More anarchy

David Eimer

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Photo: US Army

The Return of Marco Polo’s World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-First Century
Robert D. Kaplan
Random House: 2018
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Future historians looking back on the early twenty-first century might define it as the age of acronyms. As political and economic alliances shift, and globalisation and technology telescope the world, countries on every continent are taking refuge from uncertain times in an ever-increasing number of groupings identified by their initials.

Some are already considered so important that their acronyms have entered common usage, such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), designed to link the country to the rest of Asia and beyond by large investment in transport infrastructure. Others, like the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), whose seven members include India, Bangladesh and Myanmar, are still toiling in obscurity.

Competing with them are the acronyms of the last century: the EU and NATO especially. To a greater or lesser extent, they are under assault from a rising tide of populism, exemplified by Donald Trump’s occupancy of the White House, as well as a lack of cohesion apparent in the undisguised bickering and suspicion among their own members.

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