chapter  3
24 Pages

FOURTEEN NOTES ON THE VERY CONCEPT OF THE COLD WAR

ByAnders Stephanson

It was exasperation with an omnipresent cliché that occasioned these notes: ‘Now that the cold war is over, etc., etc.’ Every article on international affairs seemed to begin with it, often followed by reference to that other well-known fact, ‘globalization.’ The formula became reified punditry, something akin to advertising language. It is not hard, of course, to see why the epoch assumed such a selfevident aura. Doubtless the postwar ‘period’ was dominated geopolitically by the USA-USSR relationship; doubtless too, therefore, something did come to a resounding end with the Soviet collapse. But the effect of this seamless periodization is to conceal qualitative shifts in the nature of the relationship. We forget, for example, that Richard Nixon announced the end of the Cold War in Moscow in the early 1970s. Typically, moreover, the obvious end is retrospectively inscribed in the beginning and in the whole nature of the period so as to allow its history to be rewritten as an ‘explanation’ of the obvious. Meanwhile, other possible periodizations are barred or simply subsumed, periodizations, say, in terms of ‘decolonization,’ ‘the economic rise of Japan and Germany,’ or ‘the universalization of the European model of the nation-state.’