As the world heads into uncharted territory amid the coronavirus outbreak, it is undergoing stark and dramatic geopolitical shifts.
For Peter Apps's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
The face-off between Saudi Arabia and Russia is a potent reminder of just how rapidly countries are taking the gloves off when it comes to economic confrontation.
If the virus outbreak dramatically dents global economic growth, perhaps even producing a recession, that will likely raise the political temperature almost everywhere.
What the international spread of the coronavirus would bring with it politically, culturally and economically remains a mystery.
Washington's withdrawal might usher in yet more bloodshed and uncertainty, particularly if the region's most powerful countries continue to believe they can often achieve as much with military action as by negotiation.
China remains dependent on using humans to watch other humans. That, however, is changing very quickly.
The U.S. and its allies have become used to being able to use whatever devices and communications they wished since the Berlin Wall fell. Those days are ending fast.
U.S. President Donald Trump's Davos speech paints an unambiguous picture of both how he sees the world and intends to use that framing to win a second term.
Faced with a confrontation, Trump was clearly willing to countenance more aggressive direct action than almost any of the U.S. foreign policy community would have embraced.
In the Middle East itself, those calling the shots increasingly believe Washington is leaving — and are unconcerned by what America might wish.