The 1990s are a fertile, formative period for world politics and American foreign policy. With the collapse of the Soviet empire and the end of the cold war, bipolar global competition is over, the Soviet threat to Western Europe has ended, and Marxist revolutionary movements have almost evaporated in this hemisphere and everywhere else. Russia has become much weaker, but also more unstable. Europe is enlarging and further integrating, Japan is questioning its orientation toward the West in general and its security pact with the United States in particular. China is rapidly emerging as the dominant power in East Asia. Iran and Iraq both continue to aspire to dominance in the Persian Gulf, threatening their richer and less populous neighbors.