Ironically, when the world was controlled by the United States and the Soviet Union as superpowers, although the two nations opposed each other and did everything that they could to undermine and destroy the other, the world seemed to be a much more peaceful place for several key reasons. While the US/USSR dynamic was less than desirable, and the rest of the world feared that these two international giants would one day enter into World War III and destroy the planet in the process, the fact that both nations held the power to destroy the other, and the rest of the world including themselves kept a sort of uneasy peace.
Through what eventually came to be known as Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD, the Cold War enemies fully realized that any unleashing of the powerful nuclear weapons that each possessed to protect themselves from the other would result in disaster and no real victory (Duyvesteyn, I. & Angstrom, 2005).
This created a stalemate which, while quite tense and at the time was horrifying to everyone on the face of the earth, did in retrospect keep the peace in many cases worldwide because of the fact that other nations that thought about trying to create disruptions in the world peace situation would have to face off with one, or both, superpowers in one way or another, and had very little chance of succeeding in any power play.
Nations tended to side with the US or USSR not always in support of one or the other, but in many cases due to the old adage that the enemy of one’s enemy is a friend. When the Cold War ended, and truer than ever when looking at today’s current events, peacekeeping has detracted since the involvement of major powers since the end of the Cold War.
In a world where the US is now the lone superpower, trying to maintain world peace, battle terrorism and protect weak nations from predators, nations with the potential to become superpowers, such as China, North Korea, and the like have allocated billions of dollars and millions of personnel to building huge military infrastructures, including nuclear arsenals, which many fear will be utilized to gain power over the US in a way that is less passive than the positions that were taken during the Cold War.
In addition, many small rogue nations have developed the arrogance to try to flex some muscle and challenge the US, although not head on, through the use of terrorism and other acts of sabotage. A world after the Cold War, while many in the 1950s for example could never imagine it, is less peaceful than the Cold War world. Therefore, in closing, what needs to happen immediately is for international peacekeeping efforts to continue, before it is too late.
Duyvesteyn, I. & Angstrom, J. (Eds. ). (2005). Rethinking the Nature of War. London: Frank Cass.