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Change of The Security Perception During the Post-Cold War Era


The concept of security exists in every area of life as a fact that everyone has adopted from the past to the present. The concept of security, which is in the second stage of every person's life, also exists between states and actors. Therefore, the concept of security for states takes on different dimensions due to years of experience. The Cold War period has been ended after the Soviet Union collapsed, the Berlin Wall’s fall in 1991 and the communist regimes such as Poland declared their independence etc. Therefore, in the post-Cold War period, the dimension of security has changed.  In the pursuit of the war, the complete global order has been dragged into a brand-new order in which the actors are unfamiliar with. In this changing environment, it first began to explain new guidelines and then to take this definition further with globalization. The USA called themselves a 'superpower' after the Cold War. This explanation required 'new enemies' in the global arena in the last 3 decades. Changes inside the exercise of worldwide relations were quickly reflected inside the idea and, in particular, the manner of examining security after the Cold War was expanded. In this article, the changing perception of security will be examined in the post-Cold War period in 5 different dimensions: Political Security, Economic Security, Cultural-Social Security, Environmental Security and Military Security.

1- Political Security

According to realists, the main factor that determines the structure of the international system is the distribution of power among the actors. In this context, while defining the structure of the international system, realists use concepts such as unipolarity, bipolarity, and multipolarity and try to explain the structure of the relations between the states in the international system. In accordance with this understanding, realists have defined the structure of the international system by dividing it historically into different periods (Efegil, 2015, p. 634). One of the most important periods of these is the post-Cold War period. As known, the world political security dimension was changed after the end of the Cold War. With the end of the bipolar system, the shape of political security formed a unipolar system. New actors are not old empires. In this context, the old empires collapsed, and multinational nations emerged. On the other hand, after the Cold War, ethnic nationalism has increased in the Balkan country of Kosovo and the security of the Balkans has become controversial. Of course, it is said that it is the EU and NATO that legitimized the Kosovo issue.

Due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the entry of many Soviet Union member states into the European Union, the Western block prevailed. The Warsaw Pact withdrawal was terminated. The Maastricht treaty led the community in Europe to turn into the European Union through cooperation within justice and home affairs, as well as a common foreign and security policy. In addition, being a member of the EU is seen as a locomotive for democratic transformation. (2014, June 6)

Especially, until 9/11, the USA managed the world as unipolar. After 9/11, NATO's perception of security has changed, the perception of terrorism has emerged in the new world order. Likewise, the European Union was not indifferent to the new perception of security, and decisions were made within the scope of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. So how can we understand political security in the unipolar world order? Well, if you remember, the USA exists in many countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. However, in these countries where the USA entered, it led to the lives of many people and it is clear that Syria has a political laboratory today. Besides, it brought many regional actors along with the USA in the region like Turkey, Iran, Russia, Israel, etc., and it is provided the existence of parametric organizations. Syria is a building a region where a new world order is created right now. According to Brzezinski, it is different from its counterparts in history, the sphere of activity and spread of America's global supremacy is unsurpassed (Kantarcı, 2012, p. 62). In short, what I want to emphasize here is the political security of the unipolar system in the new world order gathers around strong actors and those actors form their own political security. Finally, it is foreseen that the world's request for the thesis of the coalitions period will be realized.

2 - Military Security

The need for security has always existed for humanity, and the need for interstate security is constantly being updated. According to the realist theory, states will never feel fully safe in the anarchy environment where there is no central authority. When we examine the understanding of military security after the Cold War, the New World order determined, and the countries emerged from this order have new military security strategies. Especially, the nuclear step that emerged in the Cold War has emerged in the field of energy, as well as in the military, which means terrifying insecurity. Within the framework of increasing security costs and developing new threats, countries wanted to be together with organizations and alliances established under the auspices of strong states to ensure their security. The emerging East Block and West Block competition has increased day by day, and as a result, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established to secure the West Block, and the Warsaw Pact was established to secure the East Block (Yalçın, 2019, p.1). In particular, after the Cold War, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO completed its mission and the main perception and threat perception changed for the next period. Naturally, it has been noticed that in the next phase, NATO is in the position of an organization acting under US guidance. In fact, the USA has forced NATO to develop and grow. In addition, different tasks have been designed for NATO (Kuloğlu, 2009: 10). NATO's main goals need to continue their deterrent effects in the development, modernization, and future adaptation of the European states. As I mentioned in the title of political security, with the collapse of Yugoslavia, ethnic nationalism in the Balkans has increased. As this factor could compromise Europe's security, NATO took control of the events through military intervention, and many Eastern European countries became members of NATO. In short, after the Cold War, countries' military security was created in this way. In my opinion, this formation, which was designed after the Cold War, continues today but it is claimed that it should be updated in the future or a new order should be created.

