Hopes for a new peaceful international order after the end of the Cold War have been dashed by sobering realities: Great powers are once again competing for honor and influence. The world remains “unipolar,” but international competition among the United States, Russia, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Iran raise new threats of regional conflict, and a new contest between western liberalism and the great eastern autocracies of Russia and China has reinjected ideology into geopolitics.
For the past few years, the liberal world has been internally divided and distracted by issues both profound and petty. Now, in The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Robert Kagan masterfully poses the most important questions facing the liberal democratic countries, challenging them to choose whether they want to shape history or let others shape it for them.
Robert Kagan s title says it all: history did not come to an end with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The idea -- the dream -- that liberal democratic ideals and market economics had triumphed over all competitors has proved illusory. This fact has been obvious enough for some time now, but it has taken time for the true lineaments of the picture to come into focus, because it has taken time for the new arrangements to shake down into a discernable pattern.