The Unsettled Legacy of the Cold War

Author data: 
John Steinbruner and Jeffrey Lewis
Publication Date: 
October 2002
Description: 
Daedalus, Fall
Project: 
The Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
Document Type: 
Articles and Op-Eds

On May 24, 2002, at a summit meeting in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W.Bush signed a treaty and issued a declaration of political accommodation promising, in Bush's words, to "liquidate the legacy of the Cold War." That is, of course, an appealing phrase and an aspiration every reasonable person will endorse. But it is certainly not an imminent accomplishment?not yet even the predominant trend. 

The underlying reality is that U.S. military forces are being prepared for extended confrontation, not political accommodation.  Their projected capabilities are inherently provocative not only to Russia, but to China as well. They are also vulnerable to Russian and Chinese reactions, particularly in space, where some of the most critical assets are based. Soothing rhetoric cannot indefinitely obscure the ominous implications.  It is time for everyone to pay attention

John Steinbruner is director of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.

Jeffrey Lewis is a graduate research fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.