, arguing that the Soviet Union had gained too much advantage in the agreement. Both sides, however, indicated they would adhere to the terms, as long as the other did. Even then, the development of cruise missile technology, which produced cheap, easily transportable and concealable weapons, opened new problems for verification measures.

Excesses of the Nuclear Arms Build-Up

The question addressed by peace campaigners, of how much deterrence was needed, was addressed by government and military institutions on both sides. An American study considered how many 100 megaton thermonuclear weapons would be needed to utterly destroy the Soviet Union. It found that after 400 or so detonations there would be nothing left worth attacking. Further detonations would be ‘making the rubble bounce’, or targeting isolated shepherds. Unquestionably the Soviets performed a similar study and reached a very similar conclusion. Of course the situation was a little more complicated. Some missiles would be destroyed in a surprise attack. Others would be intercepted or simply miss their targets. Others would fail to launch or be undergoing routine servicing. A degree of redundancy was needed, say four-fold. By this logic, neither side needed to go beyond the expense and inherent risks of producing more than 1600 warheads. But by 1985 the United States could deliver nearly 20,000 and the Soviet Union well over 11,000. Why did such an irrational state of affairs come about?

From the 1970s there was a considerable amount of research studying this question, and a number of factors have been suggested that might explain this degree of overkill. One is the competition between and within the armed services of a state. Any major arms programme carries with it prestige and resources and also secures careers for the service responsible for it. With nuclear weapons obviously intended as the mainstay of American defence strategy for decades, if not generations to come, all services campaigned to win a role in their deployment. Thus the United States Navy insisted on the superiority of the SLBM to prevent the United States Air Force gaining a monopoly over missile deployment. The United States Army, for its part, clamoured for battlefield nuclear weapons so as not to be excluded. Also within the army, for example, different sections demanded either nuclear artillery shells or ground launched cruise missiles.

All services lobbied government for a larger slice of the pie. But this does not necessarily explain why the size of the pie kept growing. Governments were not obliged to concede every demand made upon them by their own military. A similar argument can be used when addressing the issue of bureaucratic politics, where a similar process of competition for the resources, prestige and careers made available by the arms race existed between government agencies and departments.

Another possible factor explaining the nuclear build-up lies within the nature of the political and social systems involved. The fears and uncertainties of a nation can be exploited. Governments, it has been suggested, used the arms race to fuel fears of a foreign threat to enhance patriotism, national unity and their own authority. The arms race could be seen as a cynical exercise in social control. Both Soviet and American observers often accused their Cold War opponents of such squalid motives. But it remains a conspiracy theory based on intuition rather than fact, and should be treated with considerable caution.

A similar degree of caution should be used when ascribing the arms race to the military-industrial complex. This assumes that the arms manufacturers have a common interest in fostering a climate of fear to increase sales to the military. They are assumed to foster moral panics of the kind that followed the launch of Sputnik, so that the public will clamour for military expansion.

In the United States most major weapons systems are produced by about eight large corporations. Between them they represent a huge investment in productive capacity and expertise. They are seen as vital and irreplaceable national assets, and cannot be allowed to go bankrupt. If in trouble, the US government will always be tempted to bail them out with hefty orders. Also, within research laboratories, the development of new weapons had become the norm, and the arms race had developed a measure of organisational momentum. They represent great investments that make it difficult to justify halting. But how does this work in the Soviet Union, where the profitability of arms manufacturers was no great issue?

Electoral politics can, perhaps, supply another explanation. The claim that the nation was in danger, and that the incumbent administration was imperilling the United States by allowing a ‘missile gap’ to develop was certainly used to great effect by Kennedy in the 1960 presidential elections. It was a simple message, easily grasped by the electorate, accompanied by a simple solution – spend more money on defence. Once in office Kennedy found there was no ‘missile gap’, but expanded America’s missile forces in part, at least, to prevent a future opponent levelling similar accusations against him. At a lower level, congressmen of constituencies where warships, for instance, are constructed will constantly stress the Soviet naval threat. The more warships built, the more local jobs, and the more votes that might be won. This is perhaps a more convincing argument. But how could it be applied to the Soviet Union? As an explanation it is at best only partial.

Also, it is simply logical to respond to the actions of a potential enemy to negate any possible advantage they might gain. Thus if deterrence was to be the strategy, then the risk posed by ABM needed to be countered by MIRV and then MARV, to swamp or outfox it. Furthermore there was always the tantalizing possibility that research might find the ultimate weapon, or the impenetrable defence. As the arms race progressed the chances of this happening became increasingly unlikely. But could a state take the risk of ignoring the possibility? When in 1983 Reagan unveiled his Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), which envisaged a network of orbiting lasers, particle beams and intercepting darts to destroy ICBMs in flight, it was widely treated with derision in the United States, where the press jeeringly referred to it as ‘Star Wars’, after the science fiction film. But could the Soviet Union afford to assume it would never work and ignore it? It certainly caused Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev considerable anxiety.

