Dr Milan Jazbec
Member of the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) – Ljubljana


The fifteenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War is by all means an appropriate opportunity to take a general view of the changes that occurred during the past fifteen years.
Assuming that the period concerned and, of course, the fall of the Berlin Wall represent one of the turning points in the modern history, we should evaluate the transitional period and its basic characteristics and do the same for the current period in order to be able to forecast the future. This analysis focuses on the global and structural changes in the international community and on some of its most important aspects. It tries to find out whether these changes have any common features and what would be their global consequences. It examines the nature and course of structural changes at the strategic level and the possibility for their development on the basis of a pattern or model. In other words, in this analysis we will try to prove that the recent turn of the century (which coincided with the turn of the millennium) has brought about changes in the social paradigm. Basically, the social paradigm is regarded as the broad unity of all relations between individuals, social groups and their national and supranational associations and the aspects of communication between them.


The end of the Cold War and the wave of changes which followed the revolution without the revolutionaries (Knezevic, 2004) in 1989 – annus mirabilis – can be observed in a much more clear context fifteen years later. Due to the intensity, volume and dynamics of the changes this event can be compared with the major events in the written history of mankind.
A parallel may be drawn with the end of the Thirty Years War which was ended by the Peace Congress of Westphalia in 1648. In order to understand the changes in the paradigm, we should take a closer look at the period between the Thirty Years War and the fall of the Berlin Wall covering about three and a half centuries.
Those few centuries were marked by the European domination of the world with a relatively changing composition of the main powers and the balance of their relations established on the basis of more or less controlled wars between them. It was during that period that the national state, the separation of ecclesiastical and secular authority and development of European (and world) history through the system of balance of changing imperial coalitions were formed. It was only by the end of the 19th century that noticeable movements causing long-term changes occurred in this rather closed group of main powers which controlled the world known at the time through maritime expansion of capital. The unification of Germany as well as Italy and the appearance of the USA in the international politics loosened the relations between the world superpowers, changed their configuration, deepened the opposing interests and led the international community into the First World War. Their conflicts crystallised and to a certain extent resolved after the end of the Second World War. The dominant and increasing constant in the following period was the ascent of the USA to the world superpower which was confirmed during the course and at the end of the Cold War.
During this period the modern understanding of the world was founded (Cooper, 1996) and the relations and the rating system were established between the main actors which was most evident in the previous century. National states are based on the principles of intangibility of borders and non-interference into internal matters, they train their armies for conflicts and make wars while human rights are only a relatively important notion for different political elites. Security is ensured through intimidation and an arms race while co-operation or opposition depends exclusively on momentary political interests.
However, this system experienced erosion and evolution already after the First World War with the League of Nations and after the Second World War with the establishment of the United Nations Organisation. Both organisations strengthened the phenomenon of multilaterism in the international political scene as one of the prevailing principles for resolving disputes and ensuring global peace and security. The ravages of war and social devastation in Europe in the period from the beginning of the First World War till Stalin's death during the 1950s, when the first conditions for softening the rigid polarisation of the blocks were created, can be compared with the Thirty Years War. The attempt to balance and loosen the world polarisation was facilitated during the 1950s by the non-aligned movement and two decades later by the signing of the Helsinki act on co-operation (on the basis of which the present OSCE was founded). The emergence and development of the West European integration processes (especially the EU and NATO) and a series of political, economic and social crises shaking the Eastern (socialist) Europe, have contributed to further evolution of the concept of modern politics and its control over everyday life. The decolonisation process which resulted in a large number of new states also contributed significantly to the loosening of the monolithic polarisation of blocks. Nevertheless, it still seems that during the period of the Cold War the world was regulated, safe and foreseeable and the actors had a hierarchical and continual influence. It is the modern paradigm of the world in which other »modern« concepts and values (e.g. state, diplomacy, international community, art, literature etc.) have their place.


