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  • Author: Thomas Wright
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Foreign policy experts have struggled to describe the unusual character of contemporary world politics. Much of the debate revolves around the concept of polarity, which deals with how power is distributed among nations, as experts ask if the United States is still a unipolar power or in decline as new powers emerge. The polarity debate, however, obscures more than it clarifies because the distribution of power does not determine the fate of nations by itself. It leaves out strategic choice and does not predict how the United States would exercise its power or how others would respond to U.S. primacy. World politics can take many paths, not just one, under any particular distribution of power. The most remarkable feature of post-Cold War world politics has not been the much-discussed power accumulation of the United States—although that is indeed noteworthy—but rather the absence of counter- balancing and revisionist behavior by other major powers.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas Wright
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: If there is one idea that has consistently influenced western foreign policy since the Cold War, it is the notion that extending interdependence and tightening economic integration among nations is a positive development that advances peace, stability, and prosperity. As a post-Cold War idea guiding U.S. and European foreign policy, there is much to be said for it. The absorption of Eastern Europe in both the European Union and NATO helped consolidate market democracy. Globalization led to unprecedented growth in western economies, and facilitated the ascent of China and India, among others, taking billions of people out of poverty. Access to the international financial institutions also offered emerging powers the strategic option of exerting influence through existing institutions rather than trying to overturn them. Some policymakers and experts believe that this process holds the key to continuing great power peace and stability.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, India
  • Author: Michael O'Hanlon
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: During the Cold War, the United States varied between a "1 ½ war" and a "2 ½ war" framework for sizing its main combat forces. This framework prepared forces for one or two large wars, and then a smaller "half-war." Capacity for a major conflict in Europe, against the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, represented the enduring big war potential. This period saw simultaneous conflict against China as a second possible big war, until Nixon's Guam doctrine placed a greater burden on regional allies rather than U.S. forces to address such a specter, and until his subsequent opening to the PRC made such a war seem less likely in any event. The half-wars were seen as relatively more modest but still quite significant operations such as in Korea or Vietnam.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Vietnam, Korea