Notes # 3 reading

Notes # 3 reading - What was Bipolarity? R. Harrison...

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What was Bipolarity? R. Harrison Wagner Source: International Organization, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Winter, 1993), pp. 77-106 During the cold war the distinction between bipolar and multipolar international systems became commonplace in both popular and academic discussions of international politics. USE: describing the alliance behavior of states during the cold war period as distinguished from behavior during other periods. BIPOLARITY: refers to the distribution of power among states after World War II that accounts for both the antagonism that developed between the United States and the Soviet Union and the fact that that antagonism did not lead to a major war between them. The change in the distribution of power was accompanied by the end of the cold war. QUOTE # 1 "Back in the 1930's, with the addition of a new dimension of strength which would increase the pressures upon status quo powers to make piecemeal concessions" Kenneth Waltz once characterized a multipolar system with nuclear weapons PURPOSE: the term "bipolarity" has no clear meaning, and therefore the distinction between bipolar and multipolar systems is not well defined The distinctive feature of the postwar distribution of power was not that two states were more powerful than the others, but that one state, the Soviet Union, occupied in peacetime a position of near-dominance on the Eurasian continent, a position that states in the past had been able to achieve only after a series of military victories. It is based on balance-of-power theory and is supported by a simple model of a multi-actor international system. Bipolarity was one of three related and unexpected features of international politics after World War II that people struggled to understand. The other two were the Cold War and the emergence of nuclear weapons technology. The term "Cold War" was coined by Walter Lippmann to describe that initial confusing period of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union over the shape of the postwar world. The phrase "the Cold War" eventually came to stand for a vague, undifferentiated relationship of hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union. o Future of Germany and Japan. o Soviet troops controlled part of Germany at the end of the war, QUOTE # 2 Lippmann : the future of Germany became the main issue between the United States and the Soviet Union The cold war can be understood as a prolonged substitute for the post- World War II peace conference that never took place. Kenneth Waltz argued that that analysis failed to distinguish between 1. The polarization of the world into two competing blocs 2. A distribution of power among individual states such that two were more powerful than the others
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It was in the latter sense that the world after World War II was bipolar, not the former, and that this was good, not bad. Waltz
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course IR 109 taught by Professor Heinz during the Spring '10 term at Rochester.

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Notes # 3 reading - What was Bipolarity? R. Harrison...

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