The cold war between US and USSR ended in 1991 after the disintegration of USSR. The world changed from a bipolar world to a unipolar world, and US became the only super power. Disintegration of Russia has given birth to several independent Central Asian States, still under the Russian influence but has the possibility of turning sides towards US. During the cold war, it was only the danger of mutually assured destruction through nuclear war between the two superpowers, however, the world today is perhaps a much lesser safe place due to the danger of nuclear proliferation, fear of total destruction through nuclear weapons held by small states and varied interests of super powers. The question of whether the end of the cold war has made the world a safer place or otherwise has to be looked into from these two different perspectives.
During the cold war, there existed a greater possibility of a nuclear war at global level, and everyone would be mentally ready for the worst consequences in case of war between the two superpowers. Thus, in a way there was a certainty about the situation, danger was limited and could have been curtailed through diplomatic efforts at international level. Both the super powers knew the level of danger; they would put the world into, if they go for nuclear war, so understanding on the threat of nuclear war prevailed between the two world powers. The same understanding and awareness kept the nuclear war away, and co-existence was sought through holding of an equal number of deadly weapons.
After the end of the cold war, situation does not remain clearly defined. There are declared nuclear states and they are states suspected to have nuclear weapons. The states that are declared nuclear weapon states do owe the responsibility of world peace by exercising restraints and keeping the irritants below the nuclear threshold. Nuclear weapons although under the Russian control in the Central Asian Republic are vulnerable to the extremist elements. Volatile situation in the subcontinent where Pakistan and India have fought three major wars so far, and decade’s long hostility exists between the two nations. Both Pakistan and India are nuclear states and have outstanding issues to be resolved. Tension between the two nuclear neighbors can be exploited into a nuclear war. Countries like Iran and North Korea that are suspected to have nuclear weapons are also a major source of concern for the world peace.
End of the cold war has not made the world any safer. It has added to the uncertainty and fears of nuclear war. It has increased the danger of nuclear weapons going into the hands of religious extremists which can have catastrophic results. Present day situation has added the responsibility of the only super power American in maintaining the world peace. Smaller states with nuclear weapons also owe a huge responsibility to the world peace.