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The early 1990s were a magical time for Western nations. The Berlin Wall fell; the Soviet Union broke up peacefully into 15 constituent republics; Nelson Mandela walked free; and the First Gulf War came to an end. The world seemed peaceful, united, and happy. The fight among warring ideologies had ended, and liberal democracies had prevailed.

Peter Frankopan, a historian from the University of Oxford and author of The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, announced that today’s world is far removed from...