President Vladimir Putin during a press conference (Credit: vverve/Bigstock)
President Vladimir Putin during a press conference (Credit: vverve/Bigstock) (via: bit.ly)

When describing the present condition of the international state system, a broad consensus binds political camps in both the East and West and can be summed up in just a few words: the world is unravelling.

This description, introduced by the former German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, implies that in the decades since the end of bipolarity, a peace-loving world is yet to emerge. Even given the current Ukraine crisis, and Central European and Baltic states stressing the threat of a possible war, the danger of large-scale international wars, at least on the European continent, can be rated improbable (Brzezinski, 2004, p.3ff). Yet a peaceful world eludes us.

Robert Cooper’s thesis (2003, p.16) reasoned that in 1989, with the abrupt end of the bipolar world order, it was not only the Cold War that was no longer a threat, but an entire system of values that had forfeited its relevance, a system that had dominated state relations for three centuries. This view remains undisputed to this day. However, a new world order based on general consensus, signed by the US, Soviet Union, and all other European states in the Paris Charter in November 1990, has never been truly put into effect and as such has never superseded the old one. The breakup of the Soviet Union also meant the end of the system of two antagonistic superpowers, a system that had gradually been taking shape since 1949.

According to Cooper, Russia exhibits a mix of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern characteristics. Since modern/nation-state elements are far more pronounced in the postmodern European Union, the status quo thinking of Russia’s elite circle of power is even more pronounced, meaning relations with the EU are naturally complicated.

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Peter W. Schulze

Professor, Political Science Department, Georg-August University of Gőttingen, Co-founder of the Dialogue of Civilisations Research Institute,

Peter W. Schulze is a German academic and political scientist with a focus on international relations and Russia, the CIS, the Cold War and contemporary power constellations in the international state system. He is a member of the German-Russian Forum (Germany), the International Institute of Liberal Politics (Austria), the Institute of European Law (Germany), NABU, and is co-founder of the Schlangenbader Gespraeche on political security in Europe. He has published widely on domestic aspects of transformation processes in Eastern Europe. Peter W Schulze joined the German Air Force for two years to help fund his university studies, first in Contemporary History, Political Sciences and Geography at the Free University of Berlin (FUB), and later in Political Sciences and International Relations, receiving a diploma from FUB in Political Sciences. He took up a teaching position at the Otto Suhr Institute (Political Science Department) on Soviet Studies, Theory of International Relations and Comparative Aspects of Transformation Processes in European societies. His thesis on industrialisation, institutional changes and the creation of technical cadres/intelligence during the first three 5-year-plans of the Soviet Union, 1929 to 1938, was published in 1975. His subsequent research looked at the impact of socio-political movements on FRD’s New Deal in the 1930s. Schulze joined the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s research team on American Affairs in 1982, creating an analytical framework to study Reagan era US politics and provide political decision makers and social democratic deputies in the German parliament a more analytical insight into the phenomena connected with the rise of the NEW Right. In 1984 he opened and chaired a research and communication initiative at the University of California, in Berkeley, focused on US policies towards the Soviet Union, the third World and the European integration process. He led a similar initiative in London in 1987/8 to facilitate the relationship and collaboration between the German SPD and the British Labour Party, which he led until 1992, when he was appointed director of the FES Moscow Office - a post he held until 2003. From 2003 to the present day he has been involved in academic research and acting as a consultant to deputies and experts at the German Bundestag.