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Niall Ferguson

How Cold War II Could Turn Into World War III

History shows that nothing causes fiscal and monetary instability quite like multiple big, long conflicts.

Ukrainian war, American flag.

Ukrainian war, American flag.

Photographer: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

A large proportion of the world’s top tourist destinations are the remains of dead empires. A week of sightseeing with my younger children in Italy reminded me of this. The city of Rome was the capital of an empire that at its height stretched from Britannia to Babylonia. The city of Venice once ruled a realm that extended across what are now Albania, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro and Slovenia.

To walk among the monuments of the most Serene City and the Eternal City is at once inspiring and melancholy. Like Edward Gibbon, “I sat musing amid the ruins of the Capitol” — but musing about the decline and fall of other empires.