In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Editor’s Note

With this issue the journal enters its seventh year. The issue begins with the final installment of my three-part article on the collapse of East European Communism and the reverberations within the Soviet Union. Parts 1 and 2, in the Fall 2003 and Fall 2004 issues, examined the direct and indirect "spillover" from Eastern Europe into the USSR. This final part discusses another crucial aspect of the spillover, namely, the acrimonious public debate in Moscow in 1990-1991 about the "loss" of Eastern Europe. The debate soured the political climate in the Soviet Union and gave impetus to hardline officials in the Soviet Communist Party, the state security forces, and the military, who ultimately tried—in vain—to reverse the processes of liberalization and democratization. Throughout the final two years of the USSR, recriminations about the collapse of the Warsaw Pact dogged Mikhail Gorbachev and his key advisers, especially Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev. The bitterness of the accusations lodged against Gorbachev circumscribed his freedom of maneuver and impeded many of his efforts at home. Part 3 also provides a conclusion for the article as a whole, drawing on recent theoretical and empirical literature about the diffusion of norms and ideas, the potential for cross-border "demonstration effects," and the international context of democratization.

The remaining articles in this issue are grouped together in a special forum on the Marshall Plan and the origins of the Cold War. The forum begins with an article by two prominent British scholars, Michael Cox and Caroline Kennedy-Pipe, who make use of recent secondary literature and some newly released documents to explore the genesis and impact of the Marshall Plan. They claim that the United States never accepted the Soviet Union's sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and that part of the rationale for the Marshall Plan was to loosen Moscow's grip. Contrary to what most scholars (including me) now believe, Cox and Kennedy-Pipe maintain that the Soviet Union was seeking close cooperation with the West until well after U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall delivered his famous commencement address at Harvard University in June 1947. They argue that the Marshall Plan was so conspicuously aimed at the erosion of Soviet control in Eastern Europe that it prompted Stalin "with great reluctance" to abandon his quest for lasting cooperation. The Soviet leader, they contend, reacted to the American initiative by proceeding with the Stalinization of Eastern Europe and by pursuing a much more belligerent policy toward the West. The conclusion the authors draw is that if the United States had pursued a more conciliatory policy and had taken due account of "legitimate" Soviet security concerns, the Cold War might have been averted. In that sense they hold the United States chiefly responsible for the intensity of the East-West standoff. Their harsh interpretation of U.S., British, and French policy in 1947, and their much more benign depiction of [End Page 1] Soviet policy, are at odds with the generally favorable assessments of the Marshall Plan in recent Western historiography.

Five distinguished scholars—Marc Trachtenberg, Günter Bischof, John Bledsoe Bonds, László Borhi, and Charles S. Maier—provide critiques of Cox's and Kennedy-Pipe's article. All the commentators take strong issue with Cox's and Kennedy-Pipe's interpretation, though the specific objections they raise are in some cases incompatible. Most of the commentators regard the article as little more than a throwback to the 1960s brand of revisionism. They point out salient omissions in the article, particularly the authors' failure to take account of disputes about the status of Germany that long predated the Marshall Plan. They also contend that Cox's and Kennedy-Pipe's discussion of secondary literature is highly selective and omits a vast body of work that is far more nuanced than some of the analyses the two authors cite. Bischhof and Borhi highlight the authors' failure to make any use of newly opened archives in the former Communist world (apart from translated materials or items cited in the secondary literature). Most of the commentators question whether Cox and Kennedy-Pipe can really be as confident as...