This article is a book review of an excellent book dealing with trends of cold war era nations and politics involving them. Communism’s demise was a victory for western democracy but it also presented new challenges in the form of religious radicalism and ethnic violence in post cold war world.
1. The book provides an introduction to the most important areas of politics within the atmosphere of uncertainty and opportunity created by the end of the cold war written by Martin Slam. Communism’s demise was a victory for western democracy but it also presented new challenges in the form of religious radicalism and ethnic violence.
2. The book is divided into four parts. Part I deals with the theme of politics as a creative human activity. It includes a review of the features considered proper ingredients of a political society as well as of the impact of a particular society’s history and culture on the conduct of politics. Some the important aspects high lighted are as follows:-
a. The Soviet Union’s political system is an excellent example of how a governmental structure can completely fail to provide for the need of its citizens by adhering to an unworkable ideology and institutionalizing corruption and incompetence.
b. Government that actively seeks to provide for the security and overall welfare of its citizens tends both to prosper and receive the loyalty of those under its jurisdiction.
c. The post cold war era is much more complex because of the resurgence of ethnic and religious conflicts.
d. The term Nation – State does not accurately describe most countries on the map. Many societies are breaking down into tribal and clannish affiliations and the central government is having a difficult time retaining authority in such regions. In many cases a central government is having difficulty even establishing control over regions and population it is considered responsible for.
3. Part II deals with the kind of political institutions or processes common place throughout political systems, including basic governments’ structures. Following are some of the important aspect deliberated upon by the author:-
a. Political parties exist in both the democratic and non democratic political system. In the democracies they seek to win the elections, whereas in the non democratic system they are more interested in extending the power and control of the party leadership.
b. Extremist parties often do well in free elections. Their electoral prosperity usually rises during bad economic times or in other cases causes social-unrest to crop up. Within their own regions, separatist parties can often effectively compete with larger parties.
c. A referendum enables an electorate to either petition a legislature on an issue or, in some cases, to override the legislature altogether.
4. Part III explores current themes of politics such as economy, geography, demography and violence that we cannot ignore as critical considerations of nearly every country’s political life. Some of the important aspects covered are as follows:-
a. The world is increasingly becoming a global economy. This economy includes both advantages and dislocations. Substantial regions of the world are extremely poor, while other countries are achieving unprecedented economics advances.
b. Even a country fortunate to have enough to possess substantial natural resources may not have a developed economy that enables growth of a strong middle class or provides most members of the society access to economic opportunity and benefits. Even in progressing countries, economic developments rarely occur or smoothly run across the society.
c. Colonial empires built on expansionist agendas inevitably seem to collapse. The last to do so was the Russian dominated Soviet Union.
d. State terrorists often have substantial longevity and lethal capabilities because they enjoy state sponsorship. If adopted by a state, terrorist can forcefully and indirectly express the state’s foreign policy agenda.
5. Part IV reviews the post cold war international constellation, focusing in the characteristics that have changed it drastically over the past decade and that promise continued influence well into the new century. Some aspects deliberated upon are:-
a. The nation – state system is alive and performing well. More sovereign entities exist than ever before.
b. Collective security is an important and defining feature of international stability. When it is working well, collective security helps to guarantee that no group of countries emerge that are menacing to peace or threatening to the balance of power.
6. It is safe to assume that the international situation will continue to change, substantially and rapidly. The impact of such changes will strongly influence the process of American politics. Very little is static in international relations and the end of Cold War is not the end of history but simply a start of a new and a quite different era.