One of the speakers, Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said he saw a world without leadership in the foreseeable future. A world without a leader doesn’t hurt the U.S. the way it hurts other countries, he added.
“The Americans are not going to be hugely interested or feel the impulse to fill that vacuum in the near term, so I believe that we’re going to be leaderless and divided going forward for the foreseeable future.”
The debate also centered on China’s rise as a global power and its attempt to fill the leadership void left by the U.S. But the experts agreed that China is still far from playing a leading role on the international stage. China itself has repeatedly said it’s not interested in replacing the U.S. or in exporting its ideology globally, said Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University.
Still, the U.S.-China rivalry may force other countries to choose sides. Yan noted that increasingly, countries are seen siding with China on economic issues and relying on the U.S. for security. He cited Singapore, Japan, Germany and France as examples of those who have taken such a stance.
In fact, the U.S.-China competition could be an opportunity for smaller countries to push for changes they would like to see in international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, said Woods, who’s a professor of global economic governance.