According to John Lewis Gaddis in "The Long Peace," why didn't the Cold War erupt into a full scale conflict between the USSR and the U.S.?

In "The Long Peace," John Lewis Gaddis argues that a "bipolar" system of world powers helped prevent the Cold War from erupting into a full scale conflict between the U.S and USSR. The concentrated power behind only two world superpowers as opposed to multiple allowed increased global stability.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Long Peace", Gaddis argues that the international system during the Cold War was built upon an artificial division of the world into spheres of influence, with countries aligning with either of the two superpowers of the time: the United States and the USSR. Gaddis’ argument is based off of what is referred to as “systems theory.” He posits that the war remained "cold" between the US and the USSR because of the number of great powers in the international arena and therefore attributes this bipolarity with the period’s stability. By stability, Gaddis means that the system remains relatively stable and that no country or power becomes dominant. The Cold War’s bipolarity created a “self-regulating system”different from “self-aggravating systems,” which get out of controlin which the major powers played by a set of unspoken rules and conventions to resolve disputes, the structure of the system making it clear how the power was distributed among the members.

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 1008 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team