The world of the second half of the twentieth century was a fairly simple one. On a political plane, we encountered a bipolar world, where the primary conflict was between communism (whose forces were largely led by the Soviet Union) and capitalist democracy (whose principal leader was the USA). Economically, we faced three “worlds” of economic development: the first world (Western industrialized democracies), the second world (communist centrally planned economies) and the third world (the poor countries of Africa, Asia, the middle east and South America).




The world at the outset of the twenty-first century is more complex. There is only one super power, the USA, but its super power status does not help it in engaging in global conflicts at the local level (e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan). Furthermore, the national borders of the late twentieth century are disintegrating as ethnic and religious forces fight to establish their own, smaller sovereign communities. Economically, while the USA continues to have the world’s largest economy, economic clout is more evenly distributed throughout the globe: Europe has its European Union, the oil producing countries have unprecedented levels of wealth owing to petroleum shortages, and two giants – India and China – are developing rapidly and consuming huge quantities of material resources, thereby contributing to global shortages and inflation.




Slann’s book discusses the current international environment in Chapters 9, 12, and 13. After reviewing these chapters, answer the following questions. Feel free to engage in additional research (e.g., library research, Internet research).







Slann points out that two prevailing traits of today’s world are increasing interdependence in the global economy and increased strength of ethnic and religious forces. Your response should be 1 – 2 pages long, single spaced. Note that the answers to these questions require thought and research on your part. There is no cookbook answer.




a.     What evidence is there to back up Slann’s view?






b.     To what extent do these two traits reinforce each other, or work in contrary directions?







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