However, annus mirabilis brought along a turnabout: the unification of Germany, the dissolution of three multinational hegemonistic and socialistic states: the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, with 22 new states emerging in their territory as well as the culmination of European integration and disintegration processes. The whole region faced democracy and market economy literally overnight which caused a security vacuum and the revival of nationalistic movements. Old structures disintegrated and the illusions that sudden changes will bring prosperity soon disappeared. Two hundred years after the French Revolution, which was known not only for freedom, fraternity and equality but also for its violence, we are experiencing a velvet revolution without violence which leads to freedom (Jazbec, 2004; Knezevic, 2004). The individual, his/her rights as well as social and personal emancipation have become the centre of political interest. The era of heroes has ended, human rights have become the universal criteria of justice reminding us of the position of the handicapped and the marginalised. The revolution in communication technology and increasing accessibility of its products have increased the freedom and mobility of individuals, but also provided conditions for them to become more isolated and lonely.
These are recognisable elements of the new paradigm. »First of all, as the widest social phenomena the emergence of a new development paradigm should be mentioned. This paradigm encompasses the evolving of a social model based on knowledge and information as well as on their transfer and processing using high technologies. In the social context this represents on the one hand further individualisation of human life and existence which has become less interdependent due to rapid scientific and technological development while on the other hand it presupposes greater interdependence and integration at the social (community) level which reduces the social entropy and increases the efficiency of those societies. Thus, we have marked increased individualisation and independence at the level of individuals and at the same time increased social interdependence and integration at the level of the society.« (Jazbec, 1999: 131)
At the same time a completely different notion of security appeared after the end of the Cold War due to a changed security environment and new security threats and challenges. Those challenges have become dispersed, hardly or not at all foreseeable, non-conventional and combined. (Cvrtila, 2004:112; Donnelly, 2003:25; Rotfeld, 2003:76) This of course necessitates the reorganisation of fight against those threats and challenges and at the same time questions the existing structures involved in the provision of security. The intensity in planning and realising the enlargement processes of NATO as well as the EU is therefore not surprising. The enlargement of both integrations is accompanied by their intensive internal restructuring. NATO has lately been the target of criticism regarding the unnecessariness of its further existence. The main reason for its further functioning was supposed to be eliminated with the disintegration of the polarised blocks, what should prove it to be unable to deal with the new security challenges (Meyer, 2003). The United Nations have also been criticised for being a typical product of the situation at the end of the Second World War and as such unable to provide global peace and security in a completely different security environment. Nevertheless, the fact is that the functioning of UN was mainly oriented towards preventing wars between states at which they were successful since in the second half of the 20th century there were less wars than in the first half of the 20th century although the number of states increased four times during the same period. However, the United Nations have obviously failed to prevent civil conflicts although their mission has generated the basic principles of security for the people and intervention for humanitarian purposes (A More Secure World: 9-14). Criticism has also been directed towards OSCE, although its ability to focus on the soft security offers possibilities for further functioning (Rotfeld, 2004).
The notion of security has therefore spread to the social, economic, environmental and other fields and it can be ensured only with increased co-operation of international stakeholders, who are not only national states and international organisations but - increasingly - also individuals, the civil society and non-governmental pressure groups. Due to their aggressive activities the latter sometimes become one of the key security threats. Instead of block confrontation we are threatened by terrorism, trafficking in drugs and human beings, light weapons, strengthening of international crime, corruption, unemployment, increasing needs for (or dependence on) energy which is in decreasing supply and lack of drinking water. All this leads societies to a more and more vulnerable position. Since we constantly want to improve our standard of living - which we do - the social systems are more and more complicated and vulnerable to simple means and threats and it is increasingly difficult to ensure security.
It seems that terrorism has been born anew and in combination with increasing availability of different and relatively simple weapons it has become an unpredictable and constant security threat (Bennett, 2004; Donnelly, 2004:30-31). As a rule, the victims are more and more often civilians, especially children, women and the elderly, i.e. individuals chosen at random. The most severe examples in the past few years were New York, Madrid, Budyennovsk, Moscow and Beslan when large numbers of civilians died in terrorist attacks (e.g. about 3000 in New York and about 500 in the small provincial town of Beslan). Classical war clashes were rarely so destructive since the humanitarian law and conventions demand avoiding civil victims, especially children, who were, nevertheless, the main target in Beslan (Russia's Horror, 2004). It seems that the use of different weapons (of mass destruction as well as very simple and classical ones) by non-governmental groups is targeted mainly at civilians, especially children, women and the elderly, which clearly points to the emergence of a new paradigm. It is therefore not surprising that the world seems to have changed completely and instead of its former static and balanced position it has entered the dynamic movement full of new, complicated and interdependent contradictions. The known and predictable has been replaced by the unknown, unrecognised and hardly predictable.
The new development paradigm was also confirmed by the Report of the UN High-Level Panel, in which Secretary-General Kofi Annan determines the inseparable interdependence between development and security (A More Secure World, 2004: viii). Understanding security as the key development issue of the present time points to the necessity of complementary actions taken by security bodies and other stakeholders who can ensure global security only if they co-operate. The complementarity of security processes, which could be clearly noticed for the first time in managing European security processes, is gaining global connotation (Jazbec, 2002:221-226). In this, both the inter-agency co-operation within individual national states (foreign, defence, interior and other ministries, intelligence services etc.) and the co-operation of national armies play an important role. Instead of fighting wars the armies of European States co-operate intensively. The urgent need to adapt to changed security circumstances requires among other the rightsizing of armies, their reorganisation and professionalisation and incorporation in the security and defence integrations (Jazbec, 2002:238-42). One may say that we are witnessing the denationalisation process in European armies, since it was their nationalisation which led them to wars in the past. Interference in the internal affairs of individual states which used to be undesired or even prohibited has today become the basis for functioning of numerous international institutions. Thus the basic activities of the Council of Europe and OSCE for example are institutionalised monitoring of human rights and the freedom of media. The EU and NATO expect their members to harmonise whole social structures, especially the security and defence systems. Transparency, co-operation and trust are the values which have replaced exclusion and conflicts. The universal freedom of individual and his unappealable right to be protected even from his own state represent the orientation of values after the end of the Cold War.


