The end of the First World War concluded the age of empires and the multi-power global system that oversaw the European countries dominating international affairs.
Britain and France consisted of the largest colonial empires but Germany, who lacked oversea territories, could still compete militarily and economically.
Since the end of the Napoleon Wars up until World War 1, there were no battles fought on Western European soil but instead, it was through diplomacy concessions were made.
For instance, the Berlin Conference in 1884-85, divided Africa under colonial rule without resorting to conflicts between the European powers. While this was devasting for Africa’s future, the conference highlighted the balance of power between Western European nations.
However, a war was inevitable with nations challenging for global domination but resulted in the fall of European strength when the majority of both World Wars was fought in Europe.
The end of the Second World War led to the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union.
Unlike in the previous world order, the world was split under two superpowers who had access to nuclear weapons that, if used, could be catastrophic to humanity. Therefore, both countries tread carefully to avoid direct confrontations but attempt to undermine the other.
The world has been divided between capitalism and communism however due to the fact that capitalism accumulates wealth, the economic model used in the United States allowed the superpower to outlive their adversary.
Hence, since 1991, the United States is the sole superpower where the government spend more money on the military than all the other major states’ military budget combined.
While some may speculate a sole superpower is beneficial to the international system with the United States taking the helm, we have recently seen how unchecked power could lead to major calamities.
For instance, without the approval of the United Nations or any substantial evidence, the United States invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s to use the 9/11 tragedy as justification.
Unlike in the previous world orders, no nations could have prevented the United States’ actions and more recently the appointment of Donald J Trump as President revealed the dangers of a sole superpower.
After many years of diplomacy, the international community brokered two significant deals which would have benefitted the world, but the United States unilaterally stepped out of the agreements which were the Paris Accords and the Iran nuclear deal.
Even though individual states opted to continue the agreements, they would be either faced with counterproductive actions by the Trump administrations with the return of coal as an energy source or sanctions if companies trade with Iran to fulfil their end of the agreement.
More recently, the administration threatened to sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) if they persecute an American citizen. Even though the United States is not part of the ICC, threatening an international legal body reveals the unconstrainted power the United States has.