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In 1989, as the Berlin Wall crumbled and the Cold War dissipated, the American political commentator Francis Fukuyama wrote a famous essay, entitled The End of History.” Fukuyama argued that the demise of the confrontation between Communism and capitalism, and the expansion of Western liberal democracy, signaled the endpoint of humanity’s sociocultural and political evolution, the waning of traditional power politics, and the path toward a more peaceful world. At the heart of his thesis was the audaciously optimistic idea of progress” in history.
But a quarter of a century after Fukuyama’s bold prediction about transcending the struggles of the past, history has returned. The twenty-first century has not seen unfettered progress toward peace and a single form of government, but the reappearance of trends and practices many believed had been erased: arbitrary executions, attempts to annihilate ethnic and religious minorities, the starvation of besieged populations, invasion and annexation of territory, and the mass movement of refugees and displaced persons.
This book will both illustrate and explain this return of history, and it will also argue how the reappearance of things deemed barbaric” or medieval” has a modern twist.
Jennifer Welsh is Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General for the Responsibility to Protect. She is Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Somerville College. She is a former Jean Monnet Fellow of the European University Institute in Florence, and was a Cadieux Research Fellow in the Policy Planning Staff of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs. She has taught international relations at the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the Central European University (Prague). She is the author, co-author, and editor of several books and articles on international relations.