Article Review Forum on Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War [x--posted from H-Diplo]

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Article Review 

No. 762

An H-Diplo Article Review Forum

27 April 2018



Editors: Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse

Web and Production Editor: George Fujii 


H-Diplo Article Review Forum on “Special Section: Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War” in Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 377-481.


Reviewed by:

Brandon Davis, University of British Columbia
Curtis Foxley, University of Oklahoma
Joshua P. Howe, Reed College
Abby Spinak, Harvard Graduate School of Design




Introduction by Thomas Maddux, California State University Northridge, Emeritus


In their introduction, Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pal, and Richard Tucker state that the articles in the forum will focus on the environmental history of militarised landscapes. They describe their aim and provide the following summary description of the three articles, which we reproduce here:[1]


“As we have noted, the environmental history of the Cold War is a highly complex field that has been relatively little studied so far. Hence, the essays in this Special Issue focus on one particular theme, that is, militarised landscapes.[2] In this context, militarisation signifies the social process in which society organises itself for the production of large-scale violence.[3] The concept of landscapes enables us to see human beings in their natural context, that is, in the great framework of nature. Landscapes can be understood as physical, experienced or represented multi-layered entities. The mixture of the previous two concepts, militarised landscapes, can be defined in various ways.[4] In this instance they signify material and immaterial landscapes, which have been mobilised or threatened to be mobilised by militarisation, militarism, or military activities.[5]


There is a definite need to address the relationship between militarisation and the environment. According to geographer Dennis Cosgrove, every socioeconomic formation creates its own landscape, and the military is no exception to this rule.[6] Robert Gottlieb has emphasised that during the Cold War, the military-industrial complex was the biggest polluter in the United States. Furthermore, the military has been the most secretive and most resistant actor with regard to the compliance of public regulations in both democratic and totalitarian systems. War, the military-industrial complex was the biggest polluter in the United States. Furthermore, the military has been the most secretive and most resistant actor with regard to the compliance of public regulations in both democratic and totalitarian systems.[7] Consequently, the military has not only been potentially dangerous to its intended enemy, but also to its own military personnel, civilians, and the environment.[8] In this Special Issue we approach the environmental history of the militarised landscapes primarily from the point of view of scaling.[9] We maintain that human beings experience, understand and represent social and environmental phenomena in different ways, depending on whether they view the world from the individual level or from the global level, or from some other level between these two extremes, micro and macro. In this Special Issue prominent scholars explore militarised landscapes on the individual, group, national, international, and global level.


The first scale to be discussed is the individual layer, which focuses on the individual experience of militarised landscapes. This level will be explored by Sanita Reinsone who is a researcher in Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art at the University of Latvia. Her research interests primarily concern narratives of humans’ relationship with nature, regional history, and digital heritage studies.[10] The background for her study is the fact that the Cold War did not remain cold for a long time, not even in Europe. Out of the de facto partition of Europe that followed the end of the Second World War, the superpowers felt entitled to repress threats within their own sphere of influence without fearing an external intervention. In the new eastern power sphere, Soviet security organisations repressed resistance ruthlessly. In the Baltic Republics, repression focused on the armed resistance of the so-called Forest Brothers who operated in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania until the mid- 1950s.[11] In her essay, Sanita Reinsone explores this Cold War showdown from a very rare point of view. She examines the experiences of this one sided struggle from the point of view of forest sisters.[12] Baltic forests, which had been previously safe and a much used everyday-environment for rural dwellers, both men and women, were suddenly declared forbidden areas by the Soviet security organs.[13] By means of ethnographic methods, she has been able to collect experiences from the few remaining Latvian female veterans. She describes in her essay how unarmed women experienced life in the militarised northern forests and mires where they ‘lived like wolves’ during the sombre years of resistance when hope grew thinner and thinner and finally vanished, only to unexpectedly reappear due to the collapse of the Soviet Union.[14]


The second scale approaches militarised landscapes from the level of diverse groups of people. An environmental and foreign relations historian, Thomas Robertson is an Associate Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. … He discusses the Cold War as a grandiose global modernisation project and divides in his case study involved stakeholders into two groups.[15] The first group consists of U.S. experts, who sought to modernise the traditional rural structures in poor countries by means of development programmes and whose protection also corresponded with geopolitical interests.[16]


The second group is composed of the local people in Nepal, whose culture and environment were the targets of modernisation plans. Robertson addresses the fate of the Tharu, a small culturally diverse ethnic group living in lowland areas of Nepal. Unlike Nepal’s hill populations, the Tharu had genetic and acquired immunities to malaria. However, as a result of malaria eradication campaigns their home valley was rapidly taken over and transformed by hill migrants. Yet, history is seldom predictable. Ironically, after discrediting communism and the end of the Cold War, a Maoist guerrilla movement emerged in Nepal, and members of the Tharu and other repressed ethnic and social groups supported the movement and the Communist Party of Nepal. As a result of the continuing modernisation project that emerged, this time from within, the social and physical landscapes of rural Nepal have been again militarised and changed.[17]


The third essay focuses on the national level. Its author, Stephen Brain, works as an Associate Professor at the Department of History at Mississippi State University… In this Special Issue Brain explores the relationship between the Cold War and emerging environmental policy and diplomacy in the Soviet Union and the United States. He poses an unorthodox question by asking if the militarised atmosphere of the Cold War has been ultimately a positive factor for international environmental policy. In his highly innovative study he argues that the international ‘struggle for hearts and minds’ motivated both the United States and the Soviet Union to accept environmentalist conventions that they otherwise might not have adopted. Brain shows that the desire of the superpowers to appear green brought about a rapid and sustained increase in international environmental agreements, and that the end of the Cold War significantly diminished this appeal. This original notion calls for a reassessment of the state and motives of environmental policy during the Cold War in both communist and capitalist countries.


The fourth and final essay focuses on the global level. Edwin A. Martini is Professor of History at Western Michigan University… If the previous essay addressed East-West relationships, Martini’s article reminds readers of the historical tensions that colonialism, decolonisation and neo-colonialism inflicted between the North and South during the Cold War.[18]  Consequently, a rapid militarisation of landscapes took place in Latin America, Africa and Asia. A symbol of Cold War warfare in these continents was a new weapon of terror, napalm, which had been invented by chemists at Harvard University in 1942. After being widely used in the Allies’ bombing campaigns during the Second World War, napalm contributed to the militarisation of landscapes during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in different continents. Napalm, which the British saw as ‘an exclusively imperial toy’ was adopted by various military forces around the world, with significant environmental, human, and moral impacts. Martini takes a truly global approach in his essay where he describes the development and expanding use of napalm around the world as well as the emergence of international protests against its use.


In conclusion, militarised landscapes are a highly multi-layered phenomenon. Various societies and militaries not only destroy landscapes, they also produce them.[19] The Cold War is over, but the viewpoints presented are still highly relevant. The fight of forest brothers and sisters against communism has been constantly addressed in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as these nations have struggled to explore and rewrite their national histories after the long decades of Soviet occupation. Important lessons from Nepal and other countries during the Cold War era have made industrial nations re-evaluate and redirect their development aid programmes in a more participatory direction. Furthermore, the early international protests against the indiscriminate use of napalm have proved to be strikingly influential until today, and since the end of the Cold War the overall use of napalm has remained on a relatively low level. On the other hand, the end of Cold War-era competition between socialism and capitalism seems to have hampered international environmental policies. In conclusion, the concept of militarised landscapes is inherently a powerful socio-environmental paradox.”

The reviewers of this collection of articles on the topic of “Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War” are impressed with the four articles and the introduction. Brandon Davis suggests that “perhaps the most innovative aspects of this Special Issue it its attention to scale. Each of the four case studies … approach militarized landscapes from a different point of view …. This novel structure allows the contributors to offer a compact yet thorough overview of the global environmental history of militarized landscapes during the Cold War.” Joshua Howe comments favorably on the articles’ “good, important scholarship,” and notes that they demonstrate the “value of environmental history to Cold War topics,” particularly Thomas Robertson’s article, which “takes environmental historian’s interest in material resources, dams and infrastructure, and human bodies as possible new entrees into the story of Cold War U.S. development programs.” In his discussion Curtis Foxley notes problems with the articles but concludes that “each article in this issue is fascinating and well-researched.” Abby Spinak suggests that diversity of the articles “is the strength of the collection. Where you look influences what you see, and the variety of source material in this collection thus leads to quite different definitions and scales of ‘militarised landscapes.” In Spinak’s conclusion, she emphasizes that “this wide-ranging set of articles shows how important it is for environmental historians working across disciplinary boundaries to look for the collusions of landscapes of environmental thought, resource management regimes, and the actual state of physical and ecological processes over times.”


