Not since the 1930s and early 1940s have we seen so many malevolent empires on the rise.
Empires can rise and fall quickly. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires abruptly collapsed amid military defeat, rising nationalism, and revolution.
Yet on the eve of World War II four new empires suddenly grew out the wreckage of old Europe and Asia. A weak Italy under Fascist Benito Mussolini in just a few years grabbed much of East and North Africa, as well as the Dalmatian coast. Hitler’s so-called “Third Empire” carved off Austria and strips of Eastern Europe — and planned to go to war for more. The Soviet Union absorbed the Baltic states and southern Finland. Japan declared first Manchuria, and then Southeast Asia, part of its new “Co-Prosperity Sphere.”