Post-Cold War Conflict


The Cold War ended, but the problem of the global security environment acquired a new meaning. Moreover, the issue also needed some new approaches to its solving because of great political and economic changes in the world. The end of the Cold War could not be considered as the end of all the world conflicts which continued to determine the situation in many other parts of the globe (Stokes 2003).

The process of some slight reduction in the military budget was temporary. It was only an immediate result of the elimination of world conflict. The peculiarities of the powerful state’s economies were still influential for the development of the conflicts and drew the economists’ attention to the analysis of their role and impact in the society (Sanders 2008).

There was a tendency that many economic theories emphasized the role of a state about the state conflicts in the development of the economy, but later the situation changed, and the emphasis was put on the analysis of the role of wars in the global economic process (Wulf 2005, p. 12). This aspect can be considered as the reflection of a degree of the intensity of changes in international relations.

Some years ago, after the fall of the Berlin wall and after the process of disintegration of the Soviet Union, there was very significant speculation that the world as a whole, and specifically the U.S., would meet only minimal conflicts in the future (Stokes 2003, p. 572). Today, it is rather a controversial question. It is difficult to consider the contemporary situation in the world as peaceful.

We have had very significant conflicts in the post-Cold War era. They are the Gulf War, NATO invasion in Kosovo, the U.S. invasion in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban. There have been numerous threats of terror, including September 11, Mumbai blast, London bombing, and several other terrorism threats (Kanet 2007).

A glance at the conflicts experienced by the United States helps to demonstrate that there are considerable differences in the approaches to the realization of the conflicts (Sanders 2008). The Gulf War was characterized by both air campaign and ground campaign which were completed according to the United States’ military doctrine.

NATO invasion in Kosovo is often considered as the initial war which was won through the air strike alone. The War in Afghanistan and Iraq was a combination of selective airpower and ground forces of NATO (Yilmaz 2008).

International Systems in the Post Cold War Era

With the fall of the communist regime in some countries of Europe, the bipolar system that was common during the Cold War Era was replaced with a new system in which the United States played the main role, from the military and political point of view. The USSR and China, the former adversaries of the United States, lost their strong positions.

Many countries have turned to the U.S. seeking protection. The fact of domination of the U.S. seems to be very clear when we discuss the operations in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East, where their forces have established a nearly permanent base and have deployed thousands of military personnel to keep order in Iran, Syria and other potential adversaries.

The presence of the U.S military forces in these areas completes two purposes. First, they protect weak states against their powerful neighbors. Secondly, they help to stabilize these regions and protect the weaker nations from external aggression. The presence of the U.S military in Japan protects Japan and its neighbors against external attacks (Wulf 2005, p. 3).

On the other hand, today the international economic and political system is rather multi-polar. The United States of America can be considered as the world’s superpower. However, there are other powers, most outstandingly, the EU, Asia-Pacific economic cooperation and other organizations in different parts of the world.

When the U.S invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, they insisted on sharing the military expenses with other major powers (Rahul 2002, p. 14). The international system of the post-Cold War era is based on the multi-polar system which includes five major powers such as the U.S., Russia, Japan, China and the countries of Europe (Rahul 2002).

The Current Threats

After the end of the Cold War era, many governments have become more willing to resolve conflicts and maintain peace in the world with the help of the United Nations and other international organizations. However, numerous threats have emerged in the post-Cold War era. They are beyond the U.S and other major powers (Wulf 2005, p. 13). One of the biggest threats, in this case, is the dominance of the borders conflicts among many nations.

The problem of ethnicity and nationalism was almost resolved till the end of the post-Cold War era. During the Cold War, the peoples’ ideologies were shifted towards internationalism instead of nationalism. Due to the nuclear threat, people focused on the problem of democracy and upholding of human rights, economic integration. It was possible to speak about the end of ethnicity and national movements.

Moreover, a new phase of ethnopolitical movements started to take shape in the global arena. Even though there were cases of interstate conflicts and intra-national conflicts that covered over 90% of the current conflicts in the globe (Yilmaz 2008), such global organizations as the U.N were intended to handle interstate conflicts. International organizations are always reluctant to intervene due to some legal worries and fears of increasing the level of violence.

