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“That is only half the story,” Mr. Harrington writes. “The western powers did not challenge the blockade with a convoy; they avoided ultimatums, and (thanks to the Europeans) they never backed themselves (or the Russians) into a corner.”

Both sides understood that wars are easy to start — but not so easy to finish.

It was Berlin where the Cold War started, and it was Berlin where it ended when Berliners gathered peacefully in 1989 and took hammers to the wall.

The East German regime — without backup by Moscow — stood by, the wall fell and the Cold War ended as dramatically as it started.

Frank T. Csongos is a former reporter, editor and bureau chief for United Press International and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.