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Journal of Cold War Studies 4.4 (2002) 1-2

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Editor's Note

This issue marks the completion of the fourth year of the journal. Putting out four rather than three issues a year requires a good deal more work, but the extra effort is worthwhile to ensure that we are able to take advantage of the increased volume of manuscripts we are receiving. We look forward to publishing many more feature-length articles, survey articles, review essays, and research notes—as well as plenty more book reviews—in the coming year.

The first article in this issue, by James Marchio, looks at the fate of the Planning Coordination Group (PCG), an extradepartmental body set up by the Eisenhower administration in March 1955 to coordinate U.S. political warfare activities against the Soviet bloc. Many officials within the administration had high hopes for the new group when it was created, but by the end of 1955 the PCG had been abolished, having failed to accomplish its assigned tasks. The fact that the PCG was established at all indicates that the Eisenhower administration still had a strong interest in covert operations and psychological warfare behind the Iron Curtain, but the failure of the new body to enjoy sustained, high-level support was a sign that the most aggressive phase of the administration's Cold War strategy was ending. The abrupt demise of the PCG left the administration singularly unprepared for the ferment that engulfed Eastern Europe in 1956, culminating in riots in Poland in June and a full-scale revolution in Hungary in October and November. The administration's dismal response to the Hungarian revolution did not bring a complete halt to covert operations and psychological warfare in Eastern Europe, but it did hasten the end of the administration's boldest policies. Marchio uses this case study to highlight some of the contradictions that plagued the Eisenhower administration's foreign policy, with rhetoric that all too often was out of sync with reality.

The second article, by Rose McDermott, draws on the newly published radio addresses written by Ronald Reagan in the 1970s after his two terms as governor of California and before his election to the presidency of the United States. McDermott contends that these documents, along with other writings and materials by Reagan from the early 1950s through the mid-1980s, reveal consistent beliefs about the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and U.S. foreign policy. Drawing on insights from experimental psychology, she enumerates five specific beliefs that, in her view, underlay Reagan's conception of U.S.- Soviet arms control. She shows that Reagan's convictions were directly reflected in the arms control policies that his administration adopted in the early 1980s, and she argues that the firmness of the president's beliefs—a firmness deriving in part from a common judgmental bias known as availability—caused the administration to stick tenaciously with its initial arms control proposals long after those proposals had been summarily rejected by the Soviet Union. Although it is questionable [End Page 1] whether a more flexible approach would have produced better results, McDermott's goal is to show how Reagan's deeply held beliefs shaped policy choices and outcomes.

The third article, by Jeremi Suri, is a survey of recent literature on the end of the Cold War. Since 1989 a vast number of books and articles have sought to explain why the fierce Cold War competition—which as recently as the mid-1980s seemed destined to continue indefinitely—came to such a sudden, peaceful, and unexpected end. Suri's essay is perforce selective in its coverage, and he downplays the sharp disagreements that have emerged among scholars about all aspects of the end of the Cold War. Rather than reviewing scholarly debates, Suri's aim is to distill his own narrative from some of the recent literature. Although Suri does not delve into the theoretical discussions undertaken by international relations (IR) scholars, he touches on several themes and issues that are of relevance to the IR literature. Suri's synthesis may not earn universal agreement, but it provides...