- Editor’s Note
This issue begins with an article by Tony Shaw discussing the production and unsuccessful debut of the film The Blue Bird, which was jointly made by U.S. and Soviet film crews in the mid-1970s at the height of détente. Even though top-notch Hollywood celebrities and a well-known director, George Cukor, were involved with the film, the whole enterprise was plagued by glitches and delays from the very start, some stemming from cultural differences (including different approaches to cinema) and others resulting from Cukor’s inability to make the joint effort go smoothly. The coproduction had been initiated at a time when détente seemed to be flourishing, but the increase of political tensions by the time the film was completed could not help but affect its reception. Even though The Blue Bird had no political overtones, the audiences in the West were even smaller than they might have been. The movie proved to be a colossal dud, panned by the critics and largely ignored by the cinema-going public. Shaw uses the whole experience as a metaphor for the U.S.-Soviet détente era and the cultural dimension of the Cold War.
The next article, by Elena Dragomir, deals with the formation of the Soviet bloc’s Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) in January 1949. Drawing on declassified documents from the Romanian archives, Dragomir argues that Romanian leaders at the outset were eager to create the CMEA because they conceived of it as a useful mechanism for facilitating economic growth in Romania and the Soviet bloc more generally and for coordinating production and trade. Romanian officials at the time did not envisage that Soviet leaders in later decades would try to use the CMEA as a means of establishing a supranational division of labor that would consign Romania to permanent status as a supplier of raw materials and unfinished goods for the other CMEA countries. Dragomir concedes that the CMEA was ultimately the Soviet Union’s creation and that only Iosif Stalin could have approved such an endeavor, but she believes that Romania’s support for the idea also contributed to the organization’s birth.
These articles are followed by two forums looking at recent books. The first is a set of four commentaries on a book edited by Christian Nuenlist, Anna Locher, and Garret Martin, Globalizing de Gaulle: International Perspectives on French Foreign Policies, 1958–1969 (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010). Four eminent historians and political scientists who have studied Charles de Gaulle’s foreign policy—Irwin Wall, Andrew Moravcsik, Edward A. Kolodziej, and Marc Trachtenberg—offer their evaluations of the book and use it as a vehicle for discussing larger issues about de Gaulle’s foreign policy. Although the commentators praise many aspects of the book and point out the new insights that emerge, they raise questions about a few of the individual [End Page 1] contributions. The essay that sparks the greatest controversy is the one by Garret Martin, who argues that de Gaulle had a well-conceived program for overcoming the Cold War and ending the division of Europe—a program that may ultimately have failed but not for want of trying. Kolodziej largely agrees with Martin, but Moravcsik and Trachtenberg challenge the argument, highlighting numerous contradictions in de Gaulle’s strategy and raising questions about de Gaulle’s sincerity in his public claims about both the United States and Germany. Trachtenberg emphasizes the role of bluster and doublespeak in de Gaulle’s approach and indicates that he now largely accepts the “revisionist” political-economy argument put forth since the late 1990s by Moravcsik, who sees de Gaulle as having been motivated chiefly by a desire to propitiate key domestic economic and political constituencies. In his own contribution to the forum, Moravcsik provides a robust defense of the revisionist approach and highlights problems with Martin’s efforts to link strategic-military and political-economic”? “strategic military and economic considerations. Nuenlist, Locher, and Martin offer a reply to the commentaries.
The other forum deals with Sergey Radchenko’s book Two Suns in the Heavens: The Sino-Soviet Struggle for Supremacy, 1962–1967 (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center...