The Western world is inexplicably enduring a prolonged crisis of mediocre leadership, which descended on it like a pulmonary illness shortly after the end of the Cold War: the greatest and least violent strategic victory in the history of the nation-state. Francis Fukuyama famously suggested that there was no higher form of historical development than the Western social democratic state. China, though undemocratic, was less oppressive than in the time of Mao, or even the Tiananmen Square suppression of 1989, and was steadily yielding to the appeal of capitalism. Japan was flourishing so spectacularly that it was widely thought (including by itself) to be on the verge of challenging the United States as the world’s greatest economic power. The Soviet Union had disintegrated, but there was much hope for the full assumption of the status of a democratic country by Russia, as well as by many of its former...


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