Why the Cold War Ended: A Range of Interpretations

By Ralph Summy; Michael E. Salla | Go to book overview

13
The Continuing Cold War

John W. Burton

The Cold War was, of course, a term used to describe the critically tense relations between the former U.S.S.R. and the Western democracies led by the United States. Now that one of the parties has disintegrated, it is reasonable to argue that this particular Cold War has ended.

However, this limited conception of the Cold War is of relevance only to those persons whose concern is with the particular and the immediate, and not with the future prospects of conflict and its avoidance--for example, media reporters and strategists. In the broader context of global relationships this particular Cold War has not ended. It has been transformed into many wars, cold and hot. Not only are there wars among autonomies within the former Soviet Union, some of which have a nuclear capacity, but in addition its so-called ending has allowed widespread leadership battles, ideological and ethnic conflicts, and territorial disputes to surface, both within the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. No longer are the former Cold War powers motivated or able to intervene in the conflicts taking place in and between smaller countries. These seemingly separate wars become linked as parties having shared ideologies and belief systems seek mutual support. In this perspective the Cold War has merely changed some of its features. The threat of major global thermonuclear conflict has given place to many actual conflicts which together result in the actuality of high levels of death and destruction, and also to rivalries between one of the Cold War actors and other rising major powers.

In systemic terms nothing has changed except the actors and increased levels of violence. If one examines this particular Cold War in a wider

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