Cold War and Its Aftermath Term Paper

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That intervention considered, it is fair to say that on the one hand, the fact that the U.S. came out as the winner of the Cold War was obvious, and on the other hand that a certain change had occurred in terms of the rule of the international law.

The following years saw an increase in the intrastate violence, taking into account the Somalia crisis, the situations in South Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, or the war in the former Yugoslavia. All these elements of the international political scene were signs of the power vacuum that was created as a result of the fall of the higher authority in the communist world, the U.S.S.R. More precisely, although the cases in Africa were in fact reminiscences of post colonial revolts, the situations worsened as there was no authority to report to in terms of international situations. However, a certain modification did occur, as the international law became one of the most important points of reference when discussing the issues related to conflict resolution (Russbach, 1994).

The positioning of the norms of international law as basis for the conduct of international politics was chosen as a proper means to deal with the confusion existing after the Cold War due to the fact that they lacked any subjective nature and they had provided an objective set of norms and principles. However, in the case of the genocide of Rwanda, the justice the Security Council should have delivered caused the deaths of more than one million people. One of the official justifications for the lack of intervention in the massacre between the hutu and the tutsi population was the fact that the international law did not provide a sufficient framework for legitimizing an intervention on the territory of a sovereign state. In this sense, although there would have been means to justify an international force in Rwanda, the right to intervene was not established but through subsequent normative rules, more precisely, through humanitarian law (Russbach, 1994). This part of international law suggested that the international community has the right and the moral obligation to intervene in situations that are considered to be a threat to the security of the populations around the world. From this point-of-view, what had been a sacred element of international law, the sovereignty of a state, could now be reconsidered and overrun, should a state fail to protect its citizens.

Another major change that occurred once the Cold War was over is the reconfiguration of the global map. According to most beliefs, the system following the bipolar scheme is a multi-polar one. In this sense, the power would be redistributed among more powers in the world. Nonetheless, there is the issue of the stability of the system created in this way. The bipolar system was seen as stable due to the fact that the two sides both benefited from a type of threat that deterred the other. Although the Cold War also represented the practical application of the security dilemma and the arms race, it also represented one of the most stable systems of the international political relations (Kissinger, 1995). No side was willing to use their nuclear weapons, although both of them were aware of the fact that its adversary was in its possession. This equilibrium in terms of nuclear weapons also gave a sense of balance in establishing other relations as well. However, the situation changed as the Cold War ended because there was no force the U.S. could compare itself to. Moreover, the U.S.S.R. had left behind a series of regions that would later on determine already lingering crises (Calvocoressi, 1987). In this sense, the 1980s war in Afghanistan triggered the emergence of nationalistic and revolutionary forces that rebelled against the soviet interference in the country. At that time, in order to keep the balance of power in the region, the U.S. supported both military and financially, the Taliban side which would come to power. Following the end of the Cold War, due to the lack of a strong authority in the region, the situation and the rebellious spirits worsened and they eventually created a state of chaos that would foster terrorist threats.

The Middle East, the European Union, the United States, South East Asia, China, India, Latin America, they can all be considered to constitute particular poles of power. Therefore, it can be said that the end of the Cold War determined the demise of the bipolar system and its replacement with a multi-polar one. However, unlike the bipolar system, it is hard to determine the security and equilibrium status of such a multi-polar system. In this sense, "in the wake of the cold war and disintegration of its bipolar structure, a protracted debate has intensified about the stability of bipolar distributions of power relative to their multi-polar counterparts. Although this issue has occupied the attention of scholars for many years, no consensus has emerged over whether bipolar systems, characterized by two leading great powers, are more stable than multi-polar systems, characterized by several leading powers" (Kegley and Raymond, 1992). This is due to the fact that because of the sudden and unexpected fall of the Soviet Union, there was no particular time to create democratic political elites. In turn the power from the communist forces was taken by untrained persons who lacked the political experience and knowledge to run a country. Consequently in some cases the power vacuum was the cause of the possible lack of equilibrium presented at the level of the political scene.

Yet another essential change brought about by the end of the Cold War is related to the economic situation which developed in the countries that had survived the communist regime. In this sense, especially in regions such as Eastern Europe, the transition from a state planned economy to a liberal-based system of finances proved to be costly and at some points a bankrupt policy. For instance, Eastern Europe can be seen as a relatively successful story of the post Cold War era due to the fact that most former communist countries manage to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and acceded to the EU. This enabled them to benefit from fifty years of previous liberal political experience, an aspect which helped the emerging democracies to face the challenges of globalization. On the other hand, countries such as Mexico or Argentina are still facing difficulties in adapting their economic systems to the requirements imposed by the global economy. The most important aspect in this sense is the limited possibilities their planned economic systems could offer in the changing economic interdependence.

Finally, probably the most important change that occurred as the Cold War ended is the increasing variety of security threats facing today's world. Barry Buzan concluded that the security threats are no longer related strictly to the military aspects; more precisely, he underlines the fact that the security perspective has various components, such as economic security, social security, as well as cultural security (Buzan et al., 1990). Unlike the Cold War, these new perspectives on security represent the result of the change in the international environment in which the states no longer represent the single and most important actors. On the contrary, due to the increasing role of international organizations, states have come to play a secondary role and are faced with more distinctive and unconventional threats.

The most important threat facing the states at the moment, and the world in general, is international terrorism. The Cold War represented the prolific environment for fostering revolutionary ideas, extremist religious beliefs, or even political activism. In this sense, the example of Afghanistan and the Taliban regime is relevant. Although they were supported by the U.S., they created a system of fear and terror which encouraged groups such as the Al Qaeda network. Terrorism can be perceived as the most important and visible consequence of the fall of the bipolar system and the emergence in full speed of an era more globalised world.

At the moment we live in a world which is split between the tendency of globalization and that of regionalization. While the former exists at the level of the transnational corporations and the global organizations, the latter are the results of the unification attempts available on the European continent, in Africa, and even in Latin America. At the same time, the Cold War had set a number of artificial barriers in terms of nationalism and state independence. The end of this period also marked the beginning of irredentist movements or cries for independence. The case of former Yugoslavia and the uncertain situation of Kosovo at this moment are relevant in this sense. Finally, in terms of security threats, international terrorism is seen as the most important aspect in this respect. 9/11, the London and Madrid bombings are useful reminders of the globalization of this process and the need to intervene against forces such as the Al…

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