• International relations scholars of all stripes have long been interested in the idea of “international order.” At the most general level, international order entails some level of regularity, predictability, and stability in the ways that actors interact with one another.
  • At a level of higher specificity, however, international orders can vary along a number of dimensions (or fault lines). This includes whether order is thin or thick, premised on position or principles, regional or global in scope, and issue specific or multi-issue in nature. 

Cold War

  • Cold War can be defined as a state of intensely unhealthy competition between two global powers across various fields— political, economic and ideological—which falls just short of an armed conflict between the states. 
  • The term cold war was coined by Bernard Baruch, popularized by Walter Lipman through the series of articles. Term has been used to describe the state of relations between USA and USSR after 2nd WW. 
  • As a concept in IR, it denotes a state of constant conflict, rising strains, gradual tensions and perpetual strife maintained, leading to political and psychological warfare between USA and USSR- but without a direct war between the two sides. 
  • The term “Cold War” came to be used for describing the situation in which war was not actually fought but a warlike hysteria was created and maintained Nehru described this situation as a “a brain war, a nerve war and a propaganda war in operation.” 

Why cold war is called Cold?

  • As World War II was ending, the Cold War began. This was to be a long lasting and continuing confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, lasting from 1945 to 1989. It was called the Cold War because neither the Soviet Union nor the United States officially declared war on each other. 
  • According to Kenneth Waltz, nuclear weapons ensured that cold war does not turn into the hot war. However cold war was not entirely cold. It had its warm & cool phases. Cold war and its implications have gone beyond the two countries. It has impacted almost every corner in the globe. The worst affected regions have been the countries in 3rd world. 3rd world became the ground for proxy wars between the two superpowers.
  • According to K.P.S. Menon Cold war, as the world experienced, was a war between two ideologies (Capitalism and Communism), two systems (Bourgeoisie Democracy and Proletarian Dictatorship), two blocs (NATO and Warsaw Pact), two states (the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.) and two personalities (John Foster Dulles and Stalin). 

Difference between Hot war and cold war

  • Cold war and Hot war are two types of war that are described figuratively in order to stress the intensity and the nature of war. Cold war is normally a political war wherein violence is not employed.
  • On the other hand, hot war is exactly the opposite of the cold war. In other words, it can be said that hot war is a serious war between two countries wherein guns and other deadly weapons are used. 

How the Cold War Begain?

  • The peace that came after the end of Second World War in 1945 was neither any healthy nor enduringly effective. The possibilities of outbreak of a Third World War were constantly keeping the world under serious stress and strain. Hard attained Peace in 1945 was constantly under the shadow of war-like tensions and perpetual strains because of the emergence of a dangerous cold war between the superpowers- the USA and the USSR. 
  • After the end of the Second World War in 1945, each of the two super powers- USA and USSR, got engaged in confrontational policies, decisions and actions which were designed to limit and harm the power of the other one. Gradually, the relations between them became highly tensed and strained. 
  • The period saw the rise of alliance politics and growing of ideological conflict, which further acted as a source of additional tensions and disputes, which then combined to make the international relations arena a system of cold war. The Cold War continued to remain a very basic feature of international relations between the periods of 1945-90, with just one small interval of ten years between 1971-80. 
  • Mutual fear and distrust among the Western powers and the USSR got manifested in the form of several opposed policies and decisions over several international issues and problems. 
  • In March 1946 British Prime Minister Churchill, in his famous Fultun speech (the Iron Curtain speech), strongly attacked the policies of USSR and role of communist international. He warned that the USSR was out to export communism to different parts of the world, particularly to Greece, Turkey and Iran. 
  • Truman Doctrine: In March 1947, US President Truman announced a new doctrine—the Truman Doctrine in which he pledged full US support for “free people who were resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities and outside pressures.”
    • Its real purpose was to announce the decision that the USA will provide all help to such state as were resisting the Soviet pressures. It was an American attempt to check the possibility of growing Soviet power in international relations.
  • The US Marshall Plan: A little later, the USA formulated and announced the European Recovery Programme—the Marshall Plan, for helping the socio-economic reconstruction of Europe.
    • In reality, it was also an attempt to win over the states of Western Europe and to keep them away from communism and Soviet advances.
    • Technically, Marshall Plan Aid was for all European states, however, in reality it covered only free states i.e. only democratic and non-communist European states.
  • Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon)- Against Marshall Plan, the USSR established the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) for helping the economic consolidation of socialist states. Cominform was also established for coordinating the policies of communist parties of socialist states of the world.
    • Truman Doctrine—Marshall Plan vs. Comecon—Cominform signaled the emergence of cold war in international relations.
    • After two preparatory years (1945-47) a full scale cold war came to characterize the relations of the USA & the USSR, which a little later got developed into the cold war between the USSR Bloc and the Soviet Bloc.

