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Book Review: Lessons from the Cold War Era for Today

By Shalin Hai-Jew, Kansas State University 


Cold War:  Global Impact and Lessons Learned 
Allison L. Palmadessa 
New York:  Nova Science Publishers
251 pp. 

If core human nature involves different points of view, self-interests, self-dealing, and general disagreeableness, perhaps extremes of the prior may lead to strife and violence.  For nation-states, these may express as “hot wars,” with formalized military action leading to destruction and deaths.  A cold war is nation vs. nation strife but expressed through proxy states (funding third-party nations and groups to disrupt the other nation’s interests), diplomatic stand-offs, intelligence activities, and out-maneuvering the other for spheres of influence globally.  Which state has the better ideology [defined as “the programmatic assertion of political values, which are held to be of universal validity for their proclaimed domain” (Willets, 1983, as cited in Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 28)] for human governance? Actual better governance? Which state treats its citizens better?  Which state has the goods?  During a cold war’s deep freeze, there is a kind of keeping the (hostile) peace, maybe to contain the potential damage in the nuclear era, maybe to predominate without losing everything.  

Allison L. Palmadessa’s Cold War:  Global Impact and Lessons Learned (2019), part of Nova Science Publisher’s Political Science and History series, appears at a timely point in human history—in an era of a new cold war, some would say, between the United States and its competitors, China and Russia, and their allies.  Are there lessons for this current age from the prior cold war (dated from 1947 – 1991)?  Are there constructive ways to manage enduring rivalries, ways to create relational resets so that the interests of both sides are met at least partially and that can hold without constant challenges?  Are there ways to practice statecraft effectively, for the present, the near-future, and the far-future?  Are there ways to support national leaders and national leadership to enable the optimal decision making, to avoid getting goaded or tricked into unnecessary and costly conflict (blood and treasure)?  What keeps the cold peace, with so much at stake and so much human folly?  

Not Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History”

It turns out that while liberal democracy is aspirational for many nation-states, the jury is still out on whether “the end of history” has arrived with mass human consensus.  The unfolding of a follow-on cold war and with spikes of hot ones suggests that human nature itself continues, with all attendant risks.  

Palmadessa places the Cold War as occurring from 1947 – 1991, so starting from just shortly after the end of World War II, and its two combatants were the U.S. and its allies vs. the Soviet Union and its satellite states, each positioning for power in the new world order.  The Cold War is thought to have ended with the revolutions of 1989, leading to changes in government systems in former communist states in some areas.  In pop culture, the Cold War era is remembered with footage of the morning after, “The Americans,” bricks from the Cold War, and other cultural desiderata.  The narrative of suppressed war belies the reality of the U.S. engagement in the Korean War (1950 – 1953, with some five million people killed) and the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975, with some 1.5 million to some 4 million people killed), in the interests of containing communism.   

To explore the Cold War, the editor brought together experts from various disciplines:  “experts in nuclear weapons policy, international relations, medicine, education, and cultural, social, and political issues related to international crisis and warfare” (p. ix).  The devastation left after WWII and the uses of two nuclear devices to level Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the precursor contexts to the Cold War.  Palmadessa writes in the Preface:  

The Cold War dominated international policy, understanding, and relationships for four decades. During those 40 years, conflicts cold and hot developed, each impacting various Cold War nations differently, and engaging nations otherwise outside of the East-West divide. The cold relationship between the US and USSR powerhouses with nuclear capabilities kept the world on edge, not knowing if there would be slip in negotiations, a conflict that would inspire violence, that would lead the world to nuclear devastation. Within the confines of the fear of what could be, wars across the globe from Korea to Vietnam to the Middle East and among and within the Eastern Bloc, and revolutions in China and Cuba and many others, hot conflicts ignited that would only exacerbate the strained relationship between East and West.  It was within this context that the Cold War defined 40 years of world history and continues to influence precarious relationships between and among nation states, exacerbated to this day by nuclear capabilities.  (2019, p. xiv) 

What follows are seven chapters addressing various aspects of the Cold War.  

Macro-Scale Political Structures in the Cold War Era

Yannis A. Stivachtis and Chelsea Manning, in “Cold War International Society:  Global Order in the Era of Nuclear Terror” (Ch. 1), suggests that the battle among macro entities did not just involve the “Western liberal” and “Eastern socialist” but also a third entity that they term “Non-Aligned” states, those in the developing world brought together around a platform of shared values  (p. 2).  In the international society of nation-states, at the macro level, the members of the sub-global Non-Aligned Movement were those aligned against hegemony and stood in opposition to both the West and the East.  The U.S. and the Soviet Union were “two superpowers…round which two largely separate sub-global international societies developed, locked against each other strategically but insulated by geography and ideology” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 18).  

