Why We Will Soon Miss The Cold War

John J. Mearsheimer who is international relations theorist, reflected the fact that we are likely soon to regret the passing of the Cold War. Even if no one will want to face with Cold War de facto, we are likely soon to regret the passing of the Cold War.

To begin with, there is something that changed with Cold War era in international relations. In short-run it might not be worse in terms of violence after Cold War era, but in the long-run there will be much more violence since the distribution and character of military power among states are the root causes of war and peace as Mearsheimer said. The peace in Europe since 1945 has flowed from three factors: the bipolar distribution of military power on the Continent; the rough military equality between the polar power, the US and the Soviet Union; and the ritualistically deplored fact that each of these superpowers is armed with a large nuclear arsenal. Europe will have the multipolar distribution of power that Peace of Westphalia constructed again although it was abolished during Cold War in which bipolar system was formed. Bipolar system seemed more peaceful because of the alliances that were made between superpower and minor powers, meaning they guarantee cooperation under any attack. Actually this type is similar to the understanding of balance of power. Maybe that is why the author claims this bipolarity is more peaceful, thinking that those two superpowers and, with such guarantees, their minor powers established a balance meaning both parts were equally powerful and they could not dominate one another and this seemed as an everlasting period that no war occurred de facto which is the most desirable fact. On the contrary, it is so difficult to form such conditions in multipolarity in which each nation pursued their own interests without considering any balances in the international relations.

The size of the gap in military power between two leading states in the system is a key determinant of stability. Small gaps foster peace, large gaps promote war. In multipolarity, this gap is high because of the economical gap between states after all. Also with the developments during Cold War era, nuclear weapons emerged as a powerful force for peace since each part knows the destructive characteristics of it. In other words, nuclear weapons are one of the other deterrents meaning preventing states from certain acts.

Bipolarity, an equal balance of military power and nuclear weapons, is a tool for the maintenance of long-term peace as in the example of US and Russia. I believe, the development on technology in terms of improvement on war techniques resulted in deterrence between states because of any likely destruction rather than it could have resulted in more violent things. At this point, a tool that was supposed to increase the violation converted into a tool that prevented wars and formed the peace environment again. However, without nuclear weapons any likely war is deterred that could happen under the circumstances of USSR and unified Germany would become so powerful leading to another crisis which is hypernationalism. Hypernationalism means extreme nationalism and it would trigger wars to happen as in WWI one of the starting points was nationalism.

In conclusion, bipolarity in which communist Soviets and nightwatchmen liberals US balanced each other, was a period that no war is made although it could be in a most destructive way. Sometimes, I believe, even the things that seem the most dangerous might result in well-being. That well-being is completely what we need right now. Therefore, we will regret the passing of Cold War and miss it soon under the destructive ways we are living.


  • Mearsheimer, John. 1990. “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War.” The Atlantic.


İlayda Bal


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