What Cold War in Asia? An Interpretive Essay

Published in The Cold War in Asia: The Battle for Hearts and Minds, pp 15-24, Brill, 2010

The phrase “the Cold War” refers to a narrative that was intended to and is supposed to summarize how we are to understand a geopolitical reality over the period of time running approximately from 1945 to 1991. This narrative is today very widely accepted. It originated with political leaders. It was adopted by scholars. And it was intended to influence the thinking of everyone else. It has been the dominant narrative, although there have been some dissenters.

In this essay I would like to review this narrative and what it is supposed to tell us. It tells us that the Second World War was a war that was started by Germany and Japan as aggressor nations that sought to conquer other nations. They did fairly well at first, but then resistance to them grew stronger. In 1941, both the Soviet Union and the United States entered the war against Germany, and the coalition took on the name of the United Nations. The three countries in this alliance that were most signify cant militarily were the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. They were called the “Big Three,” and together they won the Second World War.

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