The co-authors write:  

The time between the end of the Second World War and the end of the Cold War was a period of much greater order and authority than before albeit not of justice. The damage inflicted by World War II on Europe destroyed the capacity of the Europeans to control the global international society, and left the United States and the Soviet Union to step into the shoes of the Europeans. The winners of the war were faced with two major questions:  first, how to respond to the unfamiliar pressures of a reshaped system; and second, what rules and institutions should be given to the new and no longer Eurocentric international society. (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 17)

The U.S. worked to promote an international global order of liberal democratic values (based around human rights), international laws (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 21) as contrasted with a Soviet one focused on centralization and “raw power” (p. 22) and “an ordering coexistence and competition, but also on cooperation and convergence (extensive sharing of norms, rules and institutions among states to make them adopt similar political, legal and economic forms) over a wide range of issues” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 24).  The Cold War was typified by movements towards decolonization, encouraged by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union and the bringing in of the developing world “into the global international society” as part of the non-aligned movement (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 24).  Third World states engaged in five main phases of struggle against Western dominance:  “a struggle for equal sovereignty…an anti-colonial revolution…a struggle for racial equality…a struggle for economic justice…(and) a struggle for cultural liberation” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 25).  The respective states coalesced around some shared values to ultimately form a sub-global international society.  They were  

...conscious of certain common interests (attaining national independence and sovereignty equality, as well as preserving their territorial integrity) and common values (anti-colonialism, anti-imperialist, anti-hegemonic) and conceived themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations (the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement) with one another, and shared in the working of common institutions, such as sovereign equality, multilateralism, racial equality, self-determination and development (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 28).  

From their animating ideals, they set policy directions towards achieving a “democratization” of international relations (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 30) and to strengthen their voices in this space.  The ideas of “sovereignty” and “non-intervention” were critical ones that enabled international relations in the Cold War (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 31) although there were incidences of rule-breaking.  Both great powers in the Cold War recognized their respective responsibilities to “the maintenance of international order…by managing their relations with one another…and…by exploiting their preponderance in such a way as a way to ‘impact a degree of central direction to the affairs of international society as a whole’” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 35) and to maintain a balance of powers (p. 35).  On the down side, the arms race continued apace in the Cold War, with NATO and Warsaw Pact countries enabling the creation of “advanced strategic weapons, specifically nuclear weapons” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 36).  Warfare was not thought to be all-out escalations but to be kept “limited and contained” and “harnessed to international society’s purposes” (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 37).  The diplomatic corps worked to enable agreements between the superpowers and among the respective states.  

The co-authors offer an insight from their research work:  

A crucial lesson learned from the study of global order during the Cold War is that a low degree of shared interests, values, norms, rules and institutions among the great powers, which are the custodians of international society would lead to the militarization of world politics. Unless there is a political, economic and/or ideological convergence among them or a single great power manages to obtain a hegemonic position in global international society one should expect a repetition of Cold War-like politics, as well as state practices associated with the primary institutions of a pluralist international society:  war, balance of power and great power management.  (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019, p. 41)

Divergences of interests (both real and perceived) can be destabilizing to the system.  Stivachtis is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech.  Manning is a doctoral student at the University of Delaware.  

How to De-escalate Nuclear War after Breakout 

In the popular press, the “nuclear weapons” state of the world involves a number of nation states with varying degrees of capabilities (US, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Israel, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea) and various aspirant states.  The types of weaponry are not only intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) but also much smaller devices that may be delivered in a variety of targeted ways.  For many, the outbreak of nuclear war is unthinkable, with a psychological “nuclear taboo” in the aftermath of the devices used near the end of WWII.  And yet, if nuclear deterrence fails or an adversary sees it in their strategic and tactical interests to use nuclear weaponry, the world may be facing a context in which nuclear weaponry is used in strategic “anger” and must de-escalate and work to control fall-out.  

