Today, we may very well find ourselves in one of those moments of momentous change in the global political order. The catalysts for this potential change are internal developments in three political rivals to the United States: Russia, China, and Iran. Events in those three countries have the power to reshape the entirety of global politics.
Xi Jinping’s power grows
First, Xi Jinping last month secured for himself a third five-year term as leader of China. This makes him one of the most powerful Chinese leaders since the Communists took power in the country seven decades ago. Xi has filled the most powerful positions in the Chinese Communist Party and government with loyalists and is thus brimming with an unrivaled power that will undoubtedly lead to increased Chinese flexing on the world stage.
Might it also lead to conflict in Taiwan, as China finally makes a move to re-absorb by force what it sees as one of its wayward provinces? Or might it lead to an acute economic conflict with the United States as Washington attempts to hinder Chinese advances in technology and innovation? The short answer is, no one really knows.
Putin’s power weakens
Next, in Russia, Moscow’s disastrous and failing invasion of Ukraine has made it entirely possible that Russian President Putin might lose what has always appeared to be his vice-like grip on power. It has even made the idea of a regime change in Russia no longer an outlandish one.
If Putin were to be supplanted by some other Russian political leader, there is no telling how that could change the geopolitical order. We cannot predict who would replace him, where they would fall on the political spectrum, nor how they would then steer Russia on the world stage going forward.
Will Iran undergo a regime change?
Finally, in Iran, the ruling clerics there are finding themselves besieged by anger, demonstrations, and a political challenge not seen since the Shah was overthrown by those same clerics in the Iranian revolution 40-plus years ago. Iranian women are this time leading the struggle as they appear to have reached a boiling point after years of being under the thumb of strict morality police and corrupt ruling clerics. The death of a young woman in custody for not having all of her hair covered by a hijab was (perhaps) the final straw. If the ruling clerics fall, who or what will take their place? And where does Iran go from there in the region, and globally? We simply do not know.
We can’t currently predict what — if any — changes will occur within Russia, China, and Iran. Yet, the one thing that smart people in the realm of global politics and security can predict with certainty is that significant change in the internal politics of any one of these three countries has the power to change the whole global political order.
In other words, buckle up for what might be a wild ride in the coming decade.
Feature Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in 2019. (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)
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