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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Every week there are puzzling reports of events involving China, Russia, the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. They may not seem so baffling if media reports explained that the events are all part of an ongoing competition for global supremacy. This book’s objective is to make the world seem less perplexing by delivering essential context that facilitates connecting and grasping global events. Contextualization focuses on three areas: (1) the competition for global supremacy (1453–1945), (2) the 20th-century transition from giant empires to 193 nation-states, and (3) a shortage of qualified national leaders.

It strikes many as a shocking revelation that in the early 20th century the Chinese, Russians, Turks, and Europeans were still ruling most of the world and battling for global supremacy. Empires conquering, and subjugating populations sounds like the ancient history of gladiators fighting starving tigers, not something so recent that it provides simple explanations to many of today’s headlines, like Islamic unrest, obstinate China, Russian intransigence, European xenophobia, and American meddling.

What’s behind Islamic militants spewing venom toward “western imperialists?” The competition for global supremacy, the transition to nations states, and a shortage of adept leaders that are global citizens. It wasn’t long ago that Islamic empires were riding roughshod over Christian empires—the western ← 1 | 2 → imperialists. But in 1923 Muslim empires were gone, and Christian empires were “overseeing” their lands, which included allocating land for a new Zionist nation. For Muslims, these outcomes were mortifying, but...

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