July 17th, 2014
11:41 PM ET

No, this isn't the worst of times

By Fareed Zakaria

For all the problems, let’s keep in mind that we live today in a world with considerably fewer dangers. Nuclear war is unimaginable. The Russian-American nuclear arsenals are down to one-fifth their size in 1973 and at a much lower level of readiness. In 1973, Freedom House published its first annual account of political rights around the world. At the time, countries listed as “not free” outnumbered “free” countries. Today that is inverted, with the number of “free” countries having doubled. Open markets, trade and travel have boomed, allowing hundreds of millions to escape poverty and live better lives.

Of course there are crises, problems and tensions around the world. But no one with any sense of history would want to go back in time in search of less turmoil.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Is it not? Mavbe not at this moment but as long as this country refuses to mind it's own business it will sooner later become the worst of times!

    July 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • banasy©

      No, it is not, silly name-stealer.

      July 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
    • Dave

      When will Germany stop kissing Russias backside and condemn them for the aggressive pushy nuts that they are? Is the value of trade worth more than all your principles -or have you lost them?

      July 21, 2014 at 2:26 am | Reply

      July 21, 2014 at 2:28 am |
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Nowadays it seems Senator John McCain has to speak out to make sure that he is still alive, after all he will soon be 78 in August. His rants have become so far-fetched that any American with a sense of right and wrong, would feel embarassed and wonder whether it's time for him to leave politics and enjoy a dignified retirement.
    "I do believe that the things we’re seeing in the world today, [which is] in greater turmoil than at any time in my lifetime, [are] a direct result of an absence of American leadership," he said recently, criticising the Obama administration's way of handling the conflicts in Syria and Russia.
    It's true that McCain had lived a "long and disinguished" life. He was captured in 1968 during his service in the Vietnam War and was only released in 1973. Since then he was seen as a war hero, a self-styled straight-talker, who has never been afraid to adopt a controversial stance.
    As a political maverick he attracted the ire of many social conservatives for his relatively moderate views on civil unions, abortion and immigration reform. Yet he was a foreign policy hawk and one of the Iraq war's strongest supporters and backed the troop increase. Indeed many may ask what would have become of John McCain, had he not fought in Vietnam and been held in captivity? He might not see today's crises as the "worst of times".
    Compared to various conflicts in the post-war history – Hungary, Vietnam, the Suez Canal and Taiwan – and Eisenhower's reluctance to intervene and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, today's world is still safer. It is not more "unpredictable" than in the past, because of laws and legal frameworks that govern the behaviour of member states in the international community. Of course there are individual nations that act unilaterally, especially when they only look out for their own national interests. Yet it is expected that they will have to pay a price for flouting rules and disturbing the global order. It's important to understand "what is producing this instability today". The more we learn from history and understand the mistakes, the less likely it is that history will repeat itself in an irresponsible manner.

    July 18, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
    • banasy©

      McCain has passed his expiration date.

      July 18, 2014 at 8:33 pm |
      • Dave

        So has your effeminate nation

        July 21, 2014 at 2:30 am |
  3. chri§§y

    It may not be the worst of times but...it sure is a preview of comming attractions. Which are certainly not very attractive! We should heed these warning signs.

    July 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
    • YNGSO

      While hundreds of millions of people have come out of povery, how many have been born into or fallen into poverty as world population has grown? A lot is going the right way, but a lot more needs to happen, because now growing inequality seems to be out of control...

      July 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Dave

    Germany is a bystander -without the guts to speak up in the face of Russia

    July 21, 2014 at 2:29 am |

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