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What are the essential features of the post-Cold War world order and how is it likely to evolve? In this chapter, Nuno P. Monteiro analyzes the magnitude of the power shifts that took place around the 1989/91 watershed – between the United States and both Russia and China – and examines the ways in which the post-Cold War order relates to earlier times. Much has changed on the surface, above all the emergence of a preponderant global power, the United States. At the same time, much has also remained the same: the centrality of states, their goals and strategies, the role of material capabilities and ideology in furthering state goals, the effects of the nuclear revolution, and so on. Combining these continuities and changes, Monteiro distills the central features of world order in the post-Cold War era. He then concludes by looking at current transformations in world politics – such as the emergence of a viable alternative to the Western way of life backed by the massive capabilities of the Chinese state – and highlighting the major issues on which the future of world order hangs.
Bush’s long-term vision was one of a world in which unparalleled American power underpinned a global liberal international order based on universal principles of human freedom – or at least on the United States’ interpretation of those principles. It was in part this vision that led the United States to act forcefully in the first crisis of the post–Cold War, triggered by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990; a crisis that provided the backdrop against which Bush delivered his “new world order” speech. After a moment of initial hesitation, the United States decided to act decisively to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
As the Cold War came to a close in 1991, US President George H. W. Bush famously saw its shocking demise as the dawn of a 'new world order' that would prize peace and expand liberal democratic capitalism. Thirty years later, with China on the rise, Russia resurgent, and populism roiling the Western world, it is clear that Bush's declaration remains elusive. In this book, leading scholars of international affairs offer fresh insight into why the hopes of the early post-Cold War period have been dashed and the challenges ahead. As the world marks the thirtieth anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this book brings together historians and political scientists to examine the changes and continuities in world politics that emerged at the end of the Cold War and shaped the world we inhabit today.