New CFR Book Examines U.S. Foreign Policy Between the Cold War and the War on Terror

June 3, 2008 11:09 am (EST)

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When the Berlin Wall collapsed on November 9, 1989—signaling the end of the Cold War—America and the West declared victory: democracy and free markets had prevailed and the United States emerged as the world’s triumphant superpower. The finger-on-the-button tension that had defined a generation was over, and it seemed that peace was at hand.

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But in their new book, America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, Center for a New American Security’s Derek Chollet and Council Senior Fellow James M. Goldgeier write that it is a mistake to dismiss the twelve years between 1989 and 2001 as a "holiday from history." Just as history did not end on 11/9, it did not begin on 9/11.

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America Between the Wars shows that the challenges confronting America today—the struggle with Iraq, tensions with allies, combating extremist forces determined to spread terror, responding to the violent breakdown of states, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, managing the economy in an era of dramatic technological revolution, and choosing when to send American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to fight—did not start on 9/11. They began when the Cold War ended more than a decade earlier, and the Democrats and Republicans are still struggling with the consequences—and will continue to do so when a new president takes office in 2009 and beyond.

Drawing on interviews with leaders across the political spectrum, from Colin Powell and Newt Gingrich to Madeleine Albright and Robert Rubin to Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader, as well as using declassified government documents, America Between the Wars shows how liberals and conservatives reacted to the collapse of communism and tried to refashion themselves to forge a new kind of politics. It also tells the story of how America’s leaders grappled with a moment of dramatic change—offering fresh insights on the successes they achieved and the opportunities they missed.


"Provocative....A careful explication of why things are as they are, with all those old arguments continuing to sizzle and pop—suggestive and highly useful for those seeking to reshape policy in the near term."
Kirkus Reviews

"An indispensable history to the decade preceding 9/11. You can’t understand today’s American crisis without understanding how we got there. This book tells us, eloquently and compellingly."
Richard C. Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the UN

"This book will likely stand as the definitive work on the politics, people, and ideas involved in the foreign policy debates of the 1990s. It shows how, in the decade before September 11, both Republicans and Democrats, both liberals and conservatives, struggled to come to grips with post-Cold War issues such as the use of military force, the promotion of democracy, and the proper U.S. role in the world. This is a lucidly written history, devoid of rhetoric and full of invaluable information."
James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans

"In America Between the Wars, Goldgeier and Chollet examine the decade between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the destruction of the Twin Towers and offer illuminating insights into the forces that have reshaped today’s world."
Henry Kissinger

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Derek Chollet is a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He is also a non-resident fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program and an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University. Chollet has served at the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Senate, and was a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the American Academy in Berlin, and was a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at the George Washington University. He is the author or coeditor of several books on American foreign policy, including The Road to the Dayton Accords: A Study of American Statecraft, and Bridging the Foreign Policy Divide.

James Goldgeier is the Whitney Shepardson senior fellow for transatlantic relations at the Council on Foreign Relations and is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. He is the coauthor of Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy Toward Russia After the Cold War, and is the author of Not Whether But When: The U.S. Decision to Enlarge NATO and Leadership Style and Soviet Foreign Policy. He has served at the U.S. State Department and National Security Council, and was a visiting fellow at Stanford University, the Brookings Institution, the Library of Congress, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. He also directed the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University.

The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

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