This is the third time we have edited Issues in 21st Century World Politics. Each time we have done so, there has been some seemingly monumental ‘issue’ or other that seemed remarkable as we were editing the book. This edition is no different. Indeed, there is no shortage of things happening in the world at the time of writing (early 2016) that have potentially major implications for the future of the international system. There is a very real chance that the American electorate could put Donald Trump, a reality TV star with no political experience, into the White House, reinforcing the sense that US political system has serious structural flaws. This also reflects a broader trend towards insurgent populism across the democratic world, with the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines one of the most notable examples. Established political processes and practices seem to be unable to deliver, and unpredictable and dangerous politics seems to be the order of the day. Even as China undertakes a brash and confident foreign policy asserting large and destabilizing claims in the South China Sea, its economy faces very significant headwinds. Some analysts think that a serious financial crisis is a distinct possibility in the world’s second largest economy. Britain’s surprising vote to leave the EU is likely to badly damage the broader European project while the ongoing problems in Syria and Crimea underscore the deep-seated political and social fissures in Southwest Asia.
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