Narendra Modi performs an illusion of reform

Before the MSC: What role do the great powers play

China is completely different. The fact that the American magazine “Time” regards China as “the single most powerful actor”, at least in business, is the result of a long and gradual rise from abject poverty to a producer of top-quality products in communication technology. With long-term strategic investments in the trade routes to Europe, the Middle East or Africa - the so-called "Silk Road Initiative" - ​​China is now taking the next step and clearly representing its interests beyond its own national borders and with little consideration for the sensitivities of its neighbors.

Since this is also associated with an increase in military capabilities, tensions with other regional powers are inevitable. The conflict over the islands in the South China Sea is just one of the points of contention that can potentially lead to a military confrontation.

Despite the occasional trumpeting rhetoric, China is still cautiously approaching world power status, especially since setbacks are inevitable. Beijing fails to put the comparatively small North Korea in its place, with the result that it could have military intervention by America and South Korea right on its doorstep. The US is also increasing its missile defense capabilities in the region, thereby devaluing the Chinese nuclear potential.

The USA remains the undisputed superpower. They not only have enormous economic power and by far the most powerful military on the globe, but also the soft power of the western lifestyle. Wealthy Russians and Chinese send their children to American universities rather than to their own country. In addition, America's list of allies reads like a who's who of the wealthiest and most technically advanced countries in the world.

Trump still seems overwhelmed

However, this America seems tired of its leadership role not only since Donald Trump. Already under President Barack Obama, the country began to focus more on the interests of its own country and less on maintaining the liberal world order that it itself created. The current president seems to be continuing to withdraw from world politics, apparently without knowing what he is actually doing.

Trump continues to present himself as someone who is overwhelmed by his office in every respect, acts by leaps and bounds and whose ego is barely kept in check by his advisors. The term "Kindskönig" formulated in the German press reflects this aptly. It is unclear how long this president will be able to stay in office and whether there will be a return to the international engagement of the past under future American leadership.

The European Union, so far at least an economic heavyweight, is consequently preparing to take its fate into its own hands and to grow into a united actor in world politics in foreign, security and defense policy. A “global strategy” was published with great emphasis in 2016, and since then there has been no shortage of ambitious plans to be able to participate militarily in the concert of the great powers. Germany and France want to lead the way here. At the same time, the Union is in a deplorable state, for example when it comes to a consensus on the refugee issue or when military projects have to be supported with appropriate means.