The Lost Equilibrium

International Relations in the PostSoviet Era
Bettie M. Smolansky, ed. and Oles M. Smolansky, ed.
Lehigh University Press - The Lost Equilibrium
This anthology assesses the present state of relations between and among the United States, Russia, and a number of other key actors in the international arena following the disintegration of the USSR and the end of the bipolar world. The cold war, with all its tension and conflict, did give political leaders an organizing framework, a system in a tenuous form of equilibrium, which afforded them a relatively dependable guide to policy-making in international affairs. That quasi-dependability is now gone.
The premise of the editors is that in these early years of the post-cold war era there is an urgent need to rethink the nature of the international political environment. methodologically, the case method is generally the best technique for understanding the complex interplay of forces which determine the nature of international relations. Thus, the contributors are all recognized experts who have been directly involved in the background events which they analyze or who have spent much of their scholarly lives focusing on the topic or area discussed in their individual chapters.
The introduction is followed in part 1 by an analysis of the failure of the U.S. intelligence apparatus to anticipate the collapse of the Soviet Union until after it occurred.
Part 2 moves to analyses of several of the major regions of the Third World where many states are attempting to further their local ambitions in the new climate. This changed milieu has removed some of the old restraints on their freedom of action, but it has also obliterated the balancing opportunities that were a side effect of the old superpower rivalry. These actors are thus groping for new methods to pursue their interests. In any case, they must do so in the context not only of the lost equilibrium but also with an eye to their own regional realities.
The other major powers of the First World are also significant actors in the unfolding drama. Part 3 examines the changing face of Europe (both East and Wet) as a major site of cold war competition and, therefore, of post-Soviet adjustment. One of the key issues in the way this developing dynamic is likely to unfold is the fate of the relationships between Russia and the former Soviet republics; so part 4 contains an analysis of the evolving relationship between Russia and one of its most significant former "partners," Ukraine.
In part 5, one Russian and one American analyst assess the direct bilateral relationship between the two former superpower rivals as they try to adapt to a world in which many of their old adversarial assumptions no longer hold. However, this is a process that is complicated by the fact that the level of their co-operation, and mutual trust, seem constantly in flux.
The conclusion extracts from the case studies the lessons to be learned from the initial developments in these new, "interesting times."
About the Authors
Bettie M. Smolansky is a Professor of Sociology at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Oles M. Smolansky is a University Distinguished Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
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