Global Politics and Economy:
Late 20th and Early 21st Centuries
The world politics and economy of the late twentieth century were highlighted by the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the promise of a 'new world order' and the rise of 'globalization.' These developments were accompanied by a worldwide trend of increasing democracy, trade liberalization and booming economies. The start of the twenty-first century, on the other hand, has seen the emergence of the so-called 'clash of civilizations' and the long drawn out 'fight against terrorism' with the inevitable slump in global economies. In this essay we shall briefly discuss the major trends of the global politics and economy in this tumultuous period of world history.
Collapse of Communism
The 'Cold War' period involving intense political and economic rivalry between the two superpowers, the U.S.A. And the Soviet Union, lasted from the end of World War II to the 1990s. The most significant development in world politics and economies began in the 1980s with the unraveling of communism in the Soviet Union. There were numerous reasons behind this but the process started in 1980...
They met with fierce resistance from the independent minded Afghan mujahideen and the misadventure of the Soviets took a heavy toll of their economy and morale. The United States, under the ultra-conservative regime of President Reagan, seized on the opportunity to step-up military and economic pressure on the Soviet Union. It did so by shelving the SALT II treaty and embarking on a massive arms build up by initiating projects such as the Strategic Defense Initiative besides actively aiding the anti-Communist forces in various parts of the world including Afghanistan. ("Cold War") It soon became clear that the Soviet Union was, economically, not strong enough to compete in the arms race.
In the meantime, Mikhail Gorbachev became the president of the Soviet Union in 1985 and proceeded to implement a doctrine of perestroika and glasnost that encouraged openness in the Soviet society. Ironically, in a system based on strict controls, the 'openness' ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the early 1990s.
Other Major Global Events of the Late 20th Century
Iraq, under Saddam Hussain, invaded Iran in 1980 that signaled the start of a vicious, decade long war in which more than half a million people died. Iraq had the tacit support of the United States in the war due to the latter's strategic interest of containing the revolutionary Iranian influence in the oil-rich gulf region. Saddam was guilty of using biological weapons in the war when facing defeat.
Saddam, ultimately, over-reached himself by invading and capturing the neighboring Kuwait in 1990. This led to a…
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