World politics since 1989
The demise of the Soviet Union ushered a golden age of globalisation. Since 1989, global trade and production more than quadrupled. Poverty was beaten back. Science and technology progressed faster than ever before. But when we look back at those thirty years, we cannot resist asking the question where the current surge of authoritarianism, nationalism, and conflict has come from?
Despite science and its revelations, the world remained very slow in doing something with those insights, about environmental degradation, for instance, about the tilt of capitalism towards speculation, the neglect of public infrastructure and civic education. Hence, knowledge does not always lead to good leadership and the readiness to change.
Moreover, while globalisation came with the promise of more democracy and respect for human rights, Western consumerism and diplomatic opportunism empowered authoritarian countries instead of fragile democracies. The main achievement of thirty years of liberal pretence, is that it made dictatorship strong.
This book offers a bird’s view of the last thirty years of world politics. It does not limit itself to a single explanation and a single miracle solution, but tries to explain how different elements enforced each other: consumerism, the resentment and ambition of authoritarian powers, reckless interventionism, the erosion of civic education in the West, the surge of disinformation campaigns, the neglect of the South and its short-lived commodity boom, mass-migration, the rise of superficial patriotism, and so forth. The reader discovers eight themes that run like threads through the book:
1) Harmony contested: While the West celebrated the new world order, others plotted to contest it from the start.
2) A power shift from West to East, with the China, Russia, and the Gulf States as main victors.
3) The free world making authoritarianism strong, through trade, technology exchanges, and energy dependence.
4) The decadence trap: the West taking its prosperity for granted and refusing to act upon many different warnings. The cowardice of the moderate politicians and the the rise of shallow patriotism.
5) Hubris: Assertive yet inconsistent liberalist interventionism. 6) The school of strife: Western military campaigns and economic power politics as a source of inspiration for competitors .
7) The changing nature of power: more growth and technology, limited benefits for many people.
8) Limit of learning: an age of information was not necessarily and age of Enlightenment
Table of content
2. A doubtful victory
3. The new order seen from elsewhere
ACT 1 (1989-2000)
4. Missed opportunities
5. Reluctance to lead
6. Making rivals rich
ACT 2 (2000-2010)
7. Disregard and decadence
8. A foreign policy of recklessness
9. Globalization and the return of power politics
ACT 3 (2010-2020)
10. What the hell happened?
12. Fragmented and turbulent