You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.


Log in through your institution.

We All Lost the Cold War

We All Lost the Cold War

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 566
Stable URL:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    We All Lost the Cold War
    Book Description:

    Drawing on recently declassified documents and extensive interviews with Soviet and American policy-makers, among them several important figures speaking for public record for the first time, Ned Lebow and Janice Stein cast new light on the effect of nuclear threats in two of the tensest moments of the Cold War: the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the confrontations arising out of the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. They conclude that the strategy of deterrence prolonged rather than ended the conflict between the superpowers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2108-2
    Subjects: History
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE (pp. ix-xii)
    Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein
  4. ABBREVIATIONS (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction (pp. 3-16)

    The Cold War Is Over. Within a brief period of two years, the political map of Europe changed beyond recognition: the Berlin Wall came down, Germany was reunified within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), communist governments were ousted in Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union disappeared. Even before the Berlin Wall was demolished in November 1989, many analysts in the West had declared the Cold War over and the United States its winner. This judgment quickly became conventional wisdom.

    The consequences of more than four decades of intense Soviet-American rivalry warrant a more sober assessment. The Cold War had...

    • CHAPTER TWO Missiles to Cuba: Foreign-Policy Motives (pp. 19-50)

      The deployment of missiles to Cuba came as a rude shock to the Kennedy administration. Senior officials had reasoned that Khrushchev would have to be completely irrational to challenge the United States in a region where it possessed overwhelming military superiority after President Kennedy had made clear that the introduction of offensive weapons was unacceptable to his administration.² Ever since the crisis, Western analysts have speculated about Khrushchev’s motives for sending missiles to Cuba and his reasons for believing that the United States would tolerate them.³

      For many years, Soviet officials were extremely reticent to talk about the “Caribbean crisis.”...

    • CHAPTER THREE Missiles to Cuba: Domestic Politics (pp. 51-66)

      By 1962, Khrushchev was extremely frustrated by the apparent failure of many of his key domestic programs. To sweep away the obstacles that he believed stood in the way of their success, he took dramatic and risky action. The missile deployment was one of these actions; its most important purpose was to compel the United States toward a political accommodation with the Soviet Union. An accommodation would strengthen Khrushchev’s hand at home and free scarce economic resources for agricultural and industrial development. The first part of the chapter examines the domestic context of the missile deployment and the links between...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Why Did Khrushchev Miscalculate? (pp. 67-93)

      This chapter reconstructs Khrushchev’s calculations on the eve of the Cuban missile deployment. It addresses what has always been one of the most puzzling questions about the crisis: why did Khrushchev think that the United States would accept Soviet missile bases in Cuba?

      Most Western analysts have argued that Khrushchev went ahead with the deployment because he did not believe that Kennedy would discover the missiles before they were operational or risk war to remove them once they were. We contend that Khrushchev had no good reasons to suppose that Soviet missile bases could be constructed secretly in Cuba, or...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Why Did the Missiles Provoke a Crisis? (pp. 94-109)

      The discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba created a crisis for the Kennedy administration.³ A week later, Kennedy’s proclamation of a limited naval “quarantine” of Cuba triggered a crisis in Moscow. There is nothing puzzling about the Soviet reaction to Kennedy’s speech: it issued a direct challenge and raised the prospect of an American attack against Cuba and Soviet forces stationed there. Considerable controversy surrounds the Kennedy administration’s reaction to the missile sites; critics contend that Soviet missiles in Cuba did not threaten any vital American interest and that it was irresponsible for the president to risk war to remove...

    • CHAPTER SIX The Crisis and Its Resolution (pp. 110-146)

      The outcome of the missile crisis has traditionally been regarded as a triumph of American coercive diplomacy.³ John F. Kennedy exploited his country’s nuclear superiority and conventional superiority in the Caribbean to impose a limited blockade of Cuba. He also prepared to mount an aerial offensive and invasion of Cuba. Confronted with superior force and resolve and offered the face-saving concession of a pledge not to invade Cuba, Khrushchev reluctantly agreed to remove the Soviet missiles. This explanation of Khrushchev’s retreat captures only a small part of the much more complex calculus of both leaders.

      The Cuban missile crisis is...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Failure to Prevent War, October 1973 (pp. 149-181)

      The crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of the October War in the Middle East was the most serious since 1962. The Soviet Union threatened that it might act unilaterally to stop the fighting between Egypt and Israel. The United States then attempted to deter Soviet intervention through a worldwide alert of its strategic and conventional forces. This was the only time, since 1962, that strategic forces had been alerted during a crisis between the superpowers.

