Post-Cold War(1991-current)

Image Source: Caption IAS


Cold War ended with the pulling apart of the Soviet union.  As a result, the era of bipolar world finished  and just one superpower was left to dominate the world. Along with this, big fundamental  changes in trade and commerce was also seen. However, wars continued in different parts of the world, Specially in Middle East and Afghanistan, thus, hope for the world peace, only remained a hope, just like it did after World War II. Even today, Ukraine-Russia war continues and many more conflicts are next in line.

Features of post-Cold War

* End of bipolar world- After Cold War ended, the bipolar system also seized to exist. There was no one left to challenge and keep in check the supreme authority of the USA. Although, the USA used this immense power to work for humanitarian causes around the globe but it is also criticised for misuse of power, for example-attack on Iraq in 2003 etc. American dominance prevailed for many decades but now China is challenging it, with its robustly increasing military/economic power.

* Rise in democracy- After Soviet Union dissolved, the Communist bloc lost its nucleus.  Communist ideology was also failing due to lack of practicality and the rights were also limited, whereas, capitalism and democracy, provided much more liberty. On other hand, America’s influence was spreading like fire. which impacted the world. Hence, democracies rose rapidly, specially in eastern Europe. Slowly, entire Europe became democratic. In other parts of the world. Also, many countries were democratised.

* Globalisation- The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale is called globalisation It increased quite rapidly in the post- Cold War period. One reason for this was increase in the means of communication and transport, which integrated the world, with time. As a result, today, no country is completely self-dependent. They depend on each other for something or the other.

* Privatisation/liberalisation- Privatisation is the transfer of business, industry or service to a private party and liberalisation is the decrease or removal of restrictions in economics,/political sector. The governments started privatising the property of the state and reduced interference greatly in the working of private companies. Liberalisation brought innovation, efficiency, competition and we also saw the rise of huge, powerful multinational corporation giants (MNCs).

* Free trade- This philosophy, advocates the expansion of markets, reduction or removal of tariffs and other hindrances, in international trade. It gained popularity in the post-cold war period and was one of the main reasons for globalisation. It helped various nations in achieving economic growth and efficiency also increase as a result of competition. However, there were some ramification also, like in some countries, the local businesses suffered because they got tough competition from foreign companies.


* Rise of Asia- After industrialisation, in Europe, the importance of Asia declined rapidly during modern age. However, after the Cold War ended, Asian countries started rising up again. Even in 1990s, China was establishing itself as an important economic power. Today, China has captured a huge portion of the world market and India is world’s fastest growing economy. Along with this, 3 out of 4 most powerful military forces now are from Asia. Hence, importance of Asia is increasing and as someone rightly said, 21st century hwill be the century of Asia, so it is clear that Asia   will have a major role to play in geopolitics in the future.

* Rise of regional powers- as the post-Cold War era progressed, many regional powers arose in different parts of the world. Russia, China and India became big powerhouses of Asia. Iran and Saudi Arabia keep a big influence in the Middle East. Brazil developed quickly than other South American countries and has its influence over the entire continent, same goes for South Africa, which is the most developed and powerful country in Africa.

* Soft power- During the Cold War and period before that,  the power of a country was speculated from its military strength. This is called hot power. but now, the concept and significance, of soft power arose. It is the ability of a country to influence other nations, with the help of culture, diplomacy etc. Soft power is the opposite of hot power and it works in a positive way by using convincing, rather than forcing.

* Terrorism- The idea of terrorism is not new. it has been there in the past, usually for achieving  political goals. For ex- state sponsored terrorism during French revolution, terrorism act by rebels during Russian revolution etc. However, this agenda got international recognisation  after 9/11 attack on the USA in 2001. Since then, it  got great importance and remains a complex, significant issue till the geopolitics of current day.


* Environment- After the discovery of human induced climate change ozone depletion and other environmental concerns in the latter part of 20th century, the agenda of environment protection gradually became very important in geopolitics. Many important agreements like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris agreement was signed in 1997 and 2015, respectively. India and France, jointly, launched the international solar alliance (ISA), during the United Nations climate change conference in 2015, to promote the efficient harnessing and cooperation in solar energy sector

* Communication- We saw robust technological advancements in the post-Cold War period. It brought a very big impact and revolutionise communication. Internet played the biggest role and with the comments of social media, the entire world got deeply connected. Today, social media has a major part in giving direction to local as well as global politics. Along with this, people from various diverse countries got a platform to interact with each other and exchange thoughts, thus impacting global culture.