The reviewers also note problems in each of the articles and the introduction and offer significant insights on the relationship of militarized landscapes to environmental history and the Cold War. Foxley offers a good assessment of the emergence of enviro-military history as a new subfield of environmental history after 2001 and points to two factors shaping the field: (1) “the theorem that nature shapes war and war shapes nature” and (2) “its topical breadth.” What Foxley emphasizes as a problem in the forum articles and the subfield in general is a lack of debate and “historiographical tension to push it forward.” Davis and Howe have problems with the different definitions in the articles and introduction of the meaning of the term “militarized landscape.” Davis suggests that the articles offer expanding meanings for “militarized landscape” that support “thoughtful and exiting ways to think about relationship between war, militarization, and environment. Yet, when taken as a whole, this expansive approach can leave the reader wondering what exactly is and is not a militarized landscape.” Howe agrees with Davis that the “collection’s authors provide their own definitions of military landscapes that differ to such a degree that the terms loses its power as an organizing principle” and notes similar definitional problems with “Cold War History” and “environmental history.” Spivak directs more criticism at the introduction than the articles for not “drawing connections between the articles and theorizing the methodological implications of this diversity of scales.” According to Spivak, the authors of the introduction trace the “rise of environmental awareness within different political economies…. Their definition of landscape is expansive, their definition of environment is not.”




Brandon Davis is a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia where he recently defended his doctoral dissertation, “Grounds for Permanent War: Land Appropriation, Exceptional Powers, and the Mid-Century Militarization of Western North American Environments.” His work has examined the origins of national sacrifice areas, the secret history of Canadian and U.S. chemical and biological weapons testing programs, and the environmental underpinnings of permanent war. A publication on this latter topic won the Society for the History in the Federal Government’s James Madison Prize for excellence in an article on the history of the federal government.


Curtis Foxley is a Ph.D. student and the Book Review Editor of the Western Historical Quarterly at the University of Oklahoma. His current project is a regional history of the Cold War American West. 


Joshua P. Howe is Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Reed College. His past research has focused primarily on the political history of climate change, and includes a recent monograph, Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014), and an edited reader, Making Climate Change History: Documents from Global Warming’s Past (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017). His current research explores the relationships between ideas about nature and natural resources and American foreign policymaking in the early Cold War.


Abby Spinak is a Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She received her Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her current research ties the history of electrification in the rural United States to the evolution of twentieth-century American capitalism and alternative economic visions. She is currently completing a book, Democracy Electric: Energy and Economic Citizenship in an Urbanizing America, which explores how a cooperative business model came to be preferred for federal electrification policy in the 1930s as a third option in a fierce debate about public versus private power; how a vast network of these community-owned and democratically-managed utilities arose across the country, quickly and dramatically altering the American landscape; and how urbanizing communities variously interpreted the political opportunities of community ownership at different moments over the past eighty years. She recently published an essay on landscapes of oil production in Technology’s Stories: Abby Spinak. “The Twenty-first Century Oil Encounter: Dispatches from Texas.” Technology’s Stories (August 2017):


Review by Brandon Davis, the University of British Columbia



On Christmas Eve 1968, Apollo 8 astronaut William Anders snapped a picture of a blue planet Earth rising from behind a desolate lunar horizon. Anders’ now iconic ‘Earthrise’ photo is widely credited with changing the way humanity viewed their home planet, helping to spark the modern environmental movement. Taken during the first manned mission to the moon, the photo also played a part in opening up a new front in the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. In their introductory article to Cold War History’s 2016 Special Issue on “Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War,” authors Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker contend that these links between global-scale environmental awareness and the Cold War were not incidental but in fact parallel processes with a shared history.[20] In exploring the environmental history of Cold-War landscapes, the five articles not only demonstrate how the militarisation of nature was an undeniable part of the Cold War, but also how “the specific sociopolitical structures of the Cold War deeply affected the emergence of environmental ideas, ideals, organisations and activities in different continents” (377).


Laakkonen’s, Pál’s, and Tucker’s first article “The Cold War and Environmental History: Complementary Fields” sets the stage. Here the authors develop an analytic framework for approaching Cold War environmental histories based upon the reciprocal relationship between the Cold War and the environment. “This reciprocal relationship,” as the authors argue, “offers rich analytical terrain that will help us better understand the history of Cold-War tensions as well as the profound changes to the natural world and the consequences of those changes” (379). The authors then examine some of the main themes from the historiography of the environmental history of the Cold War, looking at studies on democratic capitalist countries as well as left-wing and right-wing authoritarian and totalitarian states. While they may not identify “infinite possibilities” for future studies on this topic, they do find key areas of neglect and a make a strong case for the need for more work to be done to integrate and compare environmental history and Cold War history (380). Perhaps the most innovative aspect of this Special Issue is its attention to scale. Each of the four case studies that follow the introductory article approach militarised landscapes from a different point of view, including the individual, group, national, and global level. This novel structure allows the contributors to offer a compact yet thorough overview of the global environmental history of militarised landscapes during the Cold War. 


Sanita Reinsone’s article, “Forbidden and Sublime Forest Landscapes: Narrated Experiences of Latvian National Partisan,” kicks off this approach by focusing on the individual’s experience of Baltic militarized forests in years after World War II.[21] Instead of peace, the end of war brought additional conflict to the Baltic republics in which tens of thousands of local people fled to the forest to fight against the forces of Soviet occupation. One of the first scholars to capture the voices of the Baltic women who joined male-dominated partisan groups in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Reinsome vividly details how anti-Soviet resistance movements transformed Baltic lives and landscapes during the first decade of the Cold War. According to Reinsome, the decision to move to the forest meant “not only exchanging the dangerous human world for the less uncertain natural world, but also totally changing the nature of social life and permanently destroying relations with the state powers by becoming an opponent, outlaw, bandit” (406). During this one-sided struggle that lasted until the middle of the 1950s, the forest itself also took on new meanings and uses. What had been a practical, familiar environment quickly became a “crucial political actor,” serving as both an active military arena and the safest possible shelter from Soviet persecution (416). Far from being a romantic experience, the accounts of the women who moved to the forests read more like a “survival handbook” in which the odds of survival were greatly stacked against them due to the extremely harsh elements, the lack of food and basic supplies, and the constant threat of being arrested or shot (408). In uncovering the varied experiences of these women forest insurgents, Reinsone’s engaging account offers a distinctly modern variant to the long-standing historical tradition of using forests, as Reinsome puts it, “as a hiding place for those in conflict with the ruling powers and law” (415).


Thomas Robertson’s “Cold War Landscapes: Towards an Environmental History of US Development Programmes in the 1950s” explores a variant of another prominent historical theme: American-driven frontier modernization.[22] In this variation, the lowland areas of Nepal’s Rapti Valley not only represented the front lines of America’s Cold-War struggle against a rising communist China, but also an untapped agrarian frontier that American development planners believed could potentially form, as Robertson notes, “the backbone of a new, democratic, noncommunist Nepal” (418). Robertson traces how both the ideas behind the Napti Valley Development Project as well as the actual way it was implemented on the ground level led to a series of unintended consequences that reshaped the social and physical landscapes of rural Nepal, giving rise to what one observer described as “an ecological disaster on a grand scale.”[23] In addition to highlighting a notable example of Cold-War era ecological imperialism, the Rapti Valley case also serves as a stepping stone for Robertson to discuss larger trends in studies on international development programs. This overview of recent literature helps to underscore Robertson’s main arguments about how Cold War international development programmes often involved vast technology-based environmental and social reconfigurations that deserve further scholarly attention. Yet, when coupled with Laakkonen’s, Pál’s, and Tucker’s overview of literature on the environmental history of the Cold War, this additional literature review does make this short collection of articles a bit top-heavy on historiographical discussions.


As Nepal’s Napti Valley case demonstrates, Cold-War era development projects usually had prominent geopolitical dimensions. Less well recognized is how they also employed militarised methods. “This approach to solving problems,” as Robertson argues, “tended to be more hierarchical, less accountable, more rushed, lacking in broad surveying and testing, and often ‘no holds barred’ in use of power and attitude toward nature” (422). Few states have possessed as strong of a reputation for taking such heavy-handed tactics as the Soviet Union. As Stephen Brain points out in the fourth article of this Special Issue, scholars have long assumed that the Soviet leadership held an ideological hostility to environmental concerns, and was willing to pursue military and industrial development at nearly any cost.[24] With plenty of caveats, Brain’s carefully argued article pushes back against such prevailing assumptions.[25] In looking past official propaganda and more closely at the history of domestic Soviet environmental initiatives, Brain finds a surprising number of success stories, including forest conservation programs as well as efforts to manage water, waste, and air pollution. In taking this line of inquiry further, Brain contends that the ideological contest between the United States and the Soviet Union was instrumental to the implementation of key environmental agreements, and that the end of the Cold War greatly diminished the remaining superpower’s incentive to support international environmental policies. In offering a seemingly novel explanation for the sudden decline of major environmental treaties after the end of the Cold War, Brain’s findings should be of high interest to diplomatic historians as well as policy researchers of all types. For scholars looking at militarised landscapes, Brain’s piece also shows the potential of offering more nuanced and complex accounts that move beyond the familiar trope of military domination and destruction of the environment. 