Stephen J. Cimbala’s “Controlling Nuclear War:  Challenges for the Second Nuclear Age” (Ch. 2) defines this new age as roughly counting from “the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union” to now, in a time of “a more complicated mosaic of nuclear deterrence and crisis management” (p. 47).  The author writes about the risks:  

The current and foreseeable political and technical environments relevant to starting and stopping a nuclear war are markedly different from the Cold War context. For unlike the hypothetical Armageddon between the Americans and Soviets that never occurred in the last century, smaller but highly destructive nuclear wars may take place in this century. Some of these conflicts have the potential to spread into a wider war, for example, as between India and Pakistan, or North Korea and the United States, that could engulf other nuclear powers in the Asia-Pacific region.  In addition, although the likelihood of any deliberate nuclear attack by the U.S. or NATO against Russia, or vice versa, is obviously small to nonexistent, the possibility of inadvertent nuclear war or escalation into nuclear first use in Europe is not excluded—including in Russia’s declaratory military doctrine and in NATO contingency planning.  (Cimbala, 2019, p. 48) 

The author provides an overview of the current state, with efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation.  [Side Note:  At the time of the writing of this work, the U.S. was still in the JCPOA, and Iran was nominally within its boundaries.  If nothing else, the changes since the publication of this work shows how quickly world events may overtake academia (and maybe something about the slowness of academic publishing).]  He explicitly clarifies that he will not discuss nuclear terrorism because that will bring up a different range of factors.  Nuclear deterrence suggests rational cost-benefit calculations, and those engaged in terrorism may have less that can be used in the calculations and bargaining.  He writes:  

As related to the problem of ending a nuclear war, theories of escalation control have several key propositions (on) offer – all are controversial, but none is self-evidently impossible. First, even nuclear war, however destructive, would involve political goals; at least, at the outset. Second, states and leaders can be expected to recognize certain rules of the road about fighting and ending wars, despite cultural and national differences Third, although time pressures and the military planning process impose constraints upon escalation control for war termination, success is not precluded in practice.   (Cimbala, 2019, p. 55) 

Ending such a war involves “both military-tactical and politico-strategic aspects” (Cimbala, 2019, p. 56). 

He emphasizes the importance of understanding the mindsets of others and their decision making, particularly in scenarios where nuclear war has broken out, and the various related contingencies. What happens if the leadership of a country has been effectively “decapitated”?  Where does command and control move?  How viable are such systems after a strike?  What bureaucracies (often those related to state security) are next in line in nuclear decision making, and how may they be reached?   What if there are multiple strikes?  

The author spells out the known sequence for the United States in terms of “political delegation and military devolution” (Cimbala, 2019, p. 59) almost as an encouragement for other nation-states to be more responsible and transparent regarding their nuclear weapons.  (One case in point is the “dead hand” setup that the Russians had for a time that would have been very prone to error and follow-on mass destruction.)  How well are such weapons systems secured to be “reliable against usurpers or accidents and as responsive to authorized commands” (Cimbala, 2019, p. 60)?  

The U.S. provided post-Cold War aid to Russia to try to ensure that their nuclear weapons and expertise did not end up in the global marketplace.  It is not in the interests of the U.S. to have fracturing nation-states or other destabilizations to the global system.  The benefits of weakening a competitor state is far outweighed by having to deal with a larger mess.  The author offers some ideas on what a new START treaty might look like to ramp back nuclear arsenals.  Intelligence in this space is critical, given that leadership that looks solid on the exterior may be actually quite “brittle” in reality (Cimbala, 2019, pp. 72 - 73).  

The brilliance of this work is that it assumes that once the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, some losses are already certain and can only be partially mitigated.  However, it does not mean that the world should freeze and be in shock from the magnitude of aggression or miscalculation or accident that led to the use of nuclear weapons but should plan for action to mediate and mitigate.  (Ideally, these plans would never need to be used.)  

Found Chemical Warfare Agents from WWII and Human Effects

The cessation of hostilities from a war do not necessarily mean the end of challenges from that war or the end of human suffering.  Osamu Isono’s “Autonomic, Cognitive, and Psychiatric Complications of Sulfur Mustard and Lewisite Mixture Compound Poisoning in Chinese Victims Exposed to Chemical Warfare Agents Abandoned at the End of WWII” (Ch. 3) describes the work of a Japanese doctor in examining Chinese citizens accidentally exposed to chemical warfare agents left in Qiqihar City, Heilongjiang Province, in Northeast China by the Japanese military over a half-century earlier.  The drums were dug up in August 2003 at a construction site for an underground parking lot.  “The drums were filled with mixed liquid vesicants of Sulfur mustard (SM) and Lewisite manufactured by the former Imperial Japanese Army secretly during World War II,” resulting in “44 known victims poisoned by contact with the drums or contaminated soil” (Isono, 2019, pp. 79 - 80) and one fatality.  Toxic exposures occurred at the construction site, junk collection site, chemical plant, the parking area, two private houses, and a junior high school (Isono, 2019, p. 82).  Several included patient photos show blister formation, skin erosions, edema, and scarring.  Testing over the years showed autonomic, cognitive, and psychiatric effects, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  Isono offers some of case descriptions of the individuals affected by the exposures, including children.  The author also describes the various tests used in the assessments and common symptomology.  

