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mpoverished and vulnerable, and left the way open to more efficient and ruthless rivals to challenge its pre-eminence in the world. History tells us that such things have always been the case; and the current decline of America reminds us that history’s themes continue to recur.

For this reason, I conclude that Western, democratic civilisation is on the defensive, and that the expected victory of liberal values is far from certain. History shows us that it is an error to imagine that the values of even the most successful and powerful state will not, at some point, be challenged by another polity with a different prevailing view; and that it is equally mistaken to imagine that states operating systems of repression are, or ever will be, things of the past. My conclusion confirms the tone of realism: ‘The first step in the defence of democracy must be to recognise that the desire of others to assert their power, for their reasons, is as pervasive as our own. If we use our liberties to allow our own value system to be undermined, then we shall lose them.’ I hope those who read my book will have a clearer idea of the motive forces of what we call history, and therefore of what history is.

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