The World System: Before and After Cold War Introduction to Cold War The Cold War was the period of conflict, tension and competition between the United States (capitalism) and the Soviet Union (socialism) and their respective allies from the mid-1940s until the early 1990s. This based on ideological conflict and a balance of terror.
Throughout the period, the rivalry between the two superpowers was played out in multiple arenas: military coalitions; ideology, psychology, and espionage; sports; military, industrial, and technological developments, including the space race; costly defense spending; a massive conventional and nuclear arms race; and many proxy wars. Since direct military attacks on adversaries were deterred by the potential for mutual assured destruction using nuclear weapons. In deed, there was never a direct military engagement between two superpowers, but half a century of military buildup as well as political battles for support around the world.
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The Cold War spread outside Europe to every region of the world. Repeated crises threatened to escalate into world wars but never did. .The Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s following Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s summit conferences with United States President Ronald Reagan, as well as Gorbachev’s launching of reform programs: perestroika and glasnost. Cold War: The Aftermath Afterward, Russia cut military spending dramatically and left millions of unemployment. Russian living standards have worsened overall in the post-Cold War years.
Some of the economic and social tensions that underpinned Cold War competition in parts of the Third World remain acute. The breakdown of state control in a number of areas formerly ruled by Communist governments has produced new civil and ethnic conflicts. That accompanied by a large growth in the number of liberal democracies. However, in areas where the two superpowers had been waging proxy wars, and subsidizing local conflicts, many conflicts ended with the Cold War. The New Hope? The end of super-power rivalry opened up the possibility of a “liberal eace”, founded on a common recognition of international; For alternative interpretation, the collapse of the external threat helped to unleash centrifugal pressures, which usually took the form of ethnic, racial and regional conflicts. Other commentators sounded warnings about the implications of a uni-polar system creates conditions of unchecked power and, arguably, inherent instability. This was seen in the unilateralist tendency of US foreign policy, evidenced by the decision to withdraw from a range of international treaties.
However the events of 11 September 2001 as it quickly became known significantly altered the direction of US foreign policy and with the balance of world order. The 911 The September 11, 2001 attacks were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda upon the United States. Nineteen terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners and intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City, resulting in the collapse of both buildings and extensive damage to nearby buildings.
The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, near Washington, D. C. The fourth aircraft crashed into a field near the town of Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania. For many, 9/11 was a defining moment in world history, the point at which the true nature of the post- Cold-War ear was revealed and the beginning of a period of unprecedented global strife and instability. 21st century world order A Varity of theories have been advanced to explain the advent of global terrorism and the nature of the ‘war on terror’.
Huntington (1996) argued that 21st century conflict would be between nations and groups from ‘different civilization’. Hungtington argued that the major civilizations would become, in reaction to globalization, the principal actors in world affairs. Robert cooper (2004) suggested the East-West confrontation of the old world order has given way to a world divided into three parts. Pre-modern world: ‘weak states, failed states or rogue states’. Modern world: operates on the basis of a balance of power. In postmodern world: states have evolved beyond power politics and have abandoned war. The embody rrangement bodies a range of challenges and new security threats. Not the least of these arises from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which in the pre-modern world can easily get into the hands of “rogue’ states or non-state actors such terrorist organizations. Superpower & Second Superpower After the WWII, US foreign policy has long been dictated by imperialist ambitions: to extend political influence over the Middle East so as to guarantee reliable supplies of oil and, more generally, to reconstruct the region in the hope of providing wider opportunities for US business.
Second, some have argued that, in exaggerating the threat of global terrorism, the “war on terror’ creates the idealogical “other’, missing since the end of the Cold War, which helps to consolidate US capitalism by creating a climate of fear and apprehension. As USA trying to maintain its “unipolarity”, the rise of new powers and other shifts in international politics, highlight clear multipolar trends in world order, with the emergence of five or possibly more major world actors: The European Union, The People’s Republic of China, The Republic of India, The Federative Republic of Brazil, The Russian Federation.
Other possible actors are: The growing power of non-state and usually transnational actor and the changing nature of power and of power relations. The Non-state actors The global economy is increasingly dominated by transnational corporations or TNCs, which now account for about 50 per cent of world manufacturing production and over 70 per cent of world trade, and which are able to elude political control because of the ease with which they can relocate investment and production.
International nongovernmental organization, or NGOs, have proliferated since the 1980, coming to exercise powerful influence within international organizations such as the EU and the UN. NGOs are also at times able to counterbalance the power of TNCs, and may also rival states through their capacity for popular mobilization and their ability to command moral as wall as expert authority. Politico-military movements such as Hamas, Hizbullah and al-Qaeda, and a range of criminal rganizations that operate in impoverished and postcommunist states in particular, which are responsible for example for much of the world’s drug- trafficking and people trafficking. The Rise of the Non-state actors Due to new technology and in a world of global communications and rising literacy rates and educational standards, “soft” power is becoming as important as ‘hard’ power in influencing political outcome. Second, new technology has altered power balances both within society and between societies, often empowering the traditionally powerless.
Advances in communications technology, particularly the use of mobile phones and the internet, have also improved the tactical effectiveness of loosely organized groups, ranging from terrorist bands to protest groups and social movements. Public opinion around the world, and thus the behavior of governments, is affected by the near-ubiquitour spread of television and the wider use of satellite technology. The Multi-Polar World There are two quite different models of a multipolar world order.
The first amongst world actors allow each greater freedom to pursue its own ends unchecked by more powerful rivals. This could result in a world of shifting alliances and coalitions, formed either to deter aggression or to take advantage of less powerful actors or groups. Arguably, both the First and Second World Wars were caused by multi-polar world orders in which ambitious powers felt able to pursue expansionist goals precisely because power balances remained fluid. The alternative, and more optimistic, model of multipolar world order is rooted in multilateralism.
This, though requires an acceptance by all, or at least most, parties that the game of global politics should be played by certain rules, and the rules should be formulated through broad agreement. The prospects of multilateralist multipolarity, as opposed to ‘anarchical’ multipolarity, coming into existence depend on three factors, the first in a world of nuclear proliferation and widespread access to other weapons of mass destruction, Second, world order will be affected by the further unfolding of lobalization, may either strengthen a sense of interconnectedness and mutual dependence or create new rifts and divisions. Finally, the prospects for multilateralism are closely bound up with the success of the institutions of regional and global governance in establishing legitimacy and in maintaining legal frameworks for the peaceful resolution of disputes between and amongst states and other actors.
Reference Andrew Heyood(2007) Politics, third edition Chapter 7 Wikipedia (2008) Superpower Retrieved April 20, 2008 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Superpower Wikipedia (2008) Cold war Retrieved April 20, 2008 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Cold_war Wikipedia (2008) September 11, 2001 attacks Retrieved April 20, 2008 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/September_11%2C_2001_attacks (1,439 words)