Features of cold war period 

  • Formation of two power block– the cold war period saw the emergence of two power blocs- USA and USSR in the international politics. Each of the two started working for the isolation and weakening of the other. They used the methods of propaganda and psychological warfare and started making attempts at winning friends and also consolidating its power through the conclusion of many security alliances which were directed against each other. 
  • Rise in proxy wars- During the cold war period, no bullet was fired and no blood was shed and yet war like tensions, gradual risks and strains were constantly kept alive. There were proxy wars, that were fought in different regions of the world but the two super powers always tried to avoid a direct military confrontation. Long and hectic planning and preparations for war were made but actual war was avoided at all cost. 
  • Unhealthy competition– The Cuban Missile crisis and the Sino-Soviet differences had made the Soviet Union more conscious of the need for mending fences with the United States. The USA also realized the growing danger of cold war and the unhealthy race and competition that it had generated. 
    • The success of several non-aligned nations towards the building of cooperative and friendly relations with both communist and capitalist states also brought home the futility of the thesis of incompatibility of relations between the Soviet and American Blocs. 
    • Such a thinking gave rise to the hope that both the super powers could try to build peaceful and cooperative relations in post-1963 period. 
    • However, the two super powers—the USA & USSR remained involved in cold war and it became evident at the time of India-Pak war of 1965, Arab Israel War of 1987 and Berlin Crisis of 1969. 

Causes for the Emergence Cold War 

  1. Western country’s fears of growing Soviet Power– many Anglo-American nations were dissatisfied with several decisions of Soviet during the course of the WW II. The growing military strength of the USSR and the regular demonstration of its power during the Second World War made the Western powers fearful about the growing communist powers in international relations. 
    • The war time cooperation and positive relation between the East and West was a necessary evil and hence, as soon as the war ended, it was quite natural for the Western powers to work towards containing the growing power of the USSR. 
  2. The Ideological Conflict between Communism and Capitalism– The communist ideology of inevitability of conflict between socialism and capitalism, and about the final triumph of socialism, also made the democratic western states highly apprehensive of the growing strength of the Soviet Union and its constantly rising policy of exporting socialism to other countries. The differences between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies at that time were the direct product of contradicting ideologies of communism and capitalism. 
  3. After the arrival of Socialist Revolution (1917) within the Russia, labor movements became extremely popular and powerful in the majority of the states of Europe. The emergence of socialist parties in varied states of Europe led to greatly alarming among the capitalist states. They felt that socialist movements were extremely subversive movements as these were guided by the ideology that categorical interests were stronger than national interests and the people of the community had no country of their own. 
  4. Soviet’s refusal to withdraw its forces from Northern Iran– By an agreement of 1942, the Soviet Union and the Western powers had united to withdraw their forces from Iran, within six months of the surrender of the Germany. As agreed, after the war the USA and UK promptly withdrew their armies from Iranian soil and they also expected that the Soviet Union would shortly imitate the same as agreed. However, the latter wasn’t quite willing to withdraw its forces from Northern Iran. This was completely opposed by Western powers. 
  5. USSR’s Pressures on Greece and Turkey– The efforts created by the Soviet Union and its camp followers to secure the institution of leftist and pro-communist or communist governments in Greece and Turkey were conjointly and largely opposed by the Western powers. 
  6. Communist Activities within the U.S.A. and Canada– The post-war years witnessed a spurt in communist activities within the U.S.A. and Canada. It came to be largely believed by the individuals of those 2 countries that the Soviet Union was behind the multiplied anti- nationalist and anti-democracy propagandas that was being disbursed in numerous components of the world, and notably within the U.S.A. and Canada. 
  7. To keep the ‘hegemony’– USA and USSR had grown as the two power blocs during the cold war period. Both wanted to assert their dominance over the other by getting support of other countries. So, they started compiling weapons, space missions, technological progress, etc. so that they could overpower each other. This unsaid proxy war between the two superpowers was also one among the reasons of growing severity during the cold war period. 
  8. Geographical factors– USA have geographical advantage due to its isolated location, while USSR is comparatively unprotected from the natural barriers. So USSR started moving towards left and tried to assert its dominance over the European nations. This was seen by USA as a step by USSR to grow its military footprint in Europe, which led to USA conceptualizing the NATO and adding the European nations as members. This added fuel to already increasing Cold war conditions. 
  9. Mackinder’s heartland theory– Mackinder’s paper suggested that the control of Eastern Europe was vital to control of the world. Mackinder postulated the following, which became known as the Heartland Theory: 
    • Who rules Eastern Europe commands the Heartland 
    • Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island 
    • Who rules the World Island commands the world 
      • The “heartland” he also referred to as the “pivot area” and as the core of Eurasia, and he considered all of Europe and Asia as the World Island. 

