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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 2 Security and Social Critique

David Mutimer

In 1990, John Mearsheimer wrote an article for The Atlantic Monthly provocatively titled “Why we will soon miss the Cold War”. Mearsheimer meant his “we” to be quite expansive and inclusive. It certainly meant the United States, but more broadly the people of Western Europe and the West more generally, and perhaps even everyone everywhere (Mearsheimer, 1990). Revealingly, however, it is not possible to know from reading Mearsheimer's article because he simply speaks of “we” without revealing who that “we” might be. His argument, in essence, is that the Cold War kept the peace in the latter half of the twentieth century, and so without it, peace becomes much less certain (and “we” all benefit from peace). Of course, this argument depends on seeing the latter half of the twentieth century as “peaceful”, which is an odd judgment for one of the most violent global periods and one which was marked by the constant threat of instant nuclear annihilation.

There are those who might have missed the Cold War in 1990, however, and there are those for whom the Cold War provided some certainty of action, a stable framework in which to go on, and the opportunity for some sizeable profits. In other words, those for whom the Cold War provided security. This “we” is a much narrower, but rather more easily identified group. It is the state managers, particularly in the United States and Western Europe, who were able to conduct ‘security” policy ...

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