Some context is important.  In terms of abandoned chemical warfare agents, some “775 bombs and artillery shells and 28 gas bombs” left by the Japanese Imperial Army were found in the city [with over “6,000 tons of chemical weapons produced” at the Okunoshima facility in Hiroshima and their use “on over 2,000 occasions resulting in more than 80,000 casualties and more than 10,000 deaths among Chinese soldiers and civilians” from 1937 – 1945 (Balali-Mood, et al., OPCW 2016, as cited in (Isono, 2019, p. 85).]  The Japanese government “estimates that more than 700,000 chemical weapons may be buried throughout the Chinese countryside.  Chinese government estimates 2,000,000 chemical weapons are left in China.  The Japanese government has since removed and destroyed 63,000 chemical weapons in China s of March 2018.” (Isono, 2019, pp. 85 - 86)

For whatever is politically settled with mass-scale hostilities, and the massive losses during the conflict, there are post-hostility impacts, human suffering, and lost potential, often for many generations.  

Czech Political Expression and Representation Post Early-Cold War

Martin Nekola’s “Czech Political Parties in Exile in the Early Cold War” (Ch. 4) focuses on the exile of democratic leaders from Czechoslovakia in the 1940s and 1950s, before, during, and after the communist coup (February 1948) that served as “the last step towards the Soviet domination of Central and Eastern Europe and the division of the continent by the Iron Curtain” (p. 107). Czechoslovakian emerged from Nazi tyranny in May 1945 only to fall under the sway of the Soviets. Under the Nazis, various Czechs had formed anti-Nazi resistance groups in both London and Moscow and had “agreed on revolutionary changes in internal politics, international orientation and the socio-economic structures of the republic”; those part of the pre-war political system “were not restored due to their alleged Fascist tendencies, treason and collaboration with the enemy in previous years” as were those from the far right (Nekola, 2019, p. 108).  This work explores the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War period, the movement of Czech citizens abroad (some 60,000 between 1948 – 1543, including “workers, peasants, intelligentsia, and urban elites) (Nekola, 219, p. 110) and their resettlement in the “USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere around the world” (p. 112) from refugee camps, and the work to address democratic governance from outside the country.  This work aims to fill the gap in historiography around Czech political parties in exile.  This work includes efforts in Washington, D.C., and some insights about U.S. intelligence support for the exiles in building a democratic Czechoslovakia.  

Nekola is identified as an independent (unaffiliated) scholar.   

Soviet Policies towards Jewish Settlements

If particular locales are identified as hotspots for human strife, the Middle East often comes to mind.  Uri Bar-Noi’s “The Cold War and Soviet Policy towards the Jewish Settlement in Palestine and the State of Israel, 1945 – 1967” (Ch. 5) examines Communist Party files of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and “records of the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs” to examine Soviet policy “towards both the Jewish settlement in Palestine and the State of Israel since the end of World War II until the severing of bilateral relations with the outbreak of the 1967 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors” (p. 127).  

This analysis suggests that the USSR made its decisions based on its own security interests, with some risky outcomes for Israel and its peoples.  The author writes:  

