The balance of power is changing as US influence declines. Amid a nuclear crisis and a fractious G20 summit in Hamburg, who will win the struggle for succession?

The overt US threats of punitive military action that followed last week’s provocative test-firing of a potentially nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea transformed a long-running regional problem into a frightening global crisis.

With Donald Trump ordering a show of force off the Korean peninsula and warning of “very severe” reprisals, it fell to China and Russia – usually bad guys in the White House’s global narrative – to act responsibly by appealing for calm and dialogue. The confrontation, not yet defused, intensified broader fears that the world is becoming more dangerous and chaotic – and that no one is really in charge.

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