After a 20-year run as the world’s hegemonic power, the United States is retrenching. The Trump administration accelerated this process, answering China’s disruptive rise with an economic and military challenge, and using similar confrontational tactics with Iran. Domestically, the U.S. is doubling down on its faith in small government. American bilateralism’s key risk is estranging long-time partners needed to sustain its preeminence.
Middle East politics
The region, one of the cradles of civilization, is going through a turbulent period of historic realignment. Its powers are vying for political, military, economic and religious dominance with local players and outside actors. Armed conflicts, mainly civil wars, are challenging the permanence of states whose borders were drawn arbitrarily in the early 20th century, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.
Changes in the political landscape
The political changes now becoming evident in most democratic countries are often decried as caused by “populists.” So-called radical movements, however, can also be seen as a response to the failures of self-absorbed political “elites.” Consequently, the shifts they prompt may be a form of creative destruction necessary to make room for more effective policies and free debate.
In the second half of the 20th century, globalization brought a boom in international trade. The rapid change that came with it has led to a backlash, with most countries erecting protectionist barriers. Governments are increasingly using regulations, red tape and tariffs to achieve domestic and foreign policy goals. Highly intense trade disputes, however, can break the ice and lead to results and unexpected benefits.
China’s ascent to peer status with the U.S. is the century’s salient geopolitical fact. Beijing has used its growing power to turn neighbors into dependents and expand overseas. Its Belt and Road Initiative shows long-term vision but has also raised ...
Brexit is a symptom of the European Union’s internal disarray. In quick succession, the debt crisis, the Ukraine crisis and the migration crisis all challenged centralist visions of ever-deeper integration and soft-power expansion. The political mainstream’s abandonment of traditional values ...
A trend toward increased government influence in economies and personal life is curbing growth, and freedom, in many Western countries. The outsized role of government results in misplaced incentives, overregulation – which restrains markets and competition – and irresponsible budgetary ...
Demographics and migrations
Changes in demographic structures have always had an impact on geopolitics. As globalization increases and it becomes easier for people to move from place to place, these factors are transforming how countries interact with each other. Aging societies may become ...
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War left the North Atlantic Alliance without a clear mission. Funded mostly by the United States, it remains the chief guarantor of Europe’s security. Now, Washington is pushing ...
South Asia’s two nuclear-armed powers have been at loggerheads since they became separate states in 1947. Border disputes, especially over the region of Kashmir, have caused frequent spikes in tensions. More recently, terrorist attacks and geopolitical maneuvering are straining ties. ...
While attempts are being made to move away from fossil fuels for energy production, the transition is not happening as efficiently as many predict. New methods of extracting oil and gas have kept these resources cheap and plentiful and have ...
Russia’s incursion in Ukraine raised alarm about a new Cold War, deepened with the intervention in Syria and allegations of meddling in U.S. elections. But the Kremlin’s new assertiveness is largely defensive, while Ukraine’s emergence as a nation-state undermines Moscow’s ...