Boris Johnson and the New Battle of Britain

All eyes are focused these days on Boris Johnson, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. But that’s not the most important news this month out of Britain. The Labor Party has finally come around to opposing the country’s exit from the European Union, though it’s possibly a case of “too little, too late.” The party failed to get its act together before the European Parliament...
read more

Deal, No Deal: Britain’s Fearful Future

It’s not in the text of Dante’s Inferno, but I suspect that those residing in the upper circles of hell regard their neighbors in the bottom circles with a mixture of pity and relief. Cleopatra, buffeted by strong winds in the second circle for her lustful behavior on earth, glances down at the traitor Judas, immobile in a frozen lake in the ninth circle, and sighs, “Ah, there but for the...
read more

It’s a Borderful World

Nation-states: what a quaint notion. As a means of organizing territory, they seem to be a brief transition period between large empires and an even larger, borderless world. Sure, nation-states might live on in the form of anthems and flags and independence days, but the idea of fixed borders just doesn’t make sense in a world of cell phones, the Internet, and global assembly lines. Borders...
read more

Donald Trump and the Fourth Great Shattering

When the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., published his bestseller The Disuniting of America in 1991, he didn’t seriously entertain the worst-case scenario suggested by the title. At the time, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were imploding, while separatist movements in Quebec, East Timor, Spain’s Basque country, and elsewhere were already clamoring for their own states. But when it came...
read more

Pushing Rewind on 2016

The two events that put 2016 in the history books — alongside other pivotal years such as 2001, 1989, and 1945 — were, of course, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. What makes 2016 different, however, is its apparent revocability. Germany and Japan, after all, didn’t try to restart World War II. Nobody attempted to rebuild the Berlin...
read more