Suddenly in the '80s that world was shattered by men and women of power and vision. We are back again to an age of leaders with personality, daring and vision, leaders willing to sit down with one another and talk over major problems in a spirit of comparative open-mindedness.
No decade since the 1940s compares with these last 10 years. Do we realize how far we have come in 10 short years? How different 1989 has turned out to be compared with expectations as we entered the 1980s? Fifty years ago dictators and statesmen strode across the stage of human events. They were followed by statesmen often of kindlier face, and by relatively unknown bureaucrats and politicians. Events of the last half of the '40s shaped a world that for 40 years seemed to become set in concrete.
The men who shaped the mid-century are all gone. Those who took the helm after them are mostly gone from seats of power. Fresh thinking, new ideas and outlooks have overwhelmed the comparative stability that for so long characterized much of international relationships. Individually, we face a very different world in 1990 from that of 1980. A new world, alive with new hopes, but fraught with nagging doubts and new fears.
As we approach the end of a century, it is important we look back a decade to better view the new directions the world has taken. How else to better know the final decade of this century and this (in Western thinking) millennium?