The summer of 2014 saw two trends combine to produce a torrid news agenda. The inability of some countries in the greater Middle East to function as states led to growing violence in Libya and Yemen, acts of appalling brutality in Syria and Iraq, and the near collapse of the western-imposed political order in Afghanistan after a fraud-tainted election. Meanwhile, established great powers deployed traditional methods to expand their spheres of interest – Russia by destabilizing Ukraine and China by pushing back against the US. Britain managed to cling on to its seat at the top table by promising the Scots maximum devolution if they voted not to go for independence.
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