Melvyn Leffler: Compared with John Lewis GaddisHistorians in the News
For those readers who are unfamiliar with the debate, here is a quick overview of the four main schools of Cold War thought (with occasional blending thereof). Realism, the oldest approach, holds that the Cold War arose out of the power vacuum at the end of World War II and that American and Soviet leaders pursued their respective national interests because of power politics. Rising to ascendancy in the 1960s and 1970s, revisionism counters that American presidents' policy choices, along with the market structure of capitalism, caused the East-West conflict, while the Soviet Union was a revolutionary power seeking political and economic equality. Starting in the 1970s with newly available materials from the Truman Presidential Library and other U.S. sources, post-revisionism aims to make realism more nuanced and presents the Cold War as a series of mutual misunderstandings between the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, from the late 1980s to the present, corporatism merges the power politics of realism with the core economic arguments of revisionism, portraying the United States, the USSR, and their respective leaders as rational actors who constantly sought security through their strategic and economic policy choices. Although historians have dominated the debate between and among the four schools of thought, political scientists have weighed in heavily over the years. Indeed, none of these approaches would be possible without political science, since realism and neo-Marxist revisionism originated in that discipline. And it should be noted that the roots for these schools are found in practical politics rather than scholarly writing: witness the work of diplomat-scholar George F. Kennan, diplomat Charles Bohlen, and journalist Walter Lippmann for the realists and progressive politician Henry A. Wallace and, to an extent, Lippmann (again) for the revisionists....
comments powered by Disqus
- The ‘nation’s report card’ says it assesses critical thinking in history
- A ‘Quest for Justice’ for Murdered Civil Rights Pioneer, 52 Years Later
- Under Trump, Most Americans Lack Basic Knowledge to Understand Current Events, Study Finds
- Trump wants a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on July 4th
- What Happens When an Entire Campus Is Rooted in the Confederacy?
- Male historian tapped to lead Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas
- Decline in History Majors Continues, Departments Respond
- He’s 75 now. When he started teaching at the University of New Orleans students walked out on his class.
- ‘Fake news’ from 1738 offers lessons for modern historians, says Missouri scholar
- Peter Dreier calls on Americans to build monuments to liberal heroes