As both the scale and lethality of weapons technologies and military tactics rapidly increased during and after World War II, so did the need for what was commonly described as ‘realistic,’ ‘operational,’ or ‘full-scale’ training and testing grounds. For territorially limited military powers such as the United Kingdom, the lack of large, isolated spaces to safely conduct hazardous and often controversial military testing and training activities has presented a persistent and frequently difficult challenge. In this Special Issue’s final article, “World on Fire: The Politics of Napalm in the Global Cold War,” Edwin A. Martini examines how British leaders addressed this challenge during the politically tense 1960s and 1970s.[26] In detailing how authorities looked to “the remnants of their former empire” to find suitable locations for defence forces to train with live napalm munitions, Martini’s account brings much needed attention not only to an understudied weapon technology but also to an under-recognized use of territorial assets in the Global South (471). Not content to simply look at napalm’s direct material effects on people, places, and the natural environment, Martini also explores the many moral, cultural, and political consequences surrounding the testing and use of napalm – reminding readers about the persistence of colonial ideologies and how, as Martini concludes, “the hearts, minds, and landscapes of the world were still seen by many in the global north as very much ripe for the taking” (481).


Investigations on the relationship between war and the environment have recently paid closer attention to terminology, particularly with concepts such as “militarism,” “militarised,” “militarisation,” “landscapes,” and the “environment.”[27] While recognizing these efforts, nearly all the contributors to this Special Issue also attempt to broaden or offer a more liberal understanding of what constitutes a militarised landscape. Martini, for example, sees military landscapes not simply as physical, observable spaces but also as moral and cognitive phenomena; while in Brain’s article ideological battles over environmental concerns become figurative militarized landscapes in themselves. To Robertson, militarised landscapes include not just landscapes devoted to war and war preparation, but also ones that “foster strategically advantageous economic and political stability” (422). In expanding our understandings of what constitutes a militarised landscape, these studies offer thoughtful and exciting ways to think about relationship between war, militarization, and environment. Yet, when taken as whole, this expansive approach can also leave the reader wondering what exactly is and is not a militarised landscape. Laakkonen’s, Pál’s, and Tucker’s conclusions about how “militarised landscapes are a highly multi-layered phenomenon” or that “the concept of militarised landscapes is inherently a powerful socio-environmental paradox” do not necessarily help to clarify things (394). This possible shortcoming aside, Cold War History’s 2016 Special Issue on “Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War” has plenty to offer to readers interested in learning more about larger trends in recent works on the environmental history of Cold War or to anyone hoping to engage with innovative case studies that span the globe and approach social and environmental change from a variety of scales and ideological viewpoints. 


Review by Curtis Foxley, University of Oklahoma



In 2001 environmental history birthed a new subfield: enviro-military history. As its name suggests, enviro-military history is a genre concerned with the connections between the physical world and war. Under the guidance of Edmund Russell, Richard Tucker, John McNeill, Lisa Brady, and others, enviro-military history quickly became a notable and exciting area of inquiry.[28] Historiographically, scholars began to plumb humanity’s many wars to reveal the reciprocal relationship between war and nature. In the classroom, enviro-military history provided instructors with new, bloody, and tragic topics to sell students environmental methods of analysis. Quite quickly, enviro-military history went global, attracting academics from Europe, Asia, and Africa. The excitement surrounding this new subfield led to the creation of an annual ‘war and the environment’ breakfast, a website (, listservs, international conferences, hundreds of panels, dozens of edited volumes, and a healthy supply of monographs.


Today, the enviro-military history subfield continues to grow, as evidenced by the Fall 2016 Special Issue of Cold War History entitled, “Militarised Landscapes: Environmental Histories of the Cold War.” Each article in this edition is quite well-developed and fills historiographical gaps. Before diving into this scholarship, it is important to first identify two aspects of the subfield that have shaped it, for better or worse, for nearly seventeen years. The first attribute can be considered the foundational piece of enviro-military history: the theorem that nature shapes war and war shapes nature. This reciprocal relationship is important. Yet, it is also belabored. Indeed, enviro-military historians have spilled much ink, and felled many trees, to provide example after example of this rule. The second attribute of the subfield worth noting here is its topical breadth. Enviro-military historians are not bound by period or geography. Consequently, they have spread out to research different corners of the Earth during different times. This has led to a growing cornucopia of knowledge. It has also led to lack of debate, as enviro-military historians have issued few conflicting interpretations or arguments on any given topic. To be clear: enviro-military scholarship is not lacking in evidence or validity. Furthermore, it is one of the most gripping subfields to introduce to undergraduate students interested in environmental history. What seems to be missing from the subfield is historiographical tension to push it forward. I was hoping this special issue would provide the seeds for such a debate. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What this Special Issue does provide is a good snapshot of the field’s current trajectory. Here we see scholars spreading out and tackling disparate topics tied to the Cold War, providing a bounty of content but little tension. In the end, we are left reiterating the theorem that nature shapes war and war shapes nature. 


The special issue begins with an introductory piece, “The Cold War and environmental history: complementary fields,” by notable enviro-military historians Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker.[29] In it, the authors “maintain that the Cold War was not only a struggle for the hearts and minds of people, it was also a struggle for their mouths and bellies; that is, for food, energy and raw materials” (378). This claim cuts to the heart of the Cold War, situating it as much a material contest as an ideological one. This resource battle had both positive and negative consequences. It often yielded life-giving developments, such as international food aid and health services, but also brought about environmental destruction, pollution, and violence. The Cold War also changed how people thought about the natural world. The editors argue that “the increasing consumption of natural resources and resulting urban-industrial pollution, the destructive capacity of the atomic bomb—along with the resulting political and ecological fallout from its use—compelled human beings to recognize that their activities could ultimately endanger the planet earth” (378). Put another way, the environmental consequences of the Cold War incited environmentalist reactions across the globe. To support this claim, the authors provide an overview of environmental movements in western democracies, such as Sweden, West Germany, and the United States.


Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker utilize their introduction to issue a few calls to action. One topic that they challenge scholars to examine is the environmental history of communist nations and right-wing authoritarian regimes. This call to action is predicated on dispelling the “prevailing black and white image of the ‘clean’ capitalism and ‘dirty’ communism.” (388). While investigating environmental histories in overlooked regimes is important for history’s sake, it is probable that this new line of inquiry will not reveal jarring or surprising conclusions. As the authors note, it is likely that both left and right-wing authoritarian regimes yielded some positive and some negative environmental consequences. It is unlikely that historians will uncover a profoundly green Cold War government. It is worth noting that previous scholars have, indeed, written monographs documenting resource use in far-left and far-right Cold War governments. Take for example, Paul R. Josephson’s well-known 2004 monograph Resources under Regimes.[30] In that work, Josephson compares environmental management in far-left, far-right, and pluralist regimes during the Cold War. It is surprising that Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker do not engage with Josephson here. Regardless, their call to action keeps enviro-military history on the same trajectory by encouraging historians to spread out and uncover new stories. This approach will probably generate excellent scholarship, but it is unlikely to produce the historiographical tension that the subfield needs. 


Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker end their introduction by addressing the concept of militarized landscapes. Militarized landscapes, an idea popularized by Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Chris Pearson, is the thematic glue that binds this Special Issue together.[31] While the contours of militarized landscapes are intellectually blurry, for the purposes of this Special Issue, Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker establish that militarized landscapes “signify material and immaterial landscapes, which have been mobilised or threatened to be mobilised by militarization, militarism, or military activities” (391). Here the authors issue another call to action, encouraging scholars to research the environmental implications of war production. Enviro-military history’s foundational theorem—nature shapes war and war shapes nature—is not limited to the hills of Gettysburg, the trenches of Ypres, or the streets of Mosul. It is also applicable to areas of resource extraction and munitions manufacturing. 


The first substantive article in this special issue, “Forbidden and sublime forest landscapes: narrated experiences of Latvian national partisan women after World War II,” takes place on a personal, individual level.[32] In it, the folklore scholar Sanita Reinsone recounts how tens of thousands of Latvian nationalists fled to the forests to avoid arrest, persecution, and oppression by the Soviet occupation forces during World War II and throughout the Cold War. This is truly a fascinating story. Relying on twelve oral histories, Reinsone reveals how individual Latvian women, men, and children transformed forests into political zones of resistance and living spaces. It was in the forests that Latvian nationalists planned military raids, cared for the sick, wrote poetry, produced letters, raised their families, washed clothes, cooked, and slept. Although Reinsone sees this type of forest community as “an absolutely male-dominated society” where gender roles were rigidly defined and women were “more vulnerable,” she situates women in the front of this narrative because they have “received far less attention” by scholars (402, 396). Along with documenting the political context that drove people to the forests and the dangers of forest life, Reinsone shows how the Latvian forests acquired new political meaning during the Cold War and became both a metaphorical and a literal place of anti-Soviet resistance. 


