The post-World War II tension between centralized socialism and market capitalism, between communist authoritarianism and Western-style democracy, ended peacefully during the final decade of the twentieth century. In the interim the world’s population more than doubled from 2.5 billion to nearly 6 billion. For four decades the fate of these billions was inexorably linked to the bilateral relations of the two superpowers. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellite states, the costly and dangerous global rivalry between the Cold War opponents was resolved — and the threat of cataclysmic nuclear exchange removed. Regional conflicts between the surrogates of each side in the larger conflict lapsed as military and economic aid decreased. As a new era of cooperation between the erstwhile enemies began, a multipolar international system, led by an increasingly unified Europe but including emerging powers in South and East Asia, quickly took shape. Its focus was the UN, where states that were not permanent members of the powerful Security Council demanded a greater voice in global governance.
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- Conclusion: Hope and Misgiving in the New Century
W. M. Spellman
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number