Not too long ago commentators regularly talked about the end of the nation-state. Internationalism—whether through global trade agreements or the expansion of organizations like the European Union and NATO—seemed triumphant. Today, not so much. Countries from the Philippines to Hungary, from Turkey to the U.S. have been swept up in a reactionary nationalism. The United States has embodied this tension. Having been at the forefront of creating institutions of global governance, Americans have aggressively rejected them at the same time. This month historian Amanda Lawson looks at this century-long friction between the need for global governance to protect human rights and the demands of national self-interest.

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