It’s hard to say who won the Cold War. On one hand, it seems easy to point to the failure and fall of communism as evidence that the United States and our allies in the West were victorious. But, although the communist economic system has vanished, political oppression and dictatorship live on in many of the nations that were our Cold War enemies.
In 1992, American writer Francis Fukuyama published a book entitled “The End of History and the Last Man” in which he argued that, with the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy and the free market system had finally triumphed, marking the end of the evolution of human government. Do you think he is correct? Did our economic system and form of government win the Cold War?
Or perhaps, insightful, calculating leaders are responsible for the victory? Certainly, presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan would fall into this category.
Then again, maybe this is the wrong way to think about victory. Rather than assigning a win to a country or a person, we should think about who benefited most from the outcome. Perhaps we should say that humanity won the Cold War since the threat of nuclear war has fallen and because so many more people enjoy basic freedoms and greater prosperity.
But of course, can anyone really win a war in which there were no face-to-face battles? Can you say that someone won a war if it took more than forty years to achieve victory? With all the suffering that the conflict caused, did anyone win?
What do you think? Who won the Cold War?