The Cold War A Very Short Introduction by Robert McMahon


Based in the book: The Cold War A Very Short Introduction by Robert McMahon. Chapter 1: World War II and the destruction of the old order

“The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own.” Aldous Huxley

World War II brought surpassing levels of death, devastation, privation and disorder, it lasted from 1939 to 1945 involving the vast majority of the world’s nations. approximately sixty million people died, million of civilian deaths. The world, specifically the European continent, laid in ruins.

As we saw the world order changed, most of the countries were experiencing desolation, almost every single person lost a loved one, but as most of us know there was one place where things were different: for the United States the war meant prosperity even abundance, their number of losses were moderate in comparison with others, in that moment they felt unbeatable. The US produced by the end of the war 50% of the goods and people all around the world needing them was seen like a great power to Americans. They had advantage due to the fact that all industries were destroyed, but that also helped millions of people to survive.  They got more powerful by helping people, not that bad.

Another way of order could be defined from the military power. the US started to get worried about the military preparation. They became superior in this fact but they were not unbeatable,  we should never think we are unbeatable, that put us on disadvantage, the other could attack when we are distracted. Even if the US had great power they were vulnerable as shown in the Japanese attack to Pearl Harbor. But they were geopolitically intelligent, even if they had flaws as anyone, they were well prepared and were preparing in topics they considered important like military power as we said.

People say: bad memories are forgotten and good memories survive in time, but it is hard to forget all the consequences and effects of war, and more because those consequences brought a reorganization of power, a new socioeconomic order. Also the world entered the nuclear age, all led by the hegemony: the Soviet Union in the Communist world, and the United States in the capitalist world. We also learn from bad memories.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

People learned little with the second world war, as a new era of conflicts and war began. For over forty years, the world was divided and generated what is known today as the “Cold War”; it was the struggle between the capitalist and communist powers to establish its dominance in the world. that new world order was not as stable as thought. Some humans are always thinking the way in which they could get more and more powerful, a war is a great business, and a good way to gain power from someone else.

The United States would confront Communism elsewhere. In an atmosphere charged with paranoia and anxiety, there was fear about “enemies within” sabotaging United States foreign policy and passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. The post-World War II period was an era of intense anxiety, dynamic, and creative change. The old order changed and with all the things going on, will continue changing, today Russia is giving some important steps, some situations are moving the world and some powers want that moving on their direction, to benefit themselves. Power moves people and makes them bring everything they have in mind to real life, war is just a movement in the chess game. We should care more about people than power.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute  power corrupts absolutely”  Lord Acton


Daniela Toro Becerra






The United Nations and international order

Essay based on the chapter 16 (The United Nations and international order) of the book ‘The Globalization of world politics’

“I like globalization I want to say it works, but it is hard to say that when six hundred million people are slipping backwards” Paul Wolfowitz.

If we come to talk about globalization, we must talk about international order and an organization that has played an important role has been The United Nations (UN), we should talk about how the UN tries to maintain international order, how it has acted when there were problems within the states, its involvement in world issues, how it has taken part on intervention and how it has become a national good for some states.

Let’s begin giving a brief history of the UN. The name “United Nations” was first used in the Declaration by The United Nations of January 1, 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of twenty-six(26) nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. There is a relation between order and justice and the UN was part of this relation, it was set up to preserve peace between states. The UN became a moral pressure for states to act well. The repuation in the UN context had become for some states an important national good, acting morally may improve states’ personal standard and give them the opportunity to be in the Security Council. The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by a majority of other signataries.

The predecessor of the United Nations was the League of Nations, an organization conceived in similar circumstances during the First World War, established in 1919, and in some ways the UN reflected lessons learned from its forerunner.

Now we may go further, the ending of cold war promoted the attitude of governments to be an active member of the UN. It was hard for them to accept that what happened inside a state was a concern of anyone else, but the lack of internal justice risked international disorder.

“After the Cold War ended, there was a rapid increase in the number of peacekeeping operations. With a new consensus and a common sense of purpose the Security Council authorized a total of 20 new operations between 1989 and 1994, raising the number of peacekeepers from 11,000 to 75,000.”

The ending of the cold war reduced the risk that promotion of justice could bring up a context of superpower rivalry, the conscience of the world needed an agent an the UN was it. It became a focus of global conscience.