Added to this was the simple fact that, in the arms race, the United States had the much stronger economy. Part of the logic of proceeding with SDI was that, eventually, the arms race would cripple the Soviet economy. This is in fact what was happening. By the 1980s the strain of keeping abreast in the arms race was causing unsustainable strains on the Soviet Union, paving the way for a complete re-alignment of East-West relations.

A final, perhaps even more attractive, point comes if the arms race is viewed as a measure of political will. The fact that it existed was not necessarily a sign that war must come, but simply proof that both sides were competing. It might even be seen as a relatively low risk form of competition. Competing by building weapons is, after all, a much better than competing by using them. But it must be said, even from such a perspective, had some error or mishandled crisis ever led these weapons to be used, the consequences for the world would have been too terrible to contemplate. Arguably by confining their competition to the sports field, or not competing at all, both sides would have served humanity far better.


Zombies

I've always liked Zombies, but this is the first time in a while that I've felt like I actually learned and improved after each run. A big part of that is the map design--Die Maschine is just the right size, with enough room that everyone can kite their own crowd of zombies but small enough that it doesn't take ages to learn the map basics. It only took a handful of runs to figure out which doors to unlock and when, how to get the power on, and how to unlock the Pack-a-Punch machine once we found a rhythm for the opening rounds, we could just focus on getting better and surviving longer.

However, while the learning curve is manageable, the difficulty curve could use some tweaks. It ramps up rapidly after round 10, as base weapons start to get less and less effective. On top of upgrading weapons at the Pack-a-Punch machine using points, you also have to upgrade their damage tier separately using salvage, which drops from zombies at random. Salvage is very rare compared to points, so you'll end up packing a weapon twice before round 20 but unable to upgrade its damage tier to match. Your ability to do damage can stall out as a result.

The inclusion of damage tiers on top of the traditional Pack-a-Punch makes upgrading a weapon a bit more convoluted than it really needs to be. Salvage is also used to upgrade your armor and craft equipment like grenades, meaning you often have to decide between upgrading a weapon or something else. It's a mechanic that's really in need of balancing--even with a weapon attachment that's supposed to increase the rate of salvage drops, I still struggle to get enough to do everything I need to do.

There are also radioactive bosses that join the normal zombie horde every few rounds, which exacerbates this issue. These bosses are really spongy, they eat a lot of bullets, and they survive between rounds. By round 20, we end up spending a good amount of our points at ammo crates just to keep up. Because packing a weapon the final time costs a whopping 30,000 points, it's difficult to save up enough points to get the final upgrade, let alone survive long enough without the damage boost you'll get from it. It's even harder once the game throws three of them at you at once.

The bosses themselves challenge you to coordinate with your team, though, and we found some success by kiting a lone zombie around the map while we dealt with the bosses. Delaying the start of a new round this way isn't a new strategy for Zombies, of course, but it's still satisfying to execute, especially while dodging radioactive projectiles and trading off runs to the ammo crates. It's just that the boss rounds occur too close together to give you and your team room to breathe.

Die Maschine is just the right size, with enough room that everyone can kite their own crowd of zombies but small enough that it doesn't take ages to learn the map basics.

The biggest issue plaguing Zombies at the moment, though, is a bevy of server and matchmaking hiccups. I spend 10-15 minutes just troubleshooting matchmaking before my team and I can actually start playing, and it's not uncommon for one person to randomly error out right as the run is starting. I've experienced this both when utilizing cross-play and when playing with only PS5 players. We've also had both PS5 and Xbox Series X players experience hard crashes that completely shut off their systems. Technical issues like these are forgivable in the grand scheme, considering Cold War is cross-gen on top of allowing cross-play and launched in the middle of a pandemic. Still, it's worth noting that there are still a lot of issues to be ironed out.

It's reasonable to expect updates to Cold War at a steady clip. Weapons will be tweaked, issues will be patched, and gameplay will be balanced. Zombies has a strong foundation and may very well be improved further by potential updates, but the gap between multiplayer and the Warzone ecosystem is too wide to be bridged by small tweaks. Zombies is a good co-op time overall, but multiplayer falls flat, leaving the strong campaign to do most of the heavy lifting.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is featured on our list of the best split-screen PS4 games.


Watch the video: The Entire History of the Cold War Explained. Best Cold War Documentary