At the start of 2021, the United States is the most powerful, politically divided, and economically unequal of the world’s industrial democracies. China is America’s strongest competitor, a state capitalist, authoritarian, and techno-surveillance regime that is increasingly mistrusted by most G20 countries. Germany and Japan are much more stable, but the most powerful leaders both have had in decades are out (former prime minister Abe Shinzo) or on their way out (Chancellor Angela Merkel). Russia is in decline and blames the US and the West for its woes. And the world is in the teeth of the worst crisis it has experienced in generations.

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