Governance is an indication of a step towards a legitimate global government, the UN has become a legitimate government with its concerning about justice for individuals within the state, human rights, refugee problems, humanitarian crisis. Now what happened within states was linked to what happened between them.

There were three main ways the UN was trying to maintain order. First, with the promotion of international standards within states which included a regime restoration because for some states it was like being reborn when there were dictatorships and such. Second, with the promotion of international peace and security right to protect cultural life of peoples. Let’s say, for instance, the action in Kuwait in 1990 when Iraq invaded it and occupied it. On the same day, the Security Council adopted its resolution 660(1990) condemning the invasion and demanding Iraq’s immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its forces to the position they had occupied. Third, the promotion of order when sovereignty was contested by rival groups of citizens, often in civil war, the UN was willing to attempt solving disputes within states. Sovereignty was regarded as central to the system of states.

Intervention, there need to be reasons for intervention in states, and in the early 1990s were being considered new jusifications for this. We have the case of the intervention in Kosovo not by the UN but by NATO saying there were extreme transgressions of human rights. They wanted the return of the refugees. They said they wanted peace to come back. Most of operations of the UN were justified in the traditional way because there was a threat to international peace and security.

We must talk about a case that was not mentioned in the book, but has to be treated when talking about intervention, The Rwandan Genocide in 1994. It is said that the UN activities were meant to aid peace process between the Hutu-dominated Rwandese government and the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front, The UN said:

“In Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations had peacekeeping troops on the ground at the very place and time where genocidal acts were being commited. During the genocide, some of those peacekeepers lost their lives trying to defend the victims. But instead of reinforcing the troops, the United Nations witthdrew them, a decision made by Member States in the Security Council. Initially, the Security Council rejected the possibility of a military response to the crisis, and some governments refused to allow UN documents to use the word ‘genocide’ to describe the killings taking place in Rwanda.”

Back then the UN pointed out that their troops were not well prepared, that they did not have functioning materia, they did not have the capacity to prevent the genocide but a 1999 report commissioned by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, showed a UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda doomed from the start by an insufficient mandate and later destroyed by the Security Council’s refusal to strengthen it once the killing began. The UN and its member states failed Rwanda, ignoring evidence that a genocide was planned, refusing to act once it was under way and finally abandoning the Rwandan people when they most needed protection. In my view Rwanda needed intervention but when it got it that was not good enough, most of the people the UN helped were not actual Rwandan people. They were Europeans, Americans but not Rwandans. The UN failed a nation that really needed help and failed in deplorable ways.

The United Nations starts getting under the skin of sovereignty in order ro promote sovereignty, they gave and give humanitarian assistance. Armies in wars were vulnerable to accusations of infringements of human rights, the UN was fighting the threat to international peace, before intervention within states where said to depend on the government approval but that was chaging, there were born non-governmental organizations that were skilful at establishing a presence without government consent, some of these organizations being part of the UN such as the UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).

Last but not least, we have the roles of the United Nations in 2000. In the first place, peace and security between states, they looked for peace enforcement,, they have the traditional peacekeeping with the cosent of the host states, treating developmen in cooperation with governments, some organizations like the World Healt Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) were workinng with the UN making cooperation in social and technical functions. Second, Justice within states, humanitarian assistance, the UN activities were to make states stronger not weaker. They work on the rehabilitation of states after crisis, promoting and enforcing firmer standards on the environmental protection, population control, human rights and so on, they also created the arms register to know who was giving what to whom.

Finally, the problems of global governance in the early twenty-first century deficiencies. The UN had continuing problems of coordination and planning, they had financial problems and there were problems of executive competence and legitimacy involving the restricted membership of the Security Council, in addition to that the UN lacked mechanisms for judicial review and supervision, that it will alway had to rely on other organization. The Un has the priority of peace, but they did not need only the willing to help, they needed also the tools and capacity to do it. And today the UUN deals with other problems, such as their peacekeeping troops being accused of sexual abuse in central Africa. The UN has taken action suspending their salaries and saying they are looking to give them rest and recreation the UN did not say how that would prevent sexual explotation and abuse.