There is no more confrontation of blocks and the states of the northern and most of the southern hemisphere are not at war any more. However, there has been an immense increase in the number of inner-state conflicts caused and led by non-governmental groups which abuse the achievements of globalisation (development of information technology and various kinds of weapons as well as the unprecedented availability of weapons left from the Cold War). The victims of those conflicts are primarily civilians. The basic principle of armies is no more their territorial dependence but their operability or ability to react. The development of modern societies makes them extremely vulnerable not only in the military sense but especially in terms of their social, economic, health and other systems.
If this paradigm is taken as a model and research instrument to present the widest context in which the social relations are determined as a whole, it is in principle possible to confirm the accuracy of the above presented view of the volume, dynamics and depth of changes after the end of the Cold War. The key change is the change in the security environment (Reiter, 2003) and its influence on the organisation and functioning of social structures dealing with the provision of security. This security shift is followed by other aspects of changes (political, social, economic, cultural etc.) affecting global societies after such radical changes.
According to Donnelly, a revolutionary change can be noticed every fifty years in the nature of military conflict caused by sociological, technological or other external factors. He perceives this process as the change of the paradigm. As examples he enumerates the introduction and development of the recruitment system during the Napoleonic Wars, development of quick firing guns in the mid 19th century, industrialisation of military production and appropriate infrastructure during the period before the First World War and development of nuclear weapons and systems for its distribution during and immediately after the end of the Second World War (2004: 24). According to Donnelly we are now right in the middle of such sweeping changes which started at the end of the Cold War and were accelerated with the events on September 11, 2001.
Taking into account the above time frames and development until 1989 when century-long trends can be observed in European political history one could agree with Donnelly's findings. He states that the period of duration of each paradigm lasts half a century. However, bearing in mind that the notion of paradigm (and its present change) is based mainly on the functioning of national states, their emergence and development as well as on the development of national armies which have been till now the key factor in ensuring peace and security, one must admit that the effects of individual paradigms extend over a mush longer period of time.
The changes which the national armies underwent during the past fifteen years are mainly related to the functioning of the collective defence (and partly security) system in a changed global security environment and could be summarised in the following set of findings: During the past few centuries the national armies were primarily designed for national defence and accordingly for independent functioning, while collective defence presupposes functioning within an alliance. Defending national states from aggression was the basic task of those armies while in alliance they have to defend from various threats. Defence from aggression against the state meant primarily functioning within the territory of own national state while an alliance presupposes functioning outside the territory of the state or even outside the territory of the alliance. The basic source of power for those armies in the past was their ability to mobilise its reserve forces while the capacity to react as a rule presupposes professional composition. National armies were organised for concrete tasks while collective forces have to be capable of carrying out various tasks.
Looking into the way national armies functioned during the period before the end of the Cold War one can find out that the practice (including aggressive wars) has been known since the period before the Napoleonic Wars. Even the several centuries long European domination over the known world was supported by those findings, therefore the functioning of the paradigm based on such military principles should be set in a much longer period of time. The same conclusion can be drawn by applying the criteria of emergence, development and functioning of a national state and some of its attributes (e.g. diplomacy). This corresponds also to the wider (art, literature, science, philosophy etc.) comprehension of the modern paradigm which started with the period of renaissance and lasted throughout most of the twentieth century. In any case, it was the end of the Cold War and the changes which followed that eventually enabled the change of the paradigm to happen and to become identifiable.
What was regarded in the past few centuries as the absolute truth, the only practice, the rule and the motive power of history, has changed from the very bottom. The history of a national state encompassed ownership, management, control and protection of its own territory, of the inhabitants and of other resources, the national border being the sacred notion. The manner in which those issues were regulated determined the system of values and the structure of security, social and other systems. Totalitarianism and ideology were the prevailing features of the previous century and their end marked the expiration of the previous paradigm. Although its elements are and will be still present for some time, the new paradigm can already be clearly distinguished.
The paradigm which expired during the past few years can be regarded as encompassing several centuries. The most obvious proof perhaps arises form the above mentioned fact that during that period the European main powers controlled global relations with accumulated and balanced power in various forms and through maritime expansion until the beginning of the 20th century when the USA gained important role in the international politics. As the Second World War ended and the Cold War started the leading European states were so exhausted in military and economic terms that the USA simply ousted them from the position of the monopolistic controller of global relations. Accordingly the history of the USA can be regarded as the process of constant expansion and development from a relatively weak state to the present global hegemonic power (Kagan, 2004). This transformation became apparent at the end of the Cold War when the USA became the dominant actor as the division of the world into blocks ended.
The year 1989 can be understood as a funnel through which the history decanted into a camera obscura which changed its paradigm. We left the modern world and entered the post-modern world. It took us fifteen years of witnessing intense changes as well as unexpected and unpredictable events to realise that. The security vacuum which appeared as one of the first and unexpected signs after the fall of the Berlin Wall is apparently a long-term phenomenon. Although one may argue that the East European revolution in 1989 passed without violence it can be observed that the violence has merely spread out and manifested mainly through increasing terrorist attacks. Due to globalisation changes which brought about an unprecedent availability of just about anything, terrorism became one of the main threats in the world today. It could be even argued that the period of uncertainty has returned causing a post-modern topicality of Hobbs's war of everyone against everbody. It could be regarded as a post-modern Thirty Years War in which it is very difficult to foresee concrete forms of emergence or outbreak of terrorism and to anticipate or plan concrete ways of fighting each individual form in which those outbreaks occur.
The change of the paradigm is therefore most evident in the change of the security environment, threats and manner of adressing them. This is not surprising since in the history of human societies security has been of key importance for their survival and functioning. However, the present resolving of not only security but also political, economic, social, religious and other global issues seems to be not well enough considered since it largely generates further authoritarian approach which increases uncertainty and gives room to terrorism (Russia's Horror, 2004).


