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The period of relative peace and stability following the massive violence, destruction, and instability that pervaded the first half of the 20th century poses an important question: Why was there no World War III? Political scientists and theorists largely attribute the absence of a third world war to successful deterrence practiced by the world’s superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, during the cold war (1945–1989).

War-ravaged Europe during the first half of the 20th century gave tragic visibility to how instability could manifest when not effectively managed, imbuing the pursuit of stability with a new significance. In a world without an overarching international sovereign, political scientists who subscribe to the realist interpretive framework of international relations believe that the ensuing anarchic nature of the ...

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