The New World – By FRANK JACOBS and PARAG KHANNA
IT has been just over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the last great additions to the world’s list of independent nations. As Russia’s satellite republics staggered onto the global stage, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was it: the end of history, the final major release of static energy in a system now moving very close to equilibrium. A few have joined the club since — Eritrea, East Timor, the former Yugoslavian states, among others — but by the beginning of the 21st century, the world map seemed pretty much complete. … Now, though, we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs. Here is a map of what could possibly be the world’s newest international borders.
Iran has the potential to dominate the region, but it is also at risk of internal implosion. If the current regime collapses violently, the 20 million ethnic Azeris of northern Iran, centered around Tabriz, could merge with already independent Azerbaijan, creating a new regional power with an even more powerful ally, Turkey (Azeris are ethnic Turks speaking a Turkic language), which would further render Armenia’s grip on the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh untenable.