The Cold War Trap

2022-2023 NSPC PhD Fellow Justin Winokur in Foreign Affairs magazine

July 13, 2023, in Foreign Affairs, Justin argues that hyper-fixation on Cold War history has damaged the U.S. foreign policy community’s ability to succeed in a multipolar future. The full article can be found here. In summary:

  • Cold War history has become a straitjacket constraining how Americans perceive the world. Whether they accept or reject the analogy, virtually everyone in U.S. foreign policy circles takes the Cold War as their reference point for world affairs.
  • The incongruence between today’s realities and the history of the Cold War has stunted the search for a new American strategy. Washington will soon face a multipolar world for the first time since World War II. Yet Americans remain captured by ideas from a vanishing era when their power reigned supreme.
  • There is only one way to escape the unhelpful Cold War framework: study more history. For Americans to think clearly about their approach to a multipolar world, they must learn about states that have navigated multipolar orders in the past. Winokur suggests some starting points from European and Chinese history in the article.