      The crisis developed in stages. It grew out of the bitter Arab-Israel conflict that once again exploded into...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Failure to Limit the War: The Soviet and American Airlifts (pp. 182-197)

      On October 6, 1973, at 1:55 P.M., 240 Egyptian planes crossed the Suez Canal to bomb command posts, airfields, and radar installations of the Israel Defense Forces, and 1,848 artillery guns opened fire along the entire front. Syrian forces attacked simultaneously across the Golan Heights. War in the Middle East had begun. Although they had failed to prevent war, the United States and the Soviet Union could still have prevented a serious crisis in their relationship if they had limited the war before their allies risked serious defeat.

      At the beginning of the war, both Moscow and Washington expected Arab...

    • CHAPTER NINE The Failure to Stop the Fighting (pp. 198-225)

      “Though events have gone too far,” Brezhnev wrote to Nixon on 17 October, “they can still be managed.”² The United States and the Soviet Union were both shipping massive amounts of military supplies to their allies, but they could still have prevented a serious crisis in their relationship if they had ended the war before any of their allies risked serious defeat. Washington and Moscow both wanted to prevent a humiliating Arab defeat, yet they failed to stop the fighting before Egypt faced a catastrophic military defeat. Their failure to stop the fighting before Egyptian armies were cut off and...

    • CHAPTER TEN The Failure to Avoid Confrontation (pp. 226-260)

      On the night of 24 October 1973, the Soviet Union proposed joint military intervention with the United States to end the fighting. Moscow warned that if joint action were impossible, it would consider taking unilateral action to halt Israel’s military offensive. In response, the United States alerted its nuclear and conventional forces worldwide in an attempt to deter Soviet military intervention. The superpowers found themselves in their most dangerous confrontation since the Cuban missile crisis.

      The crisis developed when it was least expected, after Brezhnev and Kissinger had jointly negotiated the terms of a cease-fire. Both leaders wanted to stop...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The Crisis and Its Resolution (pp. 261-288)

      The crisis in 1973 had many of the classic hallmarks of an escalatory spiral. Israel had refused to stop the advance of its armies when they were on the verge of defeating Egypt. The Soviet Union threatened to consider unilateral action to enforce the cease-fire and, in response, the United States alerted its forces worldwide. These actions provoked a crisis between the superpowers. The crisis was resolved, however, without further escalation. The Soviet Union decided on themorning of 25 October not to respond with military measures to the American alert and thereby stopped the process of escalation. Officials of the...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE How Crises Are Resolved (pp. 291-323)

      For almost a quarter-century, Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis has been hailed as a textbook case of compellence.² His success in getting the Soviet Union to withdraw its missiles from Cuba encouraged the belief that nuclear crises could be “won” by using military threats to convey resolve. Henry Kissinger and his colleagues shared this belief in 1973 when they ordered a worldwide alert of American forces. Our evidence suggests that threats are less effective than American leaders suppose. In 1962, they were only one component of crisis resolution. In 1973, threats failed to intimidate the leaders of either...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Deterrence and Crisis Management (pp. 324-347)

      The Cuban missile crisis spawned a large literature on crisis management.² Much of it stressed the importance of deterrence and compellence and analyzed the tactics that could give credibility to the threats that are at the core of those strategies.³ More recent studies have identified technical, organizational, and political constraints that make it very difficult, and sometimes impossible, for leaders to manipulate the risk of war with precision. Critics of deterrence and compellence also maintain that political leaders have been insufficiently sensitive to the risk of inadvertent war inherent in these strategies.⁴

      The evidence from our cases supports these criticisms...

    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN Nuclear Threats and Nuclear Weapons (pp. 348-368)

      The role of nuclear weapons in Soviet-American relations has been hotly debated. Politicians, generals, and most academic strategists believe that America’s nuclear arsenal restrained the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Critics maintain that nuclear weapons were a root cause of superpower conflict and a threat to peace. Controversy also surrounds the number and kinds of weapons necessary to deter, the political implications of the strategic balance, and the role of nuclear deterrence in hastening the collapse of the Soviet imperium.

      These debates have had a distinctly theological quality. Partisans frequently defended their positions without recourse to relevant evidence. Some...

    • POSTSCRIPT Deterrence and the End of the Cold War (pp. 369-376)

      The final claim made for nuclear deterrence is that it helped to end the Cold War. As impeccable a liberal asNew York Timescolumnist Tom Wicker reluctantly conceded that Star Wars and the massive military buildup in the Reagan administration had forced the Soviet Union to reorient its foreign and domestic policies.² The conventional wisdom has two components. American military capability and resolve allegedly convinced Soviet leaders that aggression anywhere would meet unyielding opposition. Forty years of arms competition also brought the Soviet economy to the edge of collapse. The Reagan buildup and Star Wars, the argument goes, were...

  9. NOTES (pp. 377-522)
  10. APPENDIX (pp. 523-526)
    A. Dobrynin
  11. NAME INDEX (pp. 527-534)
  12. GENERAL INDEX (pp. 535-542)