There are many intellectually stimulating aspects of Reinsone’s article. One is her brief examination of how Latvians imagined and interacted with forests and wildlife. Many nationalists did not view the forest as a static backdrop. Rather, they humanized forest animals and imagined the forest as “a helper to people in need” (410). This view of the forest, Reinsone points-out, is rooted in Latvian mythology and culture. It would be interesting for Reinsone, or other scholars, to push this analysis a bit further. National myth and culture aside, in what way did nationalism and the love the nation shape how people interpreted and interacted with national landscapes in times of occupation? Reinsone’s analysis of forests as places of political resistance is also insightful, and reminiscent of James C. Scott’s 2009 work, The Art of Not Being Governed.[33] Surprisingly, Reinsone does not cite or engage with Scott directly, nor other scholars who have investigated shatter zones and areas of political resistance outside of Eastern Europe.[34] Briefly contextualizing the Latvian case with other instances of forest and swamp-based resistance could have enhanced this piece and revealed larger trends surrounding insurgencies and environmental use. In the end, Reinsone’s story is a laser-focused political and personal narrative about Latvian nationalists.


The second article in this special issue analyzes the Cold War as a global modernization project. In “Cold War landscapes: towards an environmental history of U.S. development programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” environmental and foreign relations historian Thomas Robertson investigates how the United States used technology and infrastructure programs as diplomatic tools to cultivate alliances with the Third World.[35] The United States hoped to modernize nations across the globe, from Nepal to Thailand to Iraq and Brazil. According to Robertson, American Cold Warriors imagined these, and other nations, as Turnerian frontiers which, if developed, would yield political and material support to the United States. He argues that this resource development “was an essential but now frequently overlooked” component of President Harry Truman’s Point Four Program (421). 


Two parts of Robertson’s contribution are worth mentioning here. The first is Robertson’s definition and use of the militarized landscape framework. Robertson structures his analysis using a “more liberal understanding of militarised landscapes,” which includes “landscapes altered not as part of military preparations but in order to foster strategically advantageous economic and political stability” (422). This definition is perhaps too encompassing. Stretching the contours of militarized landscapes to this extent risks positioning the entire Earth as a militarized landscape, thereby potentially undermining the legibility of the concept altogether. Another key piece of this article is Robertson’s historiographical review of American international development programs. Robertson dedicates half of his article to this review, in which he examines works on river systems, agriculture, and human health. Readers interested in high-modernization, liberal international programs, and material diplomacy will find this review, and the rest of Roberston’s article, useful and insightful. He convincingly shows how Truman’s Point Four Program constituted a type of New Deal abroad, providing American state-based development, conservation, and aid to the Third World.


Following Robertson’s article, the environmental historian Stephen Brain explores how the United States and the Soviet Union ideologically competed with one another to appear environmentally conscious in “The appeal of appearing green: Soviet-American ideological competition and Cold War environmental diplomacy.”[36] Recognizing that their peoples wanted healthy environments, both superpowers worked with one another to craft international environmental agreements during the height of the Cold War. Put another way, the human desire to protect nature influenced Cold War diplomacy. When the Cold War ended, the amount of international environmental agreements declined, suggesting that the United States and Soviet pursuit of environmental agreements was game of green one-upmanship. But Brain does not see this game as purely cynical realpolitik. Instead, he recognizes that both Americans and Soviets had real environmental concerns. To prove this argument, Brain first chips-away at the simplistic idea that the Soviet Union was anti-environmentalist. Working through the ideas of Slavenka Drakulic’s How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, Brain shows that the widespread poverty in the Soviet Union forced people into adopting more green behaviors, such as reusing and repurposing old materials and relying on mass transit.[37] This “ecology of poverty” was supported by socialism’s “near-obsessive governmental emphasis on reducing waste” to foster green behaviors (448). Brain also searches for green Soviets by investigating wastewater treatment, the removal of leaded gasoline and paint from circulation, and other Soviet environmental initiatives.


From there, Brain provides an overview of Cold War international environmental agreements. His overview includes the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Fur Deals of 1972, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, and the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Pollution, among others. Brain ends by revealing that both Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President George W. Bush mentioned working together to construct a framework agreement on climate change issues, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 reoriented both nations to other issues.


The final entry in this special issue is Edwin Martini’s “World on fire: the politics of napalm in the Global Cold War.”[38] In it, he primarily focuses on the politics and public opinion surrounding napalm in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and the 1970s. He reveals that Cold War geopolitics, decolonization conflicts, and public opinion surrounding weaponry shaped the use of napalm. By focusing on British policymakers, Martini “seeks to decentre the United States and the Cold War in the study of military landscapes during this period” (466). Martini notes that this approach builds upon the work of Odd Arne Westad to disrupt the “traditional and artificial East-West dichotomies in the Cold War” (466).[39] Supplementing his focus on British policymakers, Martini also briefly recounts napalm’s use in conflicts around the globe, including the American War in Vietnam and the Six-Day War in the Middle East, as well as the French sale of fifty petroleum jelly drop tanks to Israel. The negative public perception surrounding napalm created a moral and political landscape that diplomats and world leaders had to navigate throughout the Cold War. 


Above all, “World on fire” is an article about the public perception, political moves, and political backlash surrounding napalm. In some ways, it is reminiscent of Martini’s earlier work on the controversies and public perception surrounding Agent Orange.[40] Readers looking for an analysis of how napalm transformed material environments will find little here. Nevertheless, Martini’s article makes a solid contribution to napalm, fire, and Cold War diplomatic history.


In all, this Special Edition on Cold War Environmental History is a worthwhile reflection of the current state of the enviro-military subfield. On one hand, each article in this issue is fascinating and well-researched. On the other hand, each article also stakes out a thematic and geographical position distant from the next, deflating the possibilities for tension. It is true that the concept of militarized landscapes ties these contributions together. Yet, such a broad concept could knit any number of disparate pieces together. The only analytical threads we are left with is the notion that humans value environmental health and the theorem that nature shapes war and war shapes nature. Thus, we enviro-military historians are left nodding and humming along, when what we need is historiographical tension, provocation, and perhaps a little shock and awe. 


Review by Joshua P. Howe, Reed College



Over the last decade or so, a few intrepid scholars have undertaken to explore the overlapping historical territory between the fields of diplomatic and environmental history.[41] Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly all of these ventures have begun with the hypothesis and concluded with the conviction that scholars ought to explore these overlaps further. The recent collection in Cold War History, “The Cold War and Environmental History: Complementary Fields,” both reiterates and seeks to answer this call. Edited and introduced by Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker, the collection is part review, part synthesis, and part original scholarship, and its authors endeavor to use the Cold War militarization of natural landscapes as a way to explore connections between the parallel histories of the Cold War, on one hand, and of environmental degradation, awareness, and protection on the other. The collection comprises essays on forest landscapes in the Baltics; U.S. development programs in Asia and Latin America; the relationship between international political conflict and international environmental agreements; and the changing political meanings of napalm. As reflected in the essays, this is indeed, rich new historical terrain.


While the cause is worthwhile and each individual effort is rigorous and interesting, however—and I want to be clear that individually, these papers represent good, important scholarship—as a collection of work meant to demonstrate the value of overlapping approaches, the project falls prey to the capaciousness of its target fields and the vagaries of definition both within and between those fields. Taken together, the papers reveal a good deal of confusion that accompanies their productive collaboration, providing another move “towards” an environmental history of the Cold War—another starting point—without really clarifying what the novel synthesis of Cold War and environmental histories its authors call for might look like.


The trouble begins with definitions, and the trouble with definitions begins with the central focus of the collection: the militarized landscape. “Militarization,” the collection’s editors note in the introduction, “signifies the social process in which society organizes itself for the production of large-scale violence.” The militarized landscape, they go on, “can be understood as physical, experienced or represented multi-layered entities”—entities they promise the collection will address at a variety of scales.[42] Even given this considerable definitional flexibility, the collection’s authors each provide their own definitions of military landscapes that differ to such a degree that the term loses its power as an organizing principle. Sanita Reinsone mobilizes the concept quite literally, investigating the changing meanings of Baltic forests as they came under military conflict during Soviet occupation, and Thomas Robertson self-consciously expands the concept to Cold War development programs, where “militarized methods” created development landscapes akin to those of battlefields and military bases.[43] Edwin Martini channels both Peter Coates (et al.,) and his own previous work on militarized landscapes to broaden the definitions even further, suggesting in his study of the political meanings of napalm that militarized landscapes are “simultaneously material and cultural sites that have been fully or partially mobilized for military purposes.”[44] As Martini himself points out, however, the advent of nuclear weapons during the early Cold War globalized this military mobilization, leaving one to wonder whether any landscape can be left out. Finally, Stephen Brain goes beyond even that broad definition, suggesting that “the Cold War converted the environment into a militarized landscape—a battleground where ideologies competed against one another,” conflating the political with the military in a convenient metaphor that all but explodes the category of a militarized landscape altogether.[45] That this conflation does nothing to undermine his argument about the ways in which Cold War competition actually made international environmental agreements more likely in the 1970s suggests the extent to which the flexibility of the term ‘militarized landscapes’ has dulled its analytical efficacy. (It is not a fundamentally flawed term, I think; simply one that needs to be returned to the shed for sharpening).


