The Commonwealth in a Changing World

Published: Summer 1992    |    By: Margaret Doxey    |    Volume 49, No. 4


For more than forty years following World War II the relatively stable parameters of the Cold War defined East-West relations in terms of ideological and strategic rivalry. These parameters also permitted the emergence of non-alignment as a foreign policy orientation, a choice of client regimes to each superpower and, in some cases, a choice of patrons to leaders of Third World states. In the last few years, however, the international landscape has altered dramatically and with astonishing speed. Familiar landmarks have been swept away in a tidal wave of change. A divided Germany and Soviet control of eastern Europe are now history; indeed the former Soviet Union has vanished, replaced by independent republics, held by tenuous bonds in a Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia, the dominant republic, has succeeded to the Soviet seat on the United Nations Security Council. The three Baltic states have regained their independence, and governments there, as in eastern Europe, are struggling to achieve political and economic viability with democratic, free market regimes. Communism as an ideology and as an economic system is discredited, and market forces are blowing through doors and windows which for decades were tightly closed. But the transition from command economies to prosperous market economies is fraught with difficulty, and massive injections of Western aid are now being sought by former communist states. West-East relations now bear some resemblance to North-South relations in that inequality has replaced the ‘balance’ which characterized the Cold War years.

About the Author

Margaret Doxey has taught international relations at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario; the London School of Economics and Political Science; and Wellesley College, Massachusetts. She is the author of The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Contemporary Commonwealth (1989) and International Sanctions in Contemporary Perspective (1987) and has written extensively on international organization and on sanctions.