The Cold War is the blanket term we use for the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two superpowers that emerged from World War II, and which came to an end when the Soviet Union imploded and dissolved in 1991. But everything about that struggle is disputed: when it began, why it began, what the stakes were, how it was actually waged, when and why it ended, and even whether it was a proper struggle at all. Some of these disagreements are arguments about facts. Some of them, however, are arguments about politics, values, and ideals — arguments about the legitimacy and morality of the participants in the Cold War.
One of the results of the end of the Cold War and the opening of former Soviet archives has been that many of the questions of fact can now be answered. These answers, however, raise new questions: how do we interpret what we now know, and what lessons, if any, can we draw for the future?