If expansive definitions of this key concept presents a problem for the collection, so do the deployments of even more straightforward terms. Take, for example, ‘Cold War History,’ a field that engages with the half-century ideological, political, military, economic, and social conflict between the Communist East, often led and almost always embodied by the Soviet Union, and the Capitalist West, often led and almost always embodied by the United States.[46]Here there is little disagreement. And yet, reading Reinsone’s illuminating account of Baltic partisans’ relationship to their native forest begs the question: is all history from the Cold War era ‘Cold War History?’ Surely, her Baltic partisans cannot be understood if divorced from the context of Soviet Cold War foreign and domestic policy, but for Reinsone, the Cold War serves more as implicit backdrop than as analytical tool. Reinson’s story demonstrates vividly the extent to which Baltic women’s relationship to their forests reflect the experiences of oppression and resistance, and she argues convincingly that within these stories, the forest “stands as a symbolic substitute for the old world,” a source of power, refuge, and ultimately, nostalgia (414). While I hesitate to propose too narrow an interpretation of ‘Cold War History,’ however, without the kind of explicit connections between the Cold War and individual experience you find in other overlap classics like Elaine Tyler May’s Homeward Bound or Manning Marable’s Race, Reform, and Rebellion—classics that demonstrate the Cold War’s influence on American domestic life and American race relations, respectively—the Cold War angle offers little that is theoretically new to a rich literature on domination and resistance in forest history.[47]


Just as the collection’s editors argue that Cold War history casts new light on certain aspects of environmental history—which I believe this is true—they also argue, perhaps more clearly, for the inverse proposition: that environmental history can help make new meaning out of Cold War stories. I believe this is also true, and here, despite some more definitional foibles, the collection does a bit better to demonstrate the value of environmental history to Cold War topics. Each of the essays fits, to some degree, the broad outlines of a field that means, to paraphrase J.R. McNeill, to take nature seriously as a category of analysis in history.[48] In his synthetic contribution to the collection, Thomas Robertson in particular provides cogent examples of what a more textured version of an environmental analysis of the Cold War might entail.[49] Robertson takes environmental historians’ interest in material resources, dams and infrastructure, and human bodies as possible new entrées into the story of Cold War U.S. development programs that have recently resurfaced in literature on Cold War history.[50] In doing so, he also provides a historiographical framework that does more than the editors’ introduction to establish a continuity between the collection’s essays insofar as environmental history is concerned.[51] To some degree, the editors’ difficulty in corralling the topically divergent contributions to the collection speaks to the intellectual fecundity of the shared terrain of Cold War and environmental histories. Indeed, lest my grumpy policing of disciplinary definitions veer into academic fuddy-duddyism, I should reiterate that there is much more baby than bathwater in this collection. In a different forum—that is, outside of an H-Diplo forum—I could just as easily (and with a clear conscience) extoll the many virtues of the endeavor; it is, I think, an extremely valuable one. As more scholars begin to explore the historical overlaps between Cold War and environmental histories, however, I worry that the slippage in key analytical categories like ‘militarized landscapes,’ Cold War history, and environmental history that compromise this collection’s coherence also threatens to undercut future attempts at a novel, systematic syntheses of the two fields. Both here and elsewhere, this synthesis has begun to bear intellectual fruit. Some supportive pruning, I suggest, will help ensure its productivity in the future.



Review by Abby Spinak, Harvard Graduate School of Design



This is a beautifully subversive collection. In their efforts to find a modest and manageable starting point for integrating environmental history and Cold War history, Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker propose to focus merely on “the environmental history of militarised landscapes.”[52] Yet they define “militarised landscapes” expansively, asking the reader to accept “material and immaterial landscapes” that can encompass human interactions with the natural world, perceived experiences of these interactions, and representations of these experiences (391). Their multi-scalar curation of the topic and the freedom this definition gives to the contributing authors explodes the concept. By the end of the collection, the focus on ‘militarised landscapes’ feels more like a foil against which the authors have slowly built the latent questions: what was not militarised by the Cold War? And how do we transcend these path dependencies? 


It is a provocative exercise, and one very much at the heart of environmental history. Landscape, in environmental history, is a text. Specifically, landscapes are palimpsests of successive political economies, local acts of resistance, and the incommensurable agency of nonhuman nature. Landscape-focused history defies master narratives; instead, it highlights the pervasive legibility of previous encounters. As a metaphor, landscape evokes ample room for competing narratives and an ever-present porosity.[53] The ‘militarised landscapes’ in this collection thus engage space as always both physical and social, moving facilely from environment as ecological context in which human action occurred in the Cold War, to environment as the set of things which were governed, to environment as future potential, and back again. 


Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the ‘militarised landscapes’ considered here refers to actual armed combat between world powers. The one article that does interrogate a landscape of conflict, Sanita Reinsone’s study of Baltic forests as spaces of resistance and conflict during Soviet occupation, is a history of internal pacification – no less violent, but not the frontlines of the Cold War per se.[54] Rather, as Thomas Robertson observes in his article on development aid in unaligned countries, much of the landscape re-ordering activity of the Cold War “fell in the ‘shadow zone between peacetime and conflict’” (421).[55]


In my review of this special issue, I explore the authors’ landscapes as liminal spaces of largely symbolic conflict amidst rapid material-ecological modification, and I consider how the authors’ different scales of inquiry provide unique lenses into the material and political environments of the Cold War. To do so, I discuss the articles slightly out of sequence, reordering them purposefully to reflect a different scale hierarchy than the introductory article proposes. I thus end by briefly debating the introductory article’s articulation of the critical interventions at the intersection of Cold War and environmental history, and propose some lessons environmental historians might take from this fascinating collection.


Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker should first be commended for selecting articles that used vastly different source materials. Starting off, Reinsone’s article engages interview-based oral histories with an understudied community: women who fled to Latvian forests in support – or, more often, by necessity as a result of their support – of anti-Soviet resistance groups. Moving fluidly between worlds, Stephen Brain’s article subsequently brings together Soviet archives, U.S. government reports, and contemporaneous media coverage to show how the Cold War made both domestic environmental policy and international environmental diplomacy into competitive arenas.[56] Robertson then provides a timely literature review of United States foreign aid programs focused on resource development, particularly those that intervened in river systems, agriculture, and human health. (Robertson also gives the reader a teaser of his current research on Nepal, starting and ending with the case study of American development projects in Nepal’s Rapti Valley.) Finally, Edwin A. Martini adds a unique and important set of voices to the collection by focusing on British military archives, providing the necessary reminder that ‘militarised’ does not mean that militaries themselves are of one mind and that internal debates also manifested spatially.[57] Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker’s introductory article sums up the collection with a brief historiography of environmentalism under different political economic regimes.


This diversity is the strength of the collection. Where you look influences what you see, and the variety of source material in this collection thus leads to quite different definitions and scales of ‘militarised landscapes.’ 


The collection starts with Reinsone’s Baltic forests—in some ways the most obviously militarised and yet also the most intimate of landscapes. In “Forbidden and sublime forest landscapes: narrated experiences of Latvian national partisan women after World War II,” Reinsone considers the ways that Soviet occupation and resistance reinscribed Baltic forests as a place of refuge and a place of conflict. Her article draws primarily on “life story interviews” with women who fled to the forests, who she calls meža meitas—“forest daughters”—a play on both the popular name for men in these anti-Soviet resistance groups, “forest brothers,” and the “daughters of forest wardens” from Latvian folksongs, “who knew the forest more intimately than anyone else” (400-401).


Oral history poses a number of methodological challenges, as Reinsone discusses eloquently throughout her article. Drawing on secondary theoretical and methodological studies of interview-based history, Reinsone interprets the meža meitas’ descriptions of their lives in the forest narratively as a form of historical memory constructed through the lens of folk culture and personal nostalgia. She highlights the hybridity that Latvian forests assumed for these women, as the “pastoral and mythical” narrative backdrop these forests had provided in early twentieth-century Latvian culture became rewritten as a “military arena and a domestic space” (408). In this new militarised forest landscape, the forest itself “became a natural ally;” the underground and the night also belonged to the meža meitas (409). But, as Reinsone describes, the women themselves also became militarised: “Having gone into the woods to seek temporary shelter, they in effect were civilians who ended up in a war zone without weapons or training for battle” (415). The experience forever changed these women. Many of the meža meitas she interviewed never married or had children; “consequently,” she writes, “about half of them live alone in old age.” Of Reinsone’s primary informant for this article, Mihalīna Supe, she concludes, “[Mihalīna] seems to experience…existential outsideness and homelessness, no matter where she finds herself” (414-15). 


While Reinsone’s sources are perhaps the most difficult of the collection, her claims in the article are modest, perhaps overly so. In a very intimate way, she shows how the Cold War intensified ecological impact and brought new spaces into the sphere of human activity under military rule. The anti-Soviet resistance groups that fled to the forests mark “the largest and longest such experience of human and forest interaction in the history of the [Baltics],” she writes. As primary witnesses to this interaction, the meža meitas’ memories are a unique archive for reconstructing landscapes of resistance in the Baltics. Over their years in the forests, they learned how to listen and forage, where to dig bunkers and hide supplies, how to navigate and hide, and they also remembered names and places of those who had fought and died – all of which would otherwise survive only as statistics or staged photos in police records (398, 412). The unpleasant fate that waited for many of the meža meitas beyond the forests also tells ecological stories. Mass deportations transferred anti-Soviet Latvians to undeveloped Siberia, rearranging human bodies in the interest of reordering nonhuman nature. Captured meža meitas became the human labor for Gulag camps, where, as an incarcerated workforce under the supervision of the state, they constructed the infrastructure of Soviet modernity (413). Far from being landscapes outside of state control, the Baltic forests in Reinsone’s article become staging grounds in a continent-wide reorganization of space, resources, and people. 


