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Journal of Cold War Studies 4.4 (2002) 133-135

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Book Review

From War to Peace:
Altered Strategic Landscapes in the Twentieth Century

Paul Kennedy and William I. Hitchcock, eds., From War to Peace: Altered Strategic Landscapes in the Twentieth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. 336 pp. $30.00.

As Geoffrey Blainey observed many years ago, for every thousand pages published on the causes of war there is less than one page written on the causes of peace. This is largely due to the widespread misconception that international peace is the normal state of affairs and to the reality that war is more newsworthy than peace. Yet, if our goal is not simply to understand why specific wars have occurred in the past but also to prevent their outbreak in the future, we must study the causes of peace. More specifically, we must try to understand how leaders have crafted postwar settlements that led to stable and legitimate international orders and why other settlements proved fragile and unstable. In From War to Peace, Paul Kennedy and William Hitchcock gather a large and impressive group of historians and political scientists to address various issues related to postwar settlements in the twentieth century. The volume's thirteen essays offer invaluable insights on past peace settlements and on how the United States, currently at the zenith of its power, could build a lasting international order consistent with its own interests and values. [End Page 133]

The volume is divided into three parts. Part one addresses the reordering of Europe after World War I. In an essay on the international system of 1919-1923, Carole Fink focuses on the interplay between the symbiotic forces of utopianism and realism. The failure of the "new diplomacy" of 1919 to provide European and global pacifica- tion, Fink argues, was due to the flawed structure of the peace conference, which bred elements of realism, utopianism, and confusion that doomed the League of Nations, the doctrine of self-determination, and attempts to forge a new economic order. Charles Maier then compares the post-World War I settlement with that crafted after 1945. He explores the relationship between domestic stability and international order and the possibilities of civil society or transnational associationalism as an alternative to international anarchy and national self-sufficiency.

Part two comprises five chapters on various subjects pertaining to World War II and the Cold War. Melvyn Leffler examines the logic and evolution of American grand strategy from 1940 to 1950. This is followed by William Hitchcock's fascinating essay on the reversal of fortune between Britain and France from 1945 to 1956. Employing a rather counterintuitive logic, Hitchcock argues that it was precisely because "Britain's expectation had been raised by its triumph in a global struggle, while France's pretensions to grandeur had been badly damaged in 1940," that "the French proved more flexible, innovative, and successful than their British counterparts" in adjusting their national strategy to the postwar terrain (p.81). The next chapter, by Marc Trachtenberg, points out that the German problem was of fundamental importance not only because it involved a clash of interests at the heart of the Cold War, but also because it raised a core theoretical question about the dynamics of international politics and the statecraft it can hope to achieve. Contrary to the realist views espoused by George Kennan, the solution to the German problem—a solution that limited Germany's power and freedom of action in fundamental ways—demonstrated that a system of artificial structures could be established to constrain the free play of political forces and thereby maintain system stability. Randall Woods's chapter chronicles the trials of multilateralism as an organizing principle for the new economic order constructed at the end of the Second World War. Noting the "xenophobia, isolationism, and nationalism that dominated American politics" after the war, Woods concludes that it was not "that multilateralism did not work during the crucial period from 1944 to 1947. It was never really tried" (p.132). Finally, Tony...