Power and Politics in Today’s World

Course site, by Ian Shapiro.

Lecture 2: From Soviet Communism to Russian Gangster Capitalism

Gorbichev’s tenure

Gorbichev was president for ’85 to ’91.

Gorbichev’s reforms

Coup of ’91

Final days of Soviet Union

Berlin wall came down, several members suceeded, a failed coup attempt, and gain of power by the Russion Parliment.

Reasons for the fall of the SU

  1. Unsustainable system: Command economy didn’t work.
  2. Containment: West focussed on making sure the SU didn’t expand, so just had to wait for it to fall.
  3. Investment in Afghanistan: SU didn’t want Islamic Fundamentalism to rise in its Asiatic constituents.

Why was collapse peaceful?

Exit, Voice, and Loyalty

Exit, voice (advocate for change), and loyalty (change it yourself): The three things you can do when a state/organisation starts to fail. Which one you select depends on the cost.


Signs of a weak state

Reliance on oil

Lecture 3: Advent of a Unipolar World: NATO and EU Expansion

Three lenses on politics

Interests, institutions, and ideals.

Operation Desert Storm

US helping Kuwait against Iraq’s invasion. Went pretty well: was proportional & last resort.


United Nations. Formed in 1945 with 51 members, now at 198. Largely peaceful.


North Atlantic Treaty Organisaton. Formed in 1949 with 12 members, now at 31. Most famous article is Article 5: If any NATO country is attacked, they act as if they have all been attacked.

Relationship between UN and NATO wrt. Article 5

Resolution of an Article 5 depends on the UN being able to assure stability.