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The Cold War: Reasons and Lessons

The six fallacies advocated by Schlesinger are: “the fallacy of over-interpreting the enemy, fallacy of over-institutionalizing the policy, fallacy of arrogant prediction, fallacy of national self-righteousness, reduction of the Cold War to a bilateral game between the US and the Soviet Union, and the fallacy of a zero-sum game” (p.364-367). Both the US and the Soviet Union fell into these fallacies because both emerged as the superpowers after the end of the Second World War. They were therefore wary of each other and eyed each other in suspicion. In addition, the political and economic structures in the two nations were contradictory and each nation posed a big threat to the other nation. Schlesinger argues that the lesson that nations should learn from the Cold War is that superpowers do not have any capability to control their allies and their dependents as is often thought. Rather than the allies and client countries being captives of superpowers it is the superpowers which are captives of their allies and clients. Second, the ideology of nationalism has the capacity to challenge any superpower.

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We do not know for sure what the future holds for the former Soviet Union and for eastern Europe because events tend to change every time. However, based on the outcome of the Cold War, it is likely that communist nations will ultimately adopt the capitalistic system. The Cold War had a profound effect on the US. The US emerged as the dominant superpower. Since then, the US has been able to maintain its political and economic hegemony.

The Cold War historiography is usually composed of two phases, namely the heroic phase and the academic phase (Schlesinger, p.363). In the first one, historians often begin to view the event as good men trying to fight off the evil existing in the world. This view is however later replaced by the view that the event was caused by an inevitable conflict between the two parties. This view always removes blame imposed on either party as a result of the event. Historians are affected by their traditions and the times in which they live. They first tend to view any historical event from their cultural eyes. With time and with further assessment, they begin to see the events from the eyes of all the parties involved. This way, historians can easily influence their times as they are able to accurately discern the causes of past events which can in turn affect future events.

Social and political structures have a great potential in the course of history especially when different regions have different social, economic and political structures. Conflict can easily arise from these regions as each region views the other as a threat to its system. In addition, the perceptions that people hold can affect the course of history. If people perceive the actions and motives of their supposed enemy to be real, they may be forced to take drastic actions to fight off the enemy. Such actions would then lead to consequent events.

Schlesinger argues that history exhibits predictable and unpredictable uniformities and recurrences (Schlesinger, p.366). One recurring event in the American history has been the struggle of the African Americans for freedom since the slavery era. This struggle has continued over the past decades and has culminated in the change of policies in favor of African Americans. However, other events, such as the suicide bombings of 2001, have been unpredictable. This indicates that the US, like any other society, portrays both predictable and unpredictable historical events.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 1). The Cold War: Reasons and Lessons. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-cold-war-reasons-and-lessons/

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1. StudyCorgi. "The Cold War: Reasons and Lessons." November 1, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-cold-war-reasons-and-lessons/.


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StudyCorgi. "The Cold War: Reasons and Lessons." November 1, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-cold-war-reasons-and-lessons/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Cold War: Reasons and Lessons'. 1 November.

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