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FROM THE END OF THE COLD WAR TO A NEW GLOBAL ERA?

DR. LASZLO SARKANY


DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
KING’S UNIVERSITY COLLEGE @ THE UNIVERSITY
OF WESTERN ONTARIO
THE COLD WAR – SOME CHARACTERISTICS

• 1944 – 1989
• Concerned: superpowers (USA; USSR)
• Emergent protectorates caused a global
ideological divide into a communist ‘East’
and a capitalist ‘West’
• (Nuclear) arms race led to a security dilemma among the two
superpowers
• The attendant reduction or concentration of conflicts created
its own form of stability
• However, few envisioned the end of the bipolar system (and
thus the end of the Cold War)
THE US AND THE UNIPOLAR MOMENT

• The collapse of the Soviet Union


left the United States the
overwhelmingly dominant force in
the world – a “hyperpower”
• Caused important US foreign policy
changes from isolationism to global engagement
• This was consolidated by the Clinton administration:
- concentrated on economic engagement and leverage
- pushed hard for NATO enlargement
AFTER THE SOVIET UNION

• The Soviet Union denoted a select


club of nations, controlled by Russia
• Despite evident power and influence it
disappeared at the end of the cold war
• Consequential difficulties were:
- displacement of ethnic/national Russians, who were now located
outside their home country.
- Russia’s relationship to former Soviet states: found it hard to
think of them in anything but imperial terms
- Change in regional economics from a centralized system to
Western-style privatization: caused to severe economic shocks
EUROPE: RISE AND DECLINE?
• The new united Europe, with its open borders,
democratic institutions and reduced external
threats appeared to have a lot to look forward to
• Ideas were mooted to set up specific European
security arrangements
• Dividing lines included the view of the role of the
state and the reach and depth of the EU
• Europe: an economic and soft power giant, but a
military dwarf?
• The 2008 economic crisis is considered Europe’s
most serious since 1945
• Most notably, it has given rise to much Euroscepticism over the past
years (e.g. Brexit, 2016)
A NEW ASIAN CENTURY?

• In the decades after WW2, the


continent was plagued by cold war/
super-power-led conflicts
• Post-Cold War Asia has been relatively
stable and peaceful
• In spite of some bleak predictions the region underwent rapid
economic developments (in part helped by cheap US security
arrangements)
• China is the main economic engine, but its ascent has also
increased regional tension
A NEW GLOBAL SOUTH

• The Third World affected and was very


much affected by, cold war dynamics
• The “Third World” as a political project
was intended to bring ‘real’ independence
from the West
• In many cases it was brought down by corruption and instability.
• The imposition of Western-style structural reforms and debt
servicing has left both burdens and a lingering resentment
• The new global South is characterized by major reforms and the
(re)joining of world markets
FROM 9/11

• If the end of the cold war marked a


great turning point in modern inter-
national relations, 9/11 marked another
• The new sort of terrorist threat meant
that old defense methods were less relevant
• One US response was nevertheless a sharp militarization of
foreign policy – and the notion that the status quo
(particularly in the Middle East) was not sacrosanct
• These policy reforms proved largely counterproductive
ARAB SPRING
• In the early 2010‘s peoples in the Middle East began to throw
off autocratic rulers
• Turned increasingly bloody with NATO‘s intervention in Libya
 destabilizing power vacuum
• One of the worst example is perhaps Syria
• By 2016 the conflict here resulted in:
- over half its population to be displaced
- ca. 3 mil. Syrian refugees abroad
- at least 400,000 deaths
• The emergence of the terrorist group ‘Islamic State’ is largely
attributed to the unstable political situation in post-Arab
Spring Syria/Iraq
CASE STUDY I: THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT

• Between Israel and surrounding Arab states


• Between Israel and Palestine in particular
• Historically fuelled conflict:
- exclusive claims to the land
- religious rivalries
• Many believe, there is little hope for reconciliation. Do you
agree?
OPPOSING OPINIONS: WILL THE 21ST CENTURY BE
ASIAN?

Advocates Opponents
• Asia‘s economic rise over the • Asia‘s economic rise is
past 20 yrs. is unstoppable. largely dependent on
• Western powers will no longer Western investment and the
singularly be able to run Western economic model.
international institutions. • Western countries remain
• Economic- and foreign policy leading powers in the global
weakening in the West unites economy.
the Asian continent as a global
power. • Much of Asia’s advances are
indebted to U.S. support in
the region.