The liberal order of the past 70 years is under threat


The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World. By Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro. Simon & Schuster; 608 pages; $30. Allen Lane; £30.

THE rules-based international order that emerged from the wreckage of the second world war was a huge improvement on any preceding era. It stimulated trade on an unprecedented scale and allowed even relatively small and weak countries to develop their potential without fear of predatory interference. At the heart of that order was an underlying principle that perpetrators of aggressive war should not be rewarded. In particular, any territorial gains which derived from their aggression would not be recognised by the international community as being legitimate. Instead, aggressors should be subjected to punishment—usually economic sanctions. Occasionally, concerted military action approved by the United Nations (UN) forced them to relinquish what they had illegally seized.

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Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …