Journal of Cold War Studies 4.2 (2002) 1-2
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Until I began serving as the editor of this journal, my only exposure to peer review in the publication business had come as an author and a manuscript reviewer. I did not have a sense of how the process works for editors: Are decisions easy to make? Are judgments sometimes arbitrary? What happens when external reviewers offer sharply divergent judgments? How easy is it to find suitable reviewers? The past four years as editor have given me a new appreciation of the great value of peer review. It really is the best—indeed the only—way to ensure the quality of an academic journal. Although the editor has to make the final call, the input of external reviewers is immensely important. Every manuscript we consider undergoes at least two external reviews, and sometimes as many as five or six. In two cases we ended up rejecting manuscripts that were read by at least nine external reviewers. (The number was so large in these two cases because the manuscripts had been revised and resubmitted twice, making for three rounds of external reviews.) By the time an article emerges from the peer review process and appears in the journal, we are confident that it is worth publishing.
Obviously, peer review cannot work properly unless the external reviewers are punctual in their evaluations. With very few exceptions, we have been fortunate in dealing with scholars who have complied with our tight deadlines. We are grateful to all the external reviewers (including all members of the Editorial Board) who have provided thoughtful, timely assessments. As a small token of thanks, we intend to publish a list in the Fall 2002 issue of themany people who have served as manuscript reviewers for Volumes 1 through 4.
In the current issue we are publishing two articles that look at the role of propaganda and psychological warfare in Western Cold War strategy, an article on Soviet foreign policy at the outset of the Cold War, and a survey of recent literature on the two Cold War alliances in Europe—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact. The first article, by Tony Shaw, explores religious motifs in U.S., British, and Soviet films of the 1950s. Shaw reveals that some British and American filmmakers incorporated religious themes into their productions at the explicit behest of government officials, who believed that such themes would generate public support for Western Cold War policies. Other filmmakers were simply acting on their own in response to prevailing sentiment about the Cold War—sentiment that (especially in the United States) was often influenced by religion and religious organizations. Although it is difficult to know whether the religious overtones of Western films had much impact on the public mood, Shaw argues that religious motifs may have worked to the U.S. and British governments' advantage in some cases, but may actually have been counterproductive in others. In particular, films that presented crude [End Page 1] and heavy-handed allegories of the Cold War may have sparked more derision than approval.
The second article, by Geoffrey Roberts, shows that the hardline policy adopted by Josif Stalin after World War II was not the only option available. Maksim Litvinov, the former Soviet foreign commissar who was restored to high-level diplomatic and advisory positions during World War II, recommended an approach that would have allowed the wartime U.S.-Soviet cooperation to continue in the postwar era. Lit- vinov's influence, however, was gradually undercut by Vyacheslav Molotov, his successor as foreign commissar, who had had a falling-out with Litvinov. Even if Molotov had been less obstructive, Litvinov's conception of an institutionalized and orderly division of the world into security zones reflected a degree of realpolitik that, in Roberts's view, was unacceptable to Stalin. Although one might challenge Roberts's contention that the approach ultimately adopted by Stalin and Molotov was driven purely by ideology, there is no doubt that Soviet policies after World War II were—for whatever reason—far less conciliatory...