The end of the Cold War was also the end of global or world order as we knew it: a bipolar standoff between two superpowers and their respective allies. The dissolution of the Soviet Union effectively terminated that order and gave way to–what exactly? It was certainly not clear at the time; surprisingly, it is not clear today, more than a quarter of a century later. The first reaction, understandably, was one of liberal optimism; if anything, the events marked the unabashed victory of political and economic liberalism. Liberal democracy and the liberal market economy would now encompass the whole world and peace, cooperation, security, order, common values, welfare and even the good life for all would eventually follow (Fukuyama 1989, 1992). The next reaction was much more pessimistic and sceptical; it came early in the 1990s even though that decade was a liberal honeymoon period of high hopes. Realist scholars predicted that old friends. Liberal optimism was not to be frustrated; an analysis from the late 1990s argued that ever more sophisticated economies would need to enter into ever closer networks of cooperation. Nation states would remain major units in international politics but would be compelled to cooperate in order to provide a protective umbrella for a globalized economy.
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