Deterrence and International Relations

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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