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Renovating the World Order

As violent conflicts and crises intensify worldwide, from Africa to Asia, it is becoming abundantly clear that there is no longer a guarantor of order – not international law or even a global hegemon – that countries view as legitimate and credible. The international system is clearly in need of an overhaul.

WARSAW – Russia-instigated violence has returned to Ukraine. The Islamic State continues its bloodstained territorial conquests. As violent conflicts and crises intensify worldwide, from Africa to Asia, it is becoming abundantly clear that there is no longer a guarantor of order – not international law or even a global hegemon – that countries (and would-be state-builders) view as legitimate and credible.

To develop a strategy for restoring order requires an understanding of the complex drivers of today’s fissures. And the best place to start is with the fate of four major empires.

That story begins in 1923 with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which, at its peak in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, controlled much of southeastern Europe, western Asia, and North Africa. Nearly seven decades later came the dissolution of the Soviet Union, followed by the renaissance of a Chinese empire that aims to translate its economic success into geopolitical influence.

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