From brinkmanship to coercive containment - developments in post cold war crisis management
This analysis examines and explains the emergent model of crisis management manifest at the end of the first decade of the post-Cold War era. The end of the Cold War heralded fundamental and widespread changes in many ways but it did not, as events continue to demonstrate, confine to history the phenomenon of international crises. Indeed, evidence suggests that the post-Cold War period has witnessed an increase rather than a decrease in the incidence of crises. However, what has changed is what constitutes a crisis, the range of responses available to those who manage them and the criteria by which a successful outcome may be gauged. Changes too are apparent in time-scales and attitudes of decision-makers. These changes are not constants in all crisis situations: moreover, their impact varies. Whilst this transition is evolutionary and incremental, it is nonetheless fundamental and real. The transition from the Cold War model of crisis management to the post-Cold War model has not been smooth or by deliberate design: it has evolved somewhat haphazardly. Using the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis as a template of Cold War crisis management, comparison and contrast is made with the three post-Cold War crises in which the major powers became entangled; the 1990-91 Gulf War, the Bosnian crisis which lasted from 1991 until 1995, and the 1998-99 Kosovo crisis. This analysis examines what has changed, whilst assessing any change in import of what has not. To do this necessitates drawing upon a variety of topics that merited detailed study in their own right. However, this paper does not seek to provide a history of UN operations, nor is it an analysis of pure strategic theory or a treatise on United States foreign policy. The most obvious differences between the two eras are to be found in the changed relationship between the United States and Russia, formerly the USSR, and consequently the significant reduction in the likelihood of global nuclear conflict. With the nuclear threshold so dramatically raised and the starkness of strategic superpower stand-off removed, other features of crises have been afforded commensurately greater prominence. Indeed the removal of restraint conditioned by the certain knowledge of mutual destruction has coincided with an increase in the incidence of crises.