The technics of modernization are taken up directly by Robertson, who argues for more attention to the use of development aid as a proxy battle in the Cold War. In “Cold War landscapes: towards an environmental history of development programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” Robertson defines ‘militarised landscapes’ to include those created “in order to foster strategically advantageous economic and political stability” (421). A civilian counterpart to Soviet ‘chekists,’ American engineers and agronomists also destabilized communities, “as roots gave way to routes” not just in forests but in grasslands and river deltas across the developing world (406). Robertson’s focus on the contradictions and unintended consequences of American modernization projects, which, he shows, violently reorganizing people and earth in the name of progress, is not unique to Cold War history. However, his reinterpretation of these projects as ‘militarised landscapes’ adds complexity to the history of modernization and development aid as more than bumbling well-intentioned technocrats or resource-hungry capitalists.[58] In fact, Robertson shows, these modernization projects were the materiel of a wartime Western order. 


Robertson starts anecdotally with an American gazing across the Rapti Valley in Nepal and seeing the malarial grasslands as a tabula rasa ripe for “vast technology-based environmental and social reconfigurations” that would establish a landscape of “landowning ‘yeoman’ farmers” who, in the pervasive imagination of the American frontier, would “form the backbone of a new, democratic, noncommunist Nepal” (418). Nepal and other such “underdeveloped” landscapes become, in Robertson’s analysis, the “front line of the cold war” (417), where vast amounts of American and/or Soviet technology, labor, and funding were put to use not for combat but “in order to foster strategically advantageous economic and political stability” (421). While the individual projects Robertson considers targeted ecological regions as bounded as Baltic forests, viewed together, they become an international landscape linked by imposed technological influence, a world theater in which battles were fought through hydroelectric dams, scientific agriculture, and malaria eradication campaigns. 


Somewhat surprisingly, Robertson is the only author to cite James C. Scott’s classic critique of state planning as an exercise in imposing bureaucratic uniformity on heterogeneous citizens and landscapes (435).[59] Though perhaps most visible in Robertson’s article, the resource and land management approaches highlighted throughout the collection generally sought to make land and people legible and controllable, and to turn natural processes into knowable systems – “a global panopticon,” as Paul N. Edwards has written about Cold War climatology.[60] The Cold War, after all, was a battle of state power, a top-down reorganization of the material world in a global-scale experiment. Understanding how this manifested in formal state attempts to catalogue, model, standardize, and systematize natural resources, spaces, and peoples around the world, across diverse political economies, is a critical lesson environmental history can bring to the history of the Cold War. Scott, Roberston, and others who give us tools to think of state action at this scale can also help make sense of the intentional depoliticizing work at the heart of many of these projects. 


Of course, state control over space means more than policing forests and turning undeveloped land into managed infrastructure. Cold War powers also reimagined the future potential of landscapes and engaged in diplomacy to maintain access for future use. As Robertson’s survey of development aid implicitly constructs a history of expanding American empire, Martini’s British-centered landscape history of napalm explores the tricky politics of Western militarisation in recently decolonized lands. Martini’s article, “World on fire: the politics of napalm in the Global Cold War,” constructs a British military landscape that is both global in gaze and yet locally complicated by legacies of past colonial warfare and postcolonial negotiations. Martini grounds his history in the horrific materiality of napalm, then builds to the intricacies of postcolonial politics in his discussion about the weapon as a “necessary” deterrent (468).


While the British military and government found the use of napalm in modern warfare unconscionable, especially near civilian populations, Martini shows, its presence in their arsenal posed problems of technical management. Specifically, the British military needed to find sites for testing and training. While these activities were not combat engagements aimed at destruction of life and property, they were nonetheless the deployment of “firebombs” of “incendiary gel” in the vicinity of civilians, who would be at risk of accidental detonations outside the test range (465-466, 468, 472-473). As the material realities of napalm “forced [the British military] to scour the remnants of their former empire” for testing sites, Martini writes, they navigated complex “cognitive and moral landscapes” where Cold War anxieties collided with the politics of decolonization and postcolonial desires (471). For example, he describes the importance of secrecy around a test site in Libya, not to keep the Libyan postcolonial government from protesting this use of the military base the British were now leasing from it, but to “provide the Libyan leadership with plausible deniability…against public accusations of complicity with British forces” (473). 


Like Robertson, Martini’s landscapes are expansive, but variegated. Delineated by networks and nodes, they are global in reach, but not in coverage. This is an important distinction in the context of the collection. Landscape logics can be derivative and referential, linking disparate places together through the technics of the American “environmental-management state” (423) or British postcolonial military politics, but to globalize landscapes requires a conceptual jump to landscape as institutional construct, rather than physical-ecological place. The strength of Robertson’s and Martini’s articles is not in how they make their militarised landscapes global but in how they make them particular. What is ‘global’ in both articles is the Western gaze: the rapaciousness of American development and the British imaginary of postcolonial landscapes of their former empire as “always already militarised, imagined as seemingly inherent targets for potential military activity” (465).


Viewing this collection through a hierarchy of scales, from personal to global, Stephen Brain’s article rightfully should have been last. In “The appeal of appearing green: Soviet-American ideological competition and Cold War environmental diplomacy,” Brain shows how “the environment” was constructed as a global “militarised landscape” that could be managed through diplomacy. In examining the rhetoric around international environmental treaties during the Cold War, Brain argues that Cold War environmental diplomacy became a global “battleground where ideologies competed against one another” (445). This militarisation became codified in international institution-building, he observes, setting the framework for current environmental diplomacy.


Brain’s interest lies less in whether capitalist, communist, or fascist political economies managed to be friendlier to nature—“the Cold War was, on balance,” Brain writes, “a terrible environmental catastrophe”—than in how the ebb and flow of Cold War politics enabled an international environmental governance regime. Noting the decline of multilateral environmental treaties after 1991, his article questions what we have lost without the framework of existentially-opposed world powers to keep each other honest on the world stage. He ends on an almost nostalgic note, quoting President George H.W. Bush’s pledge in 1989 to “host a conference in the US to work out a framework agreement on climate change issues,” that would “take into account even the economic consequences of the changes in the global climate.” Adding that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had also pledged commitment, Brain laments that, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, “this foundation was soon abandoned” (461). He therefore finds it unsurprising that the second Bush administration showed “a willingness to disregard international disapproval” in its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol (456). “Only time will tell whether a [new] cause for environmental virtue will emerge in the future,” he writes, “and if it does, whether it will be an existential threat, military or otherwise, that spurs its development” (462).


Brain’s invitation to reflect on the Cold War origins of climate change diplomacy are particularly provocative in 2017. A militarised climate shapes the nature of the challenges given voice in a climate-changed world. If “the climate” is a militarised landscape and climate diplomacy a proxy war, then sea level rise is a fight for territory, and climate refugees are enemy civilians. This lens may even help us understand the politicization of climate change as a new Cold War threatening the dominance of Western capitalism. After all, the reforms called for in climate mitigation challenge Western approaches to production and consumption as much as, if not more fundamentally than, Soviet state socialism. Seen in this militarized light, the political economic threat of climate change becomes a new world power of sorts. Of course, structural legacies rarely lead to exact parallels. A historical lens that considers whether certain ideological constructs of a “global climate” might be understood as a new world power challenging post-Cold War neoliberal globalization must also recognize that the climate’s nuclear threat is more diffuse, aimed less at the centers of power than their already vulnerable peripheries.


In summary, this wide-ranging set of articles shows how important it is for environmental historians working across disciplinary boundaries to look for the collusions of landscapes of environmental thought, resource management regimes, and the actual state of physical and ecological processes over time. As these are separate (though interacting) spheres, one can trace influences of the political engagements of the Cold War through all three. Doing so through the lens of ‘militarised landscapes’ can bring new provocative questions to a wide variety of ecotechnical and ecosocial spaces, from the minds of octogenarian veterans to the concept of world climate. 


I only wish Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker had spent more time drawing connections between the articles and theorizing the methodological implications of this diversity of scales in their introductory article, “The Cold War and environmental history: complementary fields.” It seems to me that their light synthesis of the articles as a collection stems from their chosen intervention in environmental history – namely, tracing the rise of environmental awareness within different political economies. In other words, while their definition of landscape is expansive, their definition of environment is not. As the other articles deftly show, however, environmental history is a much larger sphere of inquiry than the history of environmental movements and environmental protection; it is therefore equally important to trace the coevolution of humans and ecologies in places not conceived of as needing protection. As Brain helpfully explains, environmentalism is itself a constructed “landscape” with a history worth querying (444-445). Introducing the environmental history of the Cold War as a history of environmental awareness and environmental protection thus ironically positions the introductory essay within only a small part of the broader scope of the collection.


