The Shape of the Future: The Post-Cold War World

The Shape of the Future: The Post-Cold War World

The Shape of the Future: The Post-Cold War World

The Shape of the Future: The Post-Cold War World


Increasingly, it appears that 1989 marked an epochal turn in world politics, comparable to 1815, 1848, 1918 and 1945. The revolutionary events in Eastern Europe were the culmination of a process of change that had its roots in economic and military developments during the precding decade; in turn, the events of 1989 have set in motion forces that will significantly alter the international system. This book analyzes the changes and discusses what we can expect the major factors in the new international order to be. Highlighted are the political and economic crises in the Soviet Union, the critical role of high technology in national and multinational economic power, and the likelihood the the Third World will be the locus of violence and instability.


That these are turbulent, even tumultuous times by now goes without saying. in a period of less than two years, the international system has been turned on its head; its most visible symbol, the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, has all the vitality of a burned-out tank in the Arabian desert.

In this turmoil, we have witnessed tremendous mood swings regarding events and their meaning. As the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall fell, dragging the Warsaw Pact down with them, we exulted in the newly won freedom of the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe and the seemingly inexorable pace of reform in the Soviet Union. We even reveled in the reunification of Germany, which had been probably the single most sinister prospect during the Cold War after the specter of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

As 1990 wound down, the mood swung back. If democratization seemed the wave of the future in early 1990, it was not so clearly a linear progression by the end of the year. the repression by the Soviets of the independence movements in the Baltic states threatened a reversion to a darker past and even the fall of the architect of Soviet reform, Mikhail S. Gorbachev. in Eastern Europe, democratic euphoria has waned in the face of economic realities not much improved from the bad old days. in the Persian Gulf littoral, Saddam Hussein sat astride a conquered and shattered Kuwait and dared the world to do something about it. in February 1991, the world accepted the dare, and Saddam was crushed.

Where will we go from here? If the history of revolutionary periods--and this is surely one of those--is any indication, the route will not be straight nor the destination obvious. We are in the midst of the maelstrom; we can record what is occurring, but we can extrapolate only with the greatest of caution. the pages that follow are written in that vein: a record of the changes and some suggestions about factors that will influence the shape of the future.

As this is written in early February 1991, the ground phase of Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf is now triumphant history. It is an important event because its outcome will affect the . . .

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