In conclusion the governancec of the society of states could be carried out by the UN. We hope to find better governments with their help, people have expectations, it not only cares about commerce or the protection of states, the UN also care for the rights and protection of individuals. The organization have made mistakes, but we all have, and every single day we try to improve, that is what they do. Developed states are not the only ones the UN cares about. They want to help the little ones too. Most of the times the UN has intervened has done it in the right ways and for the right causes, it has become a national good for some nations, being member of the UN is something important. The UN tried and is trying to maintain international order, but I think they cannot do it alone, they need states’ cooperation, people’s cooperation, and not only the UN, also other non-governmental institutions like UNICEF, criticizing doing nothing else does not work. If we are going to criticize, let’s do it proposing solutions, changes to improve, all of this can start with every single one of us.

“Everything will be all right – you know when?  When people, just people, stop thinking of the United Nations as a weird Picasso abstraction and see it as a drawing they made themselves” Dag Hammarskjold

Daniela Toro Becerra


The globalization of worl geopolitics, chapter 16

The UN after cold war: 1989-1994: Rapid Increase in numbers


The New York Times

Kuwait Intervention, Kosovo Intervention, Rwnadan Genocide: United Nations: http:/// 

Rwandan Genocide:

Kosovo Intervention: ttps://


The rise of the rest

This essay is based on the first chapter of the book :‘The post American World and the rise of the rest’ by Fareed Zakaria. Chapter 1: The Rise of the rest

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” Confucius

United States of America: The great superpower; the only one, people used to know, at least that is what everyone liked to say, but that changed and keeps changing. ‘America’ as the US is called was known as the greatest superpower; powerful in every sense, political, economic, military and so on, but we have the rest of the world trying to go outside and start growing. The United states role in today’s world is not the same as it was, there are still people thinking of it as a powerful country, and it might be, but it is not the one we saw years ago.
We have seen new powers being born, in the book it is said that the US is still the one who is military superior, but we have seen them fail, they are not prepared for big things, they like to look for problems and then they are not ready to face them, as I see it, the country on the top when we talk about military power is Russia. We have seen them act. They might not have the credit they deserve, but lots of us know how they have achieved goals and how they are ready to defend themselves They fight battles as they were in war, their head plays smart.

As the book mentioned it should not be about the United states’ falling down it should be about how ‘the rest’ had been rising, and how they proved they are not a painting, they think and they can do it in a smart way. The superpowers the US had before are being acquired by others. It might seem like a simple example, but when we talk about movie production and sales, most of people might say: Hollywood; but that is just image; the king of movie-making is Bollywood in India, we have new actors on the scene, we have known ‘the rest’.
The 9-11 attacks, to be honest I am not sure that was an attack from the outside, I have said these many times but I will repeat it: power corrupts people, and there are some that would do anything to get attention and to reach their goals, their personal goals not the goals of a nation, of the people, we have created monsters by giving them the most dangerous tool: power, and they have destroyed us. 9-11 attacks as I saw them were a great plan for those that had it in mind, but for me was a cruel thing, because these people act in the name of others that do not want to be represented by them. It was shocking because it was America, a great not that great power, it could have worked but it cost people’s lives, but that is not important for them, or it would not happen. Looking closer, it might be people that corrupts power and not backwards.
I am not so sure if we are in a less safe world, because it has always been unsafe, but we cannot change the past, and we need to face today, we are in front of huge problems not only for possible wars, we have people dying on Africa of hunger and thirst, we have become indifferent people, the world is more dangerous because of the people that just stare and do nothing than because of the ones hurting others. We really need to fight any kind of terror and inequity because we are part of the problem.

How do we see ourselves that we cannot fight anything? We are afraid because of what could happen to us, we let fear rule our worlds, that is why there is always someone waiting for the chance to act. War on Terror, sure, we are just part of the chess game, we believed that powers wanted to help us, and if they do help, I would suspect they just do it because it benefits them.

China, India, South Korea, just  a few of ‘the rest’ , acquiring superpowers, but we know  the US still has some power over people’s head  and we need to be careful new powers, technological power (we are a generation of zombies, obsessed with technology), for example, we need to analyse and not just talk, not just act. We are still a world with America’s influence, not the same as in the past, but in the end influence, and we have new influences, good and bad influences, if we can today say something is good or bad like when we were little kids.
I probably miss lots of things that should have been said, but we have clear that today there is not just one single superpower, “Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death”(Jean-Jacques Rousseau), We are not players of the game but we make part of the board, so we probably could do something, not solving everything, but helping to solve even the smallest problem.

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Albert Einstein


Daniela Toro Becerra.