There is no doubt that a change of the paradigm has occurred during the past fifteen years. The turning point was the end of the Cold War in 1989.
After several centuries of European global ruling which was based on the concept of national state and oriented towards ensuring security of states (and indirectly of their citizens) due to inter-state wars, we are witnessing an increasingly dominant role of the USA and the growth of inner-state conflicts which make it difficult to ensure security especially to the citizen as an individual. Owing to the integration processes, especially in the northern hemisphere, states are not at war with each other any more. Instead, their armies intensively co-operate to tackle new and different challenges and threats concerning all the aspects of functioning of the modern societies at different levels. This requires on the one hand accelerated and strengthened co-operation between the states and other stakeholders and on the other hand inter-agency co-operation within states in order to deal with security challenges and threats.
In the post-modern value matrix the individual and his universal importance is placed on the first place which is evident from the fact that a person can resort to international institutions for protection from violence or injustice committed against him/her by the state whose citizen he/she is. At the same time in communication with others the individual (also as zoon politikon) has to take into account the principle of co-operation and consensus instead of the principle of conflict which has been primarily applied till now.
The change of the paradigm enabled among other the emergence of a number of new states in the wider European space. Fifteen years after the end of the Cold War a large part of those states also became members of NATO and the EU thus fulfilling their basic foreign-policy goals. By achieving those original goals, i.e. international integration, deideologisation and ensuring functioning in a safe international environment, those states gained means with which they can constantly ensure welfare and security to people living in their territories. Paradoxically - or logically - goals converted to means.
Finally, the task of defining the new development paradigm no doubt poses problems at least at first glance. The simplest and most convenient approach would be to apply Cooper's classification of states and their attributes into pre-modern, modern and post-modern (1996) and use the term »post-modern paradigm«. Since the paradigm is discussed here as the basic concept at the strategic level and taking into account the initial stage of its emergence, the term »post-modern« can be used as the starting point. However, in the long run, the definition and detail grounds for such term will certainly become one of the important issues which will have to be dealt with appropriately.


