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“Watching the world wake up from history . . .” The Wall and the end of the Cold War: Video and Commentary

A previous post discussed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s address to a Joint Session of Congress and the commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the next several days, there will be many celebrations in Germany and elsewhere in the West recognizing the demise of the Wall and the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

Photo- Stephane Duroy/Agence Vu

Photo- Stephane Duroy/Agence Vu

In these celebrations, we will be reminded of some of the most iconic images of those heady days.¬† At the same time, it is useful to recall that there were also themes in popular music that evoked the ethos of the time. One of the most often cited¬† is “Right Here, Right Now” by the British rock group, Jesus Jones. Written by band member Mike Edwards, the lyrics note the excitement of the time and the sense in which the Cold War was a long winter of hibernation from which the world could now awake. And the video, embedded above, contains the many images of those days. The lyrics follow:

 Right Here, Right Now

A woman on the radio talked about revolution
when it's already passed her by
Bob Dylan didn't have this to sing about you
you know it feels good to be alive

I was alive and I waited, waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now
there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
watching the world wake up from history

I saw the decade in, when it seemed
the world could change at the blink of an eye
And if anything
then there's your sign... of the times

I was alive and I waited, waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now

I was alive and I waited, waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now
there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
watching the world wake up from history

Right here, right now
there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
watching the world wake up from history

Right here, right now
there is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
watching the world wake up...

As the Cold War was coming to an end, it seemed as though the world might wake up. There were great hopes for a renewed era of international collaboration among states. Many hoped that the United Nations could now play a role more akin to what its framers had desired. Indeed, some saw the creation of a “New World Order,” in which the international system would become more peaceful and orderly and just.

This optimism was, of course, before Srebrenica, and Somalia, and Rwanda, and 9/11 . . . .

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Welcome! Who am I?



Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.