Cold War

Cold War

My first inclination would be to answer
the first question with a clear "YES". But come to think of it, the causes
of war really have not changed at all, or at least very little. Rather
than changes, there has been a shift in the causes. The cause of war which
has dominated the last 50 years was the cause of ideology. However, due
to the recent end of the Cold War, this cause of war, has significantly
declined and is almost trivial.

The causes of war have shifted from mainly
ideological ones to economic, ethnic and others. Although these reasons
have always played a role as causes of war throughout history, they were
in the last 50 years overshadowed by the cause of ideology. Now, with ideology
not on top of the agenda anymore, these causes have regained their importance.

After the second World War the world was
dominated by two superpowers; the USA and the USSR. The Cold War was a
result of this division of power and of the important policy of spheres
of influence. In the post WWII-era the Americans thought that the

Russians were aiming to incorporate Western Europe (the US & British
sphere of influence) into their sphere of influence (Eastern Europe) by
supporting the communists in these countries. Their fears were enforced
when a "coup substituted communist for coalition rule in Prague." (Calvocoressi,
p.15)(even though this is an Eastern European Country, the fact that a
coup was staged against a democratic government is reason enough to raise
their fears).

In this ideologically hostile environment
the Cold War began. It was characterised by the arms race between the two
superpowers who were eager to preserve their spheres of influence. Both
developed such powerful weapons which were too dangerous to be used in
practice, but which contributed to the feeling of security, because
they acted as deterrent. (These weapons could be used "politically"[as
deterrent] but not "militarily"[since they would bring complete annihilation].)

"Each side armed itself to win a war which it expected the other to begin
but for which it had no stomach and no plans." (Calvocoressi p.4)

Europe was a very stable area in the post-WWII
era. All the conflicts between the superpowers, were never directly between

US and Soviet troops, but in these conflicts one superpower supported one
side and the other one the other side. These were staged in the Middle-East,

Africa, and Asia.

These Wars were "proxy" wars, which almost
always began because one superpower saw its (often ideological) interests
threatened. Thus they begun to support one side; for example in Korea and

Vietnam, where the US feared a communist government to take over instead
of a "democratic" one.

On one occasion, the whole World held
its breath, as everyone thought that now the Cold War would turn "hot";
the Cuban missile crises. The stationing of Russian missiles on Cuba was
seen as an atrocious provocation by the US, since it was in what the Americans
had always considered as their "backyard", and they had no defence (weapons)
facing that way(actually, the fact that Castro was in power was sufficient
reason for them to be enraged, and they tried several times to assassinate
or overthrow him). Ever since that incident, there has been an era of détente,
but only in terms of arms, not in terms of ideology.

When, during the 1980´s, Gorbachev
was in power, he signed several arms treaties and introduced reforms into
the Soviet Union.

Critics argued however, that the reforms
were to radical, and they said that they were introduced too quickly. As
a result to this, and of the re-unification of Germany on the 3rd of October

1989, the whole eastern bloc could be seen to move into a more liberal
direction; the Soviet Union started to disintegrate. Several states declared
their independence from mother Russia, for example the Ukraine, Lithuania,

Belarus, Moldova and Georgia. Due to the reforms Russia fell into economic
chaos. Inflation rose to four figures, and prices for the bare necessities
of life, e.g. Bread, soared up. People could not just buy bread when they
wanted, which was not just due to the high prices, but also because there
were shortages in supply. There still is more or less economic chaos in

Russia; inflation is still high, and because of the economic chaos, crime
rates have soared up. Still, it looks like if it finally is going to change
for the better; last year the stock prices of Russian Companies rose by

300%.

Since the end of the Cold War a "new World
order" has established itself. The main cause for this is the shift
in the respective positions of power of the