So let’s take a quick run-around the world and see what’s what in the news these days, looking how power relationships are changing as we move into the mid-point of the decade.

The Middle East

The Iranian nuclear negotiations go on; Saudi Arabia and Israel are not happy.  America is trying to find a way to set up a balance of power in the region it can live with, having finally acknowledged that it cannot reshape the nations there but can influence their states to behave in acceptable forms.  Unfortunately for the kingdom and Israel, this means ending their special statuses.  Over the next decade or so, America will seek a permanent balance of power anchored between Iran, Egypt, and Turkey – the largest powers in the region.  But Iran can only be part of that if it accepts Israel and ends its regional ambitions.  Saudi Arabia will be a second-tier power, which will make the royals deeply uncomfortable.  But there’s not much they’ll be able to do about it.

Europe

Ukraine took a step back from the EU, securing Russian interests there for a bit.  This will make Putin a lot less concerned about his exposed western flank and more focused on his long-sought goal of rebuilding Russian power and influence.  Meanwhile, various states in Europe, led by Britain, seek to rewrite their post-war social contracts by reforming their welfare states.  Europe can’t afford the old contracts, but as democratic countries they must first get at least a plurality of people to accept such a thing.  Greece has muddled along the most in this regard, changing Greek society quite deeply from what it was pre-crisis.  Will other states follow?  David Cameron sure hopes so.

Americas

The debacle over the healthcare.gov website has seriously hurt President Obama’s approval ratings, miring him further in domestic politics over foreign policy.  But notably, the U.S. is moving towards a treaty with Afghanistan by which American troops can continue to train, support and, in a pinch, fight alongside Afghan forces.  In Afghan history, regimes imposed from the outside last only as long as their foreign support.  The quasi-democratic regime imposed by the United States will be no exception.  Karzai can sleep well; nobody will be hanging him anytime soon in the central square.

Asia

At long last, China has accepted that its One-Child Policy must end.  These reforms don’t totally end the restrictions, but accept that, unless Chinese start having babies now, China in the future will face a grey crisis that will hamper growth and possibly pull it down a ring or two on the power ladder.

More on Monday about Iran, France, Israel, and the whole nuclear negotiation, but in the meantime, enjoy an oldie but a goodie to brush on what Iran wants from all this mess.

 

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