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Beyond conflicting powers' politics

Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira

Published in www.ssrc.org. Essay written by invitation of the Social Research Council, December 2001.

It was not only the Cold War that ended with the events of September 11th, but also the centuries old Conflicting Powers Politics. While the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union ended in 1989 with the collapse of one of the contenders, international policymakers and analysts continued to behave as if the world remained divided between two conflicting superpowers. After the September 11th tragedy, however, it became apparent that the foreign policies of the remaining superpower, as well as those of other intermediary powers, required substantial revision. The basic premise upon which they were constructed-that conflicts can be resolved through war or the threat of war-no longer made sense. While military power continues to be a relevant factor in international relations, it became clear that the history of diplomatic relations could no longer be reduced to a chronicle of wars or threats of war between empires or nation-states.