Paul Kelly: The world of 1989 is not lost, but it is far distant. The fall of the Berlin Wall was the symbolic demise of communism. The collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed Western triumphalism and the idea of a new world order rising from Soviet ashes. In the East, 1989 saw China's leaders order the shooting of their own people in Tiananmen Square, surely proof that their regime was unsustainable.
Western afterglow reached its zenith with George W. Bush. The 2002 US National Security Strategy declared the century had ended with the West's victory and "a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy and free enterprise". It was a bipartisan given. But it was never accepted in Beijing or Moscow. Indeed, it is actively contested, and that contest is now on display. Slight problem for a universal conclusion.
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