Donald Trump is Sworn in as President Jim Bourg/Getty Images

Adrift in Trump’s New Century

The late British historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called the period between Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914 and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 the “short twentieth century.” But, if anything, the twentieth century went long: it ended with Donald Trump's inauguration as US president.

WASHINGTON, DC – The late British historian Eric Hobsbawm famously called the period between Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914 and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 the “short twentieth century.” For Hobsbawm, the end of the Cold War marked a new and distinct era in world affairs.

Now, with more perspective, we should reconsider this classification. Rather than constituting a break from the past, the quarter-century following the fall of the Berlin Wall actually turned out to be a continuation – indeed, a culmination – of what came before. But Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States represents a definitive break from the past; the long twentieth century has now come to a close.

It is too early to guess what will come next, just as it was in June 1914. Since Trump’s election victory, one popular prediction is that the world will revert to nineteenth-century spheres of influence, with major players such as the US, Russia, China, and, yes, Germany, each dominating their respective domains within an increasingly balkanized international system.

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