Cold War’s Web of Interdependent Governance and the Connective Power

The Logic of Cold War: The Web of Interdependent Governance and the Connective Power is written by Dr Tian-Jia Dong, a Professor of Sociology currently serving at the Westfield State University. The book entails a significant theme of the Cold War regarding a global governance system based on the web of interdependent partnerships resting on connective power. The recurring theme confines the discussion within the comparative analysis of two leading players of the Cold War: the US and the USSR. The author’s exploratory approach dissects the approaches adopted by the two leading players during the Cold War era and concludes their strengths, failures, and limitations from the angle of their foreign policy agendas.

Excluding the introduction, the scholarly work is comprised of six chapters. The introduction entails the book’s fundamental argument regarding the global governance system. The first chapter sets a discussion around the logic that kept the Cold War “cold,” and that was the “logic of togetherness” (p.2). The second and third chapters delineate the Cold War functioning of the US and the USSR systems, respectively. The next chapter covers the critical evaluation of the Cold War by referring to the different approaches adopted by contending players to explain the wisdom behind this phenomenon. The fifth chapter sets itself within the historical strands to support the emergence of the global leviathan. This global leviathan exhibits interdependent nature that supports the explanation for the period under discussion. The last chapter presents the post-Cold War scenario to contain power dynamics.

The connective power was not a uni-directional and top-down force; instead, it was reciprocal to empower big and small powers in the interconnected web.

The construction of the argument around the Cold War period based on the web of interdependent partnerships is quite convincing as most of the existing research limits itself to the ideological differences between capitalism and communism. Moreover, the author has overhauled the Cold War phenomenon, but this revisiting is not void of a logical approach to get new insights into it. In this respect, this book’s predominant aspect, the “logic of togetherness”, unfolds the significance of the connective power. Connective power refers to the concept of bridging with weak powers through a multilateral approach of diplomacy and acts as the doctrine of necessity to create the interdependent web (p.2). The web depends on the most vital partner, i.e. the US during the Cold War, for pursuing a policy similar to inclusive engagement. By being a dependable partner in the web of interdependent partnerships, the US expanded its connective power. This study of connective power decisively argues that the USSR was lagging behind the US in terms of this power during the Cold War. The argument’s presentation of the connective power is pivotal for the readers to understand the culmination of uni-polarity. The author effectively presents the suitability of the “logic of togetherness” over the historical convention of “logic of conquest” in terms of the historic interaction (p.2). The connective power was not a uni-directional and top-down force; instead, it was reciprocal to empower big and small powers in the interconnected web. This strand of the argument reveals the new aspect of the interconnectedness and mutual empowerment present during the Cold War only in style adopted by the US. The author deconstructs the post-World War II era cogently by opting for the approach of interdependent partnership. This deconstruction makes it possible to turn away from the monotony of competing for economic systems.

The author presents significant insights into the emergence of the post-communist era due to the frailing grip of the Soviet-style of the vanguard group. The weak connection between the vanguard group and the union made it easier to act as a stimulus for creating the sovereign republics though they struggled for their independent identity. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland were the countries that gradually drifted away from the Soviet tier of influence due to the increasing dependency on Stalin’s hard power theory. The author observes that in terms of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). Eastern European communist states did experience hard military power, but they were deprived of connective power. All the free social forces controlled by the top were removed because they did not work in the way the government was run from the top down. Poland is one such example, where the church won over the hard military power of the Kremlin due to the sustained organic roots with the locals that helped create a connective social force in the post-communist era (p.97).

Overall, Dr Dong’s book is a significant addition to the existing knowledge of Cold War history. It provides a valuable and authentic revisit of the human deadlock in eschewing all-out war despite nuclear arsenals. The book concludes with the globe witnessing the loss of opposing forces, compounding the international order’s unipolarity. The discussion in each chapter is insightful and informative for the readers, especially those keen to dig out the stimulus, conception, different approaches, and process behind the Cold War’s overall outlook. It is also valuable in scholarly literature because the author grounds his entire discussion around connective power bedrock on the concept of the web of interdependent partnership.

Moreover, as far as the authentication of arguments is concerned, the bibliography includes a very systematic and lengthy coverage of books, monographs, articles, book chapters, and official documents. At the end of each chapter, there is a separate list of references. It is worth mentioning here that this book has caught the attention of researchers, students, and scholars to revisit the Cold War history.

Tian-Jia Dong, The Logic of Cold War: The Web of Interdependent Governance and the Connective Power, Lanham, MD & London: Lexington Books, 2018, x + 195.

Tauseef Javed

Tauseef Javed works at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR) as a Research Associate. He is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou, China. His research focuses on international relations, history, and area studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

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