3 - Economic Security

The world’s economic miracle ”had enabled prosperity, unemployment, and wage increases since the 1950s. The consumer society and the social state were the pillars that stabilized many democracies, including West Germany. Both political fronts were gaining public approval by promising better living conditions. However, the crisis situation towards meeting the needs in the East was permanent. Countries whose promises for the future have not turned out to be true expressed the words “how we work today, we will live according to it tomorrow” (2014, June 6). In the 1970s, the oil crisis brought an end to unlimited growth, and while the unemployment rates in the West were rising, advanced social systems ensured social stability. A fatal political course change took place just before the economic crisis in the Eastern Bloc. More and more resources were transferred to housing construction and consumption. Increased borrowing and worsening trade created more prejudices against the communist regime in the 1980s. Revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe took the first steps towards overcoming Europe's division. Steps towards European integration were followed in a short time. The agreement for a common economy and currency union was reached in 1992 with the Maastricht Treaty.  As a symbol of integration, the Euro entered into force in 2002 as the common currency unit of 12 European countries (2014, June 6).

In addition, the relative power of the United States led Europe's and Japan's economic power to rise. The world economy completed its evolution from the American dominated regime of the first post-war generation as U.S.-European-Japanese. Economically, the European Union had the world's largest market in that period. Furthermore, Japan was the world's largest trader and the leader within technologies. Japan's Gross National Product was exceeded three-quarters of the USA by the year 2000. Finally, international relations looked very varied by year 2000 as a result of these transformations. The hierarchy of nations has changed considerably. The actors, which we call ''The Big Three economics'' shaped the 21st century (Bergsten, 1990, p. 96).

4 - Cultural and Social Security

During and after the Cold War, serious changes occurred in the social and cultural area. Production in the oil, electricity, and automotive sectors increased more than ten times. While production increased in industrialized countries during the times of the war, a remarkable detail was the population increase that started to manifest itself in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Due to the industrialization in the West, the population increased unusually. The increase in production in big cities has, of course, also decreased the migration from rural areas. Those who want to live in better conditions have made the transition from rural areas to city life, which has increased the use of cars. Following the Cold War and the post-Cold War, the “Automobile culture” started to show itself. Asian, African, and Latin American countries that could not adapt to city life and the poor who could not achieve their expectations became a tool for a new political uprising (2019, October 6). Moreover, the fact that men were at the front during the war period influenced women to enter business life. Of course, this was the footsteps of a new formation after the war. In this period, it caused the emergence of the "Women's movement". After the war, consumption began to increase substantially because, in this period, many products were used as "luxury" and "ordinary products" at home. Excessive consumption led to the growth of the advertising industry (2019, October 6).

Furthermore, the rise of prosperity in the West brought a comprehensive social and cultural transformation. The desire for individual freedom and self-improvement was increasing. Post-war youth, with long hair and jeans, challenged the old authoritarians. Youth movements were politicized. Finally, in the Cold War period, the perception of social and cultural security was updated according to the past and people focused on their freedom.

5 - Environmental Security

During the Cold War era and the post-Cold War era, the environmental movements were greatly organized in individuals and globally because natural resources consumption and accelerating pollution in each country existed. Therefore, the countries focused on environmental issues in the post-Cold War period. Also, the air pollution arising from the use of increased natural resources and the use of weapons of mass destruction reminded people that the Earth could be in danger. In this way, environmental awareness emerged in this period. On the contrary, concerns about environmental pollution or destruction question the significance of the Cold War itself. On the other hand, certain socio-political structures of the Cold War have profoundly affected the emergence of environmental ideas, activities, and organizations in the different continents (Laakkonen, Pal, & Trucker, 2016, p. 4).

To give an example from Western Europe, Swedish scientists complained about the increase in acid rain due to heavy industry production. The disaster caused intense atmospheric pollution due to the accelerating automotive industry and the excessive industrialization of Eastern Europe. Thus, Greenpeace and other environmentalists organized in Europe and especially in Germany were anti-industrial and anti-nuclear. At the 1984 Munich Conference, it was decided to bring sulphur emission to 30% throughout Europe. However, due to rapid development, Eastern European countries did not agree. At least, Eastern Europe and Western Europe cooperation was established in the sense of the environment (Laakkonen, Pal, & Trucker, 2016, pp. 4-8 ). In short, with the end of the Cold War period, consumption and production increased and countries became conscious about air pollution and consumption of natural resources.


In the post-Cold War era, the conception of security was defined in every field. Especially, the old empires ended and new multi nations emerged. The global arena has changed rapidly. The bipolar system has ended, but what we call the coalition period today began after the end of the Cold War. In this context, new Political and Military terms have emerged. Global powers like NATO were unearthed in the post-Cold War era. In this way, NATO’s mission was done, but NATO has new missions. Of course, the biggest step in this period was the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the foreign policy goals of the EU, Asia, and the USA, which sees itself as a superpower, have changed. For example, the USA spread to the Middle East was formed due to the September 11 events. Europe entered the process of transformation, and the Earth quickly began to become a planet where the level of welfare rose. After the Cold War, one block remained strong and people were tired of fighting wars and serving the interests of the states, but we should not forget that the countries will never feel fully safe in an anarchy environment where there is no central authority, and there is no system in the world where we can create a central authority. Finally, after the Cold War, the world has put itself in a new system and today we are still seeing the impact of this system.



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