Attempts to limit the Cold War Tensions

  1. Hot Line Communications between the USA and USSR- Hot Line Communications between the USA and USSR- The Cuban Missile Crisis tested to be a blessing in disguise in to this point because it created each of the super powers alert to the risks of conflict that may lead them into a very harmful war. 
    • Both of them came forward to simply accept the requirement for augmented mutual contacts and regular direct communications. For this purpose, it was decided to form a “hot line” between the 2 capitals was taken and promptly initiated. 
    • Next came the conclusion of the Moscow Partial ban treaty on 5 August 1963, between the U.S.S.R.—U.S.A. and UK. This accord placed total finish to the follow of conducting uncontrolled nuclear explosions within the atmosphere. proved to be a restricted however welcome step towards the arms control. 
  2. Various Compulsions of the USA and USSR– The Cuban Missile crisis, 1962 and therefore the Sino-Soviet differences had led to the country being additional awake to the requirement for mending fences with the USA. 
    • The USA conjointly realised the growing danger of conflict and therefore the unhealthy race and competition that it had generated. 
    • The success of many non-aligned nations towards the building of cooperative and friendly relations with each communist and capitalist states conjointly brought home the uselessness of the thesis of incompatibility of relations between the Soviet and USA Blocs. 
    • Such a thinking gave rise to the hope that each of the super powers might attempt to build peaceful and cooperative relations in post-1963 period. 
  3. Decline of conflict and Birth of easing of 1970s– 1970s saw the emergence of an easing between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. Many necessary developments helped the method of decline of conflict and therefore the emergence of easement. 
    • A conscious attempt was created by the 2 super powers to cut back areas of tension, to stem the additional step-up of conflict and to aim the event of friendly co-operation and collaboration in their bilateral relations. 

