Cold War Liberal Pluralism and Its Legacy. George Kennan and Henry Kissinger Revisited

In: Russian Politics
Dorothy Horsfield Visiting Fellow, Australian National University, Canberra,

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With intensified speculation about a new Cold War, the question of whether there is any sound basis for detente between the West and Russia has been at the heart of contentious international debates. Centrally these have included nato expansion into the Eastern bloc and the way forward from the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. In this context, two of the staunchest critics of what they believe are the ill-conceived initiatives in us foreign policy towards the post-Soviet government have been the Americans, George Kennan and Henry Kissinger. Both men have railed against triumphalist varieties of liberalism, and especially what they see as their country’s overactive democratization zeal in the wake of the Second World War. Both men have argued for a more informed pluralistic liberalism, in the hope of fostering a stable global order beyond the sectarian extermination programs and ruinous total wars of the last 100 years. The article considers the plausibility and prescience of their views.

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