I therefore read the introductory essay as more appropriately a fifth contribution, one focused on Cold War era intellectual projects of constructing landscapes in need of protection by militarised state powers. A major contribution this article brings to the collection is the reminder that there were more than two models of political economy at play during the Cold War, all of which fostered unique attitudes towards environmental protection. In addition to Western democracy and Soviet communism, the authors investigate how authoritarian regimes and non-aligned third-world democracies constructed their own relationships to the natural world. Similarly, various state environmental protection programs confronted different critiques, both internally and externally (388-391). 


Yet, more attention to the breadth of potential environmental histories of the Cold War could have strengthened the introductory article’s overarching analysis of the need for more intersection between the fields. In fact, the references the editors draw on in their definition of “militarised landscapes” argue for a less technocratic understanding of environment. For example, Chris Pearson’s 2012 article, “Researching Militarized Landscapes: A Literature Review on War and the Militarization of the Environment,” warns against “declensionist” narratives that “portray nature as a mere victim” of warfare, another civilian caught in the crossfire. Pearson instead calls for scholars to view militarised landscapes first and foremost as “contact zones,” a term he borrows from Donna Haraway.[61]


The editors might have pursued Pearson’s definition to highlight the wide array of landscapes militarisation can produce. A notable absence in both the introductory article’s articulation of the field and the collection as a whole is attention to depopulated landscapes—for example, around militarised borders or as a result of “khaki conservation”—which, as Lisa Brady has more recently argued, have allowed “nonhuman nature to catch its breath.”[62] These odd remnant spaces of total military control confuse ideas of freedom, preservation, and human-nature relations in important ways that insist on the continued relevance of nonhuman agency. The resurgent agency of nature also extends back into human worlds, meaning that an environmental history of the Cold War must also consider nonhuman nature as a set of, in Donald Worster’s words, “autonomous, independent energies that do not derive from the drives and intentions of any culture.”[63] Nonhuman actors too shape military engagements and co-produce militarised landscapes. 


Giving nonhuman nature a more prominent voice could have led to a discussion about how material ecologies are rarely well-contained by human systems and often asserts their incommensurability with human aims at inconvenient times and in unexpected ways – a classic environmental history narrative that is clearly present in both Robinson and Martini’s articles. Correspondingly, when people learn to live within new landscapes created by war or learn to live in new ways in familiar landscapes, as Reinsone shows, they themselves are changed by these material encounters. The tools of environmental history thus seem a necessary counterpoint to many of the top-down Cold War environmental ideologies highlighted in the introductory article. 


In addition, a broader definition of environment could have given the introductory article more analytical specificity in the editors’ call for environmental historians to tackle private corporations and other “core issues of capitalism” (384). Their argument that economic power players are absent in the literature is a critique that could equally apply to the articles they chose to include in their collection, all of which focus on state actors and/or civic responses to state action. The collection therefore reifies the Cold War as a battleground of state ideologies. As they note, however, multinational corporations, as well as the transnational nongovernmental activist networks that sprung up largely in opposition to them, have their own fascinating Cold War histories, often including fascinating moments of complicity with the state. Environmental historians have in fact taken up this charge in recent years, investigating such corporations as Coca-Cola and Monsanto, while interdisciplinary scholarship with aligned interests to environmental history has traced the transnational environmental influences of Union Carbide, the U.S. chemical industry’s ‘Responsible Care’ program, and the rise of transnational environmental advocacy networks. More recently, historians have started to engage creatively and productively with the environmental history of extra-state financial tools such as bitcoin. Such histories narrate the experiences of those who during the Cold War started questioning the state as the effective sphere of engagement, on both economic and environmental issues. While I agree that this is still a space ripe for exciting research, examples such as the above could have helped the authors trace out how such studies could productively engage with environmental histories of the Cold War and vice versa.[64] Following Robinson, for example, it seems important to ask what cultural legacies of Cold War state ideologies found their way into these extra-state institutions and continued to construct material and conceptual landscapes into the twenty-first century.[65]


By reasserting an unruly nature and the material networks of transnational institutions against a militarised world order that reconstructed the environment, climate, and people as ‘total’ systems (422-423), an environmental history of the Cold War could inspire more activist historical endeavors. It could provide powerful historical arguments for the need to more fully explore political economies that have not grown out of military encounters – for example, the question of whether rivers have legal standing like corporations, degrowth experiments in Barcelona, and any number of international environmental justice movements.[66] These and other landscape-reordering experiments serve as critical counterpoints that could potentially help us think our way out of the resource-hungry political economies of the “always already militarised” world we have inherited from the twentieth century (465). They could provide a framework for an environmental history that searches for radically different values at work in landscaping the twenty-first century, potentially reclaiming, in Brain’s words, aspects of “clos[ed] off historical paths that will never be taken” (447). If an environmental history of the Cold War leads to questions about what possible future landscapes might transcend its ubiquitous militarised legacies, the endeavor needs little further justification. 


© 2018 The Authors

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License


[1] This section from their introduction is from pages 391-394 and is reproduced with the permission of the three authors and the publisher of Cold War History.

[2] Chris Pearson, Peter Coates and Tim Cole, eds., Militarized Landscapes: From Gettysburg to Salisbury Plain (London: Continuum, 2010).

[3] Michael Geyer, “The Militarisation of Europe, 1941–1945,” in John Gills, ed., The Militarisation of the Western World (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 79.

[4] For an excellent overall presentation see Chris Pearson, “Researching Militarized landscapes: a literature review on War and the Militarization of the Environment,” Landscape Research 37:1 (February 2012): 115-133.

[5] Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Chris Pearson, “Defending Nation, Defending Nature? Militarized landscapes and Military Environmentalism in Britain, France, and the United States,” Environmental History 16:3 (2011): 456-491; Rachel Woodward, “Military landscapes: agendas and approaches for future research”, Progress in Human Geography 38:1 (February 2013): 40–61.

[6] Denis E. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984).

[7] Robert Gottlieb, “Post-Cold War Environmentalism,” Los Angeles Times, 1 January 1990, For the Soviet Union see Robert L. Dunaway, Environmental Assistance as National Security Policy: Helping the Former Soviet Union Find Solutions to Its Environmental ProblemsINSS Occasional Paper 4 (November 1995) (Colorado: U.S. Air Force Academy, 1995), 2.

[8] The Agent Orange defoliation campaign in Vietnam is a good example of this. For a pioneering study see J.B. Neilands, Gordon H. Orians, E.W. Pfeiffer, Alje Vennema, and Arthur H. Westing, Harvest of Death: Chemical Warfare in Vietnam and Cambodia (New York: The Free Press, 1972).

[9] Simo Laakkonen, “Polemosphere: The War, Society and the Environment,’” in Simo Laakkonen, Richard Tucker, and Timo Vuorisalo, eds., The Long Shadows: A Global Environmental History of the Second World War (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2017).

[10] Currently Reinsone is the director of the digital archives of Latvian Folklore Her original study of the life histories of Latvian national partisan women Meža meitas. 12 sievietes par dzīvi mājās, mežā, cietumā (Riga: Dienas Grāmata, 2015) has been widely acknowledged in her native country. It was for a long time the most sold non-fiction book in Latvia.

[11] Alexander Statiev, The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

[12] For another pioneering publication in this respect, see Maren Röger and Ruth Leiserowitz, eds., Women and Men at War: A Gender Perspective on World War II and its Aftermath in Central and Eastern Europe (Osnabrück: Fibre-Verlag, 2012). 

[13] On similar changes in the Estonian countryside, see Hannes Palang, “Time Boundaries and Landscape Change: Collective Farms 1947-1994,” European Countryside 2:3 (2010): 169-181. For the Soviet border zone in Estonia, see Tiina Peil, “Frontier geography: Fieldwork in the soviet border zone,” Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift. Norwegian Journal of Geography 67:1 (2013).

[14] Her contribution in this special issue is an outcome of her presentation at an international workshop organised by Finnish oral History Network (FoHN) in Helsinki. Outi Fingerroos, Simo Laakkonen, Ja Kirsti salmi-Niklander, “review: Finnish oral history network,” Elore 13:1 (2006): 1-8 (electronic journal) ( ).

[15] Michael E. Latham, The Right Kind of Revolution: Modernization, Development, and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Cold War to the Present (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011).

[16] Richard Tucker, “Containing Communism by impounding rivers: American strategic interests and the Global spread of High dams in the Early Cold War,” McNeill and Unger, eds., Environmental Histories of the Cold War.

[17] Mahendra Lawoti and Anup K. Pahari, eds., The Maoist Insurgency in NepalRevolution in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Routledge, 2010).

[18] See Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[19] Jeffrey Sasha Davis, “Military Natures: Militarism and the Environment,” GeoJournal 69:3 (2007): 131-210.

[20] Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker, “The Cold War and Environmental History: Complementary Fields,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 377-394.

[21] Sanita Reinsone, “Forbidden and Sublime Forest Landscapes: Narrated Experiences of Latvian National Partisan Women after World War II,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 395-416.

[22] Thomas Robertson, “Cold War Landscapes: Towards an Environmental History of US Development Programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 417-441.

