TWO OF the greatest writers in the history of the English language, Shakespeare and Steinbeck, are linked together by a famous metaphor: “the winter of our discontent”— one of the former’s most famous plays opening with the phrase, the latter borrowing it for the title of one of his most acclaimed novels. The endings of both works point towards a redemptive future. Most of the essays featured in this edition of Horizons come together around that hopeful theme whilst appreciating the discontent of the present moment. Our authors attribute this variously to the causes and consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war—with some exhibiting a brooding, wintry pessimism for the short-term whilst others stressing the regenerative promise of the imminent arrival of springtime.

PERHAPS NO greater error of recent times was the assumption made by mostly European strategists and thinkers in the aftermath of the Cold War that global politics and economics could be meaningfully distinguished. A distinct characteristic of this unfolding war is that its belligerents and partisans now construe it not simply as a struggle over territory but, more fundamentally, as a clash of ideas and values— the latest outbreak in the sempiternal quest to conceive and enforce the rules of international relations.

THE EUROPEAN theater is thus once again the locus of a conflict with global repercussions. Some of our authors concentrate on the future of multilateral institutions such as the UN and the fate of its flagship initiatives like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which combatting climate change is perhaps the most significant part. Others examine the challenges associated with regulating migration and refugee flows in light of a worsening demographic picture. Still others discuss the grave dangers posed by stagflation or emphasize the increasing pressure to take a stance in what is likely to become an epic twenty-first-century competition between the U.S. and China.

THE OLD Continent’s transforming energy landscape has also become one of the war’s most apparent manifestations, as highlighted in several of our essays. The strategic significance of the string of countries to Europe’s east and south, which include Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, has never been greater. That has also had a positive effect on the connectivity aspirations associated with the trade and transportation route known as the Middle Corridor.

THIS EDITION of Horizons concludes with an essay by an illustrious author whose topic is the transmission of knowledge from one generation to another and the perpetuation of critical thinking which this entails. Our failure to properly cultivate the uniquely human ability to educate in the time ahead could significantly lengthen our winter of discontent.

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