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The Superpowers: A short history PDF

208 Pages·2002·1.21 MB·English
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The Superpowers The Superpowers: a short history is a highly original and important book surveying the development of the USA and Russia (in its tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet phases) from the pre-twentieth century world of imperial powers to the present. It places the Cold War, from inception to ending, into the wider cultural, economic and political context. The Superpowers: a short history traces the intertwining history of the two powers chronologically. In a fascinating and innovative approach, the book adopts the metaphor of a lifespan to explore this evolutionary relationship. Commencing with the inheritance of the two countries up to 1898, the book continues by looking at their conception to 1921, including the effects of the First World War, gestation to 1945 with their period as allies during the Second World War and their youth examining the onset of the Cold War to 1968. The maturity phase explores the Cold War in the context of the Third World to 1991 and finally the book concludes by discussing the legacy the superpowers have left for the twenty- first century. The Superpowers: a short history is the first history of the two major participants of the Cold War and their relationship throughout the twentieth century and before. Paul Dukes is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Aberdeen. His many books include A History of Russia (Macmillan, 3rd edition, 1997) and World Order in History (Routledge, 1996). To Daniel and Ruth The Superpowers A short history Paul Dukes London and New York First published 2001 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2002. © 2001 Paul Dukes All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Dukes, Paul, 1934– The superpowers : a short history / Paul Dukes. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. United States–History. 2. Russia–History. 3. Soviet Union–History. 4. United States–Foreign relations. 5. Russia–Foreign relations. 6. Soviet Union–Foreign relations. 7. Imperialism–History. 8. Cold War. I. Title. E178 .D864 2000 973–dc21 00-055340 ISBN 0-415-23041-1 (hbk) ISBN 0-415-23042-x (pbk) ISBN 0-203-13093-6 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-203-17997-8 (Glassbook Format) Contents Preface vii 1 Inheritance: nations and empires, before 1898 1 Geography and history (before 1492) 2 Early modern colonisation (1492–1776) 7 Democratic revolution (1776–1815) 11 ‘Two great nations’ (1815–56) 15 Two great empires (1856–98) 21 2 Conception: the First World War and revolution, 1898–1921 30 Imperial showdown (1898–1914) 30 The First World War and proletarian revolution (1914–21) 35 Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism? 40 The spread of liberalism 44 Challenges to liberalism 51 3 Gestation: new world orders and the Second World War, 1921–45 57 New world orders (1921–33) 57 New showdown (1933–9) 63 The Second World War (1939–45) 67 Capitalism and socialism in one country 72 From universal revolution to new realism 77 vi Contents 4 Youth: Cold War and decolonisation, 1945–68 85 From Big Three to Super Two (1945) 85 From Berlin and Hiroshima (1945–) 90 To Czechoslovakia and Vietnam (–1968) 95 The dollar versus the ruble 102 The war of words 107 5 Maturity: Cold War and the Third World, 1968–91 116 The ‘Revolution’ of 1968 116 Vietnam and détente (–1979) 120 Afghanistan and collapse (–1991) 125 Overstretch and breakdown 130 The war of images 135 6 The legacy: death or rebirth? 1991– 143 The end of the Cold War? 143 World process or civilisations? 149 The end of the millennium 154 From the past: summary 160 Towards the future: conclusion 166 Notes 169 Bibliography 185 Index 187 Preface While there have been many books about the Cold War, there has not yet been one about the relationship of the major participants throughout the twentieth century. Aimed at filling such a gap, this book defines a superpower as able to conduct a global strategy including the possibility of destroying the world; to command vast economic potential and influence; and to present a universal ideology. It adopts the metaphor of a lifespan in an examination of the manner in which the USA on the one hand and the USSR (preceded and succeeded by Russia) on the other have constituted superpowers, as follows. Chapter 1, ‘The Inheritance’ argues that the subjects cannot be understood without some understanding of their earlier antecedents. The treatment, as throughout the work, is thematic as well as chronological, with attention given to economic and cultural as well as political aspects of the subject. Chapter 2, ‘Conception’, places a strengthening USA and a weakening Tsarist Russia in the context of imperialism before going on to discuss the impact of the First World War and the Russian Revolution, which led to the formation of the respective ideologies both challenging traditional liberalism, Wilsonism and Leninism. Chapter 3, ‘Ges- tation’, describes the manner in which both USA and USSR strove for their world