The restructuring of the international system after the Cold War

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The Cold War ended suddenly and surprisingly. A great geopolitical and ideological struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union ceased. One historical era closed and another opened. But it was an historical turning point unlike others in the past, ones with dates such as 1648, 1713, 1815, 1919, and 1945. In this case, the old bipolar order collapsed peacefully without war between the great powers. Moreover, unlike past postwar moments, the global system – or at least the dominant core of that system led by the United States – was not overturned. Quite the contrary. The world that the United States and its allies created after World War II remained intact. The end of the Cold War simply consolidated and expanded that order. The Soviet bloc – estranged from the West for half a century – collapsed and began a slow process of integration into that order. As such, the end of the Cold War was not the beginning of a new world order, but the last gasp in the completion of an old one. But if the end of the Cold War began as a consolidation of the US-led postwar order, deeper and more profound shifts – not immediately apparent – were also set in motion. The globalization of the world economy and the growing market orientation of the developing world were forces for change. The nature of the “security problem” in the global system also changed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of the Cold War
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139056106
ISBN (Print)9780521837217
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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