Throughout the Cold War, people worldwide feared that the U.S. and Soviet governments could not prevent a nuclear showdown. Citizens from both East-bloc and Western countries, among them prominent scientists and physicians, formed networks to promote ideas and policies that would lessen this danger. Two of their organizations-the Pugwash movement and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War-won Nobel Peace Prizes. Still, many observers believe that their influence was negligible and that the Reagan administration deserves sole credit for ending the Cold War. The first book to explore the impact these activists had on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, Unarmed Forces demonstrates the importance of their efforts on behalf of arms control and disarmament.Matthew Evangelista examines the work of transnational peace movements throughout the Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev eras and into the first years of Boris Yeltsin's leadership. Drawing on extensive research in Russian archives and on interviews with Russian and Western activists and policymakers, he investigates the sources of Soviet policy on nuclear testing, strategic defense, and conventional forces. Evangelista concludes that transnational actors at times played a crucial role in influencing Soviet policy-specifically in encouraging moderate as opposed to hard-line responses-for they supplied both information and ideas to that closed society. Evangelista's findings challenge widely accepted views about the peaceful resolution of the Cold War. By revealing the connection between a state's domestic structure and its susceptibility to the influence of transnational groups, Unarmed Forces will also stimulate thinking about the broader issue of how government policy is shaped.
Matthew Evangelista is President White Professor of History and Political Science at Cornell University. He is the author of several books, including Unarmed Forces, also from Cornell, and Gender, Nationalism, and War.