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SINGAPORE — The U.S. is still globally dominant in many areas including finance and technology — but it's not clear if the world's largest economy remains the leading power that other countries look up to, said experts during a debate at the Singapore Summit.

Speaking on the third day of the virtual conference, they discussed whether "A Leaderless and Divided World will be the New Normal."

The debate took place against the backdrop of a shifting global order in which the U.S. — widely considered the main superpower — is seen retreating from international organizations it's led for years, while China appears to be rising and challenging American dominance on several fronts.

One of the speakers, Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said he saw a world without leadership in the foreseeable future.

"If there was going to be true leadership, it would need to come from" the U.S., he said. He pointed out that the U.S. is still globally dominant, with its tech firms growing stronger during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. dollar's role as the main reserve currency and strength of American banks.

But those strengths are also why the U.S. lacks the interest to lead, said Bremmer.

The world has an inherent need for leadership. If the U.S. genuinely can no longer provide it, someone else will.Niall FergusonHoover Institution, Stanford University

A world without a leader doesn't hurt the U.S. the way it hurts other countries, he added. "The Americans are not going to be hugely interested or feel the impulse to fill that vacuum in the near term, so I believe that we're going to be leaderless and divided going forward for the foreseeable future."

However, Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, argued that the leadership of the U.S. has in fact been "very striking" this year. It can be seen in the U.S. Federal Reserve providing financial leadership during the depth of the pandemic-induced crisis and Washington showing technological leadership in campaigning against Chinese tech firm Huawei, he said.

He also added that even if the U.S. did not step up as the global leader, someone else will because the world needs one.

"The world has an inherent need for leadership. If the U.S. genuinely can no longer provide it, someone else will. Perhaps China, perhaps — who knows — a European Union who now seems to have its own relatively strong leadership in Berlin and Paris," Ferguson said.

Taking sides: U.S. or China?

The debate also centered on China's rise as a global power and its attempt to fill the leadership void left by the U.S.

But the experts agreed that China is still far from playing a leading role on the international stage.

China itself has repeatedly said it's not interested in replacing the U.S. or in exporting its ideology globally, said Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University.

Still, the U.S.-China rivalry may force other countries to choose sides. Yan noted that increasingly, countries are seen siding with China on economic issues and relying on the U.S. for security. He cited Singapore, Japan, Germany and France as example of those who have taken such a stance.

In other words, for the third countries in the world, the smaller countries, the new competition between China and United States across these institutions does not spell doom and gloom.Ngaire WoodsUniversity of Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government

Ngaire Woods, dean of University of Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government, agreed that countries may need to "selectively cooperate" with either the U.S. or China.

In fact, the U.S.-China competition could be an opportunity for smaller countries to push for changes they would like to see in international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, said Woods, who's a professor of global economic governance.

"We've seen every international institution changed and get pushed to listen to more of its members," she said.

"In other words, for the third countries in the world, the smaller countries, the new competition between China and United States across these institutions does not spell doom and gloom. It spells an opportunity for other countries to start playing off those superpowers and push further for the changes they've been wanting in those institutions themselves."

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CNNs John Avlon Exposes Trumps Ugly Pattern of Failing to Condemn White Supremacy

John Avlon called out President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacy during Tuesday’s first presidential debate calling it an “ugly pattern” from the commander in chief. He then cited numerous examples of Trump’s curious inability to call out hate groups by name.

Avlon has become a reliable source for clear-eyed analysis on political news in his regular Reality Check segments on CNN’s New Day, and Thursday was no different. This bit of analysis was pegged to Trump refusing to condemn the Proud Boys during Tuesday’s debate, and instead telling the hate group “stand back and stand by,” the clip of which kicked off the segment.

“You should be shocked but you should not be surprised, because there’s a long pattern of Donald Trump refusing to denounce his right-wing extremists or white supremacist supporters,” Avlon offered.

He then noted how noted white supremacist leader and failed political figure, David Duke praised Trump, before showing a clip of CNN’s Jake Tapper asking then-candidate Trump to denounce him. “I know nothing about David Duke,” Trump said at the time. “I know nothing about white supremacists.”

“Sound familiar?” Avlon asked, before airing the now-infamous clip of President Trump ostensibly defending violent protestors in Charlottesville in 2017, saying “very fine people. On both sides.” Avlon noted that some supporters have argued Trump “didn’t say what you just heard him say,” before noting how “white nationalists heard him loud and clear and they praised Trump’s remarks.”

The former speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani then cited a Politico article, noting, “Some are concerned that political rhetoric used by the president has been viewed by some violent white supremacists as a call to violent action.” After establishing a clear pattern of what seems willful ignorance, Avlon introduced a clip of Trump encouraging his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” which he then called “a blatant attempt at voter intimidation.”

While the trenchant commentary established a clear thesis, Avlon ended the ominous segment on a more encouraging note. “But this is not a reason to be afraid, it’s a reason to be determined,” he summed up, adding, “democracy is stronger than demagoguery.”

Watch above via CNN.

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