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At this Critical Juncture...

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I would nominate for consideration by future historians the years 1990-1991 as another watershed in history, a time when one era ended and another began. We know the period that closed, the Cold War. We do not yet know the name by which we will call the new world order. As in 1945, when the war in the Pacific and the war in Europe ended, two wars also concluded in 1991. The end of the Gulf War and the conclusion of the Cold War gave us hope that the postwar period would be one of good will and global consensus to prevent the mistakes of the past. Will it be In answering this question, it may be of value to look back at our last major postwar period, the years following World War II, and see if there are parallels and, dare I say, lessons to be learned. As Ernest May reminds us, there are dangers in reasoning by historical analogy, but let me suggest nonetheless that there are several significant parallels between the present and the earlier postwar periods 1There is the danger of too rapid demobilization 2 There is the challenge of the economic condition of our former adversaries 3 There is a danger of proliferation of weapons developed during the war 4 There is a need for an international peacekeeping structure and 5 Finally, there is the challenge of maintaining our wartime alliances. If these lessons from the last postwar period have validity, let us heed them and not be forced, as Santayana would have it, to repeat the history that occasioned them. Words spoken by Winston Churchill at the onset of the postwar period in 1945 are worth rehearsing again as we enter a second great postwar era.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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