Epilogue: A future dimly seen

Although we can identify trends in global politics, the future remains contingent. Trends can accelerate, slow down, or even be reversed. The future is not determined, and we should be skeptical when told that such-and-such an event “made war (or anything else) inevitable.” Leaders’ choices and the actions of individuals, while conditioned by factors beyond their control, matter. In October 1962, American President John F. Kennedy or Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev might have made a fatal misstep in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis, and this misstep could have sparked a nuclear exchange between the United States and the USSR. Historians would, then, not have been able to claim, as they do today, that ...

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