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Mitrofanova, Anastasia

Cold War Reconsidered in the Light of the Hegemonic Stability Theory

According to the hegemonic stability theory, the change of world orders takes place as a result of wars for world leadership. Just after the end of such war world order temporarily becomes stable, because no one questions the hegemon’s right to rule. Then the power of the hegemon erodes; the “phase of challenge” comes when the other world powers start to think about replacing the hegemon. At this stage a multipolar system emerges, consisting of the hegemon and its rivals who wage the next world war. Most likely, the new hegemon is the less destroyed member of the fighting coalition and enters the war later, than others.
In 1945 the US became the world hegemon and the USSR played the role of its rival. Nevertheless, a suggested war between them (which had to start approximately in 1985) never happened. As a rule, this fact is explained by both parties having nuclear weapons. Therefore, the war for world leadership became a “cold” war.

The presentation suggests that the USSR – US confrontation was not as much geopolitical, but ideological. This fact made impossible a “normal” hegemonic competition of the superpowers. The 1945-1991 system was not hegemonic in the full sense. It was a bipolar pseudo-system (“pseudo” – because there were not many real interactions between the capitalist and the socialist camps): the US was an unequivocal hegemon for its capitalist part, but the socialist part, headed by the USSR, never participated in the geopolitical struggle for world leadership.

Saturday 31 Oct, 9.30-11.30 SESSION 7
Panel: The Old World Order: Reassessments and Re-conceptualisations