Beguiled by the euphoria and tranquility that followed the end of the Cold War, we confused a brief respite with the dawn of a new age. The “end of history” has ended. As history has returned with a vengeance, we have been reminded that the demise of a particular ideology does not bespeak the end of ideology as such. The current international landscape, characterized by a recrudescence of nationalism, Machtpolitik and religious strife, resembles more the 17th and 19th centuries than the hopeful 21st century future imagined by Francis Fukuyama.
The return of Russia, the rise of China, and the implosion of the Middle East all attest to the fact that history is very much with us – or more accurately never left us. At the same time, history is playing itself out in a uniquely 21st century manner with the rise of social media and nuclear technology amplifying the power of the weak, while economic interdependence may limit the scope of geopolitical rivalry between the strong.