Essay on Week 4 Prompt 1990s

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PS 321 International Politics
Week 4 Prompt: From 11/9/1989 to 9/11/2001

Please type your name and response below the prompt. Your response should be at least 750 words in length. Keep the same formatting as provided here. This assignment is due by 5:00 P.M. AKST on Friday, June 19.

How would you characterize the political environment of the world at the close of the Cold War? To what extent do Fukuyama and Huntington converge on their thinking, and to what extent do they diverge? Do you ultimately agree with Fukuyama, Huntington, both, or neither about the future of global politics?

Marc Smith –

The legacy of the Cold War continues to influence all world affairs. Although the United States and the Soviet Union were polar opposites at the end of World War II, I would characterize the political environment at the close of the Cold War headed towards the bold assertion of liberal-capitalist-democracy as the end point of history in which Fukuyama described. Domestically speaking, the Cold War led to the election of anti-communist presidents such as Truman, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan. In addition to battling the Soviets politically and culturally, these presidents waged economic warfare with the Soviet Union. However political battles between the U.S. and Russia were not limited to Europe. Despite the fact, the U.S. adopted the policy of containment that resulted in the military intervention that we have currently with the multitudes of active duty members in countries from Germany and Iraq to Japan and the UK. Most notably, the Korean and Vietnam Wars were fought to stop the spread of communism in Asia and each led to the deaths of thousands of American soldiers. The U.S. was so dedicated to its containment policy that it occasionally abandoned its ideals of self-determination and backed brutal dictators, such as General Augusto Pinochet in Chile, as long as they were not communists.

There is no doubt that democracy and liberal/capitalist ideas have been spreading Fukuyama does not support liberal-capitalist-democracy from a moral grounding, but instead notes its ability to survive and continue to reproduce itself after repeated economic crises, and its ability to outlast other alternatives from the far-right (fascism), and the far-left (communism). Its status as part of the end of history is taken from Hegel, interpreted by Kojeve and a bit of Kant. Fukuyama draws on these to say that the overall 'meaning' of history itself, or at least the general trend of it, leads to the continued spread of liberal-capitalist-democracy, and its perceived effectiveness in allowing the individual to act and express according to their own personal liberties in a universal, if homogeneous, state.

Despite this, it is still easy to pick apart his argument. The greatest possible drawback is that the historical conditions which led to the spread of liberal-capitalist-democracy might not necessarily continue into the 21st century and beyond. A chief example among these is the economic catastrophe of 2007-08, and how many have perceived this international system has being unable to meet the needs of its citizens, but anything as of now seems like its fair game.

Overall, I did side with Fukuyama once he presented that the combination of free market capitalism and liberal democracy (based on human rights) represented “the end of history.” There are no serious competitors against the democracy power after the fall of communism. The subsequent unveiling of information on the corruption and violence that those regimes inflicted on their own people has led to a more or less universal acceptance of democracy as the preferred form of government. Fukuyama and his assertion of philosopher Alexandre Kojeve believe that democracy best satisfies man's "desire for recognition" - which leads to man's stupid ideas - mainly war, envy, etc. These aggressive tendencies of man are what cause history and the end of history has been brought