History of New Cold War 1980-87 

  • The termination of Detente in 1979 led to the emergence of a new Cold War period. The following developments led to an end of detente phase and the emergence a New Cold War in international relations arena. 
    1. Changing policies of USA & USSR– Changes within the United States policy and a brand-new opposition to Soviet Policies- 
      • (A) To rescue the United States standing as number one power within the world 
      • (B) To reject the idea that the sole various to detente was war, and 
      • (C) to prevent over marketing detente, gave a giant blow to relief spirit. 
        • The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics felt afraid at these changes. 
        • The USA held the view that USSR’s conduct in Angola, Mideast and in various international organization was carefree and that it had been harmful to the United States interests, which it violated the spirit of detente. 
    2. What did USA’s policy focused upon?- The United States policy, even throughout Seventies, concerned the conceive to deepen the division between China and the USSR with a view to secure a strategic advantage vis-a-vis the USSR by cultivating relations with China. 
      • Further, it concerned the policy to persuade the socialist states of eastern Europe through exaggerated economic relations and creating European states tuned in to European security within the era of nuclear weapons. 
      • Specially, the United States wished to strengthen easement in Poland. Of these United States attempts were designed to contain the Soviet influence over eastern Europe. 
      • Naturally such moves were powerfully dislikable by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and it initiated counter measures to envision such United States policies 
    3. What did USSR’s policy focused upon?- The Soviet attempt at keeping leftists in power in Islamic State of Afghanistan and also the ulterior Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, were regarded by the USA as an unadorned and large violation of detente, that were designed to extend Soviet power within the gulf region. 
      • It had been thought to be a heavy threat to the US interests within the region additionally on American relations with the Gulf countries. The Soviet march into Islamic State of Afghanistan, positively gave an enormous blow, virtually a death blow to the relief of the 1970s. 

The Final End of Cold War and the Fall of Soviet Union

Reasons for end of cold war

  • Three events heralded the end of the Cold War. Each was brought about or shaped by the demands and actions of ordinary Europeans, who were determined to instigate change. 
  • The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989– The Berlin wall crisis of 1961 brought the USA and USSR to the verge of a full hot war. 
    • In August 1961, the construction of a wall by the Soviet Union for separating the Soviet sector from the Western sector of Berlin city, was strongly opposed by the U.S.A. 
    • Both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. moved their tanks to the frontiers and war appeared to be a distinct possibility. 
    • However, a wiser sense prevailed on both sides and several mutually agreed steps were taken to diffuse the tension. 
    • Berlin Wall, the symbol and physical manifestation of cold war in Europe got demolished. The U.S.S.R. pulled out of Afghanistan. 
  • The reunification of Germany in 1990– In respect of Germany, the U.S.S.R. came to adopt a policy which was strongly opposed by the Western powers. The division of Germany into Federal Republic of the Germany (Pro West) and German Democratic Republic (Pro USSR) was affected in the process of attempts made by the U.S.S.R. and the Western powers to maintain their powers in their respective occupation zones. 
    • These changes brought these states quite near to the Western European states. 
    • A new era of cooperation among European states had its birth. 
    • West Germany and East Germany got united into Germany. 
  • The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991– In August 1991, there was an attempted coup in Moscow against Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership. This coup failed, but the U.S.S.R. also failed to preserve its identity as a single state. 
    • In November, 1991, all the Republics declared their independences. Nine of them joined hands to form a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)—a loose organisation of sovereign republics of former U.S.S.R. 
    • Russia came to be recognised as the successor state of the U.S.S.R. 
    • Finally on 31st December, 1991, the U.S.S.R. faded into history. 
    • The collapse of the U.S.S.R. gave a final burial to the cold war. Russia being a weak economic power and being a state faced with internal political turmoil was incapable of pursuing a cold war policy towards the U.S.A. and the West. 

The final moments 

  • The final end of new cold war, however, came within the last months of 1991 once the Russia folded as a state and got disintegrated. The state that continued to be a brilliant power throughout 1945-91 didn’t maintain itself as one integrated state because of internal political and economic pressures. Around 1988, the Russia had started developing cracks and its leadership had failed to control the case. 

Coup in 1991 

  • During the dawn of August 1991, there was an attempted coup in Moscow against Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership. This coup was unsuccessful, but the U.S.S.R. conjointly couldn’t preserve its identity as one state. In November, 1991, all the Republic countries declared their independences. 9 of them joined hands to make a Commonwealth of independent States (CIS)—a loose organization of sovereign republics of former U.S.S.R. Russia came to be recognized because of the successor state of the U.S.S.R. 

