The continuation of history: Power transition theory and the end of the cold war

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This article offers an interpretation of the current international situation from the perspective of power transition theory. Previous efforts to understand what the end of the Cold War means for international relations have provided only part of the picture. Optimistic views tend to deny the possibility of the emergence of new threats, while pessimistic arguments generally fail to recognize that the prospects for major war have been significantly reduced by the dramatic events of the last half decade. The interpretation offered here is potentially advantageous because it draws insights from a theory with a long record of empirical support. Power transition theory is consistent with the existence of a 'Long Peace' since World War II, with the Cold War's peaceful end, and thus provides confidence to those who would use it to interpret the prospects for the future. The conclusion offered here is that while the end of the Cold War offers reason for celebration, there is also cause for concern. * I thank Babacar T. Fall, Jacek Kugler, Malvern Lumsden, Michael Lusztig, A. F. K. Organski, Daniel Ponder, James Lee Ray, Suzanne Werner, and two anonymous JPR reviewers for their generously helpful suggestions. Additionally, I thank Chloe Lemke for her support and encouragement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Peace Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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