The history of world politics is commonly told as a story of the rise and decline of different countries and regions. At times, the tempo of these shifts in fortune resembles a carousel spinning at dizzying speed. This motion was evident among the Greek city-states during the time of Herodotus, who observed that “the cities that were formerly great, have most of them become insignificant; and such as are at present powerful, were weak in olden time.”1 It also describes the period between the congress of Westphalia in 1648 and the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, when Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden fell from the top tier of powers (Poland was wiped off the map!), and France, Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia emerged as great powers.