Between 1945 and 1965, about fifty-four, depending on how you count, new, independent states, with borders, capitals, armies, leaders, policies, and names appeared in the world. Between 1965 and the end of the century, depending again a bit on how, and whom, you count, fifty-seven more appeared. All the major colonial empires-British; Dutch; French; Spanish; Portuguese; American; German; Australian; and, via the Pacific war, the Japanese; via the collapse of communism, the Russian-dissolved, most relatively peacefully, a few-India, Algeria, the Belgian Congo, the East Indies, Kenya, Indo-China-amid spastic outbursts of generalized violence. An international system, with sixty or so officially recognized players (forty-two countries were members of the League of Nations at its start; another sixteen joined later, and one has to add the United States and a couple of other recalcitrants) was succeeded by one with, by the most recent UN membership count, a hundred and ninety-one. The world resegmented, refounded, and reformatted in the space of a few decades. It was, clearly, some sort of revolution. But what sort-what it was that was turned around, and in which directions-was, and still is, imperfectly understood.


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