EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Moscow and Beijing are pulling the world back into twentieth-century geopolitics, but Iran is pulling it even farther backward in time: to the Age of Imperialism. Many US allies, while quick to condemn imperialism in principle, are unfortunately eager to cast that principle aside for access to the Iranian market.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama, in a widely publicized book, announced the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy and with it the strong prospect of a longstanding democratic peace. He called it, in a moment of hubris, the end of history.
The wars in the Balkans (the first to take place in continental Europe since WWII) and the wide-scale ethnic and religious massacres that accompanied them, followed by the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC, severely dented this vision. It was probably laid to rest altogether with the rise of Putin in 1999 and the return of geopolitics on Europe’s fringes in the war with Georgia in 2009, Putin’s assault on eastern Ukraine in 2014, and his troops’ bold annexation of Crimea the same year.