Although some argue that ethnic tensions unleashed after the end of the Cold War have made the world less stable, statistical indicators of stability show otherwise. In the post‐Cold War period, the number of armed conflicts has declined by more than half — from 55 in 1992 to 24 in 1997. In addition, most conflicts now occur within states, not between them. Of the 101 conflicts occurring from 1989 to 1996, 95 involved combatants within a state and only six took place between states. A threat to U.S. security is more apt to arise from cross‐border aggression than from civil strife.
Another sign of increasing international stability is the substantial reduction in worldwide military expenditures after the Cold War. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates that such expenditures have dropped by one third: from $1.1 trillion in the late 1980s to $740 billion in 1997. There has also been a drastic reduction in international arms sales: from 1986 to 1995, they plummeted 55 percent. Furthermore, the United States and its allies have increased their control over the worldwide arms market during the same period. The U.S. share of the market increased from 22 percent to 49 percent and NATO’s share increased from 44 percent to 78 percent. The U.S. and NATO shares increased as a result of greatly diminished subsidized sales of Russian weapons to Third World outlaw states such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, Cuba and North Korea.
In short, the absence of one superpower funneling arms and assistance to stir up opposition groups in client states of its rival superpower has led to a worldwide decline in conflicts, military expenditures and arms sales.