The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton

Post-Cold War Environment

  • William A. TaylorEmail author
Living reference work entry


World War II concluded with most former global players decimated, leaving the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), or simply the Soviet Union, as the two lone remaining world superpowers. Bipolar rivalry between these two erstwhile allies and dominant hegemons intensified immediately after World War II, congealing into a Cold War that overshadowed the international security environment from 1945 to 1991. The result was a contest of systems. Led by Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union pursued communist expansion; in response, the United States crafted a policy of containment. George F. Kennan, US chargé d’affaires in Moscow, created the concept and laid the groundwork for containment with the “Long Telegram” and the “Mr. X” article in Foreign Affairs, both of which argued that the Soviet Union’s communism was aggressive and interventionist and therefore required a commitment by the United States to contain it, hence the name of this strategy.



Bipolar rivalry Civil wars Collective security Containment Culture Ethno-religious conflict Globalization Great power competition International terrorism Non-state actors Proliferation Proxy wars Unipolar moment Weak and fragile states 
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Further Reading

  1. Allison, G. (2017). Destined for war: Can America and China escape Thucydides’s trap? New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.Google Scholar
  2. Brands, H. (2016). Making the unipolar moment: U.S. foreign policy and the rise of the post-Cold War order. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Buzan, B. (1991). People, states, and fear: An agenda for international security studies in the post-Cold War era. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  4. Hoffman, B. (1998). Inside terrorism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Johnson, D. E. (2007). Learning large lessons: The evolving roles of ground power and air power in the post-Cold War era. Santa Monica: RAND.Google Scholar
  6. Kaplan, R. D. (2000). The coming anarchy: Shattering the dreams of the post-Cold War. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  7. Kotkin, S. (2001). Armageddon averted: The soviet collapse 1970–2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Menon, R., & Rumer, E. (2015). Conflict in Ukraine: The unwinding of the post-Cold War order. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.Google Scholar
  9. Sarotte, M. E. (1989). The struggle to create post-Cold War Europe (p. 2009). Princeton: NJ. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Stent, A. E. (2014). The limits of partnership: U.S.-Russian relations in the twenty-first century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Angelo State UniversitySan AngeloUSA