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In the ashes of World War 2, a new international order was built. Its aim: to ensure relative peace and stability. Bridget Kendall examines why all this seems to be falling apart.

In the ashes of World War 2, a new international order was built. Its aim: to ensure relative peace and stability. In this series, the BBC's former Diplomatic Editor Bridget Kendall examines why all this now seems to be falling apart.

In this opening episode, Bridget retraces how the victorious Allies set about building a new order out of the cataclysm of world war.

At first, global institutions like the United Nations were established, with the aim of bringing states together in institutions that would embed enough co-operation to stave off a return to conflict.

But within couple of years, a new Cold War was dividing the world into American and Soviet spheres. In this harsher context, further institutions like NATO and what became the European Union were set up, which also aimed at establishing a new kind of internationalism - even if they weren't quite as idealistic as the UN.

As Bridget explores, from decolonisation to coups and proxy wars, the rhetoric of a liberal rules-based order did not always match reality. But in 1989, when East Europe achieved liberation from the Soviet bloc through largely peaceful revolutions, it seemed as though the liberal hopes of the late 1940s had won. So what went wrong?

Speakers in this series include:
Ex-Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair, ex-Foreign Minister of Poland Radek Sikorski, Deputy Leader of Alternativ fur Deutschland Beatrix von Storch, Director of the Carnegie Center Moscow Dmitri Trenin, ex-US Deputy Secretary for Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Director of the Blavatnik School of Government Ngaire Woods, head of the Eurasia Group Ian Bremmer; journalists Isabel Hilton and Peter Hitchens, and historians Dr Brigitte Leucht, Professor Piers Ludlow and Professor John Bew.

Producer: Phil Tinline

Available now

28 minutes