Ten Lessons from the Return of History
One thing we learned in 2022 is that war between countries, thought by more than a few academics to be obsolete, is anything but. And that is far from the only expectation or assumption about international relations that has not survived 2022.
NEW YORK – Few will miss 2022, a year defined by a lingering pandemic, advancing climate change, galloping inflation, slowing economic growth, and, more than anything else, the outbreak of a costly war in Europe and concerns that violent conflict could soon erupt in Asia. Some of this was anticipated, but much of it was not – and all of it suggests lessons that we ignore at our peril.
First, war between countries, thought by more than a few academics to be obsolete, is anything but. What we are seeing in Europe is an old-fashioned imperial war, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to extinguish Ukraine as a sovereign, independent entity. His goal is to ensure a democratic, market-oriented country seeking close ties to the West cannot thrive on Russia’s borders and set an example that might prove attractive to Russians.
Of course, rather than achieving the quick and easy victory he expected, Putin has discovered that his own army is not as powerful, and that his opponents are far more determined, than he – and many in the West – had anticipated. Ten months later, the war continues with no end in sight.