chapter  7
15 Pages

Future Shapes?

The preceding chapters have laid out and elaborated on a series of observations about the nature o f the contemporary international sys­ tem. Those observations can be capsulized in the following list o f propositions:

1. The post-cold war transition is sufficiently completed that dis­ cernible patterns and contrasts between the past and the future can be described. The disorderliness, some have said virtual chaos, o f the tran­ sition have given way to an ordered situation that contains elements o f the old and distinctive characteristics o f the new. The most obvious change is from a world o f competition between Communists and non­ Communists to one in which there are hardly any Communists left. When this “tectonic” shift was beginning, its likely systemic trauma was widely predicted; in fact, Communism has disappeared much more with a whimper than the expected bang. Although some missed the orderliness of the cold war framework, which seemed more predictable, there is little reason to look back nostalgically at a system the basic reality o f which was the potential nuclear incineration o f the globe.