A little over 10 years ago, on Aug. 7, 2008, the Russo-Georgian war broke out. Six weeks later, on Sept. 15, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. Though unconnected, these events marked the end of the post-Cold War world and set in motion the world we live in today.
Conflict is always most unthinkable right after a major conflict has ended. This happened with the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars, where the victors thought they would re-establish the world that the French Revolution disrupted. There was Versailles and Trianon after World War I, when the victors thought they could reshape Europe as they wished. There was the period after World War II, when it seemed the United Nations might create an international system that would never again see war.
Some of the illusions died quickly, while others lingered. But all of them were based on the idea that the coalition that had won the war would remain intact during the peace and would manage the continent or the world, b