Trust, but Verify: The Politics of Uncertainty and the Transformation of the Cold War Order, 1969–1991 uses trust—with its emotional and predictive aspects—to explore international relations in the second half of the Cold War, beginning with the late 1960s. Although the détente of the 1970s led to the development of some limited trust between the superpowers, which lessened international tensions and enabled advances in areas such as arms control, it also created uncertainty in other areas, especially on the part of smaller states that depended on their alliance leaders for protection. The contributors to this volume look at how the “emotional” side of the conflict affected the dynamics of various Cold War relations: between the superpowers, within the two ideological blocs, and inside individual countries on the margins of the East-West confrontation.

Martin Klimke is associate dean of humanities and associate professor of history at New York University Abu Dhabi, and formerly a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. Reinhild Kreis is assistant professor of contemporary history at the University of Mannheim. Christian F. Ostermann is the director of the History and Public Policy Program at the Wilson Center, which includes the Cold War International History Project.


Martin Klimke, Reinhild Kreis, and Christian F. Ostermann

I: The Personal Factor
1. Untrusting and Untrusted: Mao’s China at Crossroads, 1969
Sergey Radchenko
2. “No Crowing”: Reagan, Trust, and Human Rights
Sarah Snyder
3. Trust between Adversaries and Allies: President George H. W. Bush, Trust, and the End of the Cold War
J. Simon Rofe

II: Risk, Commitment, and Verification: The Blocs at the Negotiating Table
4. Trust and Mistrust and the American Struggle for Verification of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, 1969–1979
Arvid Schors
5. Trust and Transparency at the CSCE, 1969–1975
Michael Cotey Morgan
6. Trust or Verification? Accepting Vulnerability in the Making of the INF Treaty
Nicholas J. Wheeler, Joshua Baker, and Laura Considine

III: Between Consolidation and Corrosion: Trust inside the Ideological Blocs of East and West
7. Whom Did the East Germans Trust? Popular Opinion on Threats of War, Confrontation, and Détente in the German Democratic Republic, 1968–1989
Jens Gieseke
8. Not Quite “Brothers in Arms”: East Germany and People’s Poland between Mutual Dependency and Mutual Distrust, 1975–1990
Jens Boysen
9. Institutionalizing Trust? Regular Summitry (G7s and European Councils) from the Mid-1970s until the Mid-1980s
Noël Bonhomme and Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol
10. Trust through Familiarity: Transatlantic Relations and Public Diplomacy in the 1980s
Reinhild Kreis

IV: On the Sidelines or in the Middle? Small and Neutral States
11. “Footnotes” as an Expression of Distrust? The United States and the NATO “Flanks” in the Last Two Decades of the Cold War
Effie G. H. Pedaliu
12. Switzerland and Détente: A Revised Foreign Policy Characterized by Distrust
Sandra Bott and Janick Marina Schaufelbuehl

Deborah Welch Larson


“This book offers an insightful explanation for one of the great puzzles of recent history: how the Cold War, a seemingly indestructible international regime, came to an end. And it will also make waves because the essays take seriously the mission of relating the political, economic, and cultural factors to emotions history.”—Frank Costigliola, University of Connecticut

“In an abundance of ‘trust talk’ in international relations, finally a scholarly analysis of how and why trust really matters: how it facilitated cooperation, enabled risk-taking, and helped to establish confidence-building politics, under the highly unlikely auspices of the Cold War.”—Ute Frevert, Max-Planck-Institute for Human Development