Students today face a world that must seem alien to their parents. There is no longera Soviet Union and no superpower rivalry keeping the world balanced on the brinkof World War III. Fear of nuclear holocaust, so prominent during the Cold War, hasreceded, even as fear of terrorism has grown, particularly since September 11, 2001.The power of communism as a competitive international ideology has vanished, andnew concerns about Islamic fundamentalism have emerged. Japan and Germanyhave become economic superpowers and China will soon join them. Europe ispoised to move beyond economic integration toward political unity. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other regional treaties and organiza-tions are integrating markets and reshaping the economies of the Americas and Asia.“Globalization” is the new buzzword, and “outsourcing” the economic concern ofthe day. Althoughmanyofthechangesofthelastfewdecadeshavebeenpositive,point-ingtowardthespreadofpeace,prosperity,democracy,andhumanrightsaroundtheworld,otherdevelopmentshavebeenworrisome.WhileAmericanshavelargelyfocusedontheproblemofterrorism,aroundtheglobeethnicconflictandcivilwarhaveemergedasseriouschallengestoworldpeace.Avarietyofnew,verydifferentissuesincreasinglydominatetheglobalagenda
forexample,theproliferationofweaponsofmassdestructionandthedangerofnuclearaccidents,humanrightsviolations andgenocide,theAIDSepidemic,internationalrefugeesanduncontrolledmigration,transnationaldrugtraffickingandcrime,“hotmoney”andmonetarysta-bility,povertyandeconomicunderdevelopment,andagingpopulations,globalwarming,andenvironmentaldegradation.Thepoliticalinstitutionswehavereliedontoprovideorderandfacilitatecooperationaremeetingmixedsuccessindealingwiththesenewchallenges.In years to come, we will look back on this era as one in which the world was fun-damentally altered: simultaneous integration and fragmentation of political author-ity are taking place at a dramatic pace, as the old breaks down and newarrangements are made. A period of turbulent transformation, like the ones that fol-lowed the fall of Rome, the Thirty Years’ War of the seventeenth century, and thetwo world wars of the twentieth century, is now under way. Events since the end ofthe Cold War have made clear that the modern system of global politics based onindependent sovereign states is eroding and evolving, and new political processesand institutions are acquiring importance.
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