As this Afterword is written in March of 2015, much has happened in the world that demonstrates why the Cold War still matters profoundly and how facts and insights presented in Inside the Cold War from Marx to Reagan can contribute a better understanding not only about neglected roots, strategies, and key documents of the Cold War, but also about how these bring lessons today as democracies again face mounting global dangers from extremist faiths (or ideologies) and forces linked to weapons of mass terror and destruction.
The Cold War as the Third World War. The Cold War that became the Third World War of the twentieth century in a nuclear age marks a particularly complex and dangerous chapter in human history. It was waged in the name of the totalitarian Marxist-Leninist faith by the Soviet Union and its allies and proxies irreconcilably opposed to the freedom faiths and forces of the United States and its allies and also targeting the nations of the “Third World” who sought independence. The Cold War’s outcome was uncertain. At times it appeared the conflict might end in nuclear catastrophe or with victory for Soviet totalitarians gaining momentum as U.S. and Western strengths and strategies faltered.
The Reagan Revolution. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s revolutionary new strategy of “peace and free- dom” and “peace through strength” rebuilt neglected U.S. principles, strengths, and instruments of statecraft to stagger and collapse the Soviet Union’s totalitarian enterprise and open unprecedented paths to peace and freedom. Most of the world was relieved by this peaceful outcome that few had thought possible. However, Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet KGB intelligence officer who has ruled an increasingly repressive and ag- gressive Russia for more than half of its post-Cold War existence, sees the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Cold War as the “greatest catastrophe” of the twentieth century.
Four World Wars. Inside the Cold War: from Marx to Reagan reviews the neglected roots and record of So- viet ideological and imperial militance and subversion as these killed and otherwise threatened many millions of people and importantly shaped four world wars: the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War and the Fourth World War now being waged with increasing intensity by extremist faiths and forces committed to the use of terror against any who disagree with their absolutist dogmas and violent practices. As global dangers have mounted in recent years, effective strategies are again critically required to “provide for the common defense” and “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” The lessons of the Cold War, par- ticularly those derived from Reagan’s revolutionary winning strategy, begin with Sun Tzu’s strategic imperatives “know yourself” and “know your enemy.”
Know Yourself: America’s Freedom Faith. Critical to any successful American war strategy, past and pres- ent, is to recognize that America’s identity, interests, strengths, and responsibilities in setting its foreign and defense policies begin with her people’s exceptional freedom faith, democratic institutions, and historical expe-