For several decades, the expansion of the world economy and the growth of multi-national corporations led a trend toward globalism. Not only were nations connected economically through trade and business connections, regional partnerships such as European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and others created a more stable world order. We've had regional conflicts that killed and displaced millions of people, and we've had proxy wars between the super powers. But we haven't had a war that reached world-wide in 70 years.
Even though the United Nations has had limited success in containing these regional wars, it has set up functions to help refugees of these wars. The media has focused primarily on the Middle East and ignored the conflicts in Africa and in Central America that also have produced a flood of refugees.
The nationalism of the 19th Century that created the British Empire, and to lesser extent the colonialism of the other European nations, was more limited in the later 20th and 21st Centuries with collapse of these empires. The broader sweep of history saw the decline of the significance of the political and military power of nation states and more on world-wide economic growth and stability. Nation states were just larger and more complex tribes. The United States was the dominant world power following the break-up of the Soviet Union, and only recently is being challenged by China. We were a stabilizing force for peace until we started disastrous foreign adventures in VietNam and Iraq.
In addition to serving as an economic power, the United States is a nation of immigrants, we (or our predecessors) all came from somewhere else. The growing problems associated with immigration, i.e. maintaining national boundaries (the EU has none), and integrating immigrants into the local economy and social structures have created flash points. Unfortunately, in this country the prejudice has been primarily against Mexican and Central American immigrants who are not white. Thus the issues are compounded by the racial divide. Racism is still a major issue in this country where white supremacy lingers on. The African slave trade to Western nations ended a long time ago, but segregation, discrimination, and bigotry against African-Americans is still evident in our judicial system as well as our politics.
The Islamic terrorists and so-called Christian right-wing terrorists are two sides of the same coin. Their beliefs in a theocracy where religion dictates civil policies of governments (as well as promoting the use of violence and intimidation) are reverting back to the tribalism of the Dark Ages. The tribes may be larger now, but the philosophies are still the same. The primacy of a particular Klan (based on race, religion, culture, or geography) are the social cohesive forces that override all other in forming tribes. This fear and hatred of the "other" leads to conflicts, wars, and power struggles that have continued on through history. We're just turning backward to a new form of tribalism after a generation of progress.
Until we come to terms with the real issues that drive refugees from their home, such as poverty, war, and disease, we can never have peace. Of course, there are those who profit from war, such as the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us against. They not only get a majority of our resources and national budget, they profit by selling armaments to other nations. Some have called the 20th Century the American Empire, which is now declining in the 21st Century. But we're still the strongest, and most expensive, military power in the world. Unfortunately, we're not matching that with moral authority.