"Two Worlds" map showing the USSR in red with the U.S. in blue barely visible over the horizon.
Map from Time Magazine, Jan. 2, 1950.

Has a New Cold War Really Begun? Why the Term Shouldn't Apply to Today's Great-Power Tensions

March 27, 2018
Odd Arne Westad
This is a summary of an article originally published by Foreign Affairs.   

The author writes that at the heart of the Cold War's bipolar global system was an ideological battle between socialism and capitalism. In that intense and dangerous era, strategic nuclear weapons "were intended to destroy the superpower opponent" regardless of the cost. The international affairs of today are no longer rooted in the absolutes of the Cold War. The world has moved beyond bipolarity and the centrality of ideology. "Whatever international system is being created at the moment, it is not a Cold War." Instead of turning to the overused term "Cold War," the author argues that we should look at how the lessons of the past influence our thinking about today. "If we want to apply history to policymaking, we must learn to be as alert to differences as we are to analogies.”

Read the full article at Foreign Affairs. 


Odd Arne Westad

Odd Arne Westad is a professor of U.S.-Asia relations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

Photo from Cornell University – PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.