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  • Bennett, Christopher. 2004. Responding to Atrocity: NATO and the Development of Strategies to Combat Modern Security Threats. In: Èehuliæ, Lidija (ed.). 2004. NATO and new international relations. Zagreb: Atlantic Council of Croatia and Political Culture, Publishing and Research Institute, pp. 16-23.

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  1. Dr Milan Jazbec, a diplomat and publicist, secretary - minister plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and assistant professor of sociology of diplomacy at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. He was State Secretary for international relations and defence policy at the Slovene Ministry of Defence from 2000-2004. The article reflects his personal views of the topic.

  2. A group of the most influential states comprises at least Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.

  3. The book was composed from 1987-1991 while the quoted part of the text was written in December 1990. The book was published on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  4. Report of the UN High-Level Panel: the summary (2004:1) states that the modern concept of collective security is based on three pillars: today's threats know no national borders, they are linked with each other and should be dealt with at the global, regional and national levels.

  5. Bennett (2004) points out two events which essentially influenced the process of NATO's transformation: the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 when NATO intervened after EU's failure and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA. According to Bennett the key challenge of the present time is to achieve consensus regarding the most appropriate strategy of fighting the threats posed by terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction.

  6. The Report lists in the summary (2004:2) the following six groups of current security threats: firstly, economic and social threats (including poverty, infectious diseases and degradation of the environment), secondly, inter-state conflicts, thirdly, inner-state conflicts (including civil war, genocide and other atrocities), fourthly, nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons, fifthly, terrorism, and sixthly, international organised crime. However, it should be mentioned in this context that the number of victims of terrorist attacks in the first five years of the 21st century was less than five thousand while the recent largest natural catastrophe ever recorded (tsunami in the Indian Ocean in late December 2004 affecting the area from Indonesia to Kenya) took more than two hundred and fifty thousand lives.

  7. In various so called »small wars« since 1990 more than 4 million victims were children and women (Donnelly, 2004:33).

  8. A vivid example is the decline of social systems in most Eastern Europe immediately after the end of the Cold War with the introduction of the market economy. In the past, social systems functioned as a rule on the basis of state subsidies or budget funds, while the mechanisms of market economy no longer provided those funds automatically, which reflects especially in inefficiency of social functions.

  9. Donnelly further states three key factors of those changes after the end of the Cold War: firstly, new global balance of power and its influence on the geostrategic importance of states, secondly, fast technological development, and thirdly, changed attitude to the use of army in western societies (2004:24).

  10. It should be stressed that in case of aggressive wars national armies operated outside their national territories (which, nevertheless, does not change the logic of demonstrating the difference in their functioning before and after the end of the Cold War).

  11. A similar comparison, though more narrow, was made by Cvrtila who described the transformation of national defence and new tasks of armed forces (2004:114).

  12. The global relations which will mark the new paradigm will be based on the fact that the USA, as Dahrendorf states, will remain the key global factor while China's role will continue to strengthen and will, in the foreseeable future, affect those relations with its political and military power. On the other hand, the future of Russia and of the states in its orbit, such as Ukraine, is uncertain, as is the future of Europe since its soft power does not mean much without a connection with the firm power of the USA. (2004).

  13. The author of the quoted editorial from The Economist argues that fundamentalism would have very few followers were it not for the miserable living conditions of the local inhabitants.

  14. In case of Slovenia this has an important meaning: a millennium after the first written record of the Slovenian language and four hundred and fifty years after the first book was published, the Slovenian language has been, for almost fifteen years, an official language of a nation which has its own internationally recognised state with all the necessary attributes (Jazbec, 2004:641).

  15. The term »post-modern« was introduced by A. Toynbee in 1934 as the name for the European civilisation after the modern period (modern times) encompassing both the continuation of and the opposition to the spirit of the modern world. In the beginning of the second half of the 20th century the term spread to various fields expanding their horizons (e.g. philosophy /Lyotard/, sociology /Habermas/, literature /Eco/ etc.).