Journal of Cold War Studies 1.1 (1999) 1-2
Until recently, Western scholars had no access to postwar archival materials in the former Eastern bloc. During the Communist era, the only people who were allowed to consult secret postwar documents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were trusted members of the Communist Party or central government. The main responsibility of archival officials in those countries was to ensure that no items, no matter how inconsequential, fell into the hands of unauthorized researchers.
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union have drastically changed this situation. Immense opportunities for primary research on all aspects of the Cold War are now available. Scholars can pore over sensitive archival materials from as recently as 1991 in a number of countries, and they can examine memoirs and other firsthand accounts by former officials who took part in high-level deliberations. Despite lingering obstacles in some of the former East-bloc archives (notably in Moscow), the vast amount of newly released documentation and the great number of new firsthand accounts have enabled scholars to gain a much better understanding of events that once seemed inscrutable.
The Harvard Project on Cold War Studies (HPCWS) was established at Harvard University in 1997 to take advantage of these opportunities, building on the valuable work of the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) and the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., which have taken the lead since 1992 in collecting new archival materials and making them available in the West. As laudable as the accomplishments of these organizations have been, the flood of new documentation from the former Communist bloc has overwhelmed even the best of efforts to cope with it. Because the volume of new archival material continues to expand rapidly, a key problem in the future will be to ensure that scholars are taking full advantage of this material. The Harvard project is seeking to go beyond the collection of documents by encouraging scholars to sift through archival materials and make use of new empirical evidence when evaluating theoretical claims. The project aims to expand and enrich what is known about specific Cold War episodes as well as broader historical themes. One of the chief means of accomplishing these goals is the sponsorship and encouragement [End Page 1] of scholarly publications based on archival research, including this new Journal of Cold War Studies.
The Journal of Cold War Studies is intended to complement, rather than duplicate, the existing CWIHP Bulletin, which has been an indispensable resource for scholars since 1992. This new journal features peer-reviewed articles based on archival research in all parts of the world that figured prominently in the Cold War: the former East-bloc countries, many Western countries, and a number of Third World states. Some articles provide reassessments of long-established historical interpretations, emphasizing the changes necessitated by declassified documents and new firsthand accounts. Other articles use new historical findings to shed light on current theoretical concerns. Many existing theories of international and domestic politics have relied on generalizations from the Cold War period, but until very recently the evidence for these generalizations was tenuous at best. One of the aims of the Journal of Cold War Studies is to encourage the use of declassified materials to test theories of decision making, deterrence, bureaucratic politics, institutional formation, bargaining, diplomacy, foreign policy conduct, international relations, and other matters. The journal's emphasis on the use of new evidence for theoretical purposes is in no way intended to exclude solid historical reassessments. Articles providing historical reevaluations are just as much encouraged as those set within a theoretical context.
Although a few issues of the journal will be organized around a single theme or theoretical debate (e.g., the utility of structural realist theory in explaining the dynamics and end of the Cold War), most will include articles on a wide variety of topics, as this first issue does. The journal also will include book reviews or longer review essays in each issue.
The editors welcome submissions of manuscripts from all scholars who have...