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ELIZABETH SANDERS Printer Friendly Page

Cold War at Cornell
By Joseph J. Sabia
June 5, 2003

 


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  • Professor at Cornell University
  • Contends that the anti-nuclear movement, and not the policies of President Reagan, brought the Cold War to an end
  • In 2002, signed an anti-War on Terror statement

 

Professor Elizabeth Sanders teaches government studies at Cornell University. She received her Masters degree from Georgetown University in 1968, and her PhD from Cornell in 1978. She has authored two books: The Regulation of Natural Gas, 1938-1978 (1982); and Roots of Reform (1999).

In teaching the history of U.S.-Soviet relations, Sanders dismisses the role that President Reagan’s policies played in bringing the Cold War to an end, instead crediting the nuclear freeze movement for that accomplishment. “There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference . . . among the Cold War foreign policies of [Presidents] Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan. . . . [I]t was the international peace/anti-nuclear movement and the U.S. nuclear freeze movement that allowed [Russian President] Gorbachev to introduce the Perestroika reforms, while reassuring the Soviet hard-liners that the U.S. wouldn’t seize the opportunity of Soviet societal opening and military budget shrinkage to attack the Soviet Union. (because, Gorbachev argued), the American and other Western publics would restrain the bellicosity of our saber-rattling administration.”

Contrary to Sanders’ claims, however, the nuclear freeze movement was in fact a Soviet-sponsored initiative that would have frozen Soviet nuclear and military superiority in place, and would have rendered the West unable to close that gap to any appreciable degree. Reagan opposed the concept of a unilateral freeze, and his opposition was ultimately vindicated by America’s Cold War victory. The success of Reagan’s strategy is detailed in Peter Schweizer’s book Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy That Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 2002, Sanders signed the Cornell Forum for Justice and Peace statement opposing America’s military response to the 9/11 attacks, and condemning the U.S. government’s alleged assault on civil liberties in the post-9/11 effort to thwart future terrorist attacks. During Cornell’s “Week Against War” activities in February 2003, Sanders participated as a panel member for a symposium titled “U.S. Foreign Policy: What Are We, and What Are We to Become?” Moreover, she was one of 800 American professors to sign a “Professors of Conscience” statement charging that Israel was planning a mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

 

 

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