World History & Today’s Disorder.

Richard Hass’ new book THE WORLD – A BRIEF INTRODUCTION (2020) is aimed at reviewing world history and presenting it to those that do not know much about it. He contends that’s mostly everybody. The book briefly starts with the Thirty Year War and goes through the Post-Cold War era. He then discusses global regions, globalization and concludes with a discussion of international relations.

What’s my take?

This book is something like global history for dummies. But that’s fine. It’s well done and an easy read. What I find most interesting are various remarks the author makes throughout this book. Here’s some of them:

• Some of the consequences of globalization are simultaneously good and bad.

• History can be understood as an ongoing narrative of world orders materializing, breaking down, and reemerging in another form.

• The bedrock of world order has been respect for sovereignty.

• Order cannot be based on sovereignty alone, must also be grounded on balance of power.

• The liberal order is now fraying. The result is a decline of America’s relative power and a growing unwillingness to play its traditional role in the world.

• Resurrecting the old order is impossible. Countries will need to work together.

• The United States must be more prudent in using military force or weaponizing its economic policy.

It’s hard to disagree with the above observations. The next stage for the reader is to figure out how to move forward in light of the world history outlined by the author. History is essential to understand. We need to critically assess it in formulating responses to newer global challenges we all face. 

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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