Final blow 

  • Finally on 31st Dec, 1991, the U.S.S.R. was buried into history. The collapse of the U.S.S.R. gave a final burial to the conflict. Russia being a weak economic power and being a state two-faced with internal political turmoil was incapable of following a chilly war policy towards the U.S.A. and the West. 
  • Thus, the collapse of the U.S.S.R. completed the method of decline of the new cold war and also the world witnessed the last of cold war. Then various states of the globe came forward to simply accept the principles of liberalization, democratization, open competition, peaceful beingness and mutual cooperation for sustainable development. 

Effect of the end of USSR 

  • The end of new cold war came as a really welcome development for the world. However, the emergence of USA as the sole extant super power after the disintegration of Soviet Union and also the emergence of a weak Russia, led to the birth of unipolarity in diplomacy. The changes that came along with the end of cold war gave a replacement dimension to International System. It came to be characterized by unipolarity, ideologic unipolarism, a rise within the role of the UN, a weak Non-aligned Movement and a global community concerned with the method of adjusting with the new realities. 
  • The twenty first century dawned as a century filled with new hopes and aspirations for an additional peaceful world impelled by the need to attain sustainable development and protection of human rights of all. 
  • However, very shortly it found herself faced with the problem of terrorist act. Presently all the members of the international community are attempting to finish the menace of terrorist act. 
  • Similarly, as for securing human rights, sustainable development, a multi-centric or polycentric International System and an additional broad primarily based, additional democratic and additional localized UN council. 

Consequences of end of cold war 

  • The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s changed the foreign policy equation radically. It has been replaced by a multi-polar world, in which the United States is the dominant military power, but finds itself among competing power centers in Europe, China, India and Russia, with radical change occurring in the Middle East and North Africa, potential conflicts with Iran, and the threat of global terrorism a reality since the tragedies of 9-11 (terrorist attack in US). 
  • So while this is a world still defined by anarchy, it is not a world that appears to sit on the edge of some version of World War III. The issues that define foreign policy may have more to do with resource allocation and environmental protection than with negotiating a nuclear standoff. 
  • So the end of the Cold War coincided and perhaps accelerated the rise of other organizations who are now players in the field of international relations. While some of these institutions grew out of the end of World War II, their role in the world perhaps been magnified since the 1990s. 

Rise of Super Power

  • The word “Detente” is a French term which means the making of conscious attempts at the normalization of hostile and unfriendly relations between two super powers. 
  • Positively, it means the attempt for the promotion of cooperative and collaborative relationship in place of strained and tensed cold war relations between the rival states. During the 1970s, both the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. mutually decided to replace the cold war tensions by collaborative and competitive relations. These efforts led to the production of a positive change in international relations. The attempts made for normalization of this relationship later came to be known as Detente between the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. 
  • Prof. A.P. Rana has defined “Detente” as the Collaborative and competitive behavior of the two super powers- USA & USSR. Détente thus, means the existence of both involvement and healthy competition between the two states which previously had been engaged in a cold war for a long time. 

Factors leading to the formation of super powers & detente 

  • After having remained heavily engaged in Cold War tensions between 1945 to 1970, the USA and USSR got involved in a detente phase during 1970s. The following factors influenced the two-
    1. Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962– The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which had almost brought the two super powers- USA & USSR, to the brink of a war and conflict, also made them conscious of the dire need to limit the scope of the cold war by developing collaborative and friendly relations. 
    2. The Fear of Nuclear War [MAD- Mutually assured destruction]- The fear of the nuclear war that resulted from the unchecked arms race between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. also pointed the view against the cold war for both. 
    3.  Increase in differences between the USSR and China– The emergence of difference between the China and the U.S.S.R. also heavily influenced the USSR in Favour of détente because they lost the support of another communist nation. It also led to U.S.A. to develop relations with the communist states and try to solve the tensions. 
    4. Increase in the role of USSR and its bloc in World Politics– The increased influence and saying of the rise of Soviet Union and the Socialist bloc in international relations also influenced the U.S.A. in Favour of detente. 
    5. Soviet Policy of “Peaceful Co-existence”– The evolution of Soviet foreign policy in Favour of ‘No War’ and ‘Peaceful Coexistence’ also influenced the thinking in Favour of detente. 
    6. Role of NAM– The progress and gradual evolution of Non-Aligned Movement and the success & ease with which the NAM countries, like India, developed friendly relations with both the communist and non- communist states also compelled the USA and Soviet Union to accept the possibilities of friendship and cooperation- leading to peace and harmony between Communist and Democratic nations. It also encouraged them to work for the development of friendly cooperation between the two. 

