The Cold War, from the Prespectives of Realism, Pluralism and Structuralism

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Why did none of the three main approaches to world politics (Realism, Pluralism and Structuralism) predict the end of the Cold War? Should they have done so?

This essay will address why the three main approaches to world politics did not predict the end of the Cold War. Firstly it will briefly give a background insight into what the Cold War was. Then it will go on to explain what characterises the three main approaches to world politics which are Realism, Pluralism and Structuralism, it then will briefly look at the distinctive theory behind them. Lastly the essay will analyse whether or not the three main approaches could have predicted and anticipated the end of the Cold War.

The Cold War was the standoff conflict of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union “The Cold War was a multi dimensional conflict in the Third world as elsewhere. It involved, most evidently, a strategic and military competition, which took the form of the nuclear and conventional arms races” R.Saull (2001: Foreword).

Firstly to answer this question we have to understand what the Cold War was about, its origins, key events and how all this was at the forefront of world politics for almost half a century. Without a doubt the Cold War is a period of major significance to both world politics and international relations but what was the origin of it? P.Edwards (2010:64) states that the cold war was a “period of tension that prevailed between the Soviet Union and the United States following World War II.” The most common and identifiable difference between these two superpowers was the ideology. The United States praised free enterprise and the capitalist system whereas the Soviet Union denounced this ideology and advocated a Marxist ideology led by an authoritarian communist regime. However despite the differences ideologically this alone was not the cause of the Cold War, as we know too well they were in fact allies during WWII against fascism. The two superpowers were also both anti-colonial because of their history from which they would emerge from. The Cold War began in an era where most of Europe was left devastated by World War II. “It is generally considered to have begun at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, when the western powers were unable to get Joseph Stalin to promise pluralistic governments in occupied areas.” P.Edwards (2010:64).

The Soviet Union itself may have thought along the lines of structuralism in the sense that they thought the key features of the so called “international system” were injustice, inequality and exploitation. By 1945 Berlin was the line that divided the east from the west; in fact a wall was erected in the German capital this would later be known as the Berlin wall. Germany was divided into two nations West Germany and East Germany with the west being the western US-led area and the east being the Soviet-led territorial area, “During the years 1945-1949 the cold war was concentrated mainly on Europe and the areas bordering on Europe such as Turkey and Iran.” G.Lundestad (2005:34). Until 1949 the Cold War was not an international conflict however due to the two superpowers being anti-colonial this led to a speed up in third world countries in Asia and Africa gaining independence. The Cold War played a significant role in the decades to come with both powers competing for influence over new regions. The pace in which The Cold War spread was indeed rapid and took many by surprise “first to Asia, then to the Middle East and Africa and Finally to Latin Americas well. In the 1960s the Cold War had become global” G.Lundestad (2005:34).

By the 1960s most African and Asian nations were gaining independence and thus lead to the Cold War becoming global. This was mainly because the all of the borders in Europe were already drawn up and things were very tense there. Whereas newly liberated areas of Africa and Asia were not and quickly became targeted by the two superpowers. Both the US...
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