Political Trends

1. The current international system is in a state of post-Cold War adjustment, in which numerous countries who share political or religious alliances are attempting to define their place in the world absent the tensions that accompanied the United States-Soviet Union arms race. The geographical areas that are the testing grounds for political power on the global stage may be loosely divided into four areas: the United States; China and Japan; Europe; and the Middle East. The concerns that face these areas include America's decline as a hegemonic power, the European Union and its increased economic power, the growing threat of disease, the possession of nuclear arms by rogue countries, and the continuing problems of a growing world population with decreasing resources.

The United States no longer has a unified Soviet Union to fear, which has the peculiar effect of reducing tension among the two powers while at the same time causing confusion among the rest of the world. As long as two big-power actors were on the world stage, the identities of the outsiders was easily defined. Today, identities are not as clear, borders are increasingly fuzzy (witness the current problems in Bosnia and Palestine) and what was once a balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union is now an imbalance, with the United States as the remaining "superpower" and other countries existing in the power vacuum.

The United States faces political prob



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