The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal. For the month of November, read the entire 25th anniversary issue, fall 2008, for free!
By The World Policy Editorial Board
A quarter century ago, in the fall of 1983, when World Policy Journal published its first issue, the world was a very different place. Can we even imagine those times? The Cold War very much defined the way nations interacted. Mutually Assured Destruction guaranteed the peace in a bipolar universe where two superpowers held unquestioned sway. Oil traded at $29 a barrel, and when we went to fill up our station wagon, gas cost just $1.19 a gallon. Billions of people were imprisoned behind borders they could cross only at their own peril, their movements controlled by governments that regulated every aspect of their lives. Indeed, nearly half the world’s people were ruled by a variety of totalitarian regimes with little opportunity to control their destinies or their fortunes.
Over those 25 years, this publication has chronicled a host of remarkable events: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the collapse, then rebirth, of a renascent Russian power, the emergence of a new economic and political force from what was once the Third World, and the arrival of Brazil, Russia, India, and China on the world stage, joining the community of rapidly developing nations. Capitalism replaced communism in a broad swath of the world, from eastern and central Europe across the vast Soviet steppes and on into China. Indeed, only tiny islands of communism still remain, awash in a sea of entrepreneurial, market economies and free societies. Continue reading…