The Transatlantic Tragedy
While today's mounting global disruptions have accelerated an ongoing shift in global power dynamics, neither China's rise nor the emergence of COVID-19 can be blamed for the West's lost primacy. The United States and the United Kingdom took care of that on their own, with a complacent Europe watching it happen.
BERLIN – Between the intensifying Sino-American drama and the persistent COVID-19 crisis, the world is undeniably undergoing fundamental, historic change. Seemingly immutable structures built up over many decades are suddenly exhibiting a high degree of malleability, or simply disappearing altogether.
In the ancient past, today’s unprecedented developments would have put people on guard for signs of a coming apocalypse. In addition to the pandemic and geopolitical tensions, the world is also confronting the climate crisis, the balkanization of the global economy, and the far-reaching technological disruptions brought on by digitization and artificial intelligence.
Gone are the days when the West – led by the United States, with the support of its European and other allies – enjoyed unchallenged political, military, economic, and technological primacy. Thirty years after the end of the Cold War – when Germany was reunified and the US emerged as the world’s sole superpower – the case for Western leadership is no longer credible, and East Asia, with an increasingly authoritarian and nationalistic China at the helm, is moving swiftly to replace it.