Progress of Detente of 1970

  • During the period of Detente, a gradual and conscious attempt was made by the USA & USSR to reduce all such areas of tensions that could cause war and to prevent the further escalation of cold war situation and also to attempt the development of friendly co-operation and collaboration in their bilateral relationship.
  • During the period of 1970s, on one hand, several key issues and problems of international relations were peacefully resolved for good and on the other hand a rapprochement between the U.S.A. and China got under the way. There also appeared a visible improvement in the relationship between the communist and non-communist states at large.
  • During the period of Detente of 1971-79, some important agreements were reached by various state parties and these showed the new spirit of cooperation between them-
    1. The Moscow-Bonn Agreement of 1970– The Treaty of Moscow was signed in August 1970 by representatives of the Soviet Union and West Germany. It sought to end tension between the two nations and is considered an early foundation of Cold War 
    2. The Berlin Agreement of 1971– Finalised in September 1971 during the period of Detente, the Four Powers Agreement on Berlin was signed by the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France. It re-established travel and communications between East and West Berlin, and contributed to the easing of tensions between the Western and Soviet blocs 
    3. The Korean-Agreement of 1972– A joint statement of the Republic of Korea and North Korea was issued on July 4, 1972 calling for an independent and peaceful reunification of the divided country with the trend toward easing international tensions as the background. 
    4. The East Germany-West Germany Agreement of 1972– The Basis of Relations Treaty, or Basic Treaty as it became known, was signed by East Germany and West Germany in December 1972. Signed at the peak of Ostpolitik and Detente, the treaty acknowledged the sovereignty of the two nations, restored diplomatic communications and paved the way for “good neighbourly relations” 
    5. The Helsinki Conference (1973) and the Helsinki Agreement 1975– The Helsinki Final Act, also known as Helsinki Accords was the document signed at the closing meeting of the third phase of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held in Helsinki, Finland. All then-existing European countries (except pro-Chinese Albania and semi-sovereign Andorra) as well as the United States and Canada, altogether 35 participating states, signed the Final Act in an attempt to improve the détente between the East and the West. 
    6. The End of war in Cambodia (1975)- After five years of savage fighting, the Republican government was defeated on 17 April 1975 when the victorious Khmer Rouge proclaimed the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea. The war caused a refugee crisis in Cambodia with two million people—more than 25 percent of the population—displaced from rural areas into the cities 
  • Along with these major signatories, the USA & USSR were also successful in improving their bilateral relations and easing the inherent tensions. Both increased their mutual contacts, increased their trade relations and also signed two important arms control agreements– named as Strategic Arms Limitation Talks– SALT I & SALT II. 
  • Thus, during the period of 1971-79, several positive developments took place in the mutual relations of the USA & USSR. The rise in the development of friendly cooperation, mutual thoughts against the cold war that had characterized their relations since 1947. Gradually, such a detente between the two super powers resulted in a decline of cold war in international relations. 
  • Unfortunately, detente was not able to continue for a long time and eventually towards the end of 1979, a new cold war appeared on the international scene, that was called as new cold war. 