One of the main threats of global peace in the post-Cold War era is the growth of religious militancy. Religious conflicts are extraordinary in their special manners of moving prejudiced and contradictory images of distinctiveness and the obligation among the competing civilizations. It is the fact that the question of religion discriminates sharply and exclusively, even more than the question of ethnicity.

Religious militancy has led to the creation of religious fundamentalism. This aspect demands support for realizing violent actions against the demonstration of blasphemy and oppression among the non-members (Stokes 2003, p. 572). These forms of movements are common in the Muslim dominated Arab countries that have begun the war against the West and their allies (Yilmaz 2008).

The amounts of religious fundamentalists have strongly embraced the use of violence for pursuing their objectives. There are many examples of the activity of these religious militant groups, including Jewish Zealot in Israel, Serbian Orthodox, and Catholics in former Yugoslavia and the Islamic Jihad. Religious-driven conflicts can be linked to the problem of terrorism.

The world’s most dangerous terrorist movement in our contemporary world is also based on religious fundamentalism. It is the Al-Qaida group. Members of this group believe that the use of violence in the name of their religion is the necessity. These people believe that if they die in the name of their religious views, they will be rewarded after their life (Yilmaz 2008).

This fact has helped in eliminating the feelings of fear and guilt among the followers of the movement. As a result, terrorism is another threat of global peace in the post-Cold War era. Although terrorism has been a part of our society for a very long period, its turning point was on September 11. The definition of terrorism depends on different people’s points of view.

The U.S. Defense Department defines terrorism as an illegal, violent threat meant to instill fear, to force or intimidate governments or societies; it is based on the political, religious or ideological agenda (Sanders 2008). The U.N., on the other hand, defines terrorism as a fear-inculcating method of providing violence, used by surreptitious individuals, groups or state agents, for personal, criminal or political purpose.

Even though terrorism is a major threat of peace in the post-Cold War era, it is not restricted only with this period. There were numerous acts of terrorism which were realized to attain some political and religious purposes. Political ideologies of the Marxists, Leninists, and Peronists included the possibility of the acts of terrorism.

The main aim of the terrorists is to draw the local, regional and international attention. The effectiveness of the acts of terrorism depends on those who accomplish the actions and on the reaction of the state. For example, September 11 took the lives of over 300 people (Kanet 2007, p. 14). They were the real victims, but the target was far and beyond, mostly including the U.S. and its allies.

After the attack on the twin towers, the war against terrorism was declared, and it was supported by many nations (Stokes 2003, p. 574). However, the war against terrorism has proven to be very difficult because terrorists do not fight on a clear front and do not adhere to the rules of the war. Nonetheless, the U.S succeeded in its fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. But this has not been entirely successful since the U.S invasion in the Middle East (Yilmaz 2008).


Even after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the post-Cold War era, the world is still considered to be rather unsafe. Today the world experiences different types of conflicts which are caused by socio-economic and political factors. The Cold War conflict was an interstate conflict and significant competition between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

However, the vast majority of conflicts in our world today are based on ethnicity, governance, ideological differences and other national subjects which are important to discuss. Intrastate conflicts are the results of the ethnic animosity within countries, the results of revolutions, human right violations, famine, and the fight for power. Conflicts in the Horn of Africa and the fact of Rwandan genocide which have effected in the millions of deaths are terrible examples of famine and related ethnic conflicts.

The U.S invasion in the other countries is a result of the international security process, the attempt of stabilization of nations, and an approach to the protection of some weaker nations against their stronger neighbors. For instance, they are the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1999, Somali invasion and the invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Kanet, R.E. 2007. Russia: Re-emerging Great Power. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rahul, M. 2002. The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism. New York: Sanders.

Sanders, M.E. 2008. Alliance Politics in Unipolarity. Thesis (M.A). George Mason University: Fairfax, VA.

Stokes, D. 2003. Why the end of the Cold War doesn’t matter: the US war of terror in Columbia. Review of International Studies, 29, 569-585.

Wulf, H. 2005. Internationalizing and privatizing war and peace. Palgrave: Macmillan.

Yilmaz, M.E. 2008. The New World Order: An Outline of the Post-Cold War Era. Turkish Journal of International Relations, 7(4), 44-59.