Andrew S. Terrell HIST 6393: Empire, War and Revolution!

Fall 2010

• Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Odd Westad seeks to remind his readers that the Cold War was indeed a global phenomena in his latest monograph. Of great interest when seeking connections between Cold War scenarios and contemporary conflict in 2010, Westad points out how, in a multipolar much like a bipolar one, opposition to one does not always mean support for another. Westad also documents the slow trend from north to south Africa throughout the latter decades of the Cold War as Marxist regimes pushed Western allies further south. Using extensive archival research all over the world, Westad argues that there were connections between the superpower hegemony conflict and Third World decolonization efforts. Following his symposium address in the late 1990s on the use of Soviet and other language archives when trying to redraw what we really know about the Cold War, Westad moves the traditional Anglo-centric narrative to Third World nations. Westad contends both the United States and the Soviet Union had visions of a new world system based on the perceived strengths of their regimes: liberty and social justice respectively. Westad orients narrative in the direction of showing what he believes to be the largest tragedy of the cold war; that two projects both genuinely anti colonial in origins became part of a much older pattern of colonial domination. Because of the alarming moves that ended up imposing a new colonialist trend in superpower policies, Westad concludes that Soviet engagement in Afghanistan hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union. Not only did it exacerbate a deteriorating economy, but the intended result of bettering relations with Iran under Khomeini failed to come to fruition because of religious determinism. Agency throughout Westad’s monograph is given to local actors

Andrew S. Terrell HIST 6393: Empire, War and Revolution!

Fall 2010

involved with Third World interventions. However, Westad does not go so far as to throw out the importance of the superpowers. When discussing Ronald Reagan’s policies, Westad contends his attempts at spreading counterrevolutions in hopes of pushing the Soviets back failed throughout his first administration. Rather, American pressures actually forced the Soviets to retrench in their escapades to the point that successive attempts at proxy conflicts turned into quagmires instead; Afghanistan is the largest case for this. Wested sees Gorbachev as the first enlightened Soviet leader with an understanding and appreciation of self determination, but note that his ascension to power was simply too late to save face for the Soviet Union. Westad concludes with perceptions of the superpowers from the Third World states. He asserts that the results of American interventions ruined American prestige in many regions of the world. He contends that, “Instead of being a force for good--which they were no doubt intended to be--these incursions have devastated many societies and left them more vulnerable to further disasters of their own making.” He forecasts a point in time when Third World nations will rise up against the West, and as the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close, he ends up proven more correct with each escalating crisis in Third World states.

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