Haass A quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the world unexpectedly finds itself in a second one. This state of affairs was anything but inevitable, and it is in neither side's interest to escalate tensions further. The good news is that it stayed cold — largely because nuclear weapons introduced a discipline missing from previous great-power rivalries — and that the United States, together with its European and Asian allies, emerged victorious, owing to sustained political, economic, and military effort that a top-heavy Soviet Union ultimately could not match. A quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, we unexpectedly find ourselves in a second one.
The first half of the century, the age of the World Wars and the start of the Cold Warwas dominated by the rivalries of those powers. The second half saw the replacement, largely through the agency of those wars, of the European state system by a world system with many centres of both power and discord.
This article provides a single integrated narrative of the changing context of world politics, from the outbreak of World War I to the s. The roots of World War I— Forty-three years of peace among the great powers of Europe came to an end inwhen an act of political terrorism provoked two great alliance systems into mortal combat.
The South Slav campaign against Austrian rule in Bosnia, culminating in the assassination of the Habsburg heir apparent at Sarajevowas the spark. This local crisis rapidly engulfed all the powers of Europe through the mechanisms of the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, diplomatic arrangements meant precisely to enhance the security of their members and to deter potential aggressors.
The long-term causes of the war can therefore be traced to the forces that impelled the formation of those alliances, increased tensions among the great powers, and made at least some European leaders desperate enough to seek their objectives even at the risk of a general war.
These forces included militarism and mass mobilization, instability in domestic and international politics occasioned by rapid industrial growth, global imperialism, popular nationalismand the rise of a social Darwinist worldview.
But the question of why World War I broke out should be considered together with the questions of why peace ended and why in rather than before or after. The Bismarckian system, —90 The era of the great powers The European map and world politics were less confused in the decades after than at any time before or since.
The unifications of Italy and Germany removed the congeries of central European principalities that dated back to the Holy Roman Empirewhile the breakup of eastern and southeastern Europe into small and quarreling states a process that would yield the term balkanization was not far advanced. The lesser powers of Europe, including some that once had been great, like the NetherlandsSwedenand Spainplayed little or no role in the affairs of the great powers unless their own interests were directly involved.
Both physical size and the economies of scale important in an industrial age rendered smaller and less developed countries impotent, while the residual habits of diplomacy dating from the Congress of Vienna of made the great powers the sole arbiters of European politics.
In the wider world, a diplomatic system of the European variety existed nowhere else. The outcome of the U. Civil War and Anglo-American settlement of the Canadian border ensured that North America would not develop a multilateral balance-of-power system.
South and Central America had splintered into 17 independent republics following the final retreat of Spanish rule inbut the new Latin American states were inward-looking, their centres of population and resources isolated by mountains, jungle, and sheer distance, and disputes among them were of mostly local interest.
When the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian tsar and Canada acquired dominion status, both inEuropean possessions on the American mainland were reduced to three small Guianan colonies in South America and British Honduras Belize.
North Africa east of Algeria was still nominally under the aegis of the Ottoman sultan, while sub-Saharan Africaapart from a few European ports on the coast, was terra incognita.
The British had regularized their hold on the Indian subcontinent after putting down the Indian Mutiny of —58, while the Chinese and Japanese empires remained xenophobic and isolationist. Thus, the cabinets of the European great powers were at the zenith of their influence. Europe itself, byseemed to be entering an age of political and social progress.
International peace also seemed assured once Otto von Bismarck declared the new German Empire a satisfied power and placed his considerable talents at the service of stability.
The chancellor knew Germany to be a military match for any rival but feared the possibility of a coalition. Since France would never be reconciled to her reduced status and the loss of Alsace-Lorraine imposed by the treaty ending the Franco-German WarBismarck strove to keep France isolated.
Such a combination was always vulnerable to Austro-Russian rivalry over the Eastern Question —the problem of how to organize the feuding Balkan nationalities gradually freeing themselves from the decrepit Ottoman Empire. After the Slavic provinces of Bosnia and Hercegovina rebelled against Ottoman rule in and Russia made war on the Ottoman Empire two years later, the Dreikaiserbund collapsed.
Bismarck achieved a compromise at the Congress of Berlinbut Austro-Russian amity was not restored. Intherefore, Bismarck concluded a permanent peacetime military alliance with Austria, whereupon the tsarist government, to court German favour, agreed to a renewal of the Dreikaiserbund in Italy, seeking aid for her Mediterranean ambitions, joined Germany and Austria-Hungary to form the Triple Alliance in The next Balkan crisis, which erupted in Bulgaria inagain tempted Russia to expand its influence to the gates of Constantinople.
Bismarck dared not oppose the Russians lest he push them toward an alliance with vengeful France. Should that temper change, or less adept leadership succeed Bismarck, Germany had the potential to become the major disrupter of European stability. For the constitution drafted by Bismarck for the Second Reich was a dysfunctional document designed to satisfy middle-class nationalism while preserving the power of the Prussian crown and the Junker class the Prussian landed aristocracy.
Apparently a federal empire, Germany was in fact dominated by Prussiawhich was larger in area and population than all the other states combined. The king of Prussia was kaiser and chief warlord of the German armies; the prime minister of Prussia was the federal chancellor, responsible, not to a majority in the Reichstagbut only to the crown.
Furthermore, Prussia retained a three-class voting system weighted in favour of the wealthy. The army remained, in Prussian tradition, virtually a state within the state, loyal to the kaiser alone.
In sum, Germany remained a semi-autocratic military monarchy even as it blossomed into an industrial mass society. The lack of outlets for popular dissent and reform was especially damaging given the cleavages that continued to plague Germany after unification: Protestant North versus Catholic South, agriculture versus industry, Prussia versus the other states, Junkers versus middle-class liberals, industrialists versus the increasingly socialist working class.
Bismarck manipulated the parties and interests as he did foreign powers. Austria-Hungary and Russia, still overwhelmingly agrarian, faced different challenges by the end of the 19th century.The Soviet Union and the United States.
U.S.-Soviet Alliance, – Although relations between the Soviet Union and the United States had been strained in the years before World War II, the U.S.-Soviet alliance of – was marked by a great degree of cooperation and was essential to securing the defeat of Nazi Germany. After World War II, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate. There are reasons for this. Before the war ended, the United States had some agreements with the. Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (15 April – 11 September ) was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from to , and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from to Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the.
Relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were driven by a complex interplay of ideological, political, and economic factors, which led to shifts between cautious cooperation and often bitter superpower rivalry over the years.
The coming of the Cold War, – The symbolic first meeting of American and Soviet soldiers occurred at Torgau, Ger., on April 25, Their handshakes and toasts in beer and vodka celebrated their common victory over Nazi Germany and marked the collapse of old Europe altogether; but their inarticulate grunts and exaggerated smiles presaged the lack of communication in their.
The relations between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (–) succeeded the previous relations from to and predate today's relations that began in Full diplomatic relations between the two . Relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were driven by a complex interplay of ideological, political, and economic factors, which led to shifts between cautious cooperation and often bitter superpower rivalry over the years.
Tensions between the US and the Soviet Union after World War II The United States and the Soviet Union were never in a completely stable relationship.
World War II had both nations working together, but partly only because Germany was a common enemy of them both. A quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the world unexpectedly finds itself in a second one. This state of affairs was anything but inevitable, and it is in neither side's interest to escalate tensions further.