It demonstrates the anxiety for the security of the USSR’s southern borders with the dawn of the Cold War spurred the Kremlin to pursue a plan for the partition of Palestine into two different and independent Arab and Jewish states, designed to weaken Britain’s hegemony in the Middle East and possible pave the way for Soviet penetration into this area of the world before either the British or even the Americans had managed to fully secure regional preponderance.  To guarantee the implementation of this plan, Moscow quickly recognized the newly founded State of Israel and rendered to it vital and materially and even politically during the 1948 war and even shortly afterwards. By early 1950s, bilateral relations deteriorated and the USSR switched sides and began to support radical and anti-colonial regimes in the Arab world which were opposed to Western plans for organizing Middle Eastern countries within a joint defense association, perceived by the Soviet side as a potential threat to its national security.  Throughout the later 1950s and the early 1960s, the Kremlin’s attitude towards Israel become (sic) more hostile and dogmatic following its perception as a tool in the hands of Western colonialism which was vindicated in Soviet eyes following the Israeli search for a position of strength over the Arabs.  The increased flow of Soviet weapons to Arab countries and the role played by Moscow in grooming the Egyptian-Syrian defense pact of 1966 did not mean that it wished to incite its Arab clients into a war of annihilation against Israel. The June 1967 war was a consequence of Moscow’s grave miscalculations and inability to control them.  (Bar-Noi, 2019, pp. 127 - 128) 

What follows is a play-by-play of this important bilateral relationship during the Cold War.  With dynamic factors at play (all nation states advocating their own interests in time and space) and varying leadership factors, the outcomes are clearly too complex to anticipate.  While the historical sense is clear, the current policy towards the Israelis and the Palestinians is a “riddle” (Bar-Noi, 2019, p. 128), suggesting that the guessing of others’ nation-state interests may be elusive.  

People judge from where they stand, goes the saying, and the same may be true for nation-states, at a much larger scale.  Leaders make decision based on their sense of history, the information that is available to them, their own personalities, their authorizing environment, and other factors.  In a historical context, apparently friendly actions may be reverse-engineered to the other side’s originating intentions and calculus, but that may be a highly inaccurate approach.  And it also seems that friendly approaches would do well to be treated skeptically.  Certainly, academic research of all kinds involves silences, holes, gaps in knowledge, and interpretive noise.  Historical decision-making has limited transfer to the present, with different sets of actors; however, strategic interests (power, influence, security, awareness) may be longer-lasting in terms of understandings, diplomatic niceties notwithstanding.  And yet for all the rational inputs, history, too, can sometimes turn on a dime, on small events that spark the expression of macro-scale interests.  

The Cold War Community College System in the U.S. 

Some 60% of American students start their higher education studies in community colleges.  These constructs had their start in the Cold War to preserve U.S. democracy and technological capabilities, their economic strengths, their power of arms, in Allison L. Palmadessa’s “The Cold War Community College:  Lessons from the Past” (Ch. 6). This work highlights the importance of citizens in their nation’s defense and security.   In this work, the author studies the articles in the Community College Journal from 1950 to 1991 to better understand community colleges and Cold War influences on the sense of community college “institutional expectations, curriculum adaptations, citizenship education, and training manpower for competition” (Palmadessa, 2019, p. 1978), to enable U.S. competition with the USSR.  Community colleges were created at the proposal of President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education in their Higher Education for American Democracy report (1947 – 1948), to enable education for returning veterans and other non-traditional students and to position the country more strategically.  Palmadessa (2019) writes:  

Specifically regarding higher education, the commission report defines the role and purpose of higher education in American democracy to:  (1) meet technological advances by training students to work in new fields and understand how advances changed society; (2) the American population is diverse and therefore higher education should support social understanding to support a united national life; (3) educate students in international understanding as the world is more inter-connected after the War and, as Americans, they have a responsibility to promote a culture of cooperation; and (4) higher education must train students to be prepared for any changes that may occur as a result of the ambivalence of the use of technology in the future (pp. 184 - 185)  

From the 1960s to 1970s, some 457 new community colleges were founded.  In the 1950s, their growth was slowed “due to the directive from the commission that colleges could only be founded if funding from the state was secure and support from the local communities was present” (Palmadessa, 2019, p. 187). Community colleges were set up to provide democratic education and technical growth, and to promote international understandings, for a diversity of learners, representing the U.S. populace.  If a whole of government is brought to bear for national level issues, then the whole of peoples may be brought to bear as well.  

In terms of the research method, computational text analysis was applied to the articles in the CCJ journal with focuses on “global” and “international” references (Palmadessa, 2019, p. 189).  Community colleges were seen as embodying the democratic ideals of the country.  Community colleges in the Cold War era then was “an important component of the national expectation for education, and higher education more specifically, to assist the US in maintaining a position of power and a semblance of democracy in a volatile, uncertain, and ever-changing world,” writes Palmadessa (2019, p. 202).  Ultimately, this reads like a generalist piece, which may be partially explained by the research method.  Certainly, the need for an educated labor force, enabled by a lower cost of entry, is no less important today.  

