Cooperation amidst Great Power Rivalry: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War

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A joint CSIS-Brookings project

As intense geostrategic rivalry becomes an enduring feature of the U.S.-China relationship, CSIS and the Brookings Institution have launched a joint project, Advancing Collaboration in an Era of Strategic Competition, to explore and expand the space for U.S.-China collaboration on matters of shared concern. In this essay, historian Melvyn Leffler traces attitudes and approaches in Washington and Moscow toward cooperation across the Cold War and distills lessons for how the United States and China can maximize the aperture for greater coordination today. Leffler suggests, among other conclusions, that cooperation should be seen as an indispensable element of national security policy.

This report was made possible by generous support from the Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation.

Melvyn P. Leffler

Emeritus Professor of American History, University of Virginia