Journal of Cold War Studies 1.2 (1999) 125-127
Statecraft and Security:
The Cold War and Beyond.
Ken Booth, ed., Statecraft and Security: The Cold War and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 374 pp.
Ken Booth notes in the introduction to this volume that, "this is a crucial time to reflect on the recent past and the long-term future of international relations" (p. 5). The 45 years of confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union shaped all aspects of international relations and had a far-reaching impact on the domestic politics of the two superpowers, their principal allies, and other states. The Cold War was integral to the development of international relations and security studies as academic disciplines. Moreover, the Cold War continues to influence the way scholars think about international relations and the way policy makers conduct grand strategy. The political, social, economic, and intellectual legacies of the Cold War will continue well into the twenty-first century. A careful theoretical re-evaluation of the Cold War and its impact on international relations has long been needed; but, unfortunately, this edited volume does not entirely fulfill that need.
The book consists of three parts. The first part explores the key lessons and legacies of the Cold War. The second part examines post-1991 international politics, including the role of the United States, post-Soviet Russia, China, Japan, the states of Western Europe, and lesser powers in shaping the post-Cold War order. The third part offers speculation about world politics in the twenty-first century and the future of the discipline of international relations.
This eclectic set of essays, by distinguished political scientists, international historians, and policy analysts, does not set forth and test theories empirically or propose a new research agenda. Instead, the contributors ask various historical and ontological questions: Was the Cold War structurally determined or a social construction? Was the bipolar distribution of power following World War II a necessary and sufficient condition for the Cold War and the rigid ideologies espoused by both sides? Conversely, was the human propensity to see the world in terms of "us" and "them" the main factor responsible for the Cold War? Could the Cold War or at least its most dangerous superpower crises (for example, the Berlin Crises, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the 1973 Middle East War) have been averted? Did the so-called Cold War mindset actually predate the Cold War by several decades or even several centuries? Now that the [End Page 125] Soviet Union has ceased to exist, has the fundamental nature of international relations changed as well? Will the future of international relations resemble the past?
Most of the essays are implicitly (and in a few cases explicitly) critical of neorealism in general, and Kenneth Waltz's balance-of-power theory in particular. The contributors represent different theoretical camps, epistemologies, and analytical perspectives, although they all believe that human agency was a necessary condition for the outbreak, conduct, and peaceful end of the Cold War. In their view, the bipolar distribution of power, in and of itself, cannot explain why the Cold War broke out, how the superpowers and their proxies "fought" it, or why it ended quickly and peacefully a decade ago. (It is worth noting that even the most ardent neorealists would now agree with that conclusion.)
Although each essay has its strengths and weaknesses, all are well researched and sensibly argued. Taken together, however, the individual essays do not constitute a coherent whole. This is the book's main weakness. The absence of a common theoretical perspective makes it difficult to ascertain what the volume's conclusions are for international relations theory, historiography, and policy analysis.
For one thing, the authors seem to disagree over what the Cold War actually was. Ken Booth and Philip Allot write chapters on the Cold War mindset and the intellectual antecedents of the East-West ideological clash, respectively. For them, the Cold War both predated and has outlived the 45-year superpower rivalry. Others, however, see the Cold War...