[23] Robert E. Rhoades, Listening to the Mountains (Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt, 2007), 11 as quoted in Robertson, “Cold War Landscapes,” 418.

[24] Stephen Brain, “The Appeal of Appearing Green: Soviet-American Ideological Competition and Cold War Environmental Diplomacy,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 443-462.

[25] Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker also address the limitations of one-sided scholarly analysis of Soviet Union’s environmental legacy, see “The Cold War and Environmental History,” 385-387.

[26] Edwin A. Martini, “World on Fire: The Politics of Napalm in the Global Cold War,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 463-481.

[27] Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Chris Pearson, “Defending Nation, Defending Nature? Militarized Landscapes and Military Environmentalism in Britain, France, and the United States,” Environmental History 16 (2011): 456-491; Shiloh Krupar, Hot Spotter's Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), 3-5; Rachel Woodward, “Military Landscapes Agendas and Approaches for Future Research,” Progress in Human Geography 38:1 (2013): 40-61.

[28] Notable enviro-military histories include Edmund Russell, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Richard P. Tucker and Edmund Russell, eds., Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of War (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2004); J.R. McNeill, Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010); and Lisa M. Brady, War upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes during the American Civil War (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012).

[29] Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker, “The Cold War and environmental history: complementary fields,” Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 377-394.

[30] Paul R. Josephson, Resources under Regimes: Technology, Environment, and the State (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004).

[31] Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Chris Pearson, “Defending Nation, Defending Nature?: Militarized Landscapes and Military Environmentalism in Britain, France, and the United States,” Environmental History 16:3 (July 2011): 456-491.

[32] Sanita Reinsone, “Forbidden and sublime forest landscapes: narrated experiences of Latvian national partisan women after World War II,” Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 395-416.

[33] James C. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010). 

[34] Other works on shatter zones include Richard White, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991); Richard Price, ed., Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas (Norwell: Anchor Press, 1973); and Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán, Regions of Refuge (Washington, D.C.: Society of Applied Anthropology, 1979). 

[35] Thomas Robertson, “Cold War landscapes: towards an environmental history of US development programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 417-441.

[36] Stephen Brain, “The appeal of appearing green: Soviet-American ideological competition and Cold War environmental diplomacy,” Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 443-462.

[37] Slavenka Drakulic, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed (New York: Harper Press, 1993).

[38] Edwin A. Martini, “World on fire: the politics of napalm in the Global Cold War,” Cold War History 16:4 (Fall 2016): 463-481.

[39] See Odd Arne Westad, The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[40] See Edwin A. Martini, Agent Orange: History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012). 

[41] For example, see Kurk Dorsey, “Dealing with the Dinosaur (and Its Swamp): Putting the Environment in Diplomatic History,” Diplomatic History 29:4 (2005): 573-587; Kurk Dorsey and Mark Lytle, “Review of Kurk Dorsey and Mark Lytle, eds. ‘New Directions in Diplomatic and Environmental History,’” Diplomatic History 32:4 (September 2008): 517-518.

[42] Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker, “The Cold War and environmental history: complementary fields,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 391.

[43] Sanita Reinsone, “Forbidden and Sublime Forest Landscapes: narrated experiences of Latvian national partisan women after World War II,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 414; Thomas Robertson, “Cold War Landscapes: towards an environmental history of US development programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 422.

[44] Edwin A. Martini, “World on Fire: the politics of napalm in the Global Cold War,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 465; see also Edwin A. Martini, “Bases, Places, and the Layered Landscapes of American Empire,” in Edwin A. Martini, ed., Proving Grounds: Militarized Landscapes, Weapons Testing, and the Environmental Consequences of American Bases (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015); 3-18.

[45] Stephen Brain, “The Appealing of Appearing Green: Soviet-American ideological competition and Cold War environmental diplomacy,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 445.

[46] On basic Cold War definitions, I follow Odd Arne Westad’s broad categories in The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

[47] Manning Marable, Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990, 2nd ed. (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991); author Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1988). On dominance and resistance in forest history, see among many others, Ramachandra Guha, The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990); Elizabeth D. Blum, “Power, Danger, and Control: Slave Women’s Perceptions of Wilderness in the Nineteenth Century,” Women’s Studies 31:2 (January 2002): 247-265.

[48] J.R. McNeil, “Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History,” History and Theory 42:4 (December 2003): 6.

[49] The work here is primarily is synthetic, but it also builds from Robertson’s original work in “‘This Is the American Earth’: American Empire, the Cold War, and American Environmentalism,” Diplomatic History 32:4 (September 2008): 561-584; and Thomas Robertson, The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism, Studies in Modern Science, Technology, and the Environment (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012).

[50] Perhaps the best recent contribution to the environmental history of development programs like Point IV—which Robertson explores—is Megan Black, “Interior’s Exterior: The State, Mining Companies, and Resource Ideologies in the Point Four Program,” Diplomatic History 40:1 (January 2016): 81-110. Indeed, Black’s 2016 article demonstrates exactly how an investigation at the confluence of these two fields, diplomatic and environmental history, can yield the kind of insight this collection’s authors hope to facilitate.

[51] Laakkonen, Pál, and Tucker survey the field somewhat idiosyncratically in the introduction; their focus on environmental impacts and environmental ideas as distinct categories of environmental historical analysis belies a field that has for two decades focused on reciprocal relationships between materials and ideas—most notably manifest in the popular idea of “hybridity”—more than the siloed categories the authors present here. See Paul Sutter, “The World with Us: The State of American Environmental History,” The Journal of American History 100:1 (June 2013): 94-119.

[52] Simo Laakkonen, Viktor Pál, and Richard Tucker, “The Cold War and Environmental History: Complementary Fields,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 377-394.

[53] For more on landscape studies, see: Paul Groth and Todd W. Bressi, eds., Understanding Ordinary Landscapes (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997); Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007); and Anne Whiston Spirn, “Restoring Mill Creek: Landscape Literacy, Environmental Justice, and City Planning and Design,” Landscape Research 30:5 (2005): 359-377. For a discussion of how environmental historians use concepts of landscape, see Paul Sutter, “The World with Us: The State of American Environmental History,” The Journal of American History 100:1 (2013): 94-119, and Richard White, “From Wilderness to Hybrid Landscapes: The Cultural Turn in Environmental History,” The Historian 66:3 (Fall 2004): 557-564.

[54] Sanita Reinsone, “Forbidden and Sublime Forest Landscapes: Narrated Experiences of Latvian National Partisan Women After World War II,” Cold War History 16:4 (2015): 395-416. 

[55] Thomas Robertson, “Cold War Landscapes: Towards an Environmental History of US Development Programmes in the 1950s and 1960s,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 417-441. 

[56] Stephen Brain, “The Appeal of Appearing Green: Soviet- American Ideological Competition and Cold War Environmental Diplomacy,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 443-462. 

[57] Edwin A. Martini, “World on Fire: the Politics of Napalm in the Global Cold War,” Cold War History 16:4 (2016): 463-481.

[58] As others are also starting to do productively, through a variety of lenses. For a good summary of historical perspectives on the politics of American development aid during the Cold War, see Megan Black, “Interior’s Exterior: The State, Mining Companies, and Resource Ideologies in the Point Four Program,” Diplomatic History 40:1 (2016): 81-110. 

[59] James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999). 

[60] Paul N. Edwards, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010), 189. 

[61] Chris Pearson, “Researching Militarized Landscapes: A Literature Review on War and the Militarization of the Environment,” Landscape Research 37:1 (2012), 123, 126. 

[62] Lisa Brady, "No-Man’s Land as Nature Preserve: The Strange Case of Cold War Conservation” (presentation, Lynn W. Day Distinguished Lectureship in Forest and Conservation History at Duke University, Durham, NC, 12 October 2017). On “khaki conservation,” see Pearson, 119-120. 

[63] As quoted in Sutter, 94. 

[64] On the environmental history of multinational corporations, see: Bartow J. Elmore, Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (New York: W.W. Norton, 2015); Ellen Griffith Spears, Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014); Kim Fortun, Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New Global Orders (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); and Ronie Garcia-Johnson, Exporting Environmentalism: U.S. Multinational Chemical Corporations in Brazil and Mexico (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000). On transnational civil society action, see: Tim Bartley, “How Foundations Shape Social Movements: The Construction of an Organizational Field and the Rise of Forest Certification,” Social Problems 54:3 (2007): 229-255; Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998), Chapter 4: “Environmental Advocacy Networks.” On the environmental history of bitcoin, see: Nathan Ensmenger, “The Environmental History of Computing,” (accessed 23 October 2017).

[65] Robertson points the reader to an earlier publication, an intellectual history of the military origins of certain environmental ideas in the twentieth-century United States (423): Thomas Robertson, “Total War and the Total Environment: Fairfield Osborn, William Vogt, and the Birth of Global Ecology,” Environmental History 17:2 (2012): 336-364.

[66] See, for example: Julie Turkewitz, “Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers?” New York Times, 26 September 2017, (accessed 20 October 2017); Research & Degrowth (website), (accessed 23 October 2017); David Naguib Pellow, Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007).