Cold War and the Power Aspect in 21-st Century

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Power is a vital part within the system. Its elucidation and primary usage of the concept of power varies on whichever you would apply it with. Power is often associated with politics. However, within politics, the context of power is best depicted into substantially three concepts.

The first one is in terms of capability. Power in this concept depicts possession, possession of things that they perceive to be of great advantage to their nation. Power in this concept brings some sort of distinction or prestige from other states or actors. However, power within this concept also has its aspect in which renders it to be less acceptable, a disadvantage perhaps. One example is the Vietnam War in which the United States of America, a superpower during that time, has experienced a humiliating loss to Vietnam, given that Vietnam is ought to be labeled a third world country. This example thus showcases that power as a capability in terms of possessing great advantageous resources is not thoroughly and consistently efficient or reliable.

The second one is power in terms relationship. Power in this concept basically arrive at the presumption that an actor or state can influence the other in certain circumstances, especially in military affairs. This concept has two ways in depicting itself: compellance and deterrence. Within compellance, the first actor can force the other actor to do something against their will. While in deterrence, the first actor can prevent an escalating problem that could be caused by the other actor. However, like the first concept, this concept also has its aspects that renders it to be less acceptable. This is in relation with compellance, which ought to be less advantageous and riskier unlike deterrence.

Lastly, the third one is power in terms of structure. Power within this concept depicts that power is distributed to different parts of the state or social structure, those who are primarily relatable and advantageous with one another. Susan Strange provided four power structures: knowledge, financial, security, and production structure. This concept is also closely operational with relational power.

The nature of power has been inconsistent due to the varying concepts affecting it. There have been two shifts in power which stems from where relational power is applied. The first one is the shift of military power to economic power. Which thus makes states establish superiority through means of trade rather than force which is drastically practiced under military power. The other shift is the decline of ‘hard power,’ which is military and economic power. This decline in hard power thus leads to the growth of ‘soft power,’ which is the use of attraction rather than coercion.

Within this notion of different concepts of power, the varying instances in which developments have occurred, so does the state of world order was affected. States that hold power have emerged before then, which thus affected the state of world order. A US-dominated West and Soviet-dominated East was in a state of Cold War bipolarity before then. This bipolarity for neorealists, has brought balance of power within the world, wherein the two powerful states are in constant acts of deterrence with each other. However, this bipolarity wasn’t quite advantageous for the state of the world, due to the wars and constant tension. Anyhow, equilibrium between the two superpowers couldn’t be reach due to the fact that they weren’t exactly equal in a way. USA has more power in terms of both military and economic strength unlike the Soviet whose particular strength was military only.

The end of Cold War and the bipolarity in world order initiated the emergence of a ‘new world order’. Wherein it formed ideas of liberal internationalism, thus the strengthening of UN. Apart from that, the end of Cold War also resulted to USA being a hegemon, which thus making the world in a state of unipolarity. With this, the USA took efforts in strengthening their country in terms of economic and politics. They insinuated liberal-democratic governance which inspired a lot of states. However, despite the efforts and developments that USA took, the balance of world order that they try to maintain was challenged. A variation of theories have emerged, trying to explain this existing global terrorism. A rise in terrorism has occurred, specifically the 9/11 situation, thus the start of war on terrorism. However the war on terror or terrorism was quite flawed in its way, it didn’t actually eliminated the terrorists. It has ignited multiple issues, such as the middle east having a different or drastic perception on the USA and the fact that USA has painted the Muslim religion as terrorists.

After this war on terror and USA’s attempts to maintain order, there came a rise in multipolarity. Several states with certain powers in different aspects of the government have emerged. Certain states are far more powerful than the others, specifically China and Russia. It has been debatable whether this multipolarity might bring peace and stability or chaos. 

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Cold War and The Power Aspect in 21-st Century. (2022, Sep 11). Retrieved May 22, 2024 , from

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