* sHuman rights- The universal declaration of human right was adopted by UN General assembly, in 1948. However, it failed to have any great impact on ground. This was because the world remained busy in global tensions and other issues got neglected, but then human rights got an important place, internationally. Secondly, the rise of democracies around the globe gave a boost to this cause because governments became accountable and freedom of speech helped in awareness. Finally, the rise of social media and information technology, gave it the greatest push. News now spread like wildfire around the globe and public pressure can be built on governments, to resolve their issues. But still, there is lots of work left to be done in this field.

* Food security- After the green. revolution, we saw population explosion in the world. Food demand kept on increasing and concern for food security arose. Due to globalisation, lots of countries are dependent on other countries for food supply and an interruption could become a big problem. For example- Due to Rasraj, Ukraine, war, export of wheat is deeply affected, because both these countries are important exporters of wheat.. So a deal was done, between United Nations, Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey. This grain deal which was called the Black Sea Grain Initiative, solved this issue for some time but later Russia withdrew from it.

* Energy security- Energy security is a big Jio political agenda these days. Countries are forming alliances in this regard. There are many conflicts over natural gas and oil reserves. For examples-India, China, Philippines And some other countries of Southeast Asia, claim the abundant resources in the South China Sea, and due to this, tensions increase, sometimes. Similarly, Turkey and Greece have a conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Nowadays, emphasis is being laid to promote sustainable sources of energy.

* Cyber security- Every thing in the world has pros and cons.  Internet was definitely a blessing for mankind but it also created problems, One of them is a huge threat to cyber security. Hacking, Spine and phishing are some common issue related to it. In geopolitical context, countries keep cyber armies today to keep their important data like military, government data, from being leaked. However, even with All this, sometimes hackers manage to Breach or firewall And important military secrets etc, get leaked.    This is why, all types of confidential data needs to be protected.

Events during post-Cold War period

* 1st Gulf war (1990-1991) : Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussain, invaded Kuwait in 1990. The United Nations took action and operation desert storm was launched. Under the leadership of the USA, UN’s forces liberated Kuwait in 1991. The USSR was very weak in that moment and failed to do anything. This had many Jio political implications. It triggered problems in the middle  East and paved the way for many more conflicts in the future. It was also proved p that the USSR hasn’t got any power left.

* US-Afghan War (2001-2021) : After the attack on World Trade Centre by Al Qaeda, on 11th September 2001, America asked Taliban, to hand over Osama bin laden, who was the mastermind behind the attacks and was hiding in Afghanistan. On refusing to do so, America declared war on Afghanistan. this war lasted for about two decades and finally ended with the withdrawal of the US forces in 2021. This was a huge fiasco for the US and even today the question remains, what has America gained from this war ?

* 2nd gulf war (2003-2011) : It started when America and UK, together attacked Iraq, on the basis of allegations, which said that Iraq has got weapons of mass  destruction )WMD). Saddam Hussain was the leader of Iraq at that time. The  war ended in 2011 after America retrieved from Iraq and left behind destruction and unstability. Saddam Hussain was captured and executed on the charges of war crimes. America had started that war even when the resolution was not passed in the UN and  those allegations proved to be wrong later.  America’s action became a puppet of controversial geopolitical  debate.

* Civil war in Syria (2011-current) : it started in 2011 after Bashar Al Assad’s government used violence to suppress protests, which were going on, in order to get more rights. Russia supported the Asad regime and the USA, with its allies supported the rebels. However, this war became very complicated because there were many different rebel groups and the rise of ISIS open a new dimension. As a result, Seria was completely destroyed, but Bashar-al-Assad retaind power. Even today, problems continue and nothing is clear there.

* Ukraine-Russia war (2014-current) : it started in early 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea. Along with this, Russian separatist groups fought the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. However, the real conflict began in February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine with full force. Unlike Crimea, Ukrainians were prepared and highly motivated this time. Ukraine. Gave a tough resistance which has led to a stalemate situation today, in October 2023. The war which was expected to finish within a few weeks continues today, because of the support provided to Ukraine by NATO and also because Russia underestimated Ukraine.


We saw how the world remained indulged in conflicts and chaos after Cold War. In fact, the end of bipolar world Actually increased the conflicts and the big parts of the world kept playing their proxy games. Today, nobody knows when Ukraine-Russia war will end and on the other hand, experts say that China is going to invade Taiwan in the next 2-3 years. Hence, Good days for the world are still too far…

Note from the author

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Saad Ahmad
Saad Ahmad Khan a.k.a. Poet Saad is from Lucknow (India) and is currently doing graduation from dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University, Lucknow. Saad is suffering from vision impairment and kidney disease for a long time. However, even with all the issues, he maintains a positive attitude towards life. He loves to write a lot of things which include articles, poetry, essays, quotes and novel. Along with that he likes to sing, dance, play guitar, listen to audiobooks and he's always on the lookout for new opportunities. Saad has an Instagram page called - Poet Saad @the_words_of_fire, where he shares his thoughts.


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