A year of living dangerously without global leadership
The year began with President Barack Obama winning a second term as the leader of the world. During the remainder of 2013, he spent much of his time avoiding doing any leading, except fitfully at home.
West Asia spun out of control through much of the year — a tentative US-Iran nuclear deal coming only at the end. Washington’s squabbling nearly triggered another global financial crisis.
And the US began moving out of Afghanistan so rapidly that even Pakistan got worried. Edward Snowden and the ubiquitous drones showed an America seeking alternatives to normal power.
Notably, the countries most irritated with the US were close allies like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and Japan. The consequence was attempts by second-tier to put on some muscle and get ready to do some policing of their own.
China and Japan chose leaders focussed on national rejuvenation. India continued its gentle decline to irrelevance.