A2 Geography- Superpowers

Terms in this set (69)

The Cold War (1945-1991) was the continuing state of political conflict, military tension and economic competition existing after WW2 (1939-1945), primarily between the USSR and its satellite states and the powers of the Western World particularly the USA. Although the primary participants' military forces never officially clashed directly, they expressed the conflicts through military coalitions, a nuclear arms race, espionage, propaganda and technological competition such as the space race.
The US and some western European countries established containment of communism as a defensive policy, establishing alliances such as NATO to that end. The MARSHALL PLAN was established, whereby the USA provided economic support to help rebuild European countries and prevent the spread of communism, especially in West Germany. The USA also supported a number of right wing dictatorships in their attempt to reduce Soviet influence and the spread of Left wing tendencies. Elsewhere, in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the USSR assisted and helped foster communist revolutions, opposed by several western countries and their regional allies.
The Cold War featured did not lead to direct military confrontation between the 2 superpowers, there were flash point periods of increased tension-The Berlin Blockade (1948-1949), The Korean War (1950-1953), The Vietnam War (1959-1975), The Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (1979).
Both sides sought to relieve political tensions and deter direct military attack which may well have led to their mutually assured destruction with nuclear weapons.
In the 1980's, the USA increased diplomatic, military and economic pressures against the USSR, which had already suffered severe economic stagnation. Thereafter, Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev introduced iberalising reforms called PERESTROIKA (economic liberalisation) and GLASNOST (openness) from 1985. These reforms acted as cracks in the Communist dam which quickly undermined the whole structure, as small freedoms quickly muhroomed into open revolt against the Communist system. The Cold War ended after the Soviet Untion collapsed in 1991, leaving the USA as the dominant military power and Russia possessing most of the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal. The Cold War and its events have had a significant impact on the world today.
World Systems theory was developed by Wallerstein in 1974. his theory attempts to overcome the problem of a 2-tier core and periphery world. More of an analysis of geographical patterns than a theory, Wallersteins view is of a 3-tier world. This is a more dynamic model, as it allows for change to take place, with some ocuntries entering the semi-periphery and even emerging to be part of the core. Frank's dpeendency theory, based on the Marxist idea od 'the rich verus the poor' is much more static.

The tiers are defined as;
CORE-largely MEDCs, such as USA, UK, Japan, Australia
SEMI-PERIPHERY-Countries where there are class struggles and social change such as Eastern Europe in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It also includes NIC's RIC's where large scale economic growth has occurred, such as China and India
PERIPHERY-Largely LEDCs

Wallerstein argued that capitalist development led to cycles of growth and stagnation. One of these cycles is a long term economic cycle know as a KONDRATIEFF CYCLE. Each cycle heralds the rise of new technologies, major infrastructural investments and changes in the international location of industry. it identifies cycles of depression at roughly 50-60 year intervals. The last 2 were in the 1920-30's and the late 1980's. Stagnation is important for the restructuring of the world system and allows the semi-periphery to become involved in the development process. Indeed, the recent financial crisis may see some mini-superpowers emerging, and certainly shift in the global pattern of power.
The US National Intelligence Council produced a report in 2008 which suggest that China, India and Brazil would grow at the expense of the USA and the EU. It predicts a world that will be increasingly fragmented, with conflicts over scarce resources, limited effective action by international organisations and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, especially in the Middle East,and even nuclear war. It suggested that the trend of wealth moving from the West to the East would continue, especially after the global financial crisis of 2008.

This is an emerging MULTI POLAR WORLD in which the USA will be less dominant. It suggests a rocky time ahead with many potetnial crisisis, such as shortages of food and water and climate change, possibly triggering international flashpoints. Even countries that have been friendly up until now (such as EU countries and the USA) have been at loggerheads over how to deal with climate change, trade and market access.

There is also a possibility of a 'clash of cultures' in a multi-polar world. While European and American cultures are similar, this is not true of Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. To some extent, the clash of America and Islam has already happened, with events such as the 2001 9/11 bombings, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These conflicts and events have increased tensions between Islamic and American worlds. In future, parts of the Islamic world that are oil rich may gain more wealth and power, increasing their confidence to treat the USA as an equal
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