Learning from the Cold War

The Cold War was won as a result of military "containment" of Soviet expansion, the Soviet bloc's own internal weaknesses, and efforts to provoke a crisis of confidence among communist leaders. The same combination of factors should be considered when confronting regimes like those in Iran and North Korea.

NEW YORK – Every war is fought three times. First comes the political discussion over whether to start or enter it. Then comes the question of how to fight it. And, finally, there is consideration of what lessons should be learned from it.

The Cold War, the third major conflict of the twentieth century, is no exception to this rule. All three phases can be identified, and all three triggered intense debate.

There were, for example, those who questioned whether the Cold War was in fact necessary and whether the Soviet Union and Communism constituted a threat. Such “revisionists” were a distinct minority, which is a good thing, as there is no reason to believe that the Soviets and Communism were a benign force. As a result, the Cold War, a four-decade-long global struggle, became a reality.

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