"The end of the bipolar world in 1991 brought about an era of instability." Assess the validity of this statement.

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I would argue that the answer to this question is a matter of perspective. Yes, the so-called "bipolar" world of the Cold War era helped create an equilibrium on a global scale that made it less likely that the United States and the Soviet Union would go to war. Compared...

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I would argue that the answer to this question is a matter of perspective. Yes, the so-called "bipolar" world of the Cold War era helped create an equilibrium on a global scale that made it less likely that the United States and the Soviet Union would go to war. Compared to the first half of the twentieth century, in which the world twice descended into global wars, this was indeed more stable, at least for the United States and Europe. However, the United States and Soviet Union participated in, financed, and even encouraged "proxy wars" around the world. Conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia killed millions and devastated nations in these regions. It would be hard to convince the people of Vietnam, Angola, or Nicaragua that the twentieth century was marked by stability. So while the existence of nuclear weapons and the collective security supplied by treaty organizations spared the people of the United States and the Soviet Union from war, it is hard to say that the unquestioned instability of the modern world is a total departure from the Cold War era. Indeed, much of today's turmoil, especially in the Middle East, is a direct consequence of developments during the Cold War, not a departure from Cold War trends.

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Some scholars of international relations do argue that the bipolar world of the Cold War was more stable because the two superpowers dominated the world and could prevent any serious wars from arising either between themselves or between client countries.  This limited the potential for instability.

However, it is easy to find holes in this theory.  The world of the Cold War was not noticeably more stable.  There were superpower conflicts such as the Cuban Missile Crisis which were much more dangerous than anything since.  There were larger scale wars (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran-Iraq) than there have been since.  These conflicts (and the fact that similarly dangerous conflicts have not arisen since the end of the Cold War) suggest that the supposed stability of that era was not all that some scholars make it out to be.

For these reasons, I would argue that the post-Cold War, post-bipolar world is no less stable than the Cold War world was.

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