It will soon be three years since Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister in May 2014; his politics has been simply brilliant, making him by far the strongest Prime Minister India has produced since Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. After two stumbles in Delhi and Bihar, he has corrected his politics to be a vote winner par excellence. As we saw in Uttar Pradesh recently. But one cannot say the same thing about his economics.
Erdogan, Trump and Putin share common traits, which undoubtedly feed their feelings of affinity toward one another. All three are diplomatically unorthodox populists who are outspoken in their views. All three are impulsive and equally disliked internationally. This, however, doesn’t portend a three-way match made in heaven.
Since 1950, middle-income countries have nearly always grown faster than expected. Looking just at the past decade and a half, current middle-income countries that had an average gross national income of $2,381 in 2000 have seen that more than double, to $4,951 in 2015. U.S. income, in contrast, climbed just 15 percent over the same period.
Iranians have not seen as robust an economic recovery as many had expected to follow the JCPOA’s implementation. A morass of U.S. sanctions unrelated to the nuclear program has discouraged major international banks from investing in the country and made many companies wary of expanding into Iran.
Xi is the sixth man to rule the People’s Republic of China, and the first who was born after the revolution, in 1949. He sits atop a pyramid of eighty-seven million members of the Communist Party, an organization larger than the population of Germany. The Party no longer reaches into every corner of Chinese life, as it did in the nineteen-seventies, but Xi nevertheless presides over an economy that, by one measure, recently surpassed the American economy in size; he holds ultimate authority over every general, judge, editor, and state-company C.E.O.
Indeed, the US-China relationship is a classic example of the old saw: if you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you have a problem; if you owe the bank a trillion dollars, the bank has a problem. Trump holds the important cards and it is simply a case of whether he wants to play them.
The post-Cold War international system is coming to an end, and with it easy assumptions about the character of U.S. strategy toward the world’s great powers. After a period in which a dominant, U.S.-led Western coalition largely set and enforced the rules of the international order — and in which other major powers, such as Russia and China, largely acquiesced to U.S. leadership of that order — the global system is returning to a state of sharper and more explicit great-power competition.