Fourteen years old this month, the West’s war in Afghanistan had all but vanished from the headlines. Even before the fall of Kunduz this week, however — the first provincial capital to be taken by the Taliban in more than a decade — it was clear that all was not going well.
At a time when the rise of China is about to enter a new phase with an overt locking of horns with America, it seems appropriate to examine the polarisation process that China has been undergoing and its implications for nations onto whom it is focused.
Deflation driven by loss of global demand like this is not easy to combat, as the Chinese are now realising. For commodity prices to be where they are now, it is clear that the world as led by China is suffering a slump in demand, which suggests that economic growth is much lower than the world’s stock markets are trying to reflect.
While cooperation between China and Russia looks to be at its strongest since the Sino-Soviet split, it is extremely one-sided, benefitting China but offering little to Russia in return. The natural counterweight to China is Europe and Russia working together. To restore its strength, Russia must shift back to a course of engagement and friendship with Europe.