Does all this affect the relevance of what we have discussed so far? Not really, for at least two reasons. First, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union vividly reminds us of the multidimensional nature of power. The Soviet Union was a formidable military power - too formidable, in fact, to be sustained by the economic means at its disposal. In addition, the Soviet political system was no longer able to mobilise any significant support among its citizens at home and its allies abroad. Except for its military might, in other words, the Soviet Union could no longer be considered a credible challenger to the US. The peaceful end of the Cold War is thus less surprising than it might seem, for the typical preconditions for a 'hegemonic war' simply failed to materialise.
Second, a great power analysis along traditional lines can still shed some light on several basic features of the current international system. To that purpose, Table 21.1 compares the contemporary major powers on the basis of a few indicators. While the overall picture is far from being exhaustive, it nevertheless suggests some significant considerations.