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International Relations Since 1945

International Relations Since 1945 (3rd edn)

John W. Young and John Kent
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date: 27 February 2024

p. 50321. US Predominance and the Search for a Post-Cold War Orderlocked

p. 50321. US Predominance and the Search for a Post-Cold War Orderlocked

  • John W. YoungJohn W. YoungProfessor of International History, The University of Nottingham, UK
  •  and John KentJohn KentEmeritus Professor, London School of Economics & Political Science


This chapter focuses on the predominance of the US and the search for order in the post-Cold War period. George H. W. Bush, who came to power in January 1989, concentrated on world affairs and had a series of foreign successes before the end of 1991. Bush’s cautious, pragmatic, approach carried both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, he escaped any major disasters abroad and avoided antagonizing the Soviet Union or rekindling the Cold War. On the other, he seemed to be undynamic and at the mercy of events—he failed to provide a sense of overall direction to US foreign policy once the Cold War ended. The chapter first considers US foreign policy in the 1990s, before discussing the Gulf War of 1990–1, US–Soviet relations in the 1990s, US policy towards the ‘rogue states’ during the time of Bill Clinton, and ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Somalia and Haiti.

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