Ian Bremmer, the founder and head of Eurasia Group (for which I work as an analyst), has argued that we are living in a "G-Zero" world, or one in which there is no genuine great-power leadership. From the perspective of political science, it is hard to disagree, as anyone reading a newspaper these days can attest. Still, the historian in me says this situation cannot last for too long. My reasoning here has nothing to do with the global correlation of military force, since thanks to globalization's emerging middle class, "butter" will inevitably emerge as the winner over "guns."
Instead, pay attention to all the populist anger building up across the world system today, because it demands a progressive response from government elites in the global North, South, East and West. In this process, some states will dramatically succeed in addressing their citizens' grievances, while others will dramatically fail. The resulting internal political transformations will determine global leadership in the decades ahead.
The evidence is all around us.