Opinion (Ian Bremmer, Time): “During the annual Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit in Manila in November, President Obama sought out two people for a pressing conversation. Not Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces were busy changing facts on the ground in Syria, nor Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose global economic strategy is paying off for China. Instead, he turned to a pair of entrepreneurs: Jack Ma, the CEO of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and Aisa Mijeno, an ecological innovator from the Philippines. Obama gave a short speech and then spent nearly half an hour moderating a panel discussion with two businesspeople.
“Obama’s explicit message was that government and business must work together to solve energy and environmental problems. The unspoken message was louder: in a hotel filled with leaders, the President of the United States felt he had more to gain chatting with private citizens than engaging his counterparts. …
“In a world of emergencies, leadership matters—and in 2016 it will become unavoidably obvious that the world lacks leadership. The days when heads of the G-7 industrial powers like the U.S. and Germany controlled geopolitics and the global economy are gone for good. The international group of today is the expanded G-20, which is much larger—including important emerging powers like China and India—yet agrees on much less. The result might be called a G-zero world, a global caucus whose members don’t share political and economic values or priorities. They don’t have a common vision for the future. Many years in the making, a G-zero world is now fully upon us.
“For all the rhetoric from U.S. presidential candidates, Washington can no longer even pretend to play global police officer, because public support isn’t there for any action that might require long-term commitments of U.S. troops and taxpayer dollars. …
“Yet abroad, America’s once predominant influence is fading fast. In the Middle East, the most powerful terrorist organization in history occupies large sections of Iraq and Syria. Russia has paralyzed Ukraine and is bombing unchecked in Syria. China is challenging U.S. military power in East Asia and Washington’s institutional power everywhere else. Obama now relies on sanctions, drones and cybercapabilities to advance U.S. interests—blunt tools that do little to build the consensus needed to solve the world’s most complex problems. Few U.S. officials, even the most hawkish, are able to make a clear case for the role they think the U.S. can and should play in a new world.
“Europe can’t help—its leaders are too busy coping with migrants, maneuvering around populist political rivals, working to keep the U.K. in the E.U. and helping Greece find long-term financial footing. China won’t fill the G-zero vacuum—it’s more active on the international stage, but only in pursuit of narrow national interests. Beijing is fully occupied with an anticorruption drive of historic ambition, a bid to revitalize Communist Party rule and a high-stakes economic reform process.
“Who will take the lead in destroying ISIS, stabilizing the Middle East, containing the flow of dangerous weapons, mitigating climate change and managing international risks to public health? No one. The world’s many wildfires will burn hotter in 2016, because no one believes he can afford the costs and risks that come with putting them out.”
My Comment: This is the general outline of the direction toward which the world is advancing, but the main thing is that the world will begin to take on the form of a united society, mutually interconnected more tangibly. It is impossible to manage society in a situation like this unless people will learn to be united and interconnected.