POLB80 - Lecture #3 - Sept. 25, 2012
Cold War History and Post-Cold War
- No direct superpower conflict...
- The United States and Soviet Union never directly fought. But why didn't they fight?
- Nuclear deterrents were involved: Neither side wanted to risk attacking the other. If they did,
they would risk being destroyed. This is why the Cold War was Cold. For deterrence to work,
both sides must be vulnerable. Arms control was a very sticky subject during the Cold War.
- There was a lot of Proxy Fighting
- Rising and Falling Tensions
End of the Cold War
- A change in Soviet Behaviour
- U.S. Aggression and Military Spending
- Economic Collapse
- Human Rights and Freedom Movements
- A change in powers normally occurs through wars...
- This conflict was built on a continuing mistrust and tension between the two superpowers. Each
saw the other as an enemy. When one side stops acting as a rival, it alters the dunamic of the
- There were other dynamics at work that contributed to these changes in the relationship.
The Cold War's Impact Today
- Change in type of conflict
- Prominence of the United Nations
- Primacy of the United States
- Expansion of International Agenda
- The Cold WAr virtually shut down inter-state wars because of the assured destruction that
would come with any sort of conflict
- Not "realistic"
- Realism's Answers to the 4 Questions:
1. Who are the important actors?
2. What is their nature?
3. What is their context?
4. How do they interact?
- These answers shape the perspective on how world politics work.
Who are the important actors for realists?
- The States (Ideally have a monopoly on force, etc.)
- What is the nature of these states? What are their characteristics? How do they think? POLB80 - Lecture #3 - Sept. 25, 2012
- They are self-interested (pursue their interests), power-seeking (interests are defined by power)
and (relatively) scared...security-conscious.
- Why is this their nature according to realists? There are external reasons (competing with other
states/nations), survival and they exist in anarchy. You can understand a lot of what goes on in
world politics from these precepts.
- According to realists, the key dynamic in the international system/context is that anarchy is
equal to a security dilemma. This is the key dynamic in realist theory.
- What is a security dilemma?
-> Example: State A begins to arm themselves. State B begins to worry because t