chapter  6
The Dancing Dinosaurs of the Cold War
Pages 25

When Charles Dickens composed his ever-popular novella A Christmas Carol, he assured his readers at the very outset that “Marley was dead.” If the fact of Marley’s demise were not understood and accepted from the beginning, the rest of Dickens’s recounting could have no impact. Dickens’s little work about ghosts and history is a fairy tale; this essay about empires and history is not. Let us nonetheless begin in Dickensian fashion by assuring our readers that the United States and the Soviet Union were empires. The United States is still an empire, albeit a diminished one. But during the years of the Cold War, upon which this essay focuses, the American and Soviet empires had their respective heydays. They looked like empires and behaved like empires, and they can therefore be studied as empires. If these propositions are not understood and accepted from the start, then our analysis will have little meaning.