orders along with older and newer rivals before the Second World War brought them closer together as their rivals were defeated or declined. Chapter 4, ‘Youth’, examines the onset of the Cold War along with the process of decolonisation. It does not seek to attribute responsibility, but rather to set out the conflicting aims and comparative strengths of the two sides. Chapter 5, ‘Maturity’, takes the Cold War from the US involvement in Vietnam to the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan as principal examples of superpower engagement in the Third World, where an emerging rival to both of them was the People’s Republic of China. It also analyses the Soviet collapse. Chapter 6,‘The Legacy’, poses such questions as, is the Cold War over, and how has it been assessed? How have American and Russian analysts placed the superpowers in the context of ‘world process’ or ‘civilisations’ and how should they be placed in the context of the end of the millennium? A summary follows as part of an viii Preface examination of the uses of the past before a few final conjectures are made about the future in conclusion. This book marks a return to a subject which I first addressed in another work published thirty years ago, and have considered in other books since. In particular, The Emergence of the Super-Powers (Macmillan, 1970) now looks like a preliminary sketch, considering the twentieth century in less than fifty pages. The Last Great Game (Pinter, 1989) approached the subject making use of the Braudelian concepts event, conjuncture and structure in ascending order of emphasis. Again, therefore, there is comparatively little on the twentieth century. In the present work, apart from the adoption of the guiding metaphor, the treatment is more conventional as well as somewhat fuller. Nevertheless, the structure may be found in Chapter 1, which draws heavily on these earlier works now out of print. What I have called the Great Conjuncture, Wilsonism versus Leninism, reappears in Chapter 2, but in fresh guise. For the rest, the overall approach and most of the material is ‘new’. That is to say, although almost none of it has been taken from archives, considerable numbers of publications have been consulted, ranging from the speeches of politicians to the works of novelists and poets. Some key works of yesteryear have have seemed worthy of extended mention. An enormous debt is owed to them and to more recent publications, including those by fellow historians. To the best of my knowledge and belief, no other work takes the same approach as my own. For example, a book with which I mostly agree, Walter LaFeber’s America, Russia and the Cold War, 1945–1996 (New York, 1997), and another with which to a considerable extent I disagree, John Lewis Gaddis, Russia, the Soviet Union, and the United States: An Interpretive History (New York, 1990), both devote no more than a few pages to the period before the outbreak of the Second World War. However, more needs to be said about these outstanding scholars. Walter LaFeber has produced other books giving masterly surveys of US diplomacy as a whole as well as throwing light on a range of particular questions. Moreover, since I first heard an exemplary lecture by him in 1970, I have listened to him and read him with great respect. Meanwhile, John Lewis Gaddis has gained a reputation as one of the leading Cold War specialists with a series of publications culminating in We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford, 1997), which has been praised for setting the agenda for future work but also criticised for sounding a note of triumphalism. Among other stimulating colleagues, I would like to include Academician Nikolai Nikolaevich Bolkhovitinov, who has set the highest standards in his studies of early American– Russian contacts as well as demonstrating what could be done even in difficult circumstances. Selecting the material which has seemed most appropriate for my purpose, I have made due acknowledgements in the Notes. While accepting ultimate responsibility for what is published here, I would like to acknowledge the indispensable assistance that I have received from two good friends, Dr John Kent, Reader in International Relations at the London School of Preface ix Economics and Dr Cathryn Brennan, Honorary Research Fellow in History at the University of Aberdeen, both of whom have read the penultimate draft with great thoroughness and insight. My profound thanks to both of them for vital improvements. I would also like to record my gratitude to Professor Clive Lee of the Department of Economics, with whom I conducted a course on The Superpowers, for his useful comments and suggestions, to the students who took that course in successive presentations for their varied contributions, to colleagues in the History Department as well as in the Queen Mother Library for their advice and support, and to members of the Routledge team who have seen the book through the various stages of its production in an efficient and expeditious manner. Paul Dukes King’s College, Old Aberdeen 31 May 2000

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