Factors that Led to USA- USSR differences

  • Due to USSR’s involvement and intervention in Afghanistan and some other decisions, which were aimed at increasing its power and influence, the USA gradually got dissatisfied with the concept of detente. So, the USA then decided to become number one power in the world and with this result in view took several decisions aimed at increasing its own powers and role at the international sphere.
    •  The delay in the Opening of Second Front against Germany: When the German forces were rapidly advancing into the USSR, the Russian leaders believed that there was an urgent need to immediately open a second front against Germany. 
      • As against such a view, the Western leaders maintained that it was not possible for them to immediately open a second front against Germany as it required a long and full preparation. 
      • The delay in the opening of second front as well as the Western decision to choose a different area for operations against Germany, greatly annoyed the USSR. 
    • Western Relations with Fascist Italy: The USSR was of the view that the rise of fascism in Italy was backed by the capitalists as they considered it as an effective bulwark against communism. 
      • The Western leniency in conducting the peace settlement with Italy and the eagerness shown by the USA, the UK and France in developing relations with fascist Italy made the USSR more convinced that the enemies of communism were out to limit the role of USSR in world politics. 
    • The American Secrecy over the Atom Bomb: The American decision to maintain secrecy over her atomic capability and in respect of the decision to drop atom bombs over Japan without taking the USSR into confidence greatly annoyed the Soviet leaders. 
  • This decision of USA was opposed by the collectivity of USSR. And this resulted into- a new cold war, which came to develop in international arena. This further led to the detente of 1970s getting replaced by a New Cold War in 1980s. 

Emergence of a New Cold War 

  • The resultant emergence of a new Cold War after the détente period made the international scene once again highly confusing, tense and quite explosive, which could have bursted any time. The nature and future of the international system once again became dependent on the policies and decisions of the two super powers- USA & USSR. 
  • But this time, the role of their alliance partners suffered a gradual and massive decline. The strength which armaments race had gained earlier, constituted a very big threat to international peace and security. 
  • At the same time, the conflict between China and the U.S.S.R. led to addition of a new dimension to the new Cold War. The situation that became prevalent at this time was- the emergence of Washington-Beijing-Pindi-Tokyo group v/s Moscow-Hanoi- Kabul group, and this came as a very dangerous development. 
  • Once again, the dilution of new Cold War situation came with the emergence of New Detente period between the USA & USSR. During 1987-91 the world saw massive development on this front- with the progress of this detente, the gradual collapse of the USSR, the supposed liberalization of Eastern European countries, the resultant unification of Germany and the trend that was in Favour of international cooperation that reflected in the Gulf war (1991)- these all ensured the end of New Cold War. The success of New Detente also became manifested in the period of 1990s with the final end of New Cold War in international relations arena. 

Strategic and Ideological Bipolarity


  • Bipolarity is defined as a system of world order where the majority of international economic, military and cultural influences are held between two major states. The classic case of a bipolar world can be understood through that of the Cold War between the United States of America and the Soviet Union, which largely dominated the second half of the twentieth century. 

Significance of Bipolarity 

  • The concept of bipolarity has large implications for global order. 
    • Two rival powers cannot remain in equilibrium forever. One has to surpass the other at some point and so the conflict is inevitable in a bipolar world. 
    • Along with increasing importance, there is also the emergence of power blocs, which arises as lesser powers start falling under the influence of one or other of the superpowers. 
    • In this situation, global order cannot be termed stable during periods of bipolarity, but instead, warfare seems to be necessary for the resolution of rivalry between the two concerned superpowers. 
    • In this context, it is logical to describe a bipolar world as the one that is in dynamic equilibrium, where the two sides are although equal in power but still one may achieve a higher power, maybe even for a short time before the other again matches that power to re-establish the balance. 

Views of Scholars 

  • According to scholars like Morgenthau, the bipolarity is a mechanism that contains in itself the potential for unheard-of good as well as for unprecedented evil. According to him, it was bipolarity, that made the hostile opposition of two gigantic power blocs like USA & USSR possible, but it also held out the hope of balancing that opposition through symmetry of power maintained by moderate competition. 
  • According to other scholars like Waltz, the conditions and probability of war during bipolarity were less than in multi-polarity. He believed that the war arose primarily because of some miscalculation. States sometimes misjudge the power and cohesion of opposing parties’ coalitions. Thus, Waltz believed that the international system was underway a very peaceful transition from bipolarity to multi-polarity and so he suggested that the international system should remain bipolar even after the breakup of the Soviet Union. 
  • While states may still be the most important actors in global affairs, Nye and Keohane [Neo-liberals] maintained, that with the expansion of world markets they could no longer claim exclusive power to determine outcomes. Thus, the state-centrism of traditional realist theory was no longer relevant in understanding the open and advanced economies of the industrial world. 
  • According to Mohamed Sid-Ahmed, with the end of bipolarity and the disappearance of barriers between people, lies the emergence of a unipolar world 

