Cold War Period in Theoretical Perspective



Realist Take

-        caused by bipolar structure…

-        … but bipolarity holds the peace (Waltz)

o     nuclear weapons also deter war

o     divided Germany prevents “tripolarity

-        was the security dilemma more important than power dynamics or predation?

-        ended by decline of Soviet power

o     Soviet Union accepts greater cooperation as power weakens


Liberal Take

-        Caused by ideological divide (liberal peace theory) and mistrust (neo-liberal institutionalists)

-        Moderated by institutionalized cooperation

o     Common interests despite conflict  

-        Ended by sustained, reciprocated cooperation & increased institutionalization


Constructivist Take

-        Constituted by ideological & security differences differences

-        Shift mutual understandings enables cooperation

o     German unification precedes Soviet collapse