Schools for Political Purposes in the Cold War Period

Allison L. Palmadessa’s “Saving Democracy or Responding to Fear?  National Expectations for Schools in the Cold War, 1946 – 1991”  (Ch. 7) involves a formal discourse analysis of presidential speeches from 1946 to 1991 that mention the role of American public education during the Cold War.  More specifically, the approach involved the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA) of critical discourse analysis.  The speeches are those available via the American Presidency Project online repository.  The content was read, coded, and themes were extracted. A total of 100 speeches from nine presidents were analyzed.  Some quotes were identified for color.  

In the Cold War, American students were inculcated against pro-communist sentiments, and they were trained towards the sense of “unquestioned religious nationalism of superiority and patriotism” (Palmadessa, 2019, pp. 209 – 210).  (Thinking of U.S. education as ideological training is not common.)  The author suggests that American students were “contained” with the idea that “any activism or non-compliant action” was “subversive” (Palmadessa, 2019, p. 211).   The Sputnik moment (1957) induced a sense of crisis in American education and resulted in a national focus on technological innovation and capabilities.  

The author offers some insightful extracted themes:  

Truman:  Education preserves American life through creation of American faith
Eisenhower:  Quality education = military strength 
Kennedy:  Education develops the mind to secure individual and national progress 
Johnson:  Education will make America great and reassert world leadership
Nixon:  Education provides economic opportunity and enables nation to succeed
Ford:  Education can secure national dominance 
Carter: Education promotes unity at home and provides an example for the world 
Reagan: Education to save the soul of America by preserving the American faith 
Bush: Education is the key to the future (Palmadessa, 2019, p. 235)  

Certainly, many of the prior ideas have survived through the present.  


Even if the world is not a giant chessboard, people have made it so:  strategizing, positioning, messaging, threatening, and attacking.  Every country has its intelligence services staring unblinkingly to assess their “friends” and “enemies” to understand capabilities and to assess tendencies.  Behind the scenes are (de)escalatory ladders, with various leaders calculating what they can do and how much it might cost.  If as von Clausewitz said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” non-war means reliance on those other political and other levers to solve human issues.  Failure of various mechanisms for resolving differences can lead to escalations that can lead to war.  Misjudgments and accidents can lead to war.  Stirring up mass discontent (through mass messaging, through certain portrayals of history) can lead to mass violence.  

In the popular literature, some general principles have emerged:  Any communication of weakness invites challenge.  Avoid the humiliation of a peoples to avoid recurrences of wars.  If red lines are made, enforce them…creatively, if need be.  Bring all of government to bear on challenges.  Mass scale differences can harden into strife.  Social interchanges between peoples may increase mutual understandings.  Build decision making structures (like game theory) that mitigate human weaknesses.  

Allison L. Palmadessa’s Cold War Global Impact and Lessons Learned (2019) offers a patchwork of insights about the Cold War.  What are lessons learned from these particular works?  Do the lessons learned enable better handling of human tensions?

Some lessons:  

  • Great powers have a responsibility to maintaining the international order and stability (Stivachtis & Manning, 2019).  
  • War planners and researchers need to consider all possibilities in human strife, including nuclear war, and how to manage it (Cimbala, 2019), should the unthinkable happen.  
  • Calculating the costs of warfare involves understanding long-term effects (Isono, 2019).  
  • Democratic statecraft can arise by practitioners in exile who have an interest in the future of their country (Nekola, 2019).  
  • Nation-states make strategic and tactical decisions based on limited information and within the limits of their respective leadership, information, and other contexts (Bar-Noi, 2019).  
  • Community colleges built internal capacity and civic engagement among the U.S. populace during the Cold War (Palmadessa, 2019).  Educational institutions continue to build capacity in the U.S. 
  • U.S. presidents communicate the various importance of education for the country at a strategic level (Palmadessa, 2019), and such entities continue to be important for economic development, innovations, international ties, and other endeavors.  
The cautionary tales of the historical human world wars suggest that humans can wreak mass havoc on others and themselves, triggered by small events on the surface and underlying interests under the surface.  There is no permanent Nash equilibrium which can guarantee static nation states.  Palmadessa teaches at Greensboro College in North Carolina.  

About the Author

Shalin Hai-Jew works as an instructional designer at Kansas State University.  Her email is  

Note: Thanks to Nova Science Publishing for providing a free review copy (watermarked .pdf file).  

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