Effect of globalization on bipolarity 

  • By the decade of 1990s, several complex interdependences were replaced by a new concept, globalization. With this concept, the world was starting to be seen as a global village with neither boundaries nor frontiers. The revolution in communications and information led to elimination in distances and this disappearance of distance in terms of time has brought about a disappearance in terms of space also. 
  • Governments could no longer be considered the most powerful actors in world politics. Globalization led to increase of the distances between various sectors of the global community where it is seen that, a rich minority is becoming richer and a poor majority, poorer. Incidentally, while the disappearance of boundaries has contributed to bringing people closer and together, it has simultaneously also highlighted the contrasts and disparities between them. 
  • According to Kenichi Ohmae, “Globalization is political, technical and cultural, as well as economic.” All these dimensions are characterized by increasing interconnectedness and openness. Therefore, Ohmae defined globalization simply as the onset of a borderless world. 

End of bipolarity 

  • Gradually, with the end of bipolarity and the disappearance of barriers between people, the situation led to the emergence of a unipolar world. Experts have spoken of a new bipolarity in the world order which they believe is between those who identify with the new order and those who oppose it. This is not because of ideological affiliation to any specific alternative world order but it is because they are alienated by what they see as the failure of the new order to respond to their aspirations. 
  • Ultimately, bipolarity can be considered to be based on constant tension, which led to competition, and ultimately, the situation of war. International political economy has time and again been regarded as the principal focus of the forces of globalization and also the main way in which globalization is transmitted throughout the world order. It is now clear that the world is a very complex one which not only includes the issues arising from the challenges to state power and questions of legitimacy, but it also includes deeper analysis of the changes taking place at the global, country and local levels. Thus, Globalization is clearly a multi-faceted occurrence which is resistant to simplification. 

Emergence of new bipolarity between USA and China 

  • As the post-Cold War period evolved, we began to see clearly that China was a rising power. The successes of Chinese economic reform since 1978 were finally bearing fruit. The Chinese economy is now slowly approaching the size of the US economy. Its military capabilities are growing and its diplomacy is becoming much more active. In other words, China is becoming the natural hegemonic power in Asia. 
    • Unlike the old bipolarity, where neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had any serious security problems with India. So the new bipolarity is really a change in the international environment, and it’s not a favorable change for India. 
    • Unlike the old bipolarity, where neither the United States nor the Soviet Union had any serious security problems with India. So the new bipolarity is really a change in the international environment, and it’s not a favorable change for India. 
    • After China opened up its economy in the late 1970s, rather than contain or isolate it, the United States sought to co-opt China to share the burdens of combating collective problems and to make China a “responsible stakeholder” in world politics. 
    • China is now the world’s second-biggest military spender after the United States, accounting for 13 percent of global military expenditures (and 20 percent of non-U.S. spending), a share that has been steadily rising over the past two decades 
    • China has also been modernizing its nuclear arsenal, including equipping its most powerful missile—the DF-5, which can reach the United States—with multiple warheads. While China’s soft-power appeal is limited compared with that of the United States, it far surpasses that of the Soviet Union 
    • China’s rise is so portentous because of its mass and its potential. In1990, China spent less than 4 percent of what the United States spent on defense. By 2000, the figure was below 8 percent, and by 2010, it was still below 17 percent. But by 2015, China was spending 36 percent of what the United States was spending on its military 
    • In 1990, China’s economy was one-sixth the size of the United States. By 2010, it was up to 40 percent, and by 2015, it was 60 percent. Most projections expect China to surpass the United States sometime in the next